Holders drop out in Europe
Reigning champions Atletico Madrid were dumped out of the UEFA Europa League tonight after results went against them in Group B. Atletico needed to better the score Aris Thessaloniki managed at home to Rosenborg in their match with group winners Bayer Leverkusen in order to pip the Greek side to second spot and a place in the last 32.
Atletico did not get the desired result at either ground though, as Quique Sanchez Flores' men could only record a 1-1 draw at a snow-covered BayArena - Patrick Helmes putting the hosts ahead in the second half before Fran Merida equalised almost immediately - while Aris recorded a 2-0 victory over already-eliminated Rosenborg. Aris sealed their place in the knockout stages thanks to goals from Danijel Cesarec and Ricardo Faty at the end of each half.
City draw to top group
Manchester City secured top spot in Group A after coming from behind to draw 1-1 against Juventus in Turin. Jo, the only senior striker in the City team, rose to the challenge to cancel out the opening goal from Niccolo Giannetti.
The Brazilian kept a cool head in the 77th minute to sweep the ball home at the back post following a cross from Adam Johnson. Juventus had gone ahead in the 43rd minute when Giannetti steered home a cross from Alessandro Del Piero.
Semir Stilic's first-half goal was enough for Lech Poznan to win away to Red Bull Salzburg, but City's point and superior goal difference meant they stayed top. Stilic gave Poznan the lead after half an hour when Slawomir Peszko crossed from the left and his shot deflected in off Ibrahim Sekagya.
Lille snatched second place in Group C from opponents Gent thanks to a 3-0 home win, secured by goals from Ludovic Obraniak, Pierre-Alain Frau and Moussa Sow. The French side approached the final fixtures of the group two points behind their Belgian opponents. But a goal from Obraniak on the half-hour set them on their way before Frau and Sow wrapped up the victory in the second half.
Daniel Mladenov hit the winner just before half-time as Levski Sofia, whose elimination was already confirmed, secured a 1-0 consolation victory against Group C winners Sporting Lisbon.
Anderlecht scrape qualification
Anderlecht joined the knockout phase line-up after results went their way tonight. They had to beat Hajduk Split and then hope Group G winners Zenit St Petersburg would prove too strong for AEK Athens in Greece, and both outcomes favoured the Belgians. Tom De Sutter fired Anderlecht ahead after 11 minutes, and Matias Suarez added a second goal in the 40th minute, securing a 2-0 home win.
Zenit became the only team to realise a perfect group stage campaign when they notched a sixth consecutive win, 3-0 in the Greek capital. AEK's Ismael Blanco had missed a penalty before Alexander Bukharov gave Zenit a 44th-minute lead, and Alessandro Rosina made it 2-0 after 67 minutes. Igor Denisov added a third goal for added security in the 88th minute.
In Group I, PSV Eindhoven and FC Metalist Kharkov were already certain to go through as the leading two teams, and they played out a goalless draw in Holland tonight.
The group's other match saw Debrecen finally pick up points, after five defeats. They claimed the scalp of Serie A side Sampdoria, who left out a host of first-team players and lost 2-0 away to the Hungarians for whom Peter Kabat scored both goals.
Group H's final round of games was similarly inconsequential, in that Stuttgart and Young Boys had already made sure of their last-32 places. New Stuttgart coach Bruno Labbadia, appointed on Monday, had nevertheless called for a performance from his team against Odense and saw them satisfy his demands by running out 5-1 winners. Timo Gebhart, Christian Gentner, Pavel Pogrebniak, Ciprian Marica and an own goal from Daniel Hoegh lifted the German side to their hefty winning margin, with Peter Utaka hitting Odense's reply.
Primera Division side Getafe missed out on the top two but finished their campaign on a high with a 1-0 victory over Young Boys - Adrian Sardinero scoring after 15 minutes.