The final group matches saw eight teams progress to the Europa League’s final 16, and another eight head to the playoffs.
UEFA Europa League
Results of Match 6 of the Group Stage:
- Midtjylland 2 – 0 Sturm Graz
- Feyenoord 1 – 0 Lazio
- Real Sociedad 0 – 1 Manchester United
- Sheriff 1 – 0 Omonia
- Olympiacos 0 – 2 Nantes
- Qarabag 1 – 1 Freiburg
- Trabzonspor 1 – 0 Ferencvaros
- Monaco 4 – 1 Crvena zvezda
- Arsenal 1 – 0 Zurich
- Bodo/Glimt 1 – 2 PSV
- Real Betis 3 – 0 HJK
- Roma 3 – 1 Ludogorets
- Dynamo Kyiv 0 – 2 Fenerbahce
- Rennes 1 – 1 Larnaca
- Union SG 0 – 1 Union Berlin
- Braga 2 – 1 Malmo
With Argentina’s Alejandro Garnacho scoring the game’s only goal in the 17th minute, Manchester United’s win against Real Sociedad on Thursday night confirmed their place in the knock-out round of the UEFA Europa League.
Despite their away win at the Reale Arena in San Sebastian, however, United failed to overtake Sociedad and finished second in Group E, with the Spanish team topping the group on goal difference.
Both sides had 15 points after all six matches of the group stage of Europe’s second-tier club tournament.
The eight group winners have automatically booked a spot among the competition’s final 16 teams, but the eight runners-up from each group, including United, must now face the eight third-placed teams from the top-tier Champions League group stages in order to advance.
In the group’s other match-up on Thursday night, Sheriff Tiraspol’s 1-0 win over Omonia was enough to see them finish the group in third to qualify for the third-tier UEFA Europa Conference League.
Disappointing Champions League runs for Ajax, Bayer Leverkusen, Barcelona, Sporting, Salzburg, Shakhtar Donetsk, Sevilla and Juventus have left some of Europe’s top teams vying for the final spaces in the Europa League. A draw on November 7 will decide which teams relegated from the Champions League will play which Europa League group runner-up.
F is for Feyenoord
Elsewhere in Europe on Thursday, Holland’s Feyenoord and Denmark’s Midtjylland were the best two sides in Group F on goal difference, after all four teams – including Italy’s Lazio and Sturm Graz of Austria – finished the group stage with eight points each.
A 64th-minute goal by Feyenoord’s Santiago Gimenez sealed the Dutch team’s win, while a brace for Anders Dreyer, Denmark’s lightning right-winger, saw off any challenge to Midtjylland by Sturm Graz.
Midtjylland will head for the play-offs, while Lazio will be packing their bags for the Europa Conference League.
Win not enough for Trabzonspor
Turkey’s Trabzonspor beat Hungary’s Ferencvaros 1-0 at home, but could not escape a third-place finish in Group H, bagging nine points to reach the Europa Conference League.
Ferencvaros ended another very tight group stage with 10 points, narrowly beating Monaco to the top spot after the French side beat Serbia’s Crvena Zvezda 4-1.
Over in Group G, Egypt’s Mostafa Mohamed ensured a win for Nantes, providing a goal and an assist in their 2-0 takedown of the group’s bottom-ranked side Olympiacos.
Nantes, meanwhile, secured a second-place finish in the group, to reach the playoff round, while Freiburg’s 1-1 draw against Qarabag – a match replete with the drama of a red card for Qarabag’s Valgeirsdottir and a 91st-minute equaliser for the Azeri team – saw the Germans sail through to win the group and book their place in the Europa League’s final 16.
Arsenal top Group A
In Group A, Kieran Tierney’s 17th-minute goal for Arsenal saw the London club into the final 16 with a 1-0 win over Zurich. PSV Eindhoven, despite resting several key players ahead of a game against Ajax at the weekend, were barely troubled in their 2-1 win over Norway’s Bodo/Glimt. PSV take the group’s second spot, while Bodo/Glimt head for the Conference.
Nabil Fekir’s 92nd-minute goal added to the pair scored by Aitor Ruibal in Real Betis’ 3-0 victory over HJK Helsinki in Group C, leaving Betis top of the group and Helsinki at the bottom. And Roma’s 3-1 victory over Ludogorets finished with distressing scenes as the Bulgarian team’s Olivier Verdon stamped on Nicola Zalewski’s neck. Roma’s midfielder was very lucky to avoid serious injury, while Verdon received a red card.
A 68th-minute red for Dynamo Kyiv’s Ilya Zabarnyi did little for the Ukrainian team’s chances at catching Fenerbahce after two first half goals left the Turkish club in Group B’s top spot. Rennes 1-1 draw with Larnaca was also enough to see the French side progress to the playoff round.
And in Group D, the clash of the Unions – Saint Gilloise of Belgium against Germany’s Union Berlin – was all over by the seventh minute after Michel scored an early winner for Berlin. Despite the result, Union SG top the group, with Berlin second. Braga’s 2-1 win over Malmo left Braga in third, with Sweden’s most successful football club now out of European competition.
Group winners through to final 16:
- Real Sociedad
- Union Saint-Gilloise
Playoffs vs Champions League 3rd-place finishers:
- Manchester United
- Union Berlin
Europa Conference League:
- AEK Larnaca
- Crvena Zvezda
- Dynamo Kyiv
Al Jazeera and news agencies