Sat, Aug 06, 2011 - Page 18 News List

Triple top for British clubs in Europa League


Hearts’ Ryan Stevenson, right, shoots and scores his second goal against Paks during their Europa League third qualifying round soccer match at Tynecastle Stadium in -Edinburgh, Scotland, on Thursday.

Photo: Reuters

Stoke City and Fulham marched into the Europa League play-offs on Thursday, where they were joined by Hearts who brought a little relief to Scottish soccer after Rangers’ disappointing midweek Champions League exit.

Ryan Shotton scored Stoke’s only goal in injury time to beat Hajduk Split 1-0 for a 2-0 aggregate win over the Croatian side.

Stoke had already marked their first European tie in 37 years last week with a 1-0 win at the Britannia Stadium in the first leg.

Fulham, last year’s runners-up, saw off RNK Split of Croatia 2-0 at Craven Cottage after a 0-0 stalemate in the first leg.

Andrew Johnson’s header was the only goal of the first half before captain Danny Murphy added the second from the penalty spot after the interval to secure their place in the next round, where they will be joined by London rivals Tottenham.

New Hearts manager Paulo Sergio, who replaced Jim Jefferies two days ago, oversaw a 4-1 win over Hungary’s Paks at Tynecastle for a 5-2 aggregate.

Ryan Stevenson score twice in 12 first-half minutes before Andrew Driver added the third after 50 minutes with Rudi Skacel putting away the fourth.

Hearts were joining fellow Scottish sides Rangers and Celtic in yesterday’s playoff draw.

Elsewhere, Italy’s Palermo drew 1-1 at Swiss side Thun, but went out on the away goals rule after last week’s 2-2 draw.

Pablo Gonzalez gave the Italians a 49th minute lead but Dario Lezcano leveled 15 minutes later to put the Swiss through to the playoffs.

Atletico Madrid, the Europa League champions last year, took a 2-1 lead to Norway’s Stromsgodset and secured a 2-0 second-leg win with Adrian Lopez and Jose Antonio Reyes on target.

In Romania, Jordanian-born Taher Bawab scored for the second successive leg as his Gaz Metan Medias side drew 1-1 with Germany’s Mainz before he scored again in the penalty shootout after the tie ended 2-2 on aggregate.

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