11 July 2013 23:46
Malmo and Rosenborg were among the high-profile names to progess beyond the first round of UEFA Europa League qualifying on Thursday.
Swedish giants Malmo had been held to a goalless draw away at Drogheda in the teams’ first-leg encounter, but scored in the dying moments of the first and second halves to defeat their Irish opponents 2-0.
Rosenborg, meanwhile, faced Crusaders from Northern Ireland, but secured an infinitely more comfortable 9-3 aggregate victory with a 7-2 win on the night at home.
The Norwegian club had goals from six different scorers to thank for their success, with John Chibuike the only man to net more than once.
Though those two were the undoubted favourites going into their ties, Prestatyn Town were clear underdogs ahead of their second meeting with Liepajas Metalurgs of Latvia.
And the Welsh side’s chances looked even slimmer as they fell 3-1 behind on aggregate following an early goal from Valerijs Afanasjevs.
However, Ross Stephens struck with 13 minutes of normal time remaining to give the visitors hope before Neil Gibson grabbed a goal in the 91st minute – and Prestatyn would go on to complete a shock 4-3 win on penalties.
Crowds in Riga and Skopje were also treated to the drama of a shootout on Thursday, as Skonto beat Tiraspol 4-2 following a 1-1 aggregate draw and Turnovo saw off Suduva 5-4 on spot-kicks after their tie ended 4-4.
Elsewhere in Europe, several teams saw their hopes dashed by the away goals rule.
Ventspils saw off Airbus UK despite the sides sharing a 0-0 draw, Mladost Podgorica’s 1-0 win over Videoton helped them progress, and Vaduz, Dacia and Kukes beat Chikhura, Teuta and Flora respectively by the same means.
In other results, Irtysh, Xazar Lankaran and Pyunik secured their places in the draw for the next round with wins over Levski, Sliema and Teteks.
There were also a number of thrashings meted out in the first round, with Hungarian side Budapest Honved racking up the most impressive of those.
They beat Celik Niksic 9-0 to take a place in the second round while Gefle defeated Trans 5-1, Dinamo Minsk eased to a 5-0 win over Kruoja, and Botev Plovdiv smashed Astana 5-0.
Arguably the most intriguing contest of the round came in the form of Zilina’s 3-3 draw at home against Torpedo Kutaisi.
The Slovakian hosts lost their lead twice during a thrilling fixture, but could take comfort from the fact that their place in the hat was secured by a 6-3 aggregate win in the end.
Many sides were not as fortunate, however, with Gandzasar, Bala, La Fiorita and Inter Turku going out at the hands of Aktobe, Levadia, Valletta and Vikingur.
Elsewhere, Breidablik, Milsami, Qarabag, Zrinjski, Tromso, Inter Baku, IBV and Astra clinched places in the next round, with Dudelange, Metalurg Skopje, UE Santa Coloma, Celje, Mariehamn, HB, Domzale going out as a result.
And in the day’s later fixtures, Vojvodina, KR, Zalgiris and Sarajevo progressed at the expense of Hibernians, Glentoran, St Patrick’s and Libertas.