Moldovan club Sheriff took a big step toward a Champions League group-stage debut by beating Dinamo Zagreb 3-0 in the first leg of the playoff round on Tuesday.

Two goals from Mali winger Adama Traoré and a volleyed strike by Greece international Dimitris Kolovos gave Sheriff a dominant lead for the second leg in Croatia on August 25.

Sheriff aims to become the first club from Moldova to advance to the Champions League group stage, in its 19th attempt in the past 21 seasons as the domestic title winner.

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The club from Tiraspol in the breakaway region of Transnistria has already advanced through three qualifying rounds, including beating former European champion Red Star Belgrade, to earn the playoff against Dinamo Zagreb.

In other playoff first legs Tuesday, Shakhtar Donetsk’s 1-0 win at Monaco was earned by Brazilian midfielder Pedrinho’s first-half goal.

United States midfielder Brenden Aaronson scored in the 90th minute to lift FC Salzburg to a 2-1 win over visiting Brondby, which opened the scoring in the 4th.


Three more playoff first legs are scheduled Wednesday.

The 32-team Champions League group stage draw will be made on Aug. 27 in Istanbul, Turkey.