Late late show eases Valencia and Fiorentina into the knockout stages of Europa League
Published 07/11/2013 | 23:37
EUROPEAN giants Valencia and Fiorentina left it late to seal their places in the knockout stages of the UEFA Europa League with two games to spare tonight.
Late goals from Pablo Piatti and Sergio Canales helped the Spaniards come from behind to beat 10-man St Gallen 3-2 in Switzerland and guarantee progression from Group A.
Piatti had put Valencia ahead but Stephane Besle equalised and Goran Karanovic nudged St Gallen in front in the 66th minute despite Philippe Montandon's minute sending-off 10 minutes earlier.
Valencia also went top of the group after an injury time equaliser from Ibrahima Balde gave Kuban Krasnodar a 1-1 draw with Swansea City in Russia, making the Welsh side - who led through a ninth minute Wilfried Bony strike - having to wait to qualify.
Fiorentina were trailing to Eric de Oliveira's early goal in their Group E clash with Pandurii Targu Jiu in Romania but two goals in the last four minutes from Ryder Matos and Borja Valero proved enough to seal a 2-1 win for the Italians.
Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk also booked their place in the knockout stages with a 2-0 win over Pacos de Ferreira in Ukraine.
Salzburg confirmed their qualification from Group C, the Austrian Bundesliga leaders stretching their 100pc record in the group to four games with a 3-1 win at Standard Liege.
Dusan Svento and Kevin Kampl scored late in first half and after Paul-Jose M'Poku pulled one back, Alan made sure with a third goal after 58 minutes for the Austrians.
Danish side Esbjerg also qualified with 1-0 win over Elfsborg, Mick van Buren scoring only goal of the game after 71 minutes.
Bulgarians Ludogorets lost their 100 per cent record and conceded their first goal in Group B, but their 1-1 home draw with Chornomorets was enough for them to qualify.
Second-placed PSV closed the gap at the top to three points with a 2-0 home win over Dinamo Zagreb, the goals coming in each half from Adam Maher and Ola Toivonen.
Rubin Kazan have all but done enough in Group D after Oleg Kuzmin's 22nd minute goal was enough to defeat Wigan in Russia.
Rubin now have a five-point lead at the top of the group while Belgians Zulte-Waregem gave themselves hope of snatching second place with a 1-0 win over Maribor in Slovenia.
In Group F, leaders Eintracht Frankfurt suffered a surprise 4-2 defeat in Israel to Maccabi Tel Aviv, for whom Eran Zahavi and Barak Itzhaki both scored twice, while APOEL moved off the bottom with a 2-1 win over Bordeaux.
Second-half goals from Erik Lamela and Jermain Defoe sent Tottenham through to the knockout stages as Group K winners after a 2-1 win over Moldova's Sheriff at White Hart Lane.
Lamela knocked home the opener from close-range on the hour and Defoe effectively sealed the win seven minutes later from the penalty spot, although there was time for Ismail Isa to strike a late consolation.
But Spurs will have to wait to confirm their status as group winners after Karlen Mkrtchyan struck in the fourth minute of injury time to give second-placed Anzhi a 1-0 win over Tromso in Norway.
Trabzonspor all but booked their passage from Group J as a 71st minute own goal from Dossa Junior and a later effort from Olcan Adin gave them a 2-0 win at pointless bottom club Legia Warsaw.
And Lazio remain hot on the leaders' heels after a crucial 2-1 win over Apollon in Rome, two first-half goals from Sergio Floccari proving enough although Fotios Papoulis pulled one back before half-time.
In Group I Real Betis brought a dramatic end to their disastrous recent run of form when late substitute Chuli popped up to grab the only goal of the game in the fourth minute of injury time and see off Vitoria Guimaraes in Portugal.
The goal proved enough to lift Betis to the top of the group after former leaders Lyon were surprisingly held to a 1-1 draw in Rijeka, Alessane Plea's opener for the French side quickly cancelled out by Andrej Kramaric.
Meanwhile Betis' city rivals Sevilla continued to edge towards qualification from Group H after a 1-1 home draw with Slovan Liberec, Diego Perotti opening the scoring before David Pavelka equalised for the visitors.
Also in Group H, Freiburg had both Karim Guede and Nicolas Hofler sent off in the final four minutes but still managed to hang on for a goalless draw with Estoril in Portugal.
Dynamo Kiev also shrugged off a numerical disadvantage as an own goal from Lukas Schenkel and a free-kick from Andriy Yarmolenko gave them a 2-0 win at Thun in Group G, despite the 17th minute dismissal of Dieumerci Mbokani.
Genk saw their lead in the group cut to a single point after their 2-2 draw at Rapid Vienna, Thomas Buffel grabbing a second-half equaliser for the Belgians after a brace from Terrence Boyd had put the Austrians in command.
A 55th minute strike from Celso Ortiz gave AZ a 1-0 win over Shakhter Karagandy in Alkmaar and moved them to the top of Group L, replacing PAOK who could only grind out a goalless draw with Maccabi Haifa in Israel.