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Benfica cruise through to Champions League group stage as Haifa bag late winner

SoccerNews in UEFA Champions League 23 Aug 2022

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Benfica eased through to the Champions League group stage with a 5-0 aggregate thrashing of Dynamo Kyiv on Tuesday, while Maccabi Haifa and Viktoria Plzen also qualified.

The three teams will now look ahead to the draw on Thursday when they will find out who they will be facing in the group stage.

Last season’s quarter-finalists Benfica built on an impressive 2-0 first-leg victory against a rusty Kyiv side with first-half goals from Nicolas Otamendi, Rafa Silva and David Neres essentially killing the tie by half-time at Estadio da Luz.

Meanwhile, Haifa scored late on to earn a thrilling 5-4 aggregate comeback win over Red Star Belgrade in Serbia to reach their first Champions League group stage since the 2009-10 season.

A 90th-minute own goal from Red Star striker Milan Pavkov was enough to progress the Israeli side, who had been 2-0 down on the night after winning the home leg 3-2.

Haifa will be joined in Thursday’s draw by Plzen, who also advanced after coming from behind to beat Qarabag 2-1 on aggregate.

A first-half goal from Filip Ozobic had put the Azerbaijani side in front after a goalless first leg, but Jan Kopic and Jan Kliment bagged after the interval to turn the game around and get their team into the group stage of the competition for the first time since the 2018-19 campaign.

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