Ajax held on for a goalless draw at Cypriot club APOEL in the first leg of their Champions League play-off on Tuesday after going down to 10 men.

Last season's Champions League semi-finalists named a strong starting XI that included several stars of their eye-catching 2018-19 campaign, such as David Neres, Hakim Ziyech and Donny van de Beek.

But they produced a lacklustre and ill-disciplined performance, earning seven yellow cards and one red for Noussair Mazraoui.

The Dutch side looked the better of the two teams in the first half, but their display was lacking the decisive touch in front of goal.

After the break, APOEL began to offer more of a threat themselves and went agonisingly close in the 58th minute, when Giorgos Merkis' header hit the crossbar.

Andre Onana was then forced to make a stunning save 11 minutes later, getting down to palm away a Lucas Souza effort that was destined for the bottom-right corner.

Things got even more testing for Ajax towards the end when Mazraoui was shown a second yellow card for a needlessly clumsy tackle from behind, but they held on nonetheless.

Ajax host APOEL in Amsterdam for the second leg next Wednesday.

In the day's other play-off clashes, Slavia Prague and Club Brugge claimed 1-0 away wins at Cluj and LASK, respectively.

 

Mauricio Pochettino says winning a trophy this season is a purely personal objective and not a barometer for Tottenham as a club.

On the eve of his sixth campaign in charge, Spurs boss Pochettino admitted the time had come for him to deliver silverware.

The comments contrasted with his previously held view that a trophy was less important than cementing a place in the Premier League's top four.

Tottenham achieved that top-four aim last term while reaching the Champions League final, which they lost 2-0 to Liverpool.

Pochettino claims his goals have not changed since that result and are not necessarily an accurate measure of success.

"Of course it was always my priority [to win trophies], but it was a big priority to help the club," Pochettino told Sky Sports.

"It doesn't change that. Always my priority is to win, to win games and trophies.

"I think a few days ago someone asked me what my aim was for this season.

"My personal objective is to win a trophy, but that doesn't mean that winning a trophy is compulsory, or that it will be an unsuccessful season if we do not win a trophy.

"But personally, if at the end we do not win a trophy, for myself that is going to be an unsuccessful season.

"But that does not mean that it will be unsuccessful for the club. That is for myself, not the collective."

Ricky van Wolfswinkel will be out of action "for a long time" as he undergoes treatment on a brain aneurysm discovered after a severe concussion in Champions League qualifying.

The Basel striker took a heavy blow to the head late in the first leg of his side's 5-2 aggregate defeat to LASK.

Van Wolfswinkel, who has won two Netherlands caps, was diagnosed with a concussion but sent to hospital for further testing.

Doctors uncovered an aneurysm that otherwise would have gone undetected and the forward will now take time out from football to have treatment.

Revealing the issue to Basel fans in a Twitter video on Thursday, Van Wolfswinkel explained: "Because of the brain aneurysm, I will need treatment.

"Having treatment will mean that I won't be able to play football for a long time.

"At this moment, we are not able to determine a date of returning. It's just clear that it won't be for at least another six months.

"The return date will of course depend on the results and the reaction of the brain aneurysm after the operation. The months after will decide when I could be back."

He added: "I'm just very grateful for the fact that the brain aneurysm got discovered now.

"Normally, a brain aneurysm is not discovered on time, always too late when it has already ruptured or started damage.

"I want to say thank you to the FCB medical department and to the doctors of the university hospital in Basel.

"During the upcoming months, I will keep supporting FCB and my team-mates - like I always have. For now, I will focus on my health and my recovery to do what I love most as soon as possible - and that's to play football."

The 30-year-old, who has previously represented Sporting, Norwich City, Saint-Etienne and Real Betis, as well as Vitesse and Utrecht in his homeland, scored 13 goals in the Swiss Super League last term.

Champions League winner Virgil van Dijk is joined by Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi and Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo on the three-man shortlist for UEFA's Player of the Year award.

Van Dijk played a vital role in Liverpool's successful European campaign, playing 12 times en route to lifting the trophy.

As well as the UEFA recognition, he is also expected to be a major contender for the 2019 Ballon d'Or, as is Messi.

