Europa League Review

Gera keeps Fulham dream alive

December 3, 2009

Zoltan Gera scored an early close-range header to keep Fulham in the hunt for qualification from Group E after a hard-fought and crucial 1-0 win over CSKA Sofia in London.

Fulham's Zoltan Gera celebrates his goal against CSKA Sofia
GettyImagesFulham's Zoltan Gera celebrates his goal.

But Roy Hodgson's men will still have it all to do in a fortnight's time after Roma moved to the top of the group with a come-from-behind 2-1 win over FC Basle in Italy.

Benjamin Huggel got Basle off to a flying start tonight with an 18th-minute opener but veteran Francesco Totti equalised from the penalty spot just past the half hour before Mirko Vucinic struck a 59th-minute winner.

The result leaves Roma on top of Group E by a single point from the Swiss side, with Fulham a further point back. It means the Premier League must win in Switzerland in order to progress.

A last-minute equaliser from Argentinian defender Leandro Grimi guaranteed Sporting Lisbon's progression from Group D as group winners with a 1-1 draw and left opponents Heerenveen's hopes hanging in the balance.

Oussama Assaidi's 47th-minute opener looked set to send the Dutch side into their final group match against also-rans FK Ventspils with their qualification destiny in their own hands.

But Grimi's strike coupled with Hertha Berlin's 1-0 win in Latvia means the Germans are two points clear going into their own final game at home to Sporting. Raffael scored the only goal in the first half and was later sent off for two bookable offences.

Mustafa Sarp's 50th-minute effort gave Galatasaray a deserved 1-0 victory over Panathinaikos at the top of Group F and confirmed Frank Rijkaard's men would progress to the last 32 as group winners.

The Greeks must now avoid defeat in their final group game at home to Dinamo Bucharest, who kept themselves in the hunt with a 2-1 win over Sturm Graz in the Romanian capital.

Mario Sonnleitner put Sturm ahead in the fifth minute and the Austrians also missed an early penalty. Marius Niculae's double either side of the break rescued the points for the home side despite the 41st-minute dismissal of Laurentiu Rus.

Daniel Braaten kept Toulouse's hopes of reaching the next stage of the Europa League alive with a 54th-minute winner against Partizan Belgrade in France.

Braaten's effort from a Paulo Machado corner earned his side a 1-0 win as they closed the gap on Group J rivals Club Brugge to one point, following the Belgians' hard-earned goalless draw at runaway group leaders Shakhtar Donetsk.

And it set up a thrilling Group J finale in Belgium in two weeks' time, where a win for Toulouse would cap a remarkable comeback from the brink of elimination. Shakhtar's point ensured they will progress as group winners.

There will be a similar climax in Group K, where FC Copenhagen's 2-0 win over bottom-placed CFR Cluj will send them into their decider with Sparta Prague level on points with their opponents.

Martin Vingaard and Dame N'Doye scored either side of half-time to give the Danes a comfortable win and the news they needed from Holland, where Tomas Repka's stoppage-time own goal earned PSV Eindhoven the points with a 1-0 win over Sparta Prague.

Victory saw PSV secure top spot with Copenhagen and Sparta locked together in joint second on seven points heading into their crucial clash in Czech Republic.

Markus Rosenberg's brace led the way for already-qualified Werder Bremen to consolidate top spot in Group L with a 4-1 win over Nacional. Marcelo Moreno and Marko Marin also scored after Ruben Nicael had reduced the deficit.

Spain international Fernando Llorente struck twice as Athletic Bilbao also progressed with a 3-0 win at Austria Vienna in a match badly marred by crowd disturbances.

Llorente's goals came either side of a strike from Mikel San Jose on the hour, and soon after that goal the match was suspended for around 25 minutes following ugly disturbances in the stands at the Franz Horr Stadion.

Play was initially stopped after objects were thrown onto the pitch, and then the Athletic players raced to the changing rooms as supporters climbed over a fence and invaded the playing surface.

Riot police formed a line just outside the penalty area while the Austria team spoke with the supporters to try to calm the situation before the match was finally able to restart.