Home teams struggle in Champs League playoffs

Last updated 09:29 21/08/2014
Nicolaj Thomsen
DRAW: Denmark club Aalborg’s Nicolaj Thomsen, left, fights for the ball against Tomas De Vincenti of Cyprus’ APOEL during their Champions League playoff match in Denmark.

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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.

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- AP

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