Group Stage: Match Day 6 Groups D, E, F, J, K, LBy: Dan | December 14th, 2011
Well, the final match day of the Europa League group stage is upon us. With many clubs already qualified, and the Champions League drop-in clubs established (hi Manchester United,) Wednesday and Thursday will mostly be about tying up the few remaining loose ends, and making up the numbers for the rest.
Group D: Sporting were already through and Zurich were out, leaving Lazio and Vaslui to battle it out for second place, and a place in the knockout rounds. The conclusion of the group was pretty straightforward. Vaslui lost at Zurich, while Lazio picked up a 2-0 over Sporting at the Stadio Olimpico. Lazio progress.
FC Zurich 2 – Vaslui 0
SS Lazio 2 – Sporting CP 0
Group E: Stoke City were already through, so their match with Besiktas was only a matter of first or second place. While Stoke’s 3-1 loss didn’t damage them very much, it assured the elimination of Dynamo Kiev. The Ukrainian side didn’t seem overly keen on progressing anyway. They surrendered a 2-0 advantage against a Maccabi Tel Aviv that had collected one point from five matches. Dynamo did claw their way back to 3-3, but it was far too little and too late by that point.
Dynamo Kiev 3 – Maccabi Tel Aviv 3
Besiktas 3 – Stoke City 1
Group F: A major unresolved situation going into the final group match was the progress of nouveau riche PSG. Things were looking alright for the Paris club at half time. They were 2-1 up on Athletic Bilbao, and Slovan Bratislava were holding off Red Bull Salzburg. In the fifty-second minute of the Salzburg match, Marian Had deflected a low cross into his own net to give the Austrian side a 3-2 lead, and in the fifty-fifth minute of the PSG match, a deflected, long range David Lopez strike equalized things for Bilbao.
PSG were handed a lifeline late in the game when they were awarded a penalty, but Nene troubled the denizens of the upper rows instead of Gorka Iraizoz. PSG did take the lead through more unlikely means just moments later. Melvut Erding was put through and his cross was put into the net by Athletic midfielder Inigo Perez. PSG were back on the penalty spot with under two minutes to go, when Ander Iturraspe was judged to have pulled down Nene. Guillaume Hoarau was the taker on this occasion, and he sent Iraizoz the wrong way to double PSG’s late advantage.
PSG’s destiny was not entirely in their own hands, however. They were left waiting for a Slovan Bratislava equalizer that never came. So despite the win over Athletic Bilbao, Red Bull Salzburg claimed second place in the group.
Slovan Bratislava 2 – Red Bull Salzburg 3
Paris Saint-Germain 4 – Athletic Bilbao 2
Group J: Schalke were already through, but the rest of group J was wide open going into the final match. Schalke dashed any hopes Maccabi Haifa had of going through with a 3-0 away win. Steaua Bucharest turned out to be the big winners on the day. They booked a place in the last 32 with a 3-1 victory over AEK Larnaca.
Maccabi Haifa 0 – Schalke 04 3
Steaua Bucharest 3 – AEK Larnaca 1
Group K: Twente were through and Odense out coming into match day six. Fulham started the day a point ahead of Wisla Krakow, and needed a win against the Odense to assure their progress.
Fulham were in control early on in this one, but Odense, having cleared a couple of attempts off the line were able to cling onto the 0-0 scoreline until the twenty-seventh minute. Kerim Frei crossed from the left side for Bobby Zamora, who laid the ball off for Clint Dempsey with one touch. Dempsey dispatched his shot low to the left to beat Odense goalkeeper Stefan Wessels. Fulham’s second goal came along in short order.
Moussa Dembele won the ball back on the edge of the Odense box and played a through ball for Frei, who rolled the ball through Wessel’s legs for 2-0.
Having a two goal lead caused Fulham to ease up in the second half, and Odense were able to pull a goal back from a sixty-fourth minute free kick. Fulham looked like they would be able to get through the rest of a nervy second half, but disaster struck with just seconds remaining in stoppage time. A Fulham counter attack led to nothing, and Odense began their final foray up the field. A long ball was put into the Fulham box by Espen Ruud and was met by Senegalese striker Baye Djiby Fall, who headed past reserve keeper Neil Etheridge to send the Cottagers crashing out in a most painful manner.
Wisla Krakow, did their part by beating already qualified Twente 2-1.
Wisla Krakow 2 – FC Twente 1
Fulham 2 – Odense 2
Group L: Nothing really to play for in this group; Anderlecht and Lokomotiv Moscow were comfortably through. Anderlecht completed the group stage with a 100 percent record after a resounding win against Lokomotiv Moscow, while AEK recorded their first points of the campaign with an away win at Sturm Graz.
Sturm Graz 1 – AEK Athens 3
Anderlecht 5 – Lokomotiv Moscow 3