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Man City, Gladbach into Champions League

dpadpa 24/08/2016 By Duncan Shaw

Manchester City and Borussia Moenchengladbach have built on commanding first-leg advantages to cruise through the Champions League playoffs.

Manchester City and Borussia Moenchengladbach have cruised into the Champions League along with Copenhagen and Dynamo Zagreb.

However Ajax surprisingly crashed out of Wednesday's playoffs 4-1 in Rostov-on-Don.

The winners join Celtic, Monaco, Porto, Ludogorets and Legia Warsaw, who clinched places in Tuesday's playoffs, in Thursday's Champions League draw.

A reserve-packed City side - England keeper Joe Hart making his first appearance of the season - beat Steaua Bucharest 1-0 at home, to go through on a placid 6-0 aggregate.

Hart is reportedly poised to leave City with the Manchester club close to signing veteran keeper Claudio Bravo from Barcelona.

Hart had a peaceful night of little activity, with feeble Steaua rarely giving him problems.

"That was a really special night for me," Hart said.

"We all know there is a situation going on. This is a special place for me, I've made no secret of that. Situations occur in football. We are men and we get on with it.

"We have got a top manager (Pep Guardiola) and he is going to have his opinion on things. Tonight I played and enjoyed every moment of it. The situation is what it is."

The game in Manchester was something of a formality, given City had won the first leg 5-0 in Romania last week.

The only goal came in the 56th minute, when Fabian Delph headed in a centre from fellow reserve Jesus Navas.

Meanwhile in Germany, Moenchengladbach thumped Young Boys 6-1 with hat-tricks from both Raffael and Thorgan Hazard to cruise through 9-2.

In Cyprus, APOEL almost forced extra-time against Copenhagen. The hosts were leading 1-0 thanks to a strike from Pieros Sotiriou, only for Copenhagen's Federico Santander to equalise just four minutes from time and give the Danes a crucial 2-1 aggregate triumph.

"That was a very important goal for me to score," a euphoric Santander said.

"If we had not got that goal then the tie would have gone into extra-time and anything could have happened then.

"APOEL were very sharp tonight but I think we just about deserved to qualify over the two games."

The surprise of the night was four-times Euro champions Ajax's 4-1 meltdown in Rostov, who have never managed to reach the Champions League before.

Serdar Azmoun, Aleksandr Yerokhin, Christian Noboa and Dmitry Poloz all scored for slick Rostov, who then had Fedor Kudryashov sent off.

Davy Klaassen pulled a late goal back for Ajax but it came far too late to save them from a humiliating exit.

It could turn out to be a sad end to the Ajax career of keeper Jasper Cillessen, who is poised to replace Bravo at Barcelona.

Meanwhile in Salzburg, Dynamo Zagreb battled out a 2-1 win in extra-time to go through on a tight 3-2 aggregate.

The first leg in Zagreb was a 1-1 draw.

Valentino Lazaro gave Salzburg the lead with an early strike, only for Zagreb's Junior Fernandes to force extra-time by making it 1-1 with just three minutes of normal time left.

El-Arbi Hilal Soudani won the game with a crucial strike five minutes into extra-time.

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