Aalesund v Ferencvaros (1-2)
So last time we saw that Ferencvaros, in their first European campaign for some time, had a narrow 2-1 lead over the Norwegians to take to Norway. It was to be an action packed game, Barrantes missing early for Aalesund when even a headless donkey would have scored. The Ferencvaros goal that put them 3-1 up on aggregate was the product of some nice passing, that split apart the Norwegian defence, allowing for a cool finish from Olah.
Aalesund now needed two goals just to force extra time. Most teams will give up when down like this, but give Aalesund credit, they kept going, and were finally rewarded in the second half with less than twenty minutes to go, when Myklebust was knocked down by Junior in the box. Up stood Barrantes, misser of a bucket load this match, but from the penalty spot he was lethal. Solid, into the top right of the net. 1-1 on the night, 3-2 Ferencvaros aggregate, but the score could easily have been 0-4 Ferencvaros or even 4-4!
The wind was in the Norwegians sails (any references to Vikings would be far too cheap) but the equalising goal was as much the fault of Ranilovic the Hungarian keeper as much as it was Aalesunds incisiveness. A long ball down the side was looped into the box, Ranilovic found himself all at sea trying to stop a header, and Fuhre was left to slice it into the net. 2-1, 3-3, extra time!
It stayed that way for most of extra time, and penalties looked certain, until the winning goal, in the 120th minute. (Extra time is two halves of 15 minutes, so 120th minute is the last minute before penalties.)
And it was an easy goal too. Felipe gave away the free kick, a decision he will be cursing for some time to come. Barrantes, the man who was everywhere this match, knocked the free kick into the box, and Post was found unmarked and completely onside to smash it home. 3-1 Aalesund on the night, 4-3 on aggregate. The Aalesund players all at once rushed forward to their bench, the Ecstasy of delight everywhere from the players to the management to the players, one big orange celebrating mass of humanity.
There was no time at all for Ferencvaros to do anything, done in by the last seconds of 210 minutes of pulsating football. It was sad there had to be a loser, but Aalesund had won, and set up a Scandinavian derby with Elfsborg in Round 3.
As for Ferencvaros, well, if this is the type of European tie they want to drum up, let's not wait six years for their next European visit!
Lokomotiv Sofia v Metalurg Skopje (0-0)
Not my pick usually for a surprising game. The Bulgarians get the draw in Macedonia the week before, and would surely seal a comfortable qualification. The winners of this tie, I should add, would meet Dundee United should United be able to see off Slask Wroclaw in the same round.
Any thoughts of this being a formality were crushed barely four minutes in, when a good pass saw the Bulgarians all at sea, and Krstev was allowed to smash a shot at the keeper Galev, who let the ball fall over him, giving Krstev a second chance to score the opener. 0-1 Metalurg! The ramifications of the first leg 0-0 were now in full effect, as now Lokomotiv HAD to win the game. Any other scoreline, even a draw would see them exit!
Just after the half hour, Memedi gave away the penalty, allowing for Lokomotiv to eqaulise from the spot. Up stood Karadzhinov, denied by a brilliant save by the Macedonian keeper, Pavlovic. About now you started to suspect that it wouldn't be the Bulgarians day. That yellow was problematic for Memedi though, as soon into the second half, he got his second, for a foul, and was sent off.
Soon after, another penalty, and this time Preslav took it for the hosts, and scored. 1-1, and now facing ten men, Lokomotiv Sofia looked good money to go on and...
Immediately concede a corner which led to a goal! Facing ten men, they were suddenly 2-1 down, and needed two goals in half an hour to avoid exit! Superb performance by the Macedonians.
Pavlovic had had a good game, but when the corner came with 5 minutes to go, he fell down amongst a crowd of players, allowing Preslav to score his second. 2-2. Tense moments to come.
There was nothing the Macedonians could do about Bozhinov's winner though, chipped from outside the box into the net in one swift flowing shot. A beauty to win any game, but a game harsh on the plucky underdogs who had made a real game of it.
Lokomotiv advanced though to meet the winner of Dundee United/Slask.
Zilina had a big task, after losing 3-0 in Iceland to KR. They got 2 goals back, but never got the third they needed to force extra time. Last season the Champions League, this season, out in Round 2.