Barcelona reached the semi-finals before being eliminated by Liverpool, but Messi still managed to enjoy a fine Champions League campaign.

The Argentina star scored 12 goals – including two against the Reds at Camp Nou – from 10 matches.

Ronaldo's inclusion is rather more surprising, given Juventus were eliminated by Ajax in the quarter-finals.

The Portugal attacker scored a respectable six times in nine matches, but that was an unspectacular impact compared to his 15-goal haul in 12 outings the season before.

The shortlist was selected by a jury of 80 coaches from clubs involved in the Champions League and Europa League group stages, plus 55 journalists from UEFA's 55 member associations.

One of the three players will be presented with the award on August 29, during the Champions League group stage draw ceremony.

Paulo Dybala is no closer to leaving Juventus, according to the club's chief football officer, Fabio Paratici.

Dybala was linked with Manchester United and Tottenham before the Premier League's transfer window closed last week.

A move did not materialise, and Dybala instead reported for pre-season training in Turin, with the forward scoring twice in Wednesday's traditional warm-up friendly with the Juve Primavera side.

A switch to Inter has also been mooted, with that deal potentially seeing Mauro Icardi, who is out of favour at San Siro, joining the Serie A champions in return.

However, Paratici told Sky Sport Italia there has not been much progress on Dybala's future, or that of any other Juve players.

"The market is open and there is interest, but there are no names closer to a sale," he said.

"[Dybala] is a Juve player – indeed, he is a great Juve player. As I said, during the transfer market, there are discussions and negotiations."

He added on Icardi: "Right now he's an Inter player and we don't talk about him. We have [Gonzalo] Higuain and [Mario] Mandzukic who are great attackers: I wouldn't talk about others, but about ours. We are happy with those we have."

Juve's new head coach Maurizio Sarri this week accused the club of following a transfer policy that has led them to an "embarrassing" situation, with an overly large squad meaning he could be forced to leave some senior players out of the list for the Champions League group stage.

Paratici admits there is a need to move players on, with Luca Pellegrini close to a loan move to Cagliari, but says it will be difficult to find exits for Mattia Perin and Marko Pjaca while they recover from injuries.

"As with all transfer windows, there is a lot of chatter and not many actual deals done, but we are calm and confident," Paratici added.

"It's not that there is an excess of players, but rather a list that neither the coach nor I can do anything about. We can only use 21, and just one 'local' homegrown player. Therefore, the players who are not in that list of 22 have to go.

"At the moment there are six extra players, but two of these, Perin and Pjaca, are unlikely to be transferred in this market and another, Luca Pellegrini, will probably go to Cagliari in the next few hours."

It has been a close season of upheaval at Juve, who have sold players including Joao Cancelo, Moise Kean and Leonardo Spinazzola, with defender Daniele Rugani linked with Roma and Monaco.

Matthijs de Ligt, Danilo, Pellegrini and Merih Demiral are among those to have joined Sarri's squad, while veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon returned after a single season with Paris Saint-Germain.

Porto and Celtic crashed out in Champions League qualifying but last season's semi-finalists Ajax managed to advance to the play-off round.

It was a day of upsets as giants Porto and Celtic fell in the third round of qualifying following respective losses to Krasnodar and CFR Cluj.

Porto – who had featured in the Champions League group stage in each of the last three campaigns, including a run to last season's quarter-finals – were upstaged 3-2 by visiting Krasnodar on Tuesday.

Krasnodar blitzed Porto with a three-goal first half thanks to Magomed Suleymanov's brace as the Russian side prevailed on away goals after a 3-3 draw.

Scottish champions Celtic were denied a play-off berth by Cluj, whose 4-3 victory on the night in Glasgow secured a shock 5-4 success across two legs.

Celtic led the second leg 3-2 after 76 minutes but Billel Omrani and George Tucudean struck inside the final 10 minutes to silence Parkhead and give the Romanian outfit a memorable victory.

Captain Dusan Tadic was at the double as Erik ten Hag's Ajax held on to beat PAOK 3-2 in Amsterdam, where the Eredivisie holders escaped 5-4 on aggregate.

Tadic scored twice and missed a penalty as Ajax's hopes of repeating last season's remarkable Champions League run stayed alive amid uncertainty over the future of Real Madrid target Donny van de Beek.

