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Udinese, Rubin, Bruges, AZ Claim Final Europa League Places

Udinese, Rubin Kazan, Club Bruges and AZ Alkmaar claimed the last four spots in the Europa League round of 32 after they all tied their final group games 1-1.

Bruges won its group and Udinese, Rubin and AZ advanced last night as runners-up in European soccer’s second-tier club competition. The top two from each of the 12 groups will be joined by the eight third-place finishers from the elite Champions League in today’s draw.

Udinese tied Celtic to finish behind 2010 winner Atletico Madrid, which beat Rennes 3-1, in Group I. Antonio Di Natale’s goal just before half time gave Udinese the home draw it needed to progress. Celtic, which scored through Gary Hooper, would have advanced by beating the Italian Serie A co-leader.

“With a bit of luck we’d be through,” Celtic manager Neil Lennon told ESPN. “To come away from home, to Italy of all places, and play like that was good to see.”

Rubin Kazan, playing with 10 men after goalkeeper Sergei Rzyhikov received a red card in the 12th minute for taking down Georgios Georgiadis in the area, advanced by holding on to draw with Group A winner PAOK Salonika. Nelson Valdez’s second-half goal tied the game for Rubin after Vierinha scored with the penalty kick resulting from Ryzhikov’s foul.

Tottenham and Birmingham followed fellow English club Fulham in being eliminated. Spurs won 4-0 at Shamrock Rovers though finished one point behind Rubin. The London team needed to win, have Rubin lose and make up a goal difference of six in order to progress.

“When you are in a situation like we were and you are relying on another score, it is always difficult,” Spurs manager Harry Redknapp told reporters.


Bruges’s home draw against 10-man Braga, last year’s runner-up to Porto, was enough to win Group H.

Bjorn Vleminckx scored for Bruges before Ewerton tied it for Braga, which had Elderson sent off in the first half. The teams finished even with 11 points, with Bruges taking the top spot on a better head-to-head record. Birmingham took third place after beating Maribor 1-0 on Adam Rooney’s goal.

AZ Alkmaar’s draw with Group G winner Metalist Kharkiv sent it into the knockout stage. AZ finished tied on eight points with Austria Vienna, which beat Malmo 2-0, and advanced on a superior goal difference.

Group B winner Standard Liege won 1-0 at Copenhagen and runner-up Hannover beat Vorskla Poltava 3-1. PSV Eindhoven, which had already won Group C, defeated Rapid Bucharest 2-1 and Hapoel Tel-Aviv beat Legia Warsaw, which was guaranteed of finishing second, 2-0.

Manchester United, Manchester City and Porto are among the teams dropping down from the Champions League. The two-match series in the last 32 are scheduled for Feb. 16 and 23.

Ajax*, Anderlecht, Atletico Madrid, Athletic Bilbao, AZ Alkmaar,
Besiktas, Braga, Bruges, FC Twente, Hannover, Lazio, Legia
Warsaw, Lokomotiv Moscow, Manchester City*, Manchester United*,
Metalist Kharkiv, Olympiacos*, PAOK, Porto*, PSV Eindhoven, Red
Bull Salzburg, Rubin Kazan, Schalke, Sporting Lisbon, Standard
Liege, Steaua Bucharest, Stoke, Trabzonspor*, Udinese,
Valencia*, Viktoria Plzen*, Wisla Krakow.

* - Third-place finisher in Champions League group.

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