HomeFootball NewsLarne's Champions League Journey Ends in Extra-Time Defeat, Qarabag and Astana Advance

Larne’s Champions League Journey Ends in Extra-Time Defeat, Qarabag and Astana Advance


Larne’s dreams of progressing in the UEFA Champions League were shattered as they suffered an agonizing extra-time defeat at the hands of HJK in the first qualifying round. Despite putting up a valiant fight, Larne couldn’t overcome the 1-0 deficit from the first leg. Their hopes took a further blow when Tuomas Ollila scored for HJK, doubling the deficit. However, Lee Bonis and Joe Thomas found the net in the closing minutes of normal time, forcing the match into extra-time.

In a heart-wrenching turn of events, Larne’s hopes were dashed when Shaun Want inadvertently scored an own goal in the 96th minute, securing a 3-2 aggregate victory for HJK. It was a disappointing end to Larne’s Champions League journey.

Meanwhile, Qarabag FK from Azerbaijan cruised to the second qualifying round with an impressive 4-0 triumph over Gibraltar’s Lincoln Red Imps. After a 1-1 draw in the first leg, Qarabag displayed their dominance with goals from Abdellah Zoubir, Bahlul Mustafazada, Redon Xhixha, and Marko Jankovic, securing a convincing 5-1 aggregate win.

In another fixture, Georgian side Dinamo Tbilisi faced a 2-1 defeat against Astana. With the tie level at 1-1 after the first leg, Dinamo took the lead through Ousmane Camara’s goal. However, Astana staged a comeback with goals from Abzal Beysebekov and Dembo Darboe in the 50th and 51st minute, respectively, sealing a 3-2 aggregate victory for the Kazakhstani club.

The matches also witnessed other captivating encounters. Ludogorets staged a remarkable comeback, overcoming a 2-0 deficit against Ballkani with a resounding 4-0 victory. Bernard Tekpetey netted a brace, while Matias Tissera and Caio Vidal added a goal each to secure a 4-2 aggregate win for Ludogorets.

Ferencvaros, however, faced disappointment as they were defeated 3-0 by KI. After a goalless draw in the first leg, Ferencvaros couldn’t maintain their defensive resilience and conceded two goals from Arni Frederiksberg and another from Luc Kassi, resulting in a 3-0 aggregate loss.

Slovan Bratislava emerged victorious over Swift Hesperange with a 2-0 away win, securing a 3-1 aggregate triumph. Vladimir Weiss played a pivotal role, converting two penalties, including a cheeky Panenka-style spot-kick, to guide Slovan Bratislava to the next round.

Lastly, Valmiera suffered a second consecutive defeat against Olimpija, succumbing to a 2-1 loss. Rui Pedro and Ahmet Muhamedbegovic scored for Olimpija, while Camilo Mena pulled one back for Valmiera. Despite their efforts, Valmiera couldn’t overturn the 4-2 aggregate scoreline, resulting in their exit from the competition.

Overall, the UEFA Champions League qualifiers witnessed thrilling matches, with Qarabag FK, HJK, and Astana emerging as the triumphant sides, progressing to the next round.



Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.


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