Home teams struggle in Champs League playoffs
Former European Cup winners Porto and Celtic took big steps toward the Champions League group stage on Wednesday (Thursday NZ time), as home teams struggled in their playoff round, first-leg matches.
Two-time champion Porto won 1-0 in Lille, and Celtic took advantage of a reprieve from UEFA to play in the competition by drawing 1-1 at Maribor.
Russian league leader Zenit St. Petersburg's 1-0 victory at Standard Liege helped ensure all five home teams failed to win.
APOEL is favored to advance next week in Cyprus after drawing 1-1 against Aalborg in Denmark.
BATE Borisov took a 1-1 draw back to Belarus after Slovan Bratislava got an 80th-minute equaliser from veteran Slovakia forward Robert Vittek.
Second-leg matches are played next Tuesday (Wednesday NZT). The groups are drawn two days later in Monaco.