Europa League round-up – Matchday 6 – Fulham progress after spirited win in Switzerland

The group stage of the inaugural Europa League came to a close this week, with Fulham putting in a committed performance in Basel to progress to the knock out stages of the competition.

Roy Hodgson continued to field a weakened team in the Europa League, but once again this policy did not seem to hamper his side’s chances too much as they overcame Basle 3-2. The Cottagers dominated the first half, creating several good chances and having a goal disallowed – Bobby Zamora judged to have been offside after collecting a good ball from Bjorn Helge Riise. The striker’s persistence paid off however when he put his side in front just before the break, again getting on the end of a Riise cross and heading unmarked into the net. Three minutes later Fulham’s lead was doubled when the in-form Zamora netted his ninth of the season, Riise again with the assist. Zamora’s all round performance was excellent and the striker was given a deserved standing ovation from the 1,200 travelling supporters when he was replaced late in the second half.

Basle – who only needed a draw to progress – got back into the match early in the second half when veteran striker Alexander Frei slotted home a controversial penalty for handball.Despite Basle appearing likely to draw level, Zoltan Gera restored the London club’s two goal lead after 77 minutes, finishing off a fine passing move from close range. Marco Streller headed in from a corner with three minutes remaining to make it a nervy ending for the Cottagers, but they could even have got a fourth when Clint Dempsey missed a simple chance. The result means that Fulham’s European adventure will continue next year as they enter the round of 32 with the likes of Juventus, Marseille and Liverpool. Hodgson’s post match comments summed up the almost care free way his side have approached this competition: “I walked round Basel today and I was stopped by fans saying how much they were enjoying the adventure. I am looking forward to the draw to see who we get and then we see how far we can go. I wouldn’t mind playing Juventus.”

Despite both teams being unable to progress to the next round, Rapid Vienna and Celtic put on an entertaining six-goal thriller in Vienna. Celtic were three down after just eighteen minutes and despite the goals being well worked, there seemed distinct lack of commitment from the Glasgow club. They pulled one back before half-time through Marc-Antoine Fortune and clawed their way back to an unlikely point in a spirited second half with Fortune getting the second and Paul McGowan netting the equaliser in injury-time. Having already qualified for the last 32, David Moyes decided to try out some youngsters in their final group match at home to BATE Borisov. The Romanian opposition proved too much for the young Toffees however, winning 1-0 with Alexsandr Yurevich scoring the game’s only goal after 75 minutes.

Full results

December 16/17, 2009

Group A
Ajax 1-3 Anderlecht
Dinamo Zagreb 1-2 FC Timisoara

Group B
Lille 3-1 Slavia Prague
Genoa 1-2 Valencia

Group C
Hapoel Tel-Aviv 1-0 Hamburg
Rapid Vienna 3-3 Celtic

Group D
Hertha Berlin 1-0 Sporting Lisbon
Heerenveen 5-0 FK Ventspils

Group E
CSKA Sofia 0-3 Roma
Basel 2-3 Fulham

Group F
Panathinaikos 3-0 Dinamo Bucharest
Sturm Graz 1-0 Galatasaray

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

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

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

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

Group K
Sparta Prague 0-3 FC Copenhagen
CFR Cluj 0-2 PSV Eindhoven

Group L
Athletico Bilbao 0-3 Werder Bremen
CD Nacional 5-1 Austria Vienna

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