Celtic, Monaco fail to make Champions League grade
A header by Markus Rosenberg and an own goal from Dedryck Boyata condemned Scottish champions Celtic to a second successive season without the riches to be accrued from the Champions League group stage as Malmo beat them 2-0 on the night and 4-3 on aggregate in their play-off on Tuesday.
They were not the only high profile casualties as last season`s quarter-finalists Monaco exited despite coming from behind to beat Valencia 2-1 at home -- they have lost just once in their last 12 European club games at Stade Louis II -- but lost 4-3 on aggregate.
Another side who reached the knockout stages last season also failed to get over the play-off hurdle this time round as Basel, who progressed at the expense of Liverpool in last season`s competition, exited after a 1-1 draw in Israel against Maccabi Tel-Avi saw the hosts progress on the away goals rule, the tie finishing 3-3 on aggregate.
Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk did make it through -- they have appeared in the group stage on every occasions since the 2009/10 campaign -- but were made to work hard for it drawing 2-2 at home to Rapid Vienna to qualify 3-2 on aggregate.
The cost to Celtic may be felt immediately as it could prompt talented defender Virgil van Dijk to jump at the chance of a prestigious move to English Premier League side Southampton.
Celtic manager Ronny Deila, though, is loathe to part with him.
"We don`t have to sell Virgil van Dijk, but you never know in football," said the Norwegian.
"The hype about the Champions League is a big thing. Everybody wants it so badly.
"You have to deal with it but we looked very stressed. We didn`t look like we wanted to go out and play football. We have a lot of young players coming through but this was a hard lesson for us."
Valencia had all but wrapped up business after four minutes, Alvaro Negredo chipping Subasic brilliantly with the ball going into the far corner.
The hosts, needing three goals to even take it to extra-time, replied almost immediately, Italian defender Andrea Raggi firing the ball past Australian goalkeeper Mathew Ryan from the edge of the area.
Monaco gave themselves a glimmer of hope with 15 minutes remaining as Nigerian defender Elderson knocked the ball into the net after Ryan had saved from Thomas Lemar.
"It hurts, but Monaco put up a great performance tonight," said Raggi.
"It was the game in Valencia that did for us but our target now is to compete strongly for the league title," added the 31-year-old.
Shakhtar Donetsk too looked to have all but sealed their place in the group stage when impressive Brazilian Marlos curled a beauty of a shot past the Rapid Vienna goalkeeper in the 10th minute.
However, the visitors drew level three minutes later 20-year-old Louis Schaub refusing to be denied as he rifled home his second attempt for his third goal of the competition.
Their joy knew no bounds just five minutes later as 34-year-old skipper Steffen Hofmann curled a superb freekick past the flailing arm of goalkeeper Ukrainian international Andriy Pyatov for the two-time Austrian league player of the year`s 22nd goal in 64 European matches.
A thrilling match -- in contrast to the dour opening leg which saw eight players booked -- took another twist when a day after his 28th birthday Olexander Gladkiy nipped in to score for the hosts and put the match on the night all square at 2-2 and with the hosts noses just in front.
The second-half was less of a ripper and the visitors frustrations ended with Mario Sonnleitner being red-carded four minutes from time for a second bookable offence -- he hurled the captains armband that he had assumed after Hofmann went off to the ground in fury.
Even so there was still time for Pyatov to pull off a remarkable point blank block to Philipp Prosenik`s close range shot with the game five minutes into time-added on and ensured the Austrian side`s absence from the group stage was extended to 10 years.