The Champions League playoff round got underway last night and there were some surprising results.
Scottish Champions Celtic fell to a shock 2-0 defeat away to Kazakhstani side Shakhter Karagandy. Neil Lennon’s side came into the tie as favourites against the relatively unknown outfit from the far east of Europe.
The lack of an away goal for the Hoops mean that a place in the main group stage looks unlikely unless they can pull out a perfect performance in front of their passionate fans at Parkhead. They will be confident of winning well at home as they have an excellent home record in Europe having beaten Barcelona last season.
In one of the ties of the playoff round AC Milan travelled to Eindhoven to take on a young and talented PSV team, Milan struck first through a Stephan El Shaarawy header but the Dutch side leveled after Tim Matavz pounced on an error by Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati.
Elsewhere in the competition Real Sociedad sprung a surprise on French outfit Lyon as they traveled to the Stade Gerland picking up a 2-0 win with goals from Antoine Griezmann and Haris Seferovic.
The win puts the Spanish side in full control for the second leg in Spain next week. Lyon had been a Champions League regular until last season when they missed out and they look like being beaten to tournament debutants Real Sociedad.
In the other games Zenit St Petersburg ran out comfortable winners against Pacos de Ferreira and Viktoria Plzen beat NK Maribor 3-1.
Tonight’s games see Arsenal attempt to enter the group stage for the 16th consecutive season as they take on Fenerbahce in Istanbul. Despite some injury worries Arsene Wenger will be able to name a similar team to the one that started against Aston Villa on Saturday.
The road to Lisbon has already begun.
image: © Jan S0L0