Liverpool beat Udinese 1-0 and Tottenham defeated Panathinaikos 3-1 to claim two of the final five spots in the round of 32 of soccer’s Europa League.
Steaua Bucharest, Stuttgart and Basel also advanced last night as group play concluded in Europe’s second-tier club competition. The top two in each of the 12 groups qualified for the knockout rounds, alongside the eight third-place finishers from the elite Champions League group stage.
Jordan Henderson scored in Liverpool’s win in Italy, which combined with Young Boys’ 3-1 victory over Anzhi Makhachkala, left the three teams tied in Group A with 10 points each. Liverpool won the tiebreaker of the head-to-head results between the trio to jump over already qualified Anzhi as group winner.
“It was always going to be a very tight group and you saw how close it finished,” Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said on the club’s website. “I said to the players I thought we could finish top of the group with a good result tonight. I’m absolutely delighted for them because they have been superb throughout the campaign.”
Two scores in the final 14 minutes gave Tottenham the win over Panathinaikos and a second-place finish in Group J behind Lazio, which routed Maribor 4-1.
Emmanuel Adebayor scored for Spurs in the 28th minute and Zeca pulled Panathinaikos even early in the second half. Tottenham went ahead in the 76th minute as Clint Dempsey’s header hit the crossbar and was deflected in by goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis for an own goal and Jermain Defoe clinched the victory six minutes later.
Steaua Bucharest won Group E after drawing with Copenhagen 1-1, while Stuttgart lost 1-0 to Molde but still finished runner-up on the tiebreaker over Copenhagen.
Basel’s 0-0 draw with qualified Genk gave it the point it needed to advance from Group G over Videoton, whose match against Sporting Lisbon was postponed by a wet field in Portugal.
Bordeaux topped Group D after a 2-0 win over second-place Newcastle, while Viktoria Plzen won Group B after beating defending champion Atletico Madrid 1-0 in a matchup of qualified teams.
The two qualified teams from Group C met with runner-up Monchengladbach beating Fenerbahce 3-0. Dnipro claimed the top spot from Group F with a 4-0 win over AIK, while Napoli, which had already qualified, was a 3-1 home loser to PSV.
Rubin Kazan tied 1-1 with Partizan Belgrade to secure first in Group H over Inter Milan, which drew 2-2 with Neftchi. Lyon beat Hapoel Kiryat Shmona 2-0 to finish top in Group I.
Metalist Kharkiv lost 1-0 at Rapid Vienna but still won Group K on a tiebreaker over Bayer Leverkusen, a 1-0 winner over Rosenborg. Hannover and Levante, the top two in Group L, played to a 2-2 draw.
The draw for the round of 32 will be held Dec. 20, with the two-game series played Feb. 14 and 21.
TEAMS QUALIFIED FOR THE EUROPA LEAGUE KNOCKOUT STAGE: *Ajax, Anzhi Makhachkala, Atletico Madrid, *BATE Borisov, Basel, Bayer Leverkusen, *Benfica, Bordeaux, Borussia Monchengladbach, *Chelsea, *Cluj, Dnipro, *Dynamo Kiev, Fenerbahce, Genk, Hannover, Inter Milan, Lazio, Levante, Liverpool, Lyon, Metalist Kharkiv, Napoli, Newcastle, *Olympiacos, Rubin Kazan, Sparta Prague, Steaua Bucharest, Stuttgart, Tottenham, Viktoria Plzen, *Zenit St. Petersburg.
*Qualified from Champions League group stage.
To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Bensch in London at email@example.com.