A major shock looked on the cards as Vllaznia led Thun very early on. They lead nearly the entire game, from within the first fifteen minutes until injury time. Then Thun scored twice, and stole the match from the plucky Albanians. Thun looked terrible though, and their next opponents, Italian high ranking Palermo, had to be licking their lips at an easy tie.
Remember the great game that was Tauras v Den Haag. Well, Den Haag v Tauras was more straight forward, a goal in either half seeing Den Haag advance, 5-2 on aggregate.
Rabotnicki may have struggled in the first leg, but saw a 3-0 win over Juvenes to safely get into Round 3.
Flamurtari didn't lose 8-1 this time around in the 2nd legs of the 2nd round, as Jablonec were content with just the 5-1 victory.
Rad scored early in the second half, a scoreline that would have led to extra time against Olympiakos Volos, but Martins penalty saw the Greeks through.
Westerlo v TPS ended in a dull 0-0, the one goal Westerlo scored in the away tie saw the Belgians qualify.
Fulham dusted off Crusaders 4-0 on the night to see the Irish off 7-1 on aggregate, more goals from Damien Duff and Bobby Zamora. Tougher tasks were to come for the London side though.
Slovenian gloom was momentarily lifted as Domzale opened the scoring in split against RNK. Split then split apart the Slovenians, scoring thrice, and finishing off a comfortable victory. The long wait for a Slovenian away win (not including Maribor) continued. As it also did for Olimpija, but they were safe in the knowledge the 1-1 draw they got in Ireland with Bohemians was more than enough to see them safe through to the next round.
Continuing the Irish talk, St Pats ended the plucky journey of Shakhtar Karagandy. A goal from McMillan early saw the Irish in the driving seat, a goal twenty minutes from time from Doyle put the tie to bed.
Austria Wien and Nacional sealed the deals with 2-0 home wins over Rudar and FH.
Which leaves just one Round 2 tie left...
Dundee United vs Slask Wroclaw (0-1)
Scottish sides dont have all the best luck in Europe. Remember those heady days of Celtic and Rangers in the UEFA Cup finals? Long gone. Now an Andorran side would like at a draw with a Scottish side and consider it 50/50. Not to say there haven't been good performances, Motherwell produced some fine performances over the years, and went out in a gutsy performance to Steaua two years ago, though you wouldn't be able to tell that from the 6-1 aggregate defeat the history books show. Sometimes an inability to scout proved fatal, as when the Aberdeen manager claimed he'd never heard of Sigma Olomouc right before his side lost 5-1 at home to them. But then, if he had done as much research as he was jokingly claiming prematch, that was a complete disgrace. Often teams can be completely outmatched - see Queen of the Souths exit to Nordsjaelland, or Dundee UNited against AEK Athens. Sometimes you can try your best, but the opposition is simply better.
Hey, if that excuse works for Man U against Barcelona, it can work for Scottish sides in 90% of fixtures.
All of this said, the Poles are not great travellers, and 1-0 is not insurmountable. Not even two minutes were on the clock when Russell had scored to level the tie, a melee in the box allowing him to slot past a number of players.
Barely three minutes later, a looping head from midfield found David Goodwillie completely onside, and he scored to make it 2-0 Dundee United! What was going on? As it stood, the Scots were qualifying, but there was still 85 minutes to go!
There was an inevitability about the Polish goal 15 minutes in. United had dozed off, and the header from the corner should have been stopped, but instead Elsner scored.
Dundee United then missed a bucketload of chances before getting a penalty which Daly smashed home. 3-1 United at half time, and surely they had to come through now.
Instead, the Poles bossed most of the chances in the second half, and it was no surprise when Dudek scored to make it 3-2 on the night with fifteen minutes to go. Even then, United had a chance to win it at the end, scuffed high when it was easier to score.
3-3, and Dundee United were out on away goals. So close once more, and had they been more clinical, they'd have advanced, but as it was, another familiar story for Scottish football.
And that was the Round 2 that was.
Zilina v KR (0-3)
Thun v Vllaznia (0-0)
Gaziantepspor v Minsk (1-1)
Den Haag v Tauras (3-2)
Jablonec v Flamurtari
and Fulham, Split, Karagandy, Dundee United, Olimpija and Austria Wien.