Nigeria U-23 players, Emmanuel Dennis and David Okereke played a pivotal role in Club Brugge’s qualification for the group stage of the Uefa Champions League after they defeated LASK (Austria) 2-1 in the return leg of the playoff round at the Jan Breydel Stadion on Wednesday night.
The Belgian side were ahead 1-0 from the first leg of the fixture played in Vienna through Hans Vanaken spot-kick last week and it was the same player that got the opener in the second leg tie in the 70th minute after the first half had ended goalless.
LASK didn’t allow that crucial curtain-raiser which extended the aggregate scores to 2-0 to weigh them down and they went in search of the equalising goal and got it four minutes after Club Brugge’s opener from the penalty spot.
The centre referee had adjudged there was an infringement in the vital area of the home team and Joao Klauss dispatched the spot-kick by sending Simon Mignolet who was recently acquired from Liverpool, the wrong way to make it 1-1 and an opportunity for LASK to grab an unlikely second goal.
Their chances of staging a comeback were eroded in the 81st minute when LASK was reduced to 10 men after Gernot Trauner received a second booking for his foul on a Club Brugge striker.
The visitors suffered more heartache in the 89th minute when Emmanuel Dennis scored the back-breaking second goal for the home team after he was set up by South African import, Percy Tau barely a minute after he replaced his compatriot, David Okereke.
Club Brugge thus progressed 3-1 on aggregate against LASK that paraded another Nigerian, Yusuf Otubanjo and they will be among the clubs that will have their group stage foes known on Friday this week.
Ajax Amsterdam who were surprised package last season when they stormed to the semi-final will return to the group stage of the lucrative club competition after they eliminated APOEL 2-0 on aggregate in the playoff round.
Edson Alvarez and Dusan Tadic were on the score-sheet for the Dutch champions.
Slavia Prague, Olympiacos, Red Stars Belgrade, Dinamo Zagreb are also among the teams that will be seeking to know their opponents on Friday.