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Koka’s Rio Ave qualify for Europa League play-off

Koka - Rio Ave qualifyA 0-0 draw at home against IFK Göteborg was enough for Ahmed Hassan ‘Koka’s Rio Ave to seal passage to the Europa League play-off stage, thanks to the 0-1 victory in the first leg.

Rio Ave’s first ever home game in European competitions proved to be a tough and nervous affair. The home side needed to at least hold on to the draw, whilst IFK Göteborg needed to win. As such, the first few minutes of the match were spent inside Rio Ave’s area, with Sam Larsson threatening goalkeeper Cássio on a couple of occasions.

However, Rio Ave still managed to scare Göteborg early on, as John Alvbage left the goal poorly and was heavily pressured by Koka, before being able to release the ball safely. The home side then began to gain more confidence and took control of the match, with Yonathan Del Valle and Filipe Augusto being the protagonists in the offence, but many balls failed to reach their desired man or the goal.

The second half began with Göteborg attacking more, with Larsson being the most dangerous player. Rio Ave also tried to score, but an uninspired Koka failed to capitalize, which led to him making way for Boateng in the 78nd minute. A few minutes later, Tarantini had one of the best chances of the match, but his header missed the post by inches.

The crowd began to celebrate every interception and defensive action as if they were goals and, as the minutes ticked away, Rio Ave fended off every offensive maneuver from Göteborg until the final whistle.

The 0-1 victory in Sweden was enough for Rio Ave to qualify for the play-off stage of the Europa League, where they may meet clubs such as Lyon, Inter Milan or Tottenham. The draw is on Friday morning, with the games to be played on the 21st and 28th of August.

Alexandre Queirós is a Portuguese sports enthusiast, with particular focus African, Portuguese and Oceanic football. He followed the exploits of the Egyptian players plying their trade in Portugal for KingFut.com and also covers the rest of African football for other websites. He also proudly sates that he has been on the BBC World Service radio, even though he only said one sentence.

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