Irish and English eyes were smiling while there was heart break for Scotland in the third qualifying round of the Europa league. Shamrock Rovers, Spurs, Fulham, Stoke and Birmingham all made the group stages while Celtic, Rangers and Hearts bowed out.
At White Hart Lane, Hearts put up a spirited performance against a second string Spurs side to claim a 0-0 draw however the damage was done last weekend in Edinburgh when Paulo Sergio’s side lost 5-0.
Meanwhile Fulham lost 1-0 away to Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk but like Harry Redknapp’s team the job was done last week, a 3-0 win at Craven Cottage taking the pressure off what was a full strength side. Evgeny Shakhov’s goal on 23 minutes giving the home side hope however it never transpired and Martin Jol’s side will head into the draw.
There was joy as well for Chris Hughton who led his Birmingham side into the group stages with a 3-0 win over Clube Desportivo Nacional. Goals from Chris Wood, David Murphy and Nathan Redmond sealed an impressive win for the Championship side.
Glenn Whelan found the net as Stoke made short work of Swiss side FC Thun, the Dubliner scored in the 38 minute to put Tony Pulis’s side 3-0 up on the night and 4-0 up on aggregate.
Matt Upson, with his first goal for the club and Kenwyne Jones had put the Potters into a commanding lead before Whelan and a second from Jones in the 72nd minute scored to put the result beyond doubt. Thun scored a consolation with 13 minutes remaining but in the end, Stoke ran out 5-1 aggregate winners.
Celtic and Rangers both followed Hearts out the European door as they went down to surprise two legged defeats. Neil Lennon’s side crashed out of Europe as they lost 3-1 on the night and on aggregate to Swiss side FC Sion. A brace from Pascal Feinduono, one a penalty and a 82nd minute effort from Giovanni Sio sealed the win with Charlie Mulgrew’s 78th effort failing to inspire a late comeback.
Meanwhile like Hearts the damage for Ally McCoist’s Rangers side was done in the first league as they failed to overturn a 2-1, a 1-1 draw at home not enough to progress.
Finally Irish side Shamrock Rovers made history when the beat FK Partizan 2-1 away after extra time to seal a 3-2 aggregate win and become the first league of Ireland side to reach the group stage of the champions league.