GENEVA (AP) — Mauro Icardi’s clever goal then an unselfish assist on the winner in stoppage time lifted Galatasaray to a 3-2 victory at Molde in the first leg of a Champions League qualifying playoff Wednesday.
The Argentina forward’s creativity has the Turkish champion on the brink of a return to the lucrative group stage for the first time in four years.
Icardi’s standout moment was a deft volley to score in the 29th minute, taking a floated pass from Yunus Akgün over his right shoulder with a first-time shot to give the visitors a 2-1 lead.
Molde had led in the fifth minute and leveled early in the second half, but was beaten in the final seconds. Icardi broke clear and passed across the goalmouth for Norwegian midfielder Fredrik Midtsjø to score into an empty net.
Midtsjø’s goal threatens to extend Norway’s unwanted record of not having a team advance to the group stage since his former club Rosenborg 16 years ago.
The return game is in Istanbul next Tuesday between two teams that already each won through two qualifying rounds.
Braga will take just a 2-1 lead to Greece after Panathinaikos found a goal in the fifth minute of stoppage time to halve the Portuguese team's lead.
Midfielder Daniel Mancini’s goal gave hope to Panathinaikos, the 1971 European Cup beaten finalist that has not been in the group stage for 13 years.
Braga got goals in the 51st by Abel Ruiz and in the 73rd from Spanish winger Álvaro Djaló, either side of a glaring miss by Panathinaikos forward Andraž Šporar who scooped a shot over the unguarded goal.
Maccabi Haifa was held 0-0 by Young Boys in a game of few chances where the visiting Swiss champion did not have a shot on target.
Winners in the second legs on Tuesday advance to the 32-team group-stage draw on Aug. 31.
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The Associated Press