STA, 1 August 2019 - Slovenian football champions Maribor qualified for the third round of the UEFA Champions League qualifiers by eliminating AIK in Stockholm on Wednesday evening by virtue of scoring more away goals. Maribor had to work extra time as the regular time ended with a 3:3 tie on aggregate.
After beating AIK 2:1 in Maribor last week, the perennial Slovenian champions survived the tough match in Stockholm by losing 3:2 after extra time and advancing to the next round of qualifying on away goals.
It was Romanian Alexandru Cretu to score the decisive goal for Maribor in the 116th minute with a header assisted by Mitja Viler, bringing Maribor closer to what would be the club's third appearance in the group stage of the Champions League.
"I don't feel like a hero, this is a result of the hard work of the entire team. It was a tough match, we knew that it would not be easy because they have players who fight hard all the time," Cretu said after the match.
In the third round, Maribor will play the Norwegian champions Rosenborg, which eliminated the Belarusian champions BATE Borisov. The first leg will be played in Slovenia's second largest city on 7 August.
Maribor head coach Darko Milanič said that the team had believed in success until the last minute. "Both teams were too good for this stage, and it's unfortunate that we met at this point already. Well, it turned out great for us.
"Unbelievable! This is a match everybody will remember, not only players, but you and the fans too," he told reporters, adding that Maribor was already looking ahead and preparing for the next opponent Rosenborg.
Milanič said he had never coached against the Norwegian champions, but that he had been told by sport director Zlatko Zahovič that Maribor was "in for a hard fight with a very well physically prepared team."
If Maribor fail to advance past Rosenborg and secure the last qualifying round for the Champions League, they will enter the last round of qualifying for the UEFA Europa League.