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Europa League roundup: Leverkusen keeps perfect record to finish group stages

Adam Hlozak Bayer Leverkusen Adam Hlozak - The Canadian Press

Bayer Leverkusen completed the Europa League group stage with a 5-1 rout of Norwegian club Molde on Thursday to remain unbeaten across all competitions this season.

The Bundesliga leader finished as the only team with a perfect record in Europe’s second-tier tournament with six wins from six in Group H after conceding just three goals and scoring 19.

Patrik Schick and Edmond Tapsoba scored and Martin Ellingsen's own goal made it 3-0 before halftime in Germany. Adam Hložek added two more in the second half for Xabi Alonso’s team.

Leverkusen extended its unbeaten streak to 23 games, which includes 14 in the Bundesliga. The team also has won three matches to reach the quarterfinals of the German Cup.

Qarabağ took second place in the group for a spot in a Europa League knockout stage for the first time after a 2-1 win over Hacken.

Leverkusen, Premier League leader Liverpool and Atalanta had already qualified for the round of 16 before the final round of games.

The eight group winners earn a direct place in the last 16 whereas finishing in second only gets a team a playoff match against the clubs that drop into the Europa League as third-place finishers in Champions League groups.

Playoffs qualifiers from the Champions League include Galatasaray, Lens, Braga, Benfica, Feyenoord, AC Milan, Young Boys, Shakhtar Donetsk.

The draw is scheduled for Monday.

Union Saint-Gilloise handed Liverpool a 2-1 loss at a game played at RSC Anderlecht Stadium in Brussels. With the job in the group done, Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp fielded the youngest starting lineup in a European match with an average age of 22 years and 156 days.

Among them, teenager Kaide Gordon made his first senior start since January 2022 and Curtis Jones captained the squad.

Mohammed Amoura’s opener for the hosts was canceled out by Jarell Quansah, but Cameron Puertas restored a one-goal advantage in the first half.

The Reds still retained first place in Group E, one ahead of Toulouse, which won 2-1 at LASK.

At London Stadium, West Ham defeated Freiburg 2-0. The Hammers needed only a point to win Group A ahead of the German team.

Summer signing Edson Álvarez did the heavy lifting for West Ham. The Mexico midfielder set up Mohammed Kudus for an early lead and then combined with Jarrod Bowed to stretch the advantage by himself before halftime.

João Pedro scored in the 88th minute for Brighton to edge Marseille 1-0 and send the Seagulls directly to the round of 16 in the first European campaign in the club’s 122-year history.

Brighton needed to beat Marseille to move atop Group B with 13 points, two more than their French opponent.

Ajax had a slow start to the campaign but beat AEK Athens 3-1 to help the Dutch giant save at least the third spot in the group.

Roma beat Sheriff 3-0 but José Mourinho’s team finished second in Group G and will have to play another round of games in February.

Romelu Lukaku scored his fifth goal of the tournament to put Roma ahead 11 minutes into the game at Stadio Olimpico. Andrea Belotti doubled the lead in the 32nd minute and Niccolo Pisilli scored in second-half stoppage time.

Slavia Prague secured the top spot with 15 points, two more than Roma, after a 4-0 victory over Swiss club Servette. Mojmír Chytil scored two goals and David Douděra and Ivan Schranz added one apiece.

In a direct encounter for the top place in Group F, Villarreal took home a 3-2 victory from Rennes and a place among the last 16. Daniel Parejo scored the winner in the 80th minute.

In a tightly contested Group C, Kemar Roofe scored late to lift Rangers past Real Betis 3-2 to claim the group with 11 points. Sparta Prague moved to second thanks to a 3-1 victory at Aris Limassol with Real Betis finishing third.


Aston Villa secured the top spot in Group E after Nicolo Zaniolo’s goal earned the Premier League team a 1-1 draw at Bosnian club Zrinjski. Legia Warsaw finished second after beating AZ Alkmaar 2-0.

Last year’s runner-up Fiorentina got the draw it needed — 1-1 at Ferencváros — to win Group F ahead of its opponent.

Fenerbahce finished atop Group H after a 4-0 win over Spartak Trnava and is followed by Ludogorets in second.

Lille advanced to the next stage from the top position in Group A after a 3-0 win over newcomer KÍ Klaksvík of the Faroe Islands.

In Group B, Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv prevailed over Gent 3-1 at a game to decide the group winner played at Backa Topola in Serbia because of the Israel-Hamas war.

In a Group D decider, Club Brugge defeated Bodø/Glimt 3-1.

Viktoria Plzeň had already qualified for the round of 16 and beat Astana 3-0 to make it six wins from six in Group C.

A first-place finish earns a direct spot into the last 16, while finishing second takes clubs into a playoff with third-place finishers from the Europa League.


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