Ajax and AEK win first legs in Champions League qualifiers

Soccer-AEK-playing-in-Champions-League-qualifiers

Niklas Hult, center, and Vasileios Lampropoulos, right, of AEK Athens challenge Loic Nego of Mol Vidi during Champions League qualifiers. (Tibor Illyes/AP)

AMSTERDAM — Four-time European champion Ajax is on the verge of qualifying for the Champions League group stage after beating Dynamo Kyiv 3-1 in the first leg of their playoff Wednesday.

Dynamo goalkeeper Denys Boyko handed Ajax an early lead when he fumbled Donny van der Beek’s shot, but Tomasz Kedziora soon made it 1-1 from a corner.

Seeking to reach the group stage for the first time in four years, Ajax added goals from Hakim Ziyech and Dusan Tadic before halftime. Ajax hit the crossbar and post in the second half, but couldn’t score another.

Elsewhere, AEK Athens beat Hungarian team Vidi 2-1 away in their first-leg game to strengthen its chances of ending a 12-year absence from the Champions League group stage.

Vidi — known as Videoton until this season — played most of the game with 10 men after Szabolcs Huszti’s reckless challenge in the 23rd minute earned him a red card. The teams were even again in the 53rd when Tasos Bakasetas was sent off for a poor tackle shortly after scoring AEK’s second goal.

Croatia’s Dinamo Zagreb salvaged a 1-1 draw away to Young Boys Bern after Kevin Mbabu gave the Swiss team an early lead.

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