UEFA Champions League: Celtic, Dundalk advance to second qualifying round

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A comprehensive 5-2 aggregate win for Celtic FC.

Celtic breezed through to the second qualifying round of the Champions League after beating Sarajevo 2-1 in Glasgow to secure a 5-2 aggregate victory.

Ryan Christie and Callum McGregor scored for Celtic, who welcomed back Leigh Griffiths.

Striker Griffiths made his first competitive appearance since last December after taking time out to deal with personal issues.

Benjamin Tatar did level in the second half before McGregor’s winner and Celtic will face Nomme Kalju of Estonia next week.

Goalkeeper Gary Rogers was Dundalk’s hero as they beat Riga 5-4 on penalties to progress.

The 37-year-old saved two spot kicks in a nail-biting shootout in Latvia after the first-round qualifying tie had finished 0-0 on aggregate.

Stefan Panic and Armands Petersons were denied by the goalkeeper before Sean Hoare settled the shootout. Dundalk face Qarabag, who beat Partizani Tirana 2-0, in the second qualifying round.

Herdi Prenga was sent off in extra time for Riga after collecting a second yellow card before the match went to penalties.

Linfield were dumped out of the after a 6-0 aggregate defeat to Rosenborg.

McGregor scored the winner on the night for Celtic.

McGregor scored the winner on the night for Celtic.

The Norwegian side won 4-0 on Wednesday in Trondheim to easily progress.

Anders Konradsen struck twice before David Akintola and Pal Andre Helland scored as David Healy’s side failed to recover from their 2-0 first-leg loss.

Rosenborg will play BATE after their 3-2 aggregate win over Poland’s Piast following a 2-1 win.

Sweden’s AIK squeezed past Ararat-Armenia 4-3 on aggregate after a 3-1 win.

Former Birmingham and Sunderland midfielder Sebastian Larsson scored a crucial second-half penalty to send the hosts through to play Maribor.

They completed a convincing 5-0 aggregate win over Valur after their 2-0 victory at the Stadion Ljudski.

Ferencvaros beat Ludogorets 3-2 to progress 5-3 on aggregate and will face Valletta next.

Cluj beat Astana 3-1 to win 3-2 on aggregate and play Maccabi Tel-Aviv in the second round.

Montenegro’s Sutjeska Niksic advanced with a 3-2 penalty shootout win over Slovan Bratislava after a late goal earned a 1-1 draw on the night and 2-2 aggregate result.

Provided by Press Association Sports

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Champions League the target for Man City were Vincent Kompany's parting words

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Vincent Kompany told his Manchester City team-mates winning the Champions League was their next target as he announced he was leaving the club, it has been revealed.

The inspirational Kompany left City in May after helping them win the domestic treble last season.

The Belgium defender signed off after the FA Cup final and told his colleagues first in the Wembley dressing room.

His speech features in a documentary about the 2018/19 season, ‘Fight ’til the end’, which will be available on the club’s new streaming platform City for TV.

An emotional Kompany said: “I just want to say thank you, thank you for 11 years of experiences. Bad patches, good patches…everything I have experienced with the club that I love. I’m so grateful.

“It’s not going to be my best speech, because it’s the most emotional one I have ever given in my life.

Vincent Kompany has returned to his native Belgium where he has taken over at boyhood club Anderlecht.

Vincent Kompany has returned to his native Belgium where he has taken over at boyhood club Anderlecht.

“I’m glad that this was my last game. I wouldn’t have wanted it any different.

“You guys are the best group of people I could have finished my City career with. I have gained new family members.

“I think you’ll realise by the end, when you get to this point in your career, the people you remember are those who were there in special moments. Everyone here is now part of my family.

“The challenge for you boys is to be even better. It’s difficult to say, you have just won the English treble, but you haven’t won the Champions League yet. That’s your goal now.

“You’ve got such a group of players, that can achieve anything they want, don’t ever let it slip. Before you know it you will be doing a speech like me, crying, and then it’s the end of it. Trust me it goes that fast.

