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Zenit eases into Champions League group stage

Zenit's Domenico Criscito, right, fights for the ball with Standard de Liege's Laurent Ciman during the UEFA Champions League, play offs, 2nd leg soccer match, between Standard de Liege and Zenit St. Petersburg in St.Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014.

Dmitry Lovetsky/AP

Hulk scored twice as 10-man Zenit St. Petersburg cruised into the Champions League group stage after beating Standard Liege 3-0 on Tuesday, while former European champion Celtic was knocked out in the playoff round.

Already holding a 1-0 advantage from the first leg, Zenit's aggregate lead was extended through Jose Rondon's deflected header in the 30th minute and the Russian hosts could afford to have Viktor Fayzulin sent off before half time.

Hulk's opener came from the penalty spot in the 54th after Igor Smolnikov was tripped by Jelle Van Damme. The Brazil forward was on target again four minutes later, brushing off Liege defenders before slotting home. Liege had Ricardo Faty sent off in the 89th minute.

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There were mixed fortunes for the former European champions in the playoff round.

Porto beat Lille 2-0 to go through 3-0 on aggregate but Celtic was beaten 1-0 at home by Maribor to go out 2-1 on aggregate. Celtic, the 1967 European Cup winners, owed its appearance in the playoffs to UEFA's legal department spotting an administrative error by its previous opponent after losing home and away to Legia Warsaw.

"Everybody's disappointed," Celtic midfielder Stefan Johansen said. "We weren't good enough."

APOEL, a surprise quarterfinalist three seasons ago, eased through with a 4-0 victory over Aalborg after drawing 1-1 in Denmark. It was also an easy night for BATE Borisov which beat Slovan Bratislava 3-0 to advance 4-1 on aggregate.

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