In Copenhagen, 22 penalties were taken as Red Star Belgrade sensationally prevailed 7-6 in a dramatic shoot-out.

Penalties were required after the Copenhagen-Red Star tie ended 2-2 on aggregate following Tuesday's 1-1 stalemate at Telia Parken.

Elsewhere, Basel and Dynamo Kiev bowed out as LASK, Club Brugge, Dinamo Zagreb, Olympiacos, APOEL and Rosenborg progressed.

 

Champions League play-off ties:

CFR Cluj v Slavia Prague
APOEL v Ajax
LASK v Club Brugge
Dinamo Zagreb v Rosenborg
Young Boys v Red Star Belgrade
Olympiacos v Krasnodar

Neil Lennon accused Celtic of conceding "crazy, suicidal" goals against CFR Cluj as they suffered a shock Champions League qualifying defeat.

The Scottish champions were beaten 4-3 in Glasgow on Tuesday to lose the tie 5-4 on aggregate and miss out on a play-off match against Slavia Prague.

Celtic were 1-0 down at half-time but moved 2-1 up through James Forrest and Odsonne Edouard, only for Abdel Billel Omrani to level the scores from the penalty spot.

The hosts hit back through Ryan Christie but Omrani struck again to make it 3-3 before George Tucudean made Cluj's passage to the next round secure with the last kick of the game.

Celtic manager Lennon admitted his team were not good enough in the first half and felt they threw the lead away with their poor defending.

"The goals we conceded are crazy," he told BBC Radio Scotland. "You've got to do the basics well – you've got to stop crosses, close people down, get your head on things – and it was almost as if we scored and wanted to switch off and control the game.

"In the first half, we were way too passive, way too slow with the tempo, so we gave them a bit of a razz at half-time and we got the right response going 2-1 up. But we needed that two-goal cushion. It's suicidal the goals we gave away.

"The first goal, we got a warning before that, and we still didn't stop the cross and the guy's got across for a run. If you don't do the basics defensively well enough then, at this level, you get punished.

"We've let it go. We've only ourselves to blame. We had the lead and we let it slip through our own decision-making, really."

Lennon is keen to lift his side's spirits before they now prepare for a play-off to reach the Europa League group stages.

"We've got to work with the players. We've got to raise their morale, first of all," he said.

"We're going to get a bit of criticism and that's totally par for the course. We've worked really hard to get where we are and we've basically thrown it away. We've got some good defenders but for some reason they wanted to slow the game down."

Celtic were knocked out of Champions League qualifying on Tuesday after a 4-3 defeat to CFR Cluj saw them lose the tie 5-4 on aggregate.

Neil Lennon's side came from behind to force a 1-1 draw in the first leg and were up against it again in Glasgow when Ciprian Deac struck in the first half.

James Forrest, hero of the first leg, levelled the scores before Odsonne Edouard made the most of haphazard defending to make it 2-1 to the Scottish champions.

Abdel Billel Omrani's penalty put Cluj ahead on away goals but Ryan Christie struck just two minutes later to edge Celtic back in front.

There was to be more drama, however, as Omrani turned in a rebound to make it 4-4 on aggregate and give the visitors the edge on away goals.

In the dying seconds, George Tucudean struck a stylish fourth goal to give Cluj the victory and seal a play-off encounter with Slavia Prague.

Deac handed the Romanians the initiative when he headed past Scott Bain 27 minutes in.

Former European Cup winners Celtic hit back six minutes into the second half when Forrest, linked with a move to Russian side Zenit in recent days, fired in an equaliser from inside the box.

Edouard swung the tie Celtic's way 10 minutes later, sweeping the loose ball into the bottom-left corner after Cluj's defence made a mess of trying to clear.

Omrani then snatched a second away goal with a confident penalty, but Christie was on hand to side-foot home almost immediately after the ball broke for Edouard.

However, the twists kept coming, with Omrani sliding in to steer the ball high into the net after Bain had saved from Alexandru Paun.

With Celtic desperately chasing another goal to send them through in the eighth minute of injury time, a hopeful clearance fell kindly to Tucudean, who lofted a composed finish past Bain to send the visiting bench into raptures.

