Europa League Roundup, Dec. 15
Napoli required an injury-time winner from Uruguay forward Edinson Cavani to beat Steaua Bucharest 1-0 and scrape into the last 32 of the Europa League on Wednesday, joining two-time winner Sevilla and PAOK Thessaloniki.
Napoli needed to win to overtake Steaua and join Liverpool in progressing from Group K. Cavani, one of his country’s stars at this year’s World Cup, popped up in the third minute of stoppage time to clinch the victory.
Sevilla, which won the competition in 2006 and ’07 when it was called the UEFA Cup, drew 2-2 with Borussia Dortmund to seal second place in Group J behind Paris Saint-Germain.
PAOK defeated Dinamo Zagreb 1-0 away to beat the Croatian team to the runner-up spot in Group D.
Twenty-one sides have now advanced out of the group stage, and defending champion Atletico Madrid will be one of six teams battling for the final three qualifying places on Thursday. Eight teams join the competition after finishing third in their Champions League groups.
Cavani had been denied on two occasions by goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu before he rose to head home Marek Hamsik’s corner.
There was still enough time for Napoli defender Paolo Cannavaro to be sent off for a second bookable offense, but his team held on in the final seconds to finish three points behind Liverpool.
If Cavani hadn’t scored, it would have been the first time an Italian club had failed to qualify for the last 32 of the competition.
Five-time European Cup champion Liverpool, which had already qualified as group winner, left out most of its first-team regulars in its 0-0 home draw with FC Utrecht.
Dortmund, which is top of the German league, had to beat Sevilla to go through and made the perfect start when Shinji Kagawa scored in the fourth minute.
Ndri Romaric and Frederic Kanoute found the target within four minutes of each other before the break to put Sevilla 2-1 ahead. And although Neven Subotic leveled in the 49th, Dortmund could not find a winner.
PSG drew 1-1 at Karpaty Lviv to go through as group winner.
Dinamo, which started the match against PAOK as favorite, needed a win to qualify and piled the pressure on in the first half, with Jorge Sammir coming closest to scoring when he hit the post with a free kick.
The Croatian side conceded a goal on the counterattack in the 59th, when Stefanos Athanasiadis played in Dimitris Salpingidis, who shot left-footed low past Ivan Kelava from the edge of the area.
Spanish side Villarreal clinched first place with 12 points thanks to Italy forward Guiseppe Rossi’s two goals in the 2-1 win at FC Brugge.
Dorge Kouemaha put the hosts into the lead in the 28th, but Rossi equalized by heading home a cross from Spain left back Joan Capdevila in the 30th.
Rossi scored the winner four minutes later for Villarreal, which is third in the Spanish league. The American-born forward was bundled over in the box by Ryan Donk and got up to convert the penalty for his 13th goal of the season in all competitions.
Dynamo Kiev drew 0-0 with Sheriff to finish a point clear of BATE Borisov at the top of Group E.
A win for BATE would have seen it leapfrog Dynamo but the team from Belarus lost 3-0 at AZ Alkmaar, with Kolbeinn Sigthorsson scoring in either half for the Dutch club.
CSKA Moscow’s perfect record in Group F ended when it drew 1-1 at second-place Sparta Prague, which also had already qualified. Palermo won 1-0 at Lausanne Sports in a match between two eliminated teams.
The runaway leaders in Group L, FC Porto and Besiktas, both won their matches.
Porto, which already had secured first place, beat CSKA Sofia 3-1 to climb to 16 points from a possible 18, and second-place Besiktas won 2-0 at home to Rapid Vienna.