“So let’s have a party, a good celebration. Thank you.”

Kompany won 10 major honours during his distinguished career at the Etihad Stadium. He left City to take up a role of player-manager at boyhood club Anderlecht.

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Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Ajax star Matthijs de Ligt pick up Champions League awards

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While the Champions League final didn’t live up to its billing, this season’s edition as a whole served up plenty of excitement and drama.

We’ve also witnessed some outstanding individual displays along the way with a few youngsters really coming of age while established stars have delivered as well.

After our end-of-the-season awards for Europe’s top-five leagues, we’re now honouring the Player of the Year and Breakthrough Player of the Year for the Champions League.

Check out the awardees for the La LigaSerie APremier LeagueBundesliga and Ligue 1 here.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Lionel Messi, Barcelona, 31 years old

Lionel Messi

Season report

Barcelona as a whole were rather unremarkable this season. That they retained their La Liga crown and made the final four in the Champions League is testament to the phenomenal abilities of their seasoned talisman Lionel Messi. The Argentine ran the show for his side and finished as the competition’s top scorer for a fifth time, bagging 12 goals on this occasion, four more than Robert Lewandowski in second place.

He may not boast the electric pace he did a couple of years ago but he remains peerless when running with the ball, completing more dribbles (35) than anyone else in the tournament. His close control, passing range and vision accounted for the bulk of Barcelona’s creativity. With three assists as well, Messi directly contributed to more than half of his side’s goals in Europe.

His consistent orchestration of proceedings and timely moments of magic took the Catalans to within minutes of a final berth only to be let down by his team-mates.

Best performance: Brace in 3-0 first leg win against Liverpool

Putting three past Liverpool’s defence was no mean feat and Messi was the chief architect of this victory. His superb solo run set up Luis Suarez who struck the crossbar before he swept up the rebound. A spectacular free-kick made it 3-0 while he also laid it on a plate for Ousmane Dembele to add a fourth on the break, but the Frenchman wasted what could’ve been the goal that would’ve taken Barca to the final before Liverpool’s incredible revival at Anfield.

What next for Messi?

He’s got absolutely nothing to prove but one would expect Messi do the unthinkable and improve. He’s adapted his game of late and has grown into one of the best playmakers in the world while maintaining his ruthless scoring streak. With Barcelona adding to their squad over the summer, he may have more to work with in the final third next season.

Honourable mentions: Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Dusan Tadic (Ajax)

BREAKTHROUGH PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Matthijs de Ligt, Ajax, 19 years old

Matthijs de Ligt

Season report

De Ligt’s extraordinary European campaign put him on the wish list of the biggest clubs in the world. He’s strong yet sophisticated, young but mature. His positioning and ability to read danger is up there with the best while he wasn’t fazed at all when competing with the likes of Lewandowski or Cristiano Ronaldo.

Dominant in the air and quick enough on the deck, the Dutchman led his team by example regardless of the phase of play. De Ligt won 46 aerial duels in this edition of the tournament, the third-highest and five more than Van Dijk.

He was always at the right place when defending, key to their build-up play in possession and even proved an attacking threat from set-pieces, scoring crucial goals in the process. At just 19, he inspired his Ajax side to within moments of a Champions League final berth.

Best performance: Scoring the winner to knockout Juventus

His display at the Bernabeu in the previous round was memorable but getting the better of Ronaldo and heading his side into the semi-finals in the process epitomised his campaign. With his composure on the ball and fearlessness in physical challenges, he inspired his team-mates against the Italian champions.

What next for De Ligt?

With the world at his feet, the possibilities are endless for football’s most sought after centre-back. Juventus, Barcelona and the two Manchester clubs are vying for his signature but De Ligt has the opportunity to win the Nations League with a young Netherlands side first, possibly raising his price tag. It would be a surprise if he doesn’t go on to become the best defender in the world at some stage.

Honourable mentions: Donny van de Beek (Ajax), Tanguy Ndombele (Lyon)

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