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UEFA Hands Celtic UCL Lifeline

Celtic on Friday was handed a UEFA Champions League lifeline when Europe’s governing body awarded the Scottish champ a 3-0 victory against Legia Warsaw in the second-leg of the teams’ qualifying series after the Polish club fielded an ineligible player. Legia had won Wednesday’s game 2-0 en route to what it thought was a 6-1 series win, but Friday’s decision lifted Celtic to a 4-4 draw over two games, which the Scottish team won by virtue of the away goal it scored in Poland in a 4-1 loss.

The Associated Press points out that the decision will cost Legia millions in UCL prize money, as UEFA pays clubs $2.8 million for reaching the playoff round and $11.5 million for reaching the group stage. Legia will now enter the Europa League playoffs, where it will face Aktobe of Kazakhstan.

During Friday’s playoff draw in Nyon, Celtic drew Slovenian champ Maribor; the winner of the two game series progresses to the group stage. In other matches, Premier League giant Arsenal was drawn against Besiktas of Turkey, while two-time UCL champ FC Porto plays French club Lille. Other high profile clashes saw Serie A’s Napoli paired with La Liga’s Athletic Bilbao, Zenit St. Petersburg faces Belgium’s Standard Liege, and Copenhagen will face German giant Bayer Leverkusen.

Read the whole story at Associated Press »

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