Europa League action round-up – Matchday 5 – Mixed fortunes for British clubs

Despite putting on a good performance at Park Head and beating group leaders Hapoel Tel-Aviv, Celtic will not be playing Europa League football in the New Year. Hamburg’s win over Rapid Vienna means that qualification is now an impossibility for the Hoops with one round of games still to be played. For much of the contest – played in front of a half empty Celtic Park – Hapoel dominated possession, but the Glasgow side always looked the most likely to score. Georgios Samaras duly headed them into the lead after 22 minutes, latching onto a fine cross from the impressive Aiden McGeady. Barry Robson doubled the lead midway through the second half with a clever free-kick which curved low round the Hapoel wall into the left hand corner of the net. As the news filtered through that Hamburg were easing to victory in Vienna the stadium became increasingly subdued, but Celtic could easily have extended their lead when Scott MacDonald badly missed after a quick break away created the Australian striker a seemingly easy chance. After the game, Celtic manager Tony Mowbray hinted that he thought Celtic’s position in the group was a false one saying: “We’ve been very competitive, but there you go, the results are what they are and we have to get on with it.”

Earlier that evening Everton had booked their place in the knock-out stages, enjoying a 1-0 victory over AEK Athens in the Olympic Stadium. In a match played in awful conditions ensured by torrential rainfall, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov scored the only goal after six minutes, finishing well after being set up by Jo. With surface water hampering play, the game was always scrappy, but the Toffees were able to hold on despite a late AEK flurry. David Moyes was left bemoaning his luck however, when Dan Gosling, Sylvain Distin and Jo all added their names to Everton’s already considerable injury list. However, Moyes was buoyed by a trio of 17-year-old starlets, Jose Baxter, Seamus Coleman and Shane Duffy, who all played a significant role in the win. “Tonight was a case of needs must and I think the spirit of Everton was apparent among both the younger and more experienced players.” He will also be pleased to have qualified with a game to spare, given the ever growing list of injuries.

Fulham’s 1-0 win over CSKA Sofia means the Cottagers will have to win in Basle in the final round of matches in order to qualify for the last 32. The London side started brightly and created several chances before Zoltan Gera was felled in the box by a clumsy challenge from Ivan Ivanov. However, Danny Murphy failed to convert the resulting penalty, firing it high over the bar. Fulham’s heads did not drop however, and they were soon in front when Gera powerfully headed them into the lead in what proved to be the game’s defining moment. Despite creating numerous chances, the Cottagers were unable to extend their lead and were fortunate to escape with all three points after a late CSKA surge.

Full results

Wednesday December 2, 2009

Group G
FC Salzburg 2-1 Lazio
Levski Sofia 0-2 Villarreal

Group H
FC Sheriff 1-1 Steaua Bucharest
FC Twente 0-1 Fenerbahce

Group I
BATE Borisov 1-2 Benfica
AEK Athens 0-1 Everton

Group J
Shakhtar Donetsk 0-0 Club Brugge
Toulouse 1-0 Partizan Belgrade

Group K
PSV Eindhoven 1-0 Sparta Prague
FC Copenhagen 2-0 CFR Cluj

Group L
Austria Vienna 0-3 Athletico Bilbao
Werder Bremen 4-1 Nacional

Thursday December 3, 2009

Group A
FC Timisoara 1-2 Ajax
Anderlecht 0-1 Dinamo Zagreb

Group B
Valencia 3-1 Lille
Slavia Prague 0-0 Genoa

Group C
Celtic 2-0 Hapoel Tel-Aviv
Hamburg 2-0 Rapid Vienna

Group D
FK Ventspils 0-1 Hertha Berlin
Sporting Lisbon 1-1 Heerenveen

Group E
Fulham 1-0 CSKA Sofia
Roma 2-1 Basel

Group F
Galatasaray 1-0 Panathinaikos
Dinamo Bucharest 2-1 Sturm Graz

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