Benfica could face Spartak Moscow in Champions League playoff tie

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Jardel from Benfica during the Eusebio Cup match against Lyon.

Two-time European champions Benfica or Turkish side Fenerbahce could face Russian club Spartak Moscow in the Champions League playoff round later this month after Monday’s draw.

Portuguese giants Benfica and Fenerbahce go head-to-head in the third qualifying round, with the first leg in Lisbon on Tuesday, for the right to play either Greek side PAOK or Spartak for one of the six remaining group-stage places.

Changes to the qualifying criteria mean that the top four from each of the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, Italian Serie A and German Bundesliga last season automatically reached this year’s group stage.

Celtic, the 1967 champions, were handed a kind draw against either Swedes Malmo or Hungary’s Vidi – should they can get past AEK Athens in the third qualifying round.

Four-time winners Ajax will take on Slavia Prague or Dynamo Kiev if they see off Standard Liege, while Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven will face either Azeri outfit Qarabag or Belarusians BATE Borisov.

Brendan Rodgers' Celtic have been given a kind draw.

Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic have been given a kind draw.

Benfica, Spartak Moscow, Celtic and Qarabag all played in the Champions League group stage last season.

Draw for the UEFA Champions League playoff round:

Red Star Belgrade (SRB) or Spartak Trnava (SVK) v Salzburg (AUT) or Shkendija (MKD)

Qarabag (AZE) or BATE Borisov (BLR) v PSV Eindhoven (NED)

Young Boys (SUI) v Astana (KAZ) or Dinamo Zagreb (CRO)

Malmo (SWE) or Vidi (HUN) v Celtic (SCO) or AEK Athens (GRE)

Benfica (POR) or Fenerbahce (TUR) v PAOK (GRE) or Spartak Moscow (RUS)

Standard Liege (BEL) or Ajax (NED) v Slavia Prague (CZE) v Dynamo Kiev (UKR)

– First legs to be played August 21/22, second legs August 28/29

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Fourth substitute to be allowed in extra time in Champions League and other UEFA competitions

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Morata on for Ronaldo in 2016 was the first instance of a team using a fourth substitution.

Teams will be given an extra substitution in games that go to extra time in UEFA competitions, the organising body has announced.

The rule has been successfully applied in the EFL Cup and FA Cup in England, and most recently at the World Cup, and teams participating in the Champions League and Europa League will be able to follow suit this season.

UEFA’s rule change will also apply to Euro 2020.

Clubs will also be allowed to name 12 substitutes to their team sheets in the Champions League and Europa League, instead of the current seven.

Next season’s UEFA Youth League will see a fifth substitute being allowed, a rule that will also be implemented at the men’s and women’s U-17 and U-19 Euros.

Alvaro Morata coming on for Cristiano Ronaldo in extra time for Real Madrid at the 2016 Club World Cup final was the first time a fourth substitution was made in competitive football.

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Celtic face Armenian side Alashkert in Champions League qualifiers

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Celtic face a trip to Armenia to open their Champions League qualifying campaign.

Brendan Rodgers’ side were drawn against Alashkert in the first qualifying round as they seek to reach the group stages for a third consecutive year.

Alashkert, who knocked St Johnstone out of the Europa League three seasons ago, are due to play at home in the Armenian capital Yerevan in the first leg, although selections are subject to change.

Celtic begin the first of what they hope are four qualifying rounds on July 10-11 and will discover their potential second-round opponents later on Tuesday.

Northern Irish champions Crusaders were paired with Bulgarians Ludogorets, the highest-ranked team in the draw.

Ludogorets have twice reached the group stages in the past four seasons, playing Liverpool and Arsenal along the way.

The New Saints, who were seeded in the draw, will face Macedonian champions Shkendija.

Shkendija drew twice with Aberdeen in the Europa League three years ago, in their most recent European experience, with the Scots progressing on away goals.

Cork City were handed a tough encounter against Polish side Legia Warsaw, although they were given a boost when the losers of their tie were earmarked as automatic entrants to the third qualifying round of the Europa League.

The rest of the first-round losers will enter the second round of the Europa League qualifiers in a new champions path.

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