Spain became the first country to field five teams in the UEFA Champions’ League group stage competition in a single season following the triumph of FC Valencia against AS Monaco in a play-off match on Tuesday night.

Although, Valencia lost the match 1-2, it was able to qualify for the UCL group competition on 4-3 aggregate, having beaten the principalities 3-1 in the reverse fixture.

Valencia joined holders Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Sevilla, who gained an automatic berth as last season’s winners of the second-tier Europa League. The feat signifies a new era of Spanish dominance of Europe competition in which the two continental trophies, UCL and Europa Cup were won by Barcelona and Sevilla respectively.

Also on Tuesday night, Malmo FF, Dinamo Zagreb, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Shakhtar Donetsk also sealed their places in the money-spinning group stage of the Europe’s premier club competition.

Swedish title holders Malmo advanced for a second successive season after Markus Rosenberg and a Dedryck Boyata own goal gave them a 2-0 home win over Celtic which a overturned a 3-2 first leg deficit.

Croatians Dinamo qualified for the third time in the past five seasons, beating Skenderbeu 4-1 at home to complete a 6-2 overall victory over the Albanians.

A nervy 2-2 home draw with Rapid Vienna saw Shakhtar through after a 1-0 win in the first leg while Maccabi edged out Basel on away goals, a 1-1 home draw being just enough following last week’s 2-2 tie in Switzerland.

The top match of Wednesday’s action features Manchester United’s visit to Bruges, where the three-time winners will defend a 3-1 first leg advantage over the Belgians.

By Olisemeka Obeche


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: