AEK, PAOK Κnock Celtic, Spartak Moscow Out of Champions League Qualifiers

AEK Athens' celebrate their win after a Champions League third qualifying round, second leg, soccer match between AEK Athens and Celtic at the Olympic stadium in Athens, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS – AEK Athens eliminated Scottish champion Celtic in the third round of Champions League qualifying on Tuesday.

The three other former European champions in action all advanced as Benfica, Ajax and Red Star Belgrade won their games.

AEK beat Celtic 2-1 in Greece thanks to goals from Rodrigo Galo and Marko Livaja to secure a 3-2 win on aggregate. Scott Sinclair responded with a goal for Celtic, the 1967 European Cup winner.

Celtic reached the Champions League group stage in the last two seasons, but the defeat continues a difficult start to the season for Brendan Rodgers’ team following a 1-0 loss to Hearts in the Scottish league on Saturday.

Portuguese club Benfica earned a 2-1 aggregate win over Turkish team Fenerbahce, while Dutch league runner-up Ajax cruised past Belgium’s Standard Liege, winning 3-0 on Tuesday for a 5-2 aggregate victory.

PAOK’s Amr Warda, left, fights for the ball with Spartak Moskva’s Andrey Eshchenko during the UEFA Champions League, third qualifying round, second leg soccer match between FC Spartak Moskva and PAOK FC at Spartak stadium in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Denis Tyrin)

Serbia’s Red Star Belgrade needed extra time to defeat Spartak Trnava 3-2 over two legs thanks to a 98th-minute goal from Nemanja Radonjic.

There was no post-World Cup buzz about Spartak Moscow, which lost 3-2 to Greece’s PAOK on aggregate after a red card for striker Luiz Adriano.

Dynamo Kiev, Salzburg, Dinamo Zagreb, Vidi and BATE Borisov also advanced to the last stage of qualifying. Tuesday’s losing teams drop into the Europa League qualifying playoff round.

Celtic’s James Forrest, right, reacts at the end of a Champions League third qualifying round, second leg, soccer match between AEK Athens and Celtic at the Olympic stadium in Athens, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Spartak Moskva’s Andrey Eshchenko, left, and goalkeeper Aleksandr Maksimenko leave the pitch after the UEFA Champions League, third qualifying round, second leg soccer match between FC Spartak Moskva and PAOK FC at Spartak stadium in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Denis Tyrin)
AEK Athens’ Alef, left, and AEK Athens’ Andre Simoes, right, chase down Celtic’s Olivier Ntcham, center, during a Champions League third qualifying round, second leg, soccer match between AEK Athens and Celtic at the Olympic stadium in Athens, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Dynamo Kiev’s Josip Pivaric celebrates, while being followed by his children, after winning during the second leg third qualifying round Champions League soccer match between Dynamo Kiev and Slavia Prague at the Olympiyskiy stadium in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Stopira of Vidi, left, in action against Bonke Innocent of Malmo during their Champions League third qualifying round second leg soccer match played by Vidi FC of Hungary and Malmo of Sweden in Pancho Arena in Felcsut, 42 kms southwest of Budapest, Hungary, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. (Tibor Illyes/MTI via AP)

Spartak Moskva’s Andrey Eshchenko, left, and goalkeeper Aleksandr Maksimenko leave the pitch after the UEFA Champions League, third qualifying round, second leg soccer match between FC Spartak Moskva and PAOK FC at Spartak stadium in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Denis Tyrin)
Spartak Moskva’s Andrey Eshchenko, left, and goalkeeper Aleksandr Maksimenko leave the pitch after the UEFA Champions League, third qualifying round, second leg soccer match between FC Spartak Moskva and PAOK FC at Spartak stadium in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Denis Tyrin)

Fenerbahce’s Andre Ayew, left, walks past Benfica’s Gedson Fernandes at the end of the Champions League third qualifying round, second leg, soccer match between Fenerbahce and Benfica at the Sukru Saracoglu stadium in Istanbul, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. The game ended in 1-1 draw and Benfica advances with a 2-1 aggregate result. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Salzburg’s players jump to block a free kick of Shkendija’s Besart Ibraimi, front, during the Champions League third qualifying round, second leg soccer match between Shkendija and Red Bull Salzburg, at Philip II Arena in Skopje, Macedonia, Tuesday Aug. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)