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Sides for whom winning was not everything

Liverpool have reached the final despite winning fewer than half their games; UEFA.com meets the teams who took the scenic route to success.

Sides for whom winning was not everything
Sides for whom winning was not everything ©Getty Images

Liverpool have shown that there is more than one way to reach a final in this season's UEFA Europa League, taking their place in the Basel decider despite winning fewer than half of their 14 games (W6 D7 L1). UEFA.com meets some other sides who took the indirect route to glory.

Atlético Madrid, 2009/10 UEFA Europa League
W3 D8 L4 – champions

The Rojiblancos were not obvious candidates when they transferred from the UEFA Champions League after managing just three group stage points. Still, Diego Forlán's 90th-minute winner took them past Galatasaray in the last 32, and Atleti then overcame Sporting CP, Valencia and Liverpool on away goals. That was not an option in the final but Atlético did the next best thing, Forlán scoring deep into extra time to see off Fulham and end a 14-year wait for silverware.

PSV Eindoven, 1987/88 European Cup
W3 D5 L1 –
Extra time was too soon for PSV. Guus Hiddink's Dutch double winners mustered victories against Galatasaray and Rapid Wien (twice), but none after the second round. They beat Bordeaux and Real Madrid on away goals after 1-1 draws in France and Spain, then outlasted Benfica in a goalless final. The penalty shoot-out went to sudden death, António Veloso (father of Miguel) missed and the Netherlands' golden summer began.

Denmark, 1964 UEFA European Championship
W4 D2 L3 – fourth

Many forget, but Denmark had reached the EURO semi-finals twice before their 1992 triumph. From afar, with the football landscape having shifted so much, the 1964 campaign does not appear auspicious. They swept past Malta, exchanged wins against Albania (4-1 on aggregate) before a head-to-head with the Netherlands' vanquishers: Luxembourg. Denmark needed a replay to advance at the Red Lions' expense, Ole Madsen getting the only goal in Amsterdam. The USSR and Hungary proved too strong in the four-team finals.

Villarreal celebrate Riquelme's penalty v Benfica
Villarreal celebrate Riquelme's penalty v Benfica©Getty Images

Villarreal, 2005/06 UEFA Champions League
W3 D7 L2 – semi-finalists

"This Villarreal team is pretty unique," said Roberto Mancini. "They defend cleverly and enjoy doing it." Manuel Pellegrini's unheralded side scored three and conceded one as they topped their group, and while they opened up a little in the knockout rounds the Yellow Submarine still kept things watertight at the back. Rangers and Mancini's Internazionale Milano were eliminated on away goals, and had Juan Riquelme converted a late penalty against Arsenal, they may have got to the final.

Russia, 2013 UEFA European Under-17 Championship
W1 D4 – champions
Russia registered a solitary victory and four draws, but their deadly accuracy from the penalty spot saw Dmitri Khomukha's men through in Slovakia. Having beaten Ukraine 3-0 on the opening day, Russia scored just once more, in a draw with Italy that sealed pole position in their group. They drew the semi-final and final 0-0 before showing their class from the spot to down Sweden (10-9) and Italy (5-4) respectively. "I'm lost for words," said defender Dzhamaldin Khodzhaniyazov. He was not the only one.

*Statistics are for the group stage onwards