Clubs closing in on knockout prize

Helsingborgs BK and Panathinaikos FC were the first teams to reach the Round of 32 and several clubs can join them there as Matchday 4 unfolds this midweek.

Panathinaikos FC reached the UEFA Cup's Round of 32 last week without playing, while Helsingborgs IF also progressed as the eight groups took shape on the third of the five Matchdays. eyes the state of play ahead of the games on 5/6 December, with the top three from each group proceeding to the knockout stage.

Group A
Everton FC sat out Matchday 3 but their six points from two games kept them top. FC Zenit St. Petersburg are a point behind after being held 2-2 by 1. FC Nürnberg, who duly opened their account, while AZ Alkmaar have a win and a draw following a 1-0 success that eliminated Larissa FC. Everton and Zenit meet on Wednesday and the victors will be through. In fact, should AZ prevail at Nürnberg, the current top three will progress whatever happens at Goodison Park.

Group B
Panathinaikos have two wins and results elsewhere on Matchday 3 ensured they advanced as Aberdeen FC lost 2-0 at Club Atlético de Madrid and FC Lokomotiv Moskva succumbed at home to FC København. FCK take on Atlético on Wednesday with three points enough for either side to go through. Lokomotiv will be out unless they win at Panathinaikos.

Group C
ACF Fiorentina drew 1-1 at AEK Athens FC to move a point clear of Villarreal CF, while FK Mladá Boleslav are off the bottom after a 3-1 triumph at IF Elfsborg. Mladá Boleslav will be in the Round of 32 if they beat AEK in the Czech Republic on Wednesday. Villarreal require a victory against Elfsborg.

Group D
Hamburger SV claimed a second victory, overcoming Stade Rennais FC 3-0, to climb two points above FC Basel 1893 and SK Brann, who have played a game more following last Thursday's defeat of NK Dinamo Zagreb. Hamburg visit Dinamo on Wednesday needing a point to progress, and should the German team prevail it would allow Basel and Brann to qualify with a draw.

Group E
FC Zürich's 2-0 win over Toulouse FC took them two points above FC Spartak Moskva and AC Sparta Praga, who drew 0-0 in the Czech Republic. Zürich now require just one more point at Spartak on Thursday; Sparta will go through with victory at Bayer 04 Leverkusen. Toulouse are out.

Group F
FC Bayern München were held to a second straight draw, 1-1 at SC Braga, but stay top thanks to Bolton Wanderers FC's late equaliser at Aris Thessaloniki FC. For Aris, a home victory against Braga on Thursday would suffice for qualification, and in the event of such a result, Bolton could advance by winning at FK Crvena Zvezda.

Group G
Tottenham Hotspur FC came from two down to beat Aalborg BK 3-2 and go two points ahead of RSC Anderlecht in first place, as Getafe CF slipped up 2-1 at home to Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC to leave both teams locked three points behind Spurs. A point at Anderlecht on Thursday would take Tottenham into the tournament's spring campaign, while a win would do for the Belgian side. AaB meet Getafe.

Group H
Helsingborg were the solitary club to earn qualification on the field last Thursday with a 3-0 defeat of FK Austria Wien. Galatasaray AS went third as they got off the mark by winning at Panionios GSS. FC Girondins de Bordeaux will progress if they draw this Thursday at home to Helsingborg, who could clinch pole position with victory. Panionos visit Austria with both teams seeking a first win.