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Porto, Celtic well set in Champs League playoffs

Wednesday - 8/20/2014, 5:14pm  ET

Aalborg BK's Rasmus Thelander, left, and Apoel FC's Tomas De Vincenti, right, vie for the ball during their Champions League play-off first leg soccer match at Aalborg Stadium, Denmark, Wedensday, Aug. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Polfoto, Gregers Tycho) DENMARK OUT

GENEVA (AP) -- Former European Cup winners Porto and Celtic took big steps toward the Champions League group stage on Wednesday, as home teams struggled in their playoff round, first-leg matches.

Two-time champion Porto won 1-0 in Lille, and Celtic took advantage of a reprieve from UEFA to play in the competition by drawing 1-1 at Maribor.

Russian league leader Zenit St. Petersburg's 1-0 victory at Standard Liege helped ensure all five home teams failed to win.

APOEL is favored to advance next week in Cyprus after drawing 1-1 against Aalborg in Denmark.

BATE Borisov took a 1-1 draw back to Belarus after Slovan Bratislava got an 80th-minute equalizer from veteran Slovakia forward Robert Vittek.

Second-leg matches are played next Tuesday. The groups are drawn two days later in Monaco.


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