Newcomers AS Nancy-Lorraine and SV Zulte Waregem both celebrated progress to the UEFA Cup knockout stage last night – in Zulte Waregem's case without having even kicked a ball.
New kids on the block
Nancy, competing in Europe for the first time since 1978/79, beat two-times UEFA Cup winners Feyenoord 3-0 to move top of Group E and secure their place in the Round of 32. The other new kids on the block, Zulte Waregem of Belgium, meanwhile, were not in action but results elsewhere in Group F mean their six-point haul is enough for them to start planning for the next stage.
Staying in Group F, Spain's RCD Espanyol registered a third straight win, 2-0 at AFC Ajax, to make sure their name is also in the hat for the Round of 32 draw. Panathinaikos FC were the fourth and final side assured of progress after the second night of Matchday 4 action as their goalless home draw with AFC Rapid Bucuresti pushed them three points clear at the Group G summit. It was an unhappy night for two teams, however, as defeats for FC Basel 1893 and FK Austria Wien confirmed their elimination.
Twenty-four hours earlier, AZ Alkmaar, FC Dinamo 1948 Bucuresti, Maccabi Haifa FC and holders Sevilla FC ensured that they too will be playing UEFA Cup football in the new year, while Grasshopper-Club became the first side to be knocked out. Overall, 13 teams have qualified from the group stage with eleven places still to be decided on the final matchday on 14 December.
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