'Ondrej Di María', Andrej Kramarić and the second-best UEFA Europa League goal ever feature as UEFA.com sums up what has been a memorable group stage.
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Team: FC Dinamo Moskva
"Sixth match, sixth win," beamed Dinamo Moskva striker Kevin Kuranyi after the 1-0 matchday six success at PSV Eindhoven in Group E. "What a great way to finish a year." One of the most famous clubs in Russian football, Dinamo finessed their way through their major group stage debut, Stanislav Cherchesov's side being the only team to finish with a 100% record. "No one expected anything like this, I bet," said defender Stanislav Manolev.
Entertainers: VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach
The German outfit's Group A campaign was far from easy, but they could call on thrilling long-range weaponry whenever things got tough: 12 of their 24 goals since entering the competition in the play-offs were scored from outside the area. Typically stunning finishes included Håvard Nordtveit's screamer at FC Zürich, Granit Xhaka's bullet free-kick in the 2-2 draw at Villarreal CF and Branimir Hrgota's delicious lob on matchday six.
Goal: Erik Lamela (Tottenham Hotspur FC v Asteras Tripolis FC)
Taison's remarkable volley for FC Metalist Kharkiv against Rosenborg BK on 8 November 2012 remains the greatest goal in UEFA Europa League history – but only just; Lamela's insane 'rabona' finish at White Hart Lane runs it very close indeed. "Erik's goal was the best I have seen live or on television, without a doubt, 100%," team-mate Jan Vertonghen told UEFA.com at full time. "He will have sweet dreams tonight."
"Some people started to call me 'Dudinho' because of my technical ability, but I can assure you all that I am Slovakian and not Brazilian," Legia Warszawa's Slovak sensation Ondřej Duda told UEFA.com in the midst of a campaign where his control and class fast-tracked his side towards the last 32. It is not the 19-year-old midfielder's only nickname. Legia stalwart Miroslav Radović calls his protégé 'Ondrej Di María' in honour of Manchester United FC's Ángel Di María.
Striking discovery: Andrej Kramarić (HNK Rijeka)
"I got so many text messages from people congratulating me, it would have taken a whole day to reply," the 23-year-old Rijeka forward said after hitting a Group G hat-trick against Feyenoord. Five group stage goals – and over 20 in the Croatian First League – ensure that the former GNK Dinamo Zagreb man, now a senior international, will be top of many big clubs' wish lists when the January sales begin.
This season's Soriano: Alan (FC Salzburg)
Jonatan Soriano oustripped all rivals with eight goals for Salzburg last season as they roared through the group stage with six straight wins, but this time he was shaded by Brazilian team-mate Alan, who notched eight in just five Group D outings for Adi Hütter's men. "Sometimes I score nice goals, but what's best is for them to be important – that's even nicer," said the predatory attacker.
Getting goals might have been a problem for Trabzonspor AŞ striker Óscar Cardozo, but he ended the campaign with a record nonetheless. A seasoned UEFA Europa League campaigner, the 1.93m-tall Paraguayan has now made 42 appearances in the rebranded competition, more than any other player.
Quick-fire treble: Claudio Keşerü (FC Steaua Bucureşti)
Another record was set on matchday one as Claudiu Keşerü registered three times between the 61st and 72nd minutes of Steaua's 6-0 win against Aalborg BK to eclipse Steven Gerrard's 13-minute treble for Liverpool FC against SSC Napoli in 2010/11. "Starting the group stage with a hat-trick is pretty unbelievable," said Keşeru, who came on as a half-time substitute with the scores at 0-0.
Longest half-time break: Just over 19 hours (Estoril Praia v PSV Eindhoven)
Estoril went in at the break 3-2 up on matchday five, yet were given rather longer than expected to plan for the second half, with a massive deluge during the interval forcing the second half to be postponed and rescheduled for the following afternoon. In the event, PSV equalised through Georginio Wijnaldum eight minutes from time.