Sat, Dec 13, 2014 - Page 18 News List

Torino seal Italian sweep in Europe League

SIX OF THE BEST:With Juventus, Roma, Inter, Napoli and Fiorentina also still involved in European competitions, it marks Italy’s best representation in Europe in six years

AP, ROME

Torino players celebrate during their Europa League match against Copenhagen at the Telia Parken in Copenhagen on Thursday.

Photo: Reuters

The entire Italian league stands to benefit after Torino came back to beat nine-man Copenhagen 5-1 on Thursday and complete a clean sweep with all four Serie A clubs advancing from the group phase of the UEFA Europa League.

Inter, ACF Fiorentina and SSC Napoli had already reached the last 32 and AS Roma dropped down to the continent’s secondary competition by finishing third in their UEFA Champions League group.

With Juventus advancing in the Champions League, Italy has six clubs still competing in Europe — the best showing for Serie A since 2008-2009.

In the intervening five years, Italy has dropped from near the top of UEFA’s country coefficient rankings to fourth place behind Spain, England and Germany. As a result, Italy can now qualify a maximum of three clubs to the Champions League, whereas the top three nations can land four clubs in the lucrative competition.

With fifth-placed Portugal and sixth-placed France not far behind Italy, this season’s showing could provide Serie A with some much-needed breathing room.

In Group B, Torino finished second to Club Brugge KV, who edged HJK Helsinki 2-1.

Elsewhere, Dynamo Moscow became the sixth team in the competition’s history to win all six group matches as Aleksei Ionov scored in the 90th minute for a 1-0 victory at PSV Eindhoven, who went through second in Group E.

None of the previous five clubs to accomplish the feat of group-stage perfection advanced past the round-of-16.

Defending champion Sevilla advanced with a 1-0 win at home to HNK Rijeka, but had to settle for second place in Group G. Denis Suarez’s 20th-minute goal gave the Spaniards victory, but they remained a point behind Feyenoord, who won 3-0 at Royal Standard de Liege.

In Group A, Borussia Moenchengladbach and Villarreal advanced with wins over Zurich and Apollon Limassol respectively; while Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk claimed second in Group F by beating AS Saint-Etienne 1-0 and in Group C Besiktas leapfrogged Tottenham Hotspur for first with a 1-0 win in Turkey in a match twice delayed by lighting failure.

French club En Avant de Guingamp reached the knockout phase for the first time with a 2-1 win at Greek side PAOK, as Claudio Beauvue scored both goals for the visitors.

Guingamp finished second to ACF Fiorentina in Group K, even though the Tuscan side lost 2-1 at home to Dinamo Minsk.

In Switzerland, BSC Young Boys beat Sparta Prague 2-0 to overtake the visitors and qualify second to Napoli — who shut out SK Slovan Bratislava 3-0 — in Group I.

Inter, who had already won Group F, drew 0-0 at Qarabag FK in Azerbaijan.

Olympiakos, Liverpool, Zenit Saint Petersburg, RSC Anderlecht, Ajax, Portugal’s Sporting and Athletic Bilbao also dropped down from the UEFA Champions League.

Torino had not won a match since October — a run of four defeats and three draws — and it was not a promising start for the visitors when Daniel Amartey put Copenhagen ahead after just six minutes.

However, Josef Martinez leveled after a quarter of an hour and then Mikael Antonsson was sent off on the half-hour mark. Mathias Jorgensen saw red 10 minutes later for a foul inside the penalty area.

Former Juventus forward Amauri netted the resulting penalty and then early in the second half Martinez added another. Matteo Darmian and Gaston Silva were also on the score sheet.

“The goal we conceded at the start was a cold shower, but we reacted well,” Martinez said.

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