Gifts were exchanged and points were shared in Bucharest as a draw proved to be more than enough to put FC Twente in the round of 32, while FC Steaua Bucureşti settled for fourth place in UEFA Europa League Group H.
An early goal for Fenerbahçe SK in Istanbul swiftly snuffed out FC Sheriff's chance of denying Twente second place in Group H, and it was just as well, with Steve McClaren's side dawdling. Had Cristian Tanăse not shot straight at Sander Boschker, Twente would have been behind on nine minutes, but the 39-year-old goalkeeper negated that stroke of luck nine minutes later, diving way too slowly to cut out Bănel Nicoliţa's trundling ball, with Pantelis Kapetanos accepting the seasonal gift at the far post.
Christmas, however, was to come early for Ronnie Stam after 35 minutes as Twente's first shot of note netted him a goal. The midfielder's thump from distance might have troubled Robinson Zapata without the aid of a deflection, but a nick off Sorin Ghionea's rump rendered it unstoppable.
Eliminated but eager to end the year with no regrets, Steaua continued to show more enterprise after the break, and Kapetanos might have scampered through for a second on 66 minutes but for Nicky Kuiper's no-nonsense clearance. Blaise Nkufo threaded a skidding shot from the edge of the box just wide at the other end two minutes later and Zapata had to be alert to punch a corner away to safety with Wout Brama threatening, but with no miraculous turnaround materialising in Istanbul, neither side felt the need to go for broke.
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