Three German sides have qualified for football's Europa League. Bayer Leverkusen, Borussia Dortmund and Stuttgart are all looking forward to playing in Europe's second-tier tournament this coming season.
Timo Gebhart scored Stuttgart's first goal, coming back from 2-0 down
Bayer Leverkusen, Borussia Dortmund and Stuttgart won their two-legged matches on Thursday evening, securing a place in the group stage of the Europa League.
Stuttgart recovered after going 2-0 down at home to Slovan Bratislava to pull level at 2-2 for a 3-2 aggregate win.
The Slovakian side were in a good position after Martin Dobrotka scored in the ninth minute and Jakub Sylvestr followed it up with another goal in the 53rd. However, the game changed after Slovan's Martin Breznanik was sent off two minutes later for a second yellow card.
Timo Gebhart got a goal for Stuttgart a minute later and Christian Gentner struck the crucial equalizer with a long-range effort in the 64th.
Stuttgart coach Christian Gross was delighted with the result:
"I'm so happy for the players and the club, that it's managed to pull itself into the group stage. We performed really, really badly at times but we bounced back with fantastic morale."
Dortmund and Leverkusen also through
Dortmund are also through after a stoppage-time goal from Lucas Barrios gave the German side a 1-0 win at Qarabag Agdam. The victory in Azerbaijan completed a resounding 5-0 aggregate win for the Bundesliga side.
Juergen Klopp, Dortmund's coach said the condition of the pitch worked in Qarabag's favour:
Borussia Dortmund made light of the pitch in Azerbaijan
"We're very happy. Qarabag kicked off with a bang. The ground gave the Azerbaijanis a small advantage in the competition."
Leverkusen meanwhile were 3-1 winners at Ukrainians Tavriya Simferopol earning a 6-1 aggregate.
The Leverkusen coach, Jupp Heynckes, said the team had struggled in the first half, but after half-time they came back more confident.
Other teams through to the Europa League group stage this season include Spain's Villareal, French side Paris St. Germain, Portugal's Sporting Lisbon and England's Liverpool. Notable absentees this time round will be Aston Villa, Celtic, and two big Turkish clubs, Galatasaray and Fenerbahce.
Author: Joanna Impey (AFP/dpa/Reuters, SID)
Editor: Matt Hermann