Süper Lig champion Trabzonspor Champions League dreams were dashed by FC Copenhagen after a goalless draw ended the two-leg playoff 2-1 in favor of the Danes Wednesday.
Despite dominating possession and having more shots on target, the Black Sea Storms were unable to unlock a defiant Copenhagen defense.
“We were eliminated in the match that we could have won as a game,” said Trabzonspor coach Abdullah Avcı following the draw.
“We were ahead in terms of attacking the opponent’s penalty area, possession and the number of shots in both matches. Today, we played the game entirely in our own hands … The players tried everything to the end,” he added.
Avcı rued his side’s missed opportunities in both legs. “We implemented the plans for most of the match. The number of passes and attacking positions were high. But you need to finish those positions. We had five-six clear chances.”
Following the defeat, Trabzonspor will now play in the second-tier Europa League, with the group stages draw scheduled to be held Friday.
Elsewhere, Scottish giants Rangers returned to the Champions League group stage for the first time in 12 years with a 1-0 win at PSV Eindhoven, while Dinamo Zagreb also qualified with an extra-time win over Norway’s Bodo/Glimt.
Antonio Colak tapped in the winner for the Glasgow side on the hour after Milik Tillam robbed PSV defender Andre Ramalho and slipped the ball across the box to the Croatian forward who made no mistake.
Rangers reached the Europa League final last season, losing to Eintracht Frankfurt and their return to the group stage of the Champions League completes an impressive turn-around for the Scottish club.
After being hit by financial troubles and going into liquidation, Rangers had to start again in the fourth tier of Scottish football in 2012.
“It’s difficult to describe in words, it was a great team performance. It’s an amazing journey we’ll have this year and I’m so proud of all of these guys,” said Colak.
“I was in tears on the pitch, it was just a moment of joy. As a kid I always wanted to compete at this level and to be here is amazing,” he added.
With Celtic also in the group stages, Scotland will have both their giants in the elite competition for the first time since 2007/08.
Dinamo Zagreb needed extra time to get past Norway’s Bodo/Glimt 4-1, securing a 4-2 aggregate win, after letting their early advantage slip.
Mislav Orsic fired Dinamo ahead from a tight angle in the fourth minute and then a brilliant bicycle kick from Bruno Petkovic extended the lead, making it 2-1 on aggregate.
But the Norwegian champion fought its way back into the game with Albert Gronbaek leveling the tie on aggregate in the 70th minute with a shot that Dinamo keeper Dominik Livakovic should have kept out.
But early in the second period of extra time, Dinamo restored their advantage with a composed finish from the edge of the box by Josip Drmic and then made sure of victory with a goal on the break from Petar Bockaj.