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Murphy fires Motherwell into play-offs

Jamie Murphy continued his impressive European goalscoring streak as a lightning start fired Motherwell into the Europa League play-offs with a 3-0 win against Aalesund - 4-1 on aggregate.

• Liverpool 2-0 Rabotnicki Kometal

Murphy blasted his third goal in as many games and his seventh in Europe before John Sutton's effort gave Motherwell a commanding lead over Aalesund with just 13 minutes gone.

The home side were more purposeful in possession than their Norwegian visitors during a comfortable first half and stood firm in defence when put under concerted pressure after the interval.

Substitute Jonathan Page netted a late third to round off an impressive victory which sends Motherwell into a potentially lucrative tie - one step from the group stages and a round further than they achieved last season.

Manchester United reserve team coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was also at Fir Park to watch Aalesund goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard.

Hibernian were unceremoniously dumped out of the Europa League after crashing to a dispiriting 6-2 aggregate defeat to Maribor in their third qualifying round tie.

Already trailing 3-0 after the first leg in Slovenia, the Easter Road side never looked like staging a famous comeback after conceding the opening goal to visiting skipper Marcos Tavares after only 19 minutes, eventually losing 3-2.

Dutch midfielder Edwin de Graaf at least pulled the SPL outfit level on the night when he deflected in Anthony Stokes' shot shortly after the interval and also netted a late consolation in the closing seconds.

However, by then any faint hopes of progression had been dashed as Maribor restored their lead through Deja Mezga's penalty and extended it with Tavares' second of the night and third of the tie.

Shamrock Rovers went out with their heads held high following a 1-0 defeat away to Juventus. Rovers' hopes of causing a huge upset in the third qualifying round were all but over after a double from Amauri gave Juventus a 2-0 victory in the first leg at Tallaght Stadium in Dublin last week.

However, they pushed Juventus all the way and only Alessandro Del Piero's 74th-minute strike separated the teams, with the Old Lady winning 3-0 on aggregate.

Bangor City's European adventure ended for another year with a 2-1 defeat in the second leg of their qualifier against Portugal's Maritimo. Reeling from an 8-2 loss in Madeira last week, the Welsh side welcomed Maritimo to Wrexham's Racecourse Ground.

They went ahead on the night through Alan Bull's ninth-minute strike but Adilson and Marquinho scored in the second half to deny their hosts a win on the night.

Northern Ireland's Cliftonville are also out after a 2-1 loss at home to CSKA Sofia saw them lose 5-1 on aggregate. Liam Boyce put Cliftonville ahead shortly before the break, only for Tomi Kostadinov (85) and Marquinhos (88) to silence the crowd with late strikes.

• For all of Thursday night's Europa League results click here.


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