FC Dynamo Kyiv and FC Salzburg have scores to settle, Tottenham Hotspur FC can qualify and AZ Alkmaar face a fantastic voyage as the action hots up on UEFA Europa League matchday three.
Dynamo fans may remember with a wince how they were ousted from the 2005/06 UEFA Champions League by unheralded Swiss side FC Thun, but Oleh Blokhin's team can make belated amends when the clubs meet again in Ukraine in Group G. Thun drew 2-2 in Kyiv in that second qualifying round tie, winning the return leg 1-0 in Berne. "We knew we needed two outstanding displays to progress," said Thun's then coach Urs Schönenberger. "We had to work hard but we knew we could do it."
Salzburg and R. Standard de Liège, meanwhile, are gearing up for their fifth European encounter, with the Belgian outfit having twice eliminated their Austrian hosts from UEFA competitions – most recently the 2009/10 UEFA Europa League round of 32. Salzburg drew both their previous home games against Standard, but with Roger Schmidt's side boasting two of the group stage's top scorers – Jonatan Soriano and Alan, with three goals each – they could be set for a breakthrough in Group C.
The only other player who has netted three times – Tottenham's Jermain Defoe – may have something to celebrate as his team seek a third successive Group K victory against FC Sheriff in Moldova. Should a Spurs win coincide with a draw between FC Anji Makhachkala and Tromsø IL in the other pool match, André Villas-Boas's men will be sure of a place in the last 32 after just three games – something that has not been done since Sporting Clube de Portugal trod the same path in 2010/11.
Tottenham's early qualification remains relatively unlikely, though not in comparison with Apollon Limassol FC's prospects of a home victory against SS Lazio in Group J. In 20 previous matches against Italian sides, Cypriot teams have recorded four draws and 16 defeats. However, after becoming the first local club to win in Poland when they beat Legia Warszawa on matchday two, nothing is impossible for Christakis Christoforou's charges. As he told UEFA.com: "Our group opponents play at another level but we will try to compete just like in all our games."
Finally, in Group L, AZ will have the chance to watch several in-flight movies as they visit FC Shakhter Karagandy. The longest journey to date for any UEFA Europa League or UEFA Champions League match will take the Dutch outfit 4,400km to the stadium in Astana where the tie is being staged. The only consolation may be that the Kazakh side face an even longer voyage for the return fixture on matchday four – Karaganda is 4,600km from Alkmaar.
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