Dec 6, 2007

UEFA Cup Favorites Advance In Lockstep

Big clubs from England, Spain and Germany made strides in yesterday's UEFA Cup match-day as Everton, Atletico Madrid, Villareal and Hamburg SV all notched clear wins that put them through to the Round of 32. Ten of the elimination round spots have now been decided, with most teams left with a game or two on their group stage schedule.

The most impressive of yesterday's victories for me was Hamburg's 2-0 win at Dynamo Zagreb. Both goals came at the very end of the game. Zagreb now have one measly point from three games and have no chance of advancing to the next round. Atletico also won on the road, beating F.C. Copenhagen, 2-0. Villareal made quick work of visiting Elfborg by the same margin, with Jon Dahl Tomasson notching a brace to put his fellow Scandinavians out of their misery. The Swedish side have completed their four games, with a final tally of one point (which they earned against AEK Athens, if you must know).

It was a big day for Greek clubs as well, with Panathinaikos and AEK Athens scoring victories over Lokomotiv Moscow and Mlada Boleslav (I think they're Bulgarian?), respectively. Panathinaikos, with three victories from three games, is one of only three teams with a perfect record in the tournament thus far (Everton and HSV are the others). AEK may have to notch a point from their final game--they host Villareal Dec. 20--to advance, but will do so regardless if Fiorentina beat or tie Mlada Boleslav on the final match-day. The Tuscan side is home so I'd say the chances of that happening are pretty darn good.

Switzerland's F.C. Basle also joined the fray, advancing with a 1-0 home victory over Braga. Nurnberg won as well, beating AZ Alkmaar 2-1. The Bundesliga side can advance with a victory at Larissa (zero points from three games) on the final match day Dec. 20.

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