Atletico among 13 teams through in Europa League

Updated 24 November 2012
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Atletico among 13 teams through in Europa League

LONDON: Lazio, Napoli and reigning champion Atletico Madrid were among the 13 teams to qualify for the knockout stage of the Europa League on Thursday night.
However, there was a setback for another of the competition’s big names as Liverpool was held to a frustrating 2-2 draw at home to Young Boys, leaving the English side’s hopes of progressing to the last 32 in the balance.
Liverpool, a five-time European champion, will be eyeing one of the remaining five qualifying spots in the final round of games in two weeks’ time but others can take it easy.
Raul Garcia’s early goal earned Atletico a 1-0 victory over Hapoel Tel Aviv, allowing the Spanish side to progress to the last 32 from Group B with Viktoria Plzen.
A goalless draw at home to Tottenham was enough to put Lazio through in Group J, on a day fans of the Italian club were suspected of involvement in a hooligan attack in Rome that led to seven Spurs fans being hospitalized.
Napoli won 2-1 at AIK Stockholm to seal a top-two spot in Group F with Dnipro, which beat PSV Eindhoven away by the same scoreline to eliminate the Dutch hosts.
Wealthy Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala went through with a 2-0 home win over Udinese, courtesy of goals from Christopher Samba and Samuel Eto’o, in the group containing Liverpool.
The other clubs booking their last-32 spots on Thursday were Newcastle, Bordeaux, Fenerbahce, Borussia Moenchengladbach, Genk, Sparta Prague and Levante.
Athletic Bilbao, last season’s finalist, was knocked out without even playing following the cancelation of its match against Hapoel Kiryat Shmona because of the fighting in Israel. Sparta knocked out Bilbao by drawing 1-1 at already-qualified Lyon in Group I.
The top two teams in each of the 12 groups go through, where they will be joined by the eight third-place finishers in the Champions League groups.
Liverpool was denied a spot in the knockout stage by two superbly taken second-half goals by Young Boys, with Raul Bobadilla scoring the Swiss team’s first goal with an angled volley and Elsad Zverotic clinching a draw in the 88th by smashing home left-footed from the edge of the box.
Joe Cole, the former England winger and forgotten man at Liverpool, made his mark in a rare appearance by setting up the opener for Jonjo Shelvey in the 33rd and then scoring himself in the 72nd.
“Conceding a late goal is disappointing,” Cole said. “It was just game management at the end, to see the game out, which let us down.
“It was a great finish from the kid at the end, but we made it hard for ourselves. It’s a lesson learned.” Liverpool plays Udinese away in its last match and will need a win to be certain of qualifying.
Paul Gascoigne, England’s star in the 1990 World Cup, was given a hero’s welcome by Lazio fans as he was made guest of honor for the match between two of his former clubs.
A huge banner with a picture of “Gazza” and another with the words “Lionhearted, headstrong, pure talent, real man. Still our hero” were held aloft as the former midfielder walked around the pitch, taking in the acclaim of the fans.
The match was disappointing, having already been overshadowed by events away from the Olympic Stadium where some 50 masked hooligans wielding cobblestones, metal bars and knives attacked the Tottenham fans drinking early Thursday. At least one person was stabbed.
“It is an extremely difficult moment for them,” Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas said in reference to the club’s fans. Tottenham is second in the group and will qualify if it avoids defeat by Panathinaikos at home on Dec. 6.
A penalty three minutes into stoppage time by Edinson Cavani confirmed Napoli’s progress, and ensured the Uruguay forward became the final scorer at AIK’s Rasundastadion home, Sweden’s former national arena.
Inter Milan, Lyon, Rubin Kazan, Bayer Leverkusen, Metalist Kharkiv and Hannover advanced a fortnight ago.


Jurgen Klopp wants Liverpool passion rather than problems against Roma

Updated 7 min 7 sec ago
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Jurgen Klopp wants Liverpool passion rather than problems against Roma

  • Manchester City’s team bus smashed by thrown cans and bottles ahead of their Champions League quarterfinal at Anfield.
  • Klopp keen to see Reds fans respect Roma side for semifinal showdown.

LIVERPOOL: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has warned the club’s fans not to repeat the scenes that saw windows of Manchester City’s team bus smashed by thrown cans and bottles ahead of their Champions League semifinal, first leg against Roma at Anfield on Tuesday.
City became just the latest victims of a famous European night at Anfield on the pitch three weeks ago as Liverpool raced into a 3-0 first leg lead that laid the foundations for their 5-1 aggregate victory over the English champions in the quarterfinals.
However, Klopp wants to retain the passion inside the stadium without the ugly scenes outside which are the subject of a UEFA investigation.
“In the stadium do it again and better. Outside the stadium, please show the respect we have to show,” Klopp said.
“This is such an outstanding football club, an outstanding football family, known for fantastic atmospheres all over the world, so we don’t need to throw whatever at the bus of the opposing team.
The Italians will be greeted by at least one familiar face in Mohamed Salah, but it is the Egyptian who poses the biggest threat to their dream of returning to the final for the first time since they lost to Liverpool on home soil in 1984.
Salah made the move from the Italian capital to Anfield just 10 months ago, and has surpassed all expectations since with an incredible 41 goals in 46 Liverpool appearances to already net more times than he did in two years for Roma.
The 25-year-old was rewarded for his brilliant campaign by winning the Premier League’s Players’ Player of the Year award on Sunday evening, beating off stiff competition from Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne to the prize.
“I’m really happy for him, really proud of that, it is a fantastic achievement. I think if all the other players vote for you it means most to all players,” added Klopp.
“In a season like this, when Kevin de Bruyne played a season like he did, it made it even more special.”
Despite their rich heritage in the competition as five-time winners, Liverpool have not been in the last four of the Champions League for a decade.
And captain Jordan Henderson believes this season’s run to the semis can be the start of something special under Klopp.
“Hopefully this is the start of something special with this squad,” said the England international.
“The manager has been brilliant since he has come to the club. We’ve improved every season and done brilliant this season to get this stage.”
However, even Klopp’s men’s 5-1 thrashing of Premier League champions Manchester City over two legs in the last eight was upstaged by Roma coming from 4-1 down in the first leg of their quarterfinal with Barcelona to progress on away goals thanks to a famous 3-0 second-leg win.
Klopp admitted he thought it was a joke when he was first informed of Roma’s result against Barca, but insists both sides should believe they can be European champions despite the presence of powerhouses Bayern Munich and 12-time winners Real Madrid in the other semifinal.
“I do understand many people would have thought this semifinal would be City v Barcelona, but it’s not, because it is football and Roma made it possible, as we did too,” added the German.
“If anyone thinks we two are the underdogs, who cares? We are in the semifinal and can go to the final.”