PSV exit; Spurs, Salzburg perfect

STRAIGHT WINS::Roberto Soldado scored a hat-trick to help Tottenham Hotspur finish on maximum points, while Salzburg remained unbeaten and on 18 points

Reuters, LONDON

Sat, Dec 14, 2013 - Page 19

PSV Eindhoven’s disappointing season took a turn for the worse as they went out of the Europa League after losing 0-1 at home to Ukraine team Chernomorets Odessa, who pipped them to second place in Group B on Thursday.

Former European Cup winners PSV, languishing 10th in the Dutch league, needed a point to make the last 32, but were undone when Odessa’s Franck Dja Djedje netted a second-half header.

With 18 teams having already booked places in the knockout round as group winners or runners-up and eight sides dropping into the competition from the Champions League, Thursday’s action concentrated on the six remaining places up for grabs.

Maribor, Swansea City, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Dynamo Kiev and Slovan Liberec all joined Odessa in wrapping up the runners-up spots in their groups to secure a place in Monday’s draw.

Salzburg won 3-0 at home to Danish side Esbjerg to finish with a perfect 18 points in Group C and Tottenham Hotspur also recorded a sixth straight win in Group K by beating Anzhi Makhachkala with striker Roberto Soldado scoring a hat-trick.

PSV lifted the continent’s prized trophy in 1988, 10 years after winning the Europa League’s predecessor, the UEFA Cup, but the current side is a pale imitation of those successful teams and stuck in the middle of a terrible run of form.

Locked together with Chernomorets Odessa on seven points heading into the final round of Europa League group matches, PSV had the edge with a better head-to-head record.

That advantage was wiped out when Sito Riera, who was later sent off, crossed from the right and Dja Djedje powered in an excellent header from near the penalty spot.

The Dutch side have now won one of their last 11 games and have lost five of the last six, cranking up the pressure on coach and former Netherlands international Phillip Cocu.

Twice UEFA Cup winners Tottenham have also struggled for consistency domestically, but a string of impeccable performances in Europe have helped them cruise through the group by winning every game, scoring 15 and conceding two.

Even striker Spaniard Soldado, who has struggled for goals in the league this season after a £26 million (US$42 million) move from Valencia, found his scoring touch with three goals, including a penalty, to round off qualifying in style.

Maribor started the day bottom of Group D, but a 2-1 win over visitors Wigan Athletic and a heartbreaking defeat for Belgium side Zulte Waregem at home to Rubin Kazan meant the Slovenians leapfrogged both teams into second to reach the knockout stages.

Maribor fell behind to English second-tier team Wigan when Jordi Gomez scored from the penalty spot after 41 minutes.

A second penalty turned the match as Wigan’s Chris McCann was sent off for handling in the box and Dejan Mezga equalized on the rebound after his initial spot-kick was saved.

Zeljko Filipovic goaled a second-half stunner, but Maribor still needed a helping hand from Group D winners Rubin Kazan against Zulte Waregem.

Maribor and Waregem finished the group locked together on seven points, but the Slovenians went through courtesy of a better head-to-head record.

Welsh side Swansea sneaked through from Group A despite losing 0-1 to Swiss team St Gallen, while Maccabi Tel Aviv won 1-0 against visitors Girondins Bordeaux to qualify second in Group F.

Swansea would have gone out had Kuban Krasnodar beaten group winners Valencia away, but the Russian team could only muster a draw and finished two points adrift in third.

Dynamo Kiev came out on top in their Group G qualification shootout with Rapid Vienna, winning 3-1 at home to finish second on 10 points, four clear of their opponents, who had to win to progress.

Slovan Liberec won 2-1 at Estoril to finish second and edge out Freiburg, who lost 0-2 at home to Sevilla in Group H.