Among others, Barclays Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur, Scottish Premier League giants Celtic, and Serie A middle-of-the-table dwellers Inter Milan and Fiorentina all booked places in the knockout round in the latest round of 2014-15 Europa League action on Thursday.
Mauricio Pochettino‘s Spurs saw off Group C cellar dwellers Partizan Belgrade, 1-0, at White Hart Lane, thanks to a 49th-minute goal from midfielder Benjamin Stambouli. The Frenchman first Spurs goal was the result of more bad luck for wayward Spanish forward Roberto Soldado who, 1-on-1, hit the far post after chipping the goalkeeper, but Stambouli made the late run into the box and slammed the rebound home.
Spurs currently sit atop the group, two points ahead of final matchday opponents Besiktas — 2-2 drawers on Thursday — meaning a draw or a win in Istanbul clinches top spot for the North Londoners.
Celtic were embarrassed by Red Bull Salzburg, 3-1, on the field, and booed off it as the full-time whistle went at Celtic Park. However, Astra Giurgiu‘s 1-0 defeat of then-third-placed Dinamo Zagreb means Ronny Deila‘s men maintain a four-point advantage over the Romanians in third with one matchday left to go, thus moving the Scottish side on to the knockout round.
[ RELATED: Everton win Group H, qualify for knockout round ]
Thursday was a good day for most of the Italian sides in Europe’s second-tier competition as Inter Milan and Fiorentina clinched the top spots in Groups F and K, respectively.
Inter saw off Ukrainian side Dnipro at home, 2-1, despite a 46th-minute to Andrea Ranocchia. With the game tied 1-1 at the time, the Italians took the three points through Dani Osvaldo‘s 50th-minute winner. Yevhen Konoplyanka had a penalty saved by Samir Handanovic in the 28th-minute, though, denying the Ukrainians a two-goal lead before Inter equalized just two minutes later.
Fiorentina went away to Ligue 1 side Guingamp and overcame a 44th-minute red card of their own to win 2-1. Marko Marin and Khouma Babacar netted the Italians’ two goal inside the game’s first 13 minutes.
Napoli were the unfortunate Italian side of the day, drawing 0-0 away to Sparta Prague and remaining level on 10 points with the Czech side atop Group I. Third-placed BSC Young Boys have nine points themselves following a 3-1 defeat of Slovan Bratislava, putting the co-leaders on notice heading into Matchday 6 Dec. 11.
Dinamo Moscow 2-1 Panathinaikos
FC Krasnodar 1-1 Lille
Wolfsburg 0-2 Everton
Aalborg 1-0 Steaua Bucharest
Dynamo Kiev 2-0 Rio Ave
Dinamo Minsk 0-2 PAOK Salonika
Guingamp 1-2 Fiorentina
Trabzonspor 3-1 Metalist Kharkiv
Lokeren 1-0 Legia Warsaw
Rijeka 2-0 Standard Liege
Feyenoord 2-0 Sevilla
Saint Etienne 1-1 FK Karabakh
Villarreal 2-2 Borussia Monchengladbach
FC Zurich 3-1 Apollon Limassol
Torino 0-0 Club Brugges
HJK 2-1 FC Copenhagen
Asteras Tripolis 2-2 Besiktas