Some Nigerian players had cause to smile on the night, but for others, their journey would continue in Europe’s second tier
Super Eagles hopeful Raphael Onyedika featured for Midtjylland in their penalty shootout victory over AEK Larnaca which ensured a spot in the semifinals of the Champions League preliminaries.
Midtjylland had a tough task on their hands. The former Danish champions drew 1-1 at home to AEK Larnaca in the first leg of the tie. And going to beat AEK Larnaca in Cyprus was a difficult task.
Nigerian forward Victor Olatunji scored the opener for the Cyprus side in the 9th minute, but his goal was canceled three minutes later by Henrik Dalsgaard, who equalized for Midtjylland.
However, that was the end of scoring on the night. Both teams were both explosive as they registered a joint thirty goal attempts. But their efforts amounted to naught.
The game pushed on till extra time. Onyedika had a good performance in midfield playing 114 minutes before he was replaced by Chris Kouakou.
He had 48 touches, and an 86 percent pass accuracy.
Midtjylland progressed on penalties 4-3 after Gustavo and Altman missed their kicks for AEK Larnaca.
Meanwhile, in North Macedonia, Sheriff Tiraspol beat NK Maribor 1-0.
The Slovenian champions just signed Super Eagles forward Ishaq Rafiu, but the Nigerian’s hope of Champions League football in his first season in Europe was dashed. Sheriff Tiraspol also have Rasheed Akanbi, and the 23-year-old played all 90 minutes for his side.
The first leg ended goalless in Maribor, and the North Macedonians just needed a win in the second leg to ensure passage to the final round
Sheriff Tiraspol dominated the game entirely and could have easily scored three on the night. However, they had to wait until the 88th minute to get the vital goal.
Momo Yansane was introduced into the game in the 85th minute. And seconds later he scored the crucial goal to and his side a spot in the semifinals of the UCL preliminaries.
The next round of games will be played between the 2nd-9th of August.
Midtjylland will trade tackles with Benfica, Sheriff Tiraspol square off against Viktoria Plzen. For Maribor and AEK Larnaca, they would continue their hunt for a spot in Europe in the Europa League preliminaries.