Benfica took a big stride towards qualifying for the Champions League group stage Wednesday by defeating Dynamo Kyiv 2-0 in Poland in the first leg of their play-off tie.
Gilberto and Goncalo Ramos scored first-half goals for twice former European champions Benfica in the Polish city of Lodz, where Dynamo are in exile following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Red Star Belgrade, the 1991 European Cup winners, lost 3-2 away to Israeli champions Maccabi Haifa, who are hoping to reach the group stage for the third time after 2002-03 and 2009-10.
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Haitian forward Frantzdy Pierrot struck twice for Maccabi as the hosts opened the scoring but then fell behind as Red Star replied with goals from Aleksandar Pesic and Guelor Kanga.
Pierrot equalised shortly after halftime and Tjaronn Chery grabbed the winner on the hour to give Maccabi a narrow advantage heading into next week’s return leg in Serbia.
Qarabag drew 0-0 with Czech champions Viktoria Plzen in Baku.