Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC caused the main upset of the night by knocking out Olympiacos FC, but elsewhere the third qualifying round's top guns hit the target to advance to the play-offs.
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Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC caused the big upset of the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round by knocking out Olympiacos FC following a 1-0 second-leg win at the Bloomfield stadium.
Trailing 2-1 from the first leg last week, Israel striker Roberto Colautti quickly won over his new fans following a summer move from VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach by heading in Yoav Ziv's cross three minutes before the break to fire his side through on the away goals' rule. A poor night for Olympiacos was compounded by the dismissal of Diogo in added time. "It's an amazing achievement," Maccabi Tel-Aviv coach Yossi Mizrachi said. "Everyone knows who we knocked out tonight." Forward Barak Itzhaki added: "
These are the moments players are born for."
Hungary's Győri ETO FC were also surprise winners against Montpellier Hérault SC, advancing on penalties at the French side's expense after a 1-0 win on the night. Valentin Babić got the only goal after 40 minutes and Győr hung on after the dismissal of Lazar Stanisić on the stroke of half-time, eventually winning the shoot-out 4-3.
VfB Stuttgart survived a scare against Molde FK who, after losing their home leg 3-2, jumped 2-0 ahead at the VfB Arena through goals from Emil Johansson and Knut Olav Rindarøy. Pavel Pogrebnyak pulled one back ten minutes after the restart and the German side drew level through Timo Gebhart in the third minute of added time to advance 5-4 on aggregate.
There were no such worries for Galatasaray AŞ away to OFK Beograd. The Serbian side had battled back from 2-0 down in the first leg to earn a surprise draw, but the 2000 UEFA Cup winners were quick to make amends in Belgrade where they ran out 5-1 winners. With the Turkish side 2-1 ahead, the game hinged on Danilo Nikolić's 57th-minute dismissal for pulling down Harry Kewell in the area. The Australian stepped up to fire in his second goal of the game and help his side to a comfortable 7-3 aggregate triumph.
"We played well, better than in Istanbul where we made a lot of tactical mistakes," said Arda Turan, who scored his side's fourth goal. "Here we tried to correct those mistakes.
It was harder to play in Belgrade because of the temperature and humidity, but we gave everything and the most important thing is that we are through to the play-offs."
On a disappointing night for Serbian sides, Ukrainian league leaders FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk recovered from a 2-1 first-leg defeat against FK Spartak Zlatibor Voda to win 2-0 and go through 3-2 on aggregate, while former European Champion Clubs' Cup winners FK Crvena Zvezda were knocked out by ŠK Slovan Bratislava.
Joe Cole made his Liverpool FC debut and fellow England internationals Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard also returned as Roy Hodgson's side beat FK Rabotnicki 2-0 to advance 4-0 on aggregate. David Ngog scored twice in the first leg and he hit the first at Anfield before Gerrard added the second from the penalty spot.
FK Qarabağ have reached the play-offs for the second year in a row after beating Wisła Kraków 3-2 to advance 4-2 on aggregate. In front of 28,500 in the Tofig Bahramov-Republic stadium in Baku the Azerbaijani side scored three times in a seven-minute burst mid-way through the first half. Afran Ismayilov, Raut Aliyev and Rashad F. Sadygov scored between the 28th and 35th minutes to put the tie out of the Polish side's reach.
Among the night's notable individual performances was a Cafú hat-trick for Anorthosis Famagusta FC. The Cypriot side were on their way out on the away-goals' rule against Cercle Brugge KSV until the 32-year-old Cape Verde forward struck his third with three minutes to play to complete a 3-1 win and a 3-2 aggregate triumph.
There was late joy too for FC Timişoara who, after falling 3-0 down against Myllykosken Pallo-47 after 25 minutes, fought back to earn a 3-3 draw and win 5-4 on aggregate. Marián Cišovský got the deciding goal two minutes into added time. HNK Hajduk Split, meanwhile, hit back from a 3-1 first-leg deficit by beating FC Dinamo 1948 Bucureşti 3-0 to advance 4-3 on aggregate.
Among the other names through to Friday's play-off draw are AZ Alkmaar, Beşiktaş JK, Juventus and Sporting Clube de Portugal. Tonight's 35 winners are joined in the play-offs by the 15 defeated sides from this week's UEFA Champions League third qualifying round ties and the 24 sides that enter the competition at the play-off stage. The seeding pots for the play-offs will be confirmed prior to Friday's draw, with matches to be played on 19 and 26 August.