(This Sept. 30 story fixes typo in headline)
SALONIKA, Greece (Reuters) - Danish side Midtjylland qualified for the Champions League group stage for the first time in stunning fashion on Wednesday after scoring three goals in the last seven minutes to beat more fancied Slavia Prague 4-1 on aggregate in their playoff tie.
They were joined by Russians Krasnodar, who ground down PAOK Salonika 2-1 in the return leg in Greece after beating them by the same score last week, while Salzburg eased to a 3-1 win over Maccabi Tel Aviv for a 5-2 overall victory.
After a goalless first leg in Prague, Slavia put themselves in a commanding position to go through when Peter Olayinka gave them a third-minute lead with a left-footed volley, keeping his composure after mis-hitting the initial effort.
Sory Kaba levelled on the night with a 64th-minute effort, to set up an astonishing climax in which he had an 80th-minute penalty saved by Ondrej Kolar before referee Damir Skomina ordered it to be retaken due to the keeper’s encroachment.
Alexander Sholz blasted in his spot-kick after a four-minute VAR-check and Slavia collapsed in the closing stages as Frank Onyeka added the third and substitute Anders Dreyer put the icing on the cake for Midtjylland.
Krasnodar built on their first-leg advantage against PAOK when the home team’s defender Giannis Michailidis back-heeled the ball into his own net in an attempt to intercept a low cross from the left.
Omar El Kaddouri rekindled PAOK’s hopes in the 77th minute with a thumping header but the Greek side’s chances vanished barely 60 seconds later when Remy Cabella swept in a rebound after Tonny Vilhena hit the post.
Striker Patson Daka fired Salzburg into a 16th-minute lead against Maccabi with an opportunist finish before Eden Karzev pulled one back to slash the home side’s aggregate lead to 3-2 when he drilled in his own rebound.
Salzburg replied with a Dominik Szoboslai penalty on the stroke of halftime, as Maccabi coach Georgios Donis was sent off after being shown two yellow cards for continued dissent.
Daka sealed Salzburg’s passage with his second goal of the night midway through the second half, capping a flowing move with a fine header.
The draw for the money-spinning group stage, featuring 32 teams, will be held in Geneva on Thursday.
Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Ed Osmond and Toby Davis
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