CHAMPIONS LEAGUE QUALIFIERS: Celtic come from behind, Zenit cruise, Milan get job done

The playoff qualifiers for the 2013/14 UEFA Champions League are now complete following a handful of Wednesday night fixtures.

Scottish champions Celtic completed a thrilling comeback to book their spot in the group stage of Europe’s premier club competition with a 3-0 home victory over Kazakhstan’s Shakhter Karagandy to win 3-2 on aggregate following last week’s shock loss.

Kris Commons have the Hoops hope with a goal late in the first half before Georgios Samaras levelled the tie early in the second half prior to young gun James Forrest winning it for Neil Lennon’s in injury time.

In Italy, AC Milan flexed their muscle with a 3-0 win over PSV Eindhoven thanks to a brace from Kevin-Prince Boateng and another goal from Mario Balotelli to beat the Dutch giants 4-1 on aggregate.

Russian side Zenit St Petersburg were led by a Danny double to beat Portugal’s Pacos de Ferreira 4-2 on the night and 8-3 on aggregate whilst Czech club Viktoria Plzen edged Slovenia’s NK Maribor 1-0 in the second leg to cruise through 4-1 on aggregate.

And in Spain, Real Sociedad ruined Lyon’s hopes by winning 2-0 courtesy of a Carlos Vela brace to complete a 4-0 aggregate triumph.

The five victors from Wednesday night plus the winning teams from Tuesday – Arsenal, Schalke, Austria Vienna, FC Basel and Steaua Bucharest – will all go into the draw for the Champions League group stage which already consists of the likes of Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Borussia Dortmund.

2013/14 UEFA Champions League playoff qualifiers

Zenit St Petersburg (RUS): 4 (Danny 29’/48’, Aleksandr Bukharov 66’, Andrey Arshavin (p) 78’)
Pacos de Ferreira (POR): 2 (Manuel Jose Vieira 67’, Carlao 83’)
Zenit wins 8-3 on aggregate

NK Maribor (SVN): 0
Viktoria Plzen (CZE): 1 (Stanislav Tecl 3’)
Viktoria wins 4-1 on aggregate

Celtic: 3 (Kris Commons 45+1’, Georgios Samaras 48’, James Forrest 90+2’)
Shakhter Karagandy (KAZ): 0
Celtic wins 3-2 on aggregate

Real Sociedad (SPN): 3 (Carlos Vela 67’/90+1’)
Lyon (FRA): 0
Sociedad wins 4-0 on aggregate

AC Milan (ITA): 3 (Kevin-Prince Boateng 9’/77’, Mario Balotelli 55’)
PSV Eindhoven (NED): 0
Milan wins 4-1 on aggregate

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