Inter secures knockout spot in Europa League
Belgrade, Serbia (Sports Network) - Rodrigo Palacio scored the first two of three second-half goals for Inter Milan, as the Italian side defeated Partizan Belgrade, 3-1, on Thursday to secure a Europa League knockout berth.
Inter Milan tied its first game of the competition, but has won its last three Group H matches to secure a spot in the next stage of the competition with two games remaining in group play.
Just days after snapping a 49-game Serie A unbeaten streak for Juventus on the road, Inter remained in form in Serbia with the victory over Partizan.
Palacio scored in the 51st and 75th minutes and Fredy Guarin added a goal just three minutes from time for Inter. Nemanja Tomic scored in stoppage time for Partizan, which was eliminated from contention for knockout play.
Rubin joined Inter in the last 32 from Group H, as Vladimir Dyadyun scored for the Russian side in a 1-0 win at Neftchi Baku of Azerbaijan, which was also eliminated.
Inter and Rubin are level on 10 points atop the group, both nine points clear of Neftchi and Partizan.
Group K was also decided, as Jens Hegeler, Andre Schurrle and Manuel Friedrich scored to lift Bayer Leverkusen to a 3-0 win over Rapid Vienna to seal a berth in the knockout stage and Cleiton Xavier scored the winner as Metalist Kharkiv defeated Rosenborg, 3-1, to secure its place in the last 32.
Lyon and Hannover were the only other sides to seal advancement with two games left in the group stage, as Lyon remained perfect in Group I with a 3-2 win at Athletic Bilbao and Hannover edged Helsingborg, 3-2, in Group L.
Lyon is five points clear in its group, with Sparta Prague its only challenger for the top spot after the Czech side tied Ironi Kiryat Shmona of Israel, 1-1.
Hannover has a three-point lead in its group over Spanish side Levante, which tied Twente, 0-0.
In Group A, Lacina Traore scored in first-half stoppage time as Anzhi claimed the top spot with a 1-0 win over Liverpool, and Young Boys left the knockout berths up for grabs with a 3-2 win over Udinese. All four squads are separated by just three points.
In Group B, Academica revived its knockout hopes as Wilson Eduardo scored both goals in a 2-0 win over Atletico Madrid, and Viktoria Plzen moved even on nine points with Atletico after a 4-0 win over Hapoel Tel Aviv. Academica is five points off the top in third.
In Group C, Dirk Kuyt and Moussa Sow scored as Fenerbahce opened a five-point lead atop the standings with a 2-0 win over AEL Limassol, and Monchengladbach used a stoppage-time goal from Juan Arango to tie Marseille, as both are level on five points after a 2-2 draw in France.
In Group D, Vurnon Anita and Shola Ameobi scored as Newcastle erased an early two-goal deficit for a 2-2 draw with Club Brugge that left it one point clear of Bordeaux, which got a goal from David Belion to edge Maritimo, 1-0.
In Group E, Alexsandru Chipciu and Iasmin Latovlevici scored to lift Steaua Bucharest five points clear in first with a 2-1 win over Molde, and Stuttgart got goals from Vedad Ibisevic and Martin Harnik to climb to second with a 2-0 win over Copenhagen.
In Group F, Edinson Cavani scored four goals as Napoli revived its hopes with a 4-2 win over group leader Dnipro and AIK joined the hunt for a knockout spot as Mohamed Bangura scored in a 1-0 win over PSV Eindhoven. Dnipro is first on nine points, followed by Napoli on six.
In Group G, Marco Streller remained in contention for a knockout berth with a 1-0 win over Videoton, and Genk expanded its lead atop the group to two points with a 1-1 draw at Sporting Lisbon as Glynor Plet scored in stoppage time.
In Group J, Jermain Defoe scored a hat trick as Tottenham moved to second with a 3-1 victory over Maribor and Lazio stayed atop the group with a 3-0 win over Panathinaikos behind a brace from Libor Kozak.