Manchester City have avoided a transfer ban after FIFA confirmed the club will only receive a fine for breaching regulations relating to the signing of young players.

The Premier League champions have been ordered to pay CHF370,000 (£314,577) for breaching article 19 of FIFA's rules on the status and transfer of players.

However, City will not face a transfer ban like that which FIFA handed down to Chelsea in March for similar offences.

Like Chelsea, FIFA has found City to be in breach of regulations regarding the recruitment of youth players.

LaLiga giants Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have also been handed punishments for similar offences within the past five years.

However, FIFA's Disciplinary Committee "took into account the fact that Manchester City FC accepted its responsibility", meaning the club was only issued a fine.

Manchester City have avoided a transfer ban after FIFA confirmed the club will only receive a fine for breaching regulations relating to the signing of young players.

Frank Lampard says Chelsea are desperate to win the UEFA Super Cup against Liverpool on Wednesday and will accept "no excuses" if they fail to get their hands on the trophy.

Lampard's reign as Chelsea boss got off to a disappointing start on Sunday, with the Blues slipping to a heavy 4-0 defeat to Manchester United in their Premier League opener.

They have an immediate chance to bounce back, however, when they take on Jurgen Klopp's Champions League winners in Istanbul.

Lampard has been on the losing side twice as a Chelsea player in Super Cup finals [against Atletico Madrid in 2012 and Bayern Munich in 2013] and says his side will be "giving everything" to defeat their domestic rivals.

"I've had two great examples of a really important game that you don't win in two different ways and it makes you more determined to win it," he told UEFA.com.

"We need to be absolutely ready. It's a cup that the club desperately wants to win. I've never won it, a lot of players in there have never won it, so we have to give it everything.

"Going up against the team with the quality of Liverpool in a final is as tense as finals can be.

"You can lose finals, they're very tough. But what you cannot do is lose it on the premise that we weren’t prepared, or we didn't have that hunger or desire or everything you need to try and win a game of this magnitude.

"It's going to be one of my first competitive games as manager of this club. Every player in there needs to be aware of the importance of the game to this club and we have to give everything, because it's going to be tough.

"It's going to be tough, but we cannot walk off the pitch and think 'oh, we could've done that' or 'we missed that opportunity' or 'we weren't quite ready' or make any excuses for ourselves."

Jose Mourinho believes Joao Felix's huge price tag means he must produce the goods at Atletico Madrid despite his tender years.

The 19-year-old forward joined Diego Simeone's Atletico from Benfica in a €126million move last month and has turned in some dazzling pre-season displays.

As such, his famed Portuguese compatriot Mourinho believes there will be a demand for instant results.

"He has a challenge due to the extent of his talent and because of the investment the club have made on him," Mourinho told the Portuguese Football Federation's (FPF) television channel, Canal 11.

"I believe that he can't escape this responsibility. It doesn't matter if he's 18, 20 or 25.

"What matters is his talent and the responsibility he has."

That responsibility extends to spearheading a challenge for the top honours in Spain and Europe, according to Mourinho.

Despite losing Lucas Hernandez, Rodri, Diego Godin and Antoine Griezmann - the France star's long-anticipated move to Barcelona eventually coming to fruition – Atletico have reinforced impressively.

Kieran Trippier, Marcos Llorente and Hector Herrera are among those to have bolstered Simeone's squad and Mourinho feels they must now look to match Spain's heavyweight duo.

"Atletico Madrid's level of investment leaves them with responsibility to fight for the Champions League and LaLiga," he said.

"It's clear that Barcelona and Real Madrid have to be there because of their power, financial capability, culture and quality.

"Atletico in recent years have been without this responsibility, but the level of investment they've made is incredible.

"It's time to say, 'We're here, we're big, we want to be big and we are here to win'." 

Atletico begin their LaLiga campaign at home to Getafe on Sunday.

Partizan Belgrade have been given a two-match stadium ban by UEFA due to the racist behaviour of some fans in a Europa League qualifying match with Yeni Malatyaspor.

UEFA's Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body (CEDB) announced the sanction on Monday, along with a €24,250 fine for the throwing of objects and fireworks and the blocking of stairways.

