Villarreal clinch place in Europa League knockout phase


Paris (AFP) – A brilliant late goal by Manuel Trigueros gave Villarreal a nervy 2-1 win over Steaua Bucharest on Thursday that took the Spanish club into the last 32 of the Europa League.

Nicola Sansone gave Villarreal the lead at El Madrigal only for substitute Vlad Achim to equalise for the Romanians, who then had ex-West Bromwich Albion defender Gabriel Tamas sent off.

Villarreal won the game when Trigueros netted with a superb chip from just outside the box with two minutes left, and they go through as runners-up in Group L behind the Turkish side Osmanlispor.

Steaua had a chance to equalise in stoppage time, and while a 2-2 draw would have taken them through, instead they are eliminated.

Fiorentina are also through as winners of Group J after a 2-1 win over Qarabag in Azerbaijan secured by a 76th-minute goal from 19-year-old Federico Chiesa, son of ex-Italy striker Enrico. Chiesa was then sent off shortly after.

PAOK of Greece are also into next week’s draw for the first knockout round thanks to a 2-0 win against Slovan Liberec, while Gent joined Shakhtar Donetsk in advancing from Group H.

Kalifa Coulibaly’s stoppage-time strike clinched a 1-0 win over Konyaspor in Turkey and took the Belgians through at the expense of Braga, who lost 4-2 at home to Shakhtar.

The identities of the last six qualifiers for the knockout phase will be revealed later, with Manchester United needing a draw against Zorya Luhansk in Ukraine to advance from Group A.

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