Ekranas end Rovers' European dream

Round-up: Irish champions Shamrock Rovers will not play in this season’s Champions League group stages after a 2-1 aggregate defeat to Ekranas in the second round of qualifying.


After a goalless draw in Dublin, the onus was on the Lithuanian champions to attack, which they did from the off.

But it took until the stroke of half-time for Marko Andelkovic to head past Oscar Jansson in the Rovers goal.

Zilvinas Kymantas, who had earlier missed a sitter, added a second just after the hour mark with a low finish following a solo run.

Jansson made several saves for the Irish side, before Gary McCabe scored an injury-time penalty following a handball.

Ekranas face a tough test in Belgian champions Anderlecht for the last qualifying round. The winner of that two-legged tie in August qualifies for the play-off stage of the competition.

Elsewhere,Salzburg were knocked out of the Champions League qualifiers by Luxemburg's Dudelange on Tuesday, continuing an astonishing run of failures in the competition since Red Bull took over the Austrian club.

Last season's double winners, who enjoy substantial financial backing from the energy drinks company, beat visitors Dudelange 4-3 in their second qualifying round, second leg tie but were eliminated on away goals after losing 1-0 last week.

Red Bull took over the club in 2005 with ambitious plans of making Salzburg Champions League regulars, only to see their team fail five times in a row in the qualifiers.

The only time they have taken part in the group stage was as the old Austria Salzburg in 1994/95.

Their latest failure is a huge setback for coach Roger Schmidt and sporting director Ralf Rangnick, the former Schalke 04 coach, who took over in the close season.

Salzburg's troubles began when they lost possession in midfield, allowing Thierry Steinmetz to break clear and score in the 26th minute.

Jakob Jantscher and Martin Hinteregger put Salzburg 2-1 ahead at halftime, only for Aurelien Joachim to level with his sixth goal in four matches in the qualifying tournament.

Steinmetz struck again to make it 3-2 but Dudelange then had to endure a nerve-wracking finale after forward Sofian Benzouien was sent off in the 74th minute.

Salzburg's Cristiano converted an 81st minute penalty and fellow substitute Gonzalo Zarate scored a minute later to put the hosts ahead on the night but the Austrians could not find the fifth goal they needed in the final eight minutes.

A goal in the last minute of extra-time away to Kazakhstan's Shakhtyor IK gave Czech champions Slovan Liberec a 1-1 draw which sent them through 2-1 on aggregate.

Norwegian side Molde, coached by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, went through 4-1 on aggregate after a 1-1 draw at Latvian champions Ventspils and in the third qualifying round will face Swiss champions FC Basel, who last season eliminated his former club Manchester United.

Two goals from Cameroon striker Jacques Zoua and one from Chilean midfielder Marcelo Diaz, Switzerland's most expensive close season signing, gave Basel a 3-0 win over Estonia's Flora Tallinn as they completed a 5-0 aggregate victory.

Debrecen, one of only two Hungarian sides to have played in the group stage, beat Albanian champions Skenderbeu 3-0 to qualify 3-1 on aggregate and two goals from Nemanja Tomic helped Partizan Belgrade to a 3-1 win over Malta's FC Valletta as they went through 7-2.

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