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UEFA CL Playoffs: Fans hail Hart as Citizens reach Group Stage 6-0 on aggregate


08-25-2016 11:11 BJT

In the UEFA Champions League, Manchester City hosted Steaua Bucharest in the Second Leg of their Qualification Playoff.

After the Citizens romped to a 5-0 demolition in the first leg, Pep Guardiola was feeling pretty confident in his team, so much so that he gave Joe Hart and Yaya Toure what could very well be their last matches in the baby blue.


Manchester City 1 - Steaua Bucharest 0

With Claudio Bravo poised to complete a move from Barcelona, this could very well be goalkeeper Hart's 348th and final City appearance. The fans at the Etihad chant his name throughout the game, after he was previously frozen out by new manager Guardiola.

The Citizens control the action and make a breakthrough in the 56th minute, when Fabian Delph converts the cross from Jesus Navas with a glancing header.

But the home fans have other preoccupations, and after a chant of "Stand up if you love Joe Hart" brings almost everybody at the stadium to their feet, his first save prompts a huge cheer.

There are two further stops, including on a free-kick from Nicolae Stanciu, and both are greeted in the same manner.

It ends 1-0 City, who are into the Group Stage with a 6-0 aggregate victory, and plenty of applause for Hart from all corners of the stadium as he heads off the pitch.

"Joe is still a player of ours so I am so happy he plays today. I know he is a legend of this club and I know part of what this club has become is partly because of Joe. He has helped to make this team one step above," said Pep Guardiola, Manchester City Manager.

"I am happy the way the people treated him, and the few chances that Bucharest created, he dealt with without a problem. It was a good night for everybody and for Joe as well."

Unheralded Russian squad into main draw 5-2 on aggregate

In Russia, Rostov would look to qualify for the Group Stage by upsetting former European champions Ajax.

The two sides drew 1-all in the First Leg, and Sardar Azmoun would rise to head in a cross in the 34th minute here, putting the hosts up 1-nil.

The Russian club adds two more goals in the 52nd and 60th minutes, before Dmitry Poloz puts the icing on the cake by sprinting unchallenged from the circle, and rounding the keeper to make it 4-nil.

The Dutch club gets one back on Davy Klaasen's penalty kick, after Fedor Kudryashov is sent off for a reckless challenge on Kasper Dolberg. But the result will come as a huge blow to Ajax and their new coach Peter Bosz, as Eindhoven will be the only Eredivisie team in the Group Stage.

So here's how the main draw stands, Pot One includes reigning titleholders Real Madrid, La Liga rivals Barcelona, and English Premier League champions Leicester. Pot Two features returning runners-up Atletico Madrid, Dortmund, Arsenal, and Man City.

Pot Three boasts EPL side Tottenham Hotspur and German squad Monchengladbach. And Pot Four holds newcomers Rostov, along with the likes of Scottish representatives Celtic. The draw for the Group Stage will be held later Thursday evening.

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