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Astana Reach Champions League Group Stages

Astana has become the first Kazakh soccer team to qualify for the group stage of the Champions League, Europe's premier club competition.

Astana tied APOEL 1-1 in Cyprus on August 26, getting a goal in the 84th minute by Nemanja Maksimovic. That was enough to go through 2-1 on aggregate after winning the first game in Kazakhstan 1-0.

Astana, a team backed by Kazkahstan's sovereign-wealth fund Samruk-Kazyna, is the most remote of all the clubs in the group stage.

In Serbia, Belarusian champions BATE Borisov reached the group stages for the fourth time in five years on away goals after a 2-1 loss at Partizan Belgrade, having won the first leg 1-0.

In Russia, CSKA Moscow mounted a second-half comeback to beat Sporting Lisbon 3-1 and 4-3 on aggregate.

Others teams to qualify for the group stage on August 26 were Manchester United and Bayern Leverkusen.

Based on reporting by and AP