It means Partizan must play their next two home matches in UEFA competition behind closed doors.

Lokomotiv Plovdiv have been issued a partial stadium ban due to the racist behaviour of supporters in their Europa League qualifier against Strasbourg in Bulgaria on August 8.

The CEDB has ordered the club to close the Tribuna Sportclub sector for the next UEFA competition match at Lokomotiv Plovdiv 1926 Stadium.

Meanwhile, Istanbul Basaksehir defender Aurelien Chedjou has been banned for two games for directing abusive language at a match official in a Champions League qualifier against Olympiacos.

Head coach Buruk Okan has been suspended for one match "for the failure to comply with the referee's orders" in the same game, which Olympiacos won 1-0.

The Super Lig side have also been fined €5,250 after receiving six yellow cards and one red in the match.

Jurgen Klopp has challenged Liverpool's players to "stay greedy" as they look to build on last season's Champions League triumph with European Super Cup success.

The Reds enjoyed a stunning 2018-19, beating Tottenham 2-0 in the Champions League final and finishing just a point behind Premier League winners Manchester City.

They take on Europa League victors Chelsea in the Super Cup on Wednesday and Klopp expects his players to show the same desire for silverware that characterised their previous campaign.

When asked by UEFA.com how his side can build on their success, he said: "Stay greedy. That's very important. I have no doubt about that, but it's clear that we have to do that.

"After the final, we had about four weeks where everybody was patting us on the back and it was brilliant wherever we went.

"It's just nice, but in a different world things like this can soften you and it can take the power out of you a bit.

"We are not like this, but it's a fact that it could happen, at least. We only have to do the same again, and with a couple of things we maybe didn't do too well, we have to do better. That's how it is."

Klopp has his sights set on another trophy, but acknowledged the Super Cup is not a prize he has paid much attention to in the past, given he had only been on the receiving end of European final defeats with the Reds and Borussia Dortmund before last term.

"The Super Cup itself is not a cup that I've really loved to watch in the past because I was often in [either the Champions League or Europa League] final," he added.

"The Super Cup is obviously the final proof; if you are not in that game, it means you didn't win the final. That's completely different this year, so we're looking forward to it. It's a big one."

Divock Origi is confident he still has more to offer Liverpool, having been boosted by a new contract following his Champions League heroics last season.

Belgium striker Origi started the last campaign on the fringes of the first team at Anfield but made crucial contributions to the team's success in 2018-19.

After Premier League winners against Everton and Newcastle United, Origi scored twice to down Barcelona in the Champions League semi-finals and then netted in the final against Tottenham in Madrid.

Rewarded with a new long-term contract last month, the forward carried his form into the new season by scoring in the Premier League opener against Norwich City.

Origi hopes he can continue to improve, with Liverpool eager for more success.

"For me, the contract was a logical and good decision," he told The Athletic. "The club always showed faith. We had some good conversations and everything just clicked, so it was very easy.

"You have to listen to your instinct. I felt appreciated and I felt like I could make further steps at this club. I still have a lot to give and to show here.

"This is such a young, talented group and it feels like Madrid was just the beginning. We are hungry for more. I saw that hunger from the moment I returned in July."

Origi's strike against Spurs gave him a place in Liverpool history, yet he does not plan to reflect on his status until retirement.

"The respect of the fans is always nice to have," he said. "I am humbled that they have such a place in their hearts for me.

"To be part of the history of a club like Liverpool is something to be proud of and something I always wanted. I always saw myself playing for a big team in the Premier League and being important there.

"After my career, I'll be able to sit back and enjoy what I've achieved. But for now it's about performing more and more."

Origi acknowledges he is still adjusting to Liverpool's tactical demands, but he feels he has grown as a player since arriving at the club.

"I think I'm a different player now compared to when I first signed," he said. "I feel like I've grown more mentally, personally and on the pitch.

"The team has evolved in terms of the way we play and now I understand the tactics part of the game better - how to press, how to choose my moments, when to express my creativity and when to play it simple.

"I have a lot of aspects to my game but I need to synchronise them with the game of Liverpool. I study the game better now. Being able to play in different positions up front has been very important to me."

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