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Slavia Prague and Slovan Bratislava claim first-leg victories in European play-offs

Prague, Czech Republic – Czech champions Slavia Prague and Slovak champions Slovan Bratislava won their respective European competitions play-off first legs to put themselves in a good position to qualify for the Champions League and Europa League group stages. Budapest-based Ferencváros and Legia Warsaw’s ties both ended in goaless draws.

Slavia Prague close to Champions League group stage

On Tuesday, Slavia Prague won 1-0 away in Romania against CFR Cluj giving them a commanding advantage going into the second leg next week. Czech international Lukáš Masopust put the Czech champions ahead in superb fashion before keeper Ondřej Kolář saved a second-half penalty, guaranteeing that the Czech side are now in a good position to qualify for the Champions League group stage.

Fans will have high hopes for their Czech champions after last season saw them dramatically beat five-time Europa League champions Sevilla and reach their first European quarter-final in nineteen years before losing to Chelsea.

The return leg will take place on Wednesday.

Chelsea v Slavia Praha - UEFA Europa League Quarter Final : Second Leg
Last season, Slavia Prague reached the Europa League quarter-finals for the first time in nineteen years Credit: Harriet Lander/Getty Images

Slovan Bratislava win, Ferencváros and Legia Warsaw draw

Last night, Slovak champions Slovan Bratislava, the first and so far only club of the former Czechoslovakia to win a European cup competition, also took the lead in its Europa League play-off first leg after winning 1-0 at home against Greek champions PAOK thanks to a last minute goal by central defender Myenty Abena. The return leg in Thessaloniki nevertheless promises to be a challenge against a notoriously noisy home crowd.

Meanwhile, Hungarian champions Ferencváros and Legia Warsaw’s respective Europa League play-off ties with Lithuanian side Sūduva and Steven Gerrard’s Glasgow Rangers and remain finely poised after both games ended in goalless draws.

The game in Warsaw was nevertheless entertaining as both sides created plenty of chances, with Legia coming alive in the second half after Rangers dominated early on. According to BBC Sport, there was a sense before kick-off at the Polish Army Stadium that this was the defence of Legia versus the attack of Rangers as the hosts had kept five clean sheets in a row, while Rangers have scored 30 goals in nine competitive outings so far this season.

Despite failing to score an away goal, Rangers will be content with the result, says Thomas Duncan for BBC Scotland.

The Stadion Energa in Gdańsk will host the Europa League final this year.

Headed by Kafkadesk's chief-editor Jules Eisenchteter, our Prague office gathers over half a dozen reporters, editors and contributors, as well as our social media team. It covers everything Czech and Slovak-related, and oversees operations from our other Central European desks in Krakow and Budapest.

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