Malaga stay on course for Champions League spot

Malaga gave themselves an excellent chance of qualifying for the Champions League for the first time by beating Panathinaikos 2-0 at home in the first leg of their playoff on Wednesday.

Udinese, like Malaga hit by a flurry of summer departures, held Braga 1-1 away and Belarus champions BATE Borisov appear on the brink of a second successive group stage appearance after a 2-0 home win over Israel's Hapoel Kiryat Shmona.

AEL Limassol, hoping to provide more success for Cyprus after APOEL's run to the quarter-finals last season, won 2-1 against Anderlecht who, like Tottenham Hotspur, are suffering the consequences of Chelsea winning the trophy last season.

Tottenham missed out altogether because Chelsea, who finished outside the top four in the English Premier League, took their place under UEFA's complex qualification system.

Anderlecht, who should have gone straight into the group stage, were pushed back into the third qualification round.

Former Argentina defender Martin Demichelis put Malaga in front against group stage regulars Panathinaikos when he reacted quickly to flick home from close range in the 17th minute.

Portuguese Eliseu volleyed the second just after the half hour. Although Malaga did not concede, they may have been disappointed not to have added to their tally after they dominated the match.

Udinese, beaten at the same stage by Arsenal last season, went ahead in the 23rd minute against the run of play with a Dusan Basta header before Braga's Brazilian leftback Ismaily rifled in a stunning equaliser from long range in the 68th minute.

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