LONDON: Milan reached the Champions League group stage for the 11th time in 12 seasons after finishing off Holland’s PSV Eindhoven in their playoff round second leg in the Stadio Meazza at San Siro.
Kevin-Prince Boateng scored either side of a Mario Balotelli strike to earn the Italians a 3-0 win on the night and 4-1 success on aggregate.
Real Sociedad safely made it through to the group stage for the first time since 2003-04, their only previous appearance. The Spanish side secured an impressive 2-0 win at Lyon in the first leg and Carlos Vela’s brace secured the same result in San Sebastian.
Milan and Sociedad were joined in the draw by Czech outfit Viktoria Plzen.
Having beaten Maribor 3-1 in the first leg, Stanislav Tecl’s third-minute goal at the Stadion Ljudski vrt was enough to ease through 4-1 on aggregate.
Zenit St Petersburg beat Champions League debutants Pacos Ferreira 4-2 to secure safe progress. The Russian side won the first leg 4-1 in Portugal and never looked in any danger, especially after Danny goals either side of half-time.
Aleksandr Bukharov extended Zenit’s lead before Manuel Jose and Carlao struck either side of an Andrey Arshavin penalty as the tie ended 8-3 on aggregate.
James Forrest’s stoppage-time strike saw Celtic reach the group stages for the second successive season.
The Hoops were trailing 2-0 to Kazakhstan champions Shakhter Karagandyafter their play-off first leg but Kris Commons thundered in a left-footed drive from 25 yards on half-time then Georgios Samaras grabbed No2 moments after the restart to set up the dramatic denouement.
Manager Neil Lennon said: “That was the greatest thing I’ve ever done in football.
“The last three months were in preparation for this. We lost three very important players [Victor Wanyama, Gary Hooper and Kelvin Wilson] and it has been difficult to replace them. Coming from 2-0 down tonight just makes the players all the more remarkable.
“They were wonderful, absolutely wonderful.”