Victory for FC Dinamo Moskva on matchday six ensured they became the sixth team to end the group stage with a perfect record; UEFA.com profiles the previous five.
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FC Salzburg (2009/10) W6 D0 L0 F9 A2
Salzburg may have trailed at SS Lazio on matchday one, but the Austrian side ultimately prevailed 2-1 – Marc Janko with a 93rd-minute winner – and were never behind again in the group stage. Indeed they conceded only once more – also against Lazio – and saw off both Villarreal CF and PFC Levski Sofia in addition to the Italians.
So supreme were Salzburg in Group G, they extended coach Huub Stevens's contract prior to the knockout phase. "Salzburg are at a very exciting, challenging and promising stage and I want to play a part," said the Dutchman. R. Standard de Liège proved too strong in the round of 32, though, running out 3-2 aggregate victors.
FC Zenit (2010/11) W6 D0 L0 F18 A6
Aleksandr Kerzhakov's hat-trick at RSC Anderlecht in Zenit's Group G opener set the tone for the Russian team, who scored three or more in all but one of their group stage games. AEK Athens FC and HNK Hajduk Split were also overcome with minimal fuss, though the Croatian outfit did give Zenit a scare by recovering from 3-0 down to 3-2 with eight minutes left on matchday four.
"We are a strong team; we have won all our matches in the group and this tells its own story," said defender Bruno Alves after Zenit signed off with a 3-0 win over AEK. Though BSC Young Boys were also beaten, in the round of 32, FC Twente blocked Zenit's path in the last 16.
RSC Anderlecht (2011/12) W6 D0 L0 F18 A5
While the Belgian side only edged Bursaspor in the play-offs, they entered the group phase with a bang by thrashing AEK 4-1 on matchday one. FC Lokomotiv Moskva and SK Sturm Graz – twice – were then vanquished without conceding, before another victory against AEK. A topsy-turvy 5-3 triumph over Lokomotiv marked the end of an entertaining Group L journey.
Anderlecht's European adventure came to an abrupt halt with a 2-0 aggregate loss to AZ Alkmaar in the round of 32, yet it had been an impressive campaign. Matías Suárez, who contributed seven UEFA Europa League goals, attributed their success to "playing more football on the deck".
FC Salzburg (2013/14) W6 D0 L0 F15 A3
IF Elfsborg were dispatched 4-0 on matchday one and Salzburg never looked back in a section also containing Esbjerg fB and Standard. Jonatan Soriano – who claimed a hat-trick in that Group C curtain-raiser and finished as the competition's eight-goal top scorer – and Alan were especially prolific in attack for Roger Schmidt's men. "It is a tough competition, but [winning] it is possible," said Soriano during the group stage. "We have a very good side."
Indeed, they were a team good enough to rack up an eye-catching 6-1 aggregate victory over AFC Ajax in the last 32. FC Basel 1893, however, prevented Salzburg making it as far as the quarter-finals.
Tottenham Hotspur FC (2013/14) W6 D0 L0 F15 A2
Drawn in Group K alongside FC Sheriff, Tromsø IL and FC Anji Makhachkala, Tottenham did not let in a goal until matchday four, when they also secured their progress – all this in the wake of talismanic Gareth Bale's departure for Real Madrid CF. "We restrengthened well, mostly with creative players who possess great ability on the ball," said manager André Villas-Boas.
Such success in Europe was not enough to save Villas-Boas, however, for the Portuguese was dismissed in mid-December with Spurs seventh in the Premier League. Interim replacement Tim Sherwood steered them past FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, before SL Benfica prevailed 5-3 on aggregate in the last 16.