FC Schalke 04, FC Lokomotiv Moskva and Stoke City FC sealed UEFA Europa League round of 32 spots as a procession of late goals drastically altered the fortunes of several teams.
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There will be nine UEFA Europa League round of 32 places up for grabs on matchday six after FC Schalke 04, FC Lokomotiv Moskva and Stoke City FC sealed progress on Thursday.
With ten minutes to go Group E was wide open but Kenwyne Jones's late equaliser at home to FC Dynamo Kyiv took Stoke through, avoiding the spectre of a daunting trip to Beşiktaş JK. Instead they will head to Istanbul in a fortnight to contest top spot after Ricardo Quaresma's stunning last-minute effort earned the Turkish side a 3-2 win at Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC that moves them three points clear of Dynamo with a superior goal difference.
There was another late goal at FC Twente, where Marc Janko's 89th-minute winner wrapped up pole position for the Dutch outfit in Group K and left opponents Fulham FC needing to beat Odense BK on matchday six to confirm their continuation in the competition. Any slip-up and Polish champions Wisła Kraków, 2-1 victors at OB, lie in wait.
Dušan Švento's strike at the death could also be decisive, sealing a 2-0 home success for FC Salzburg against Paris Saint-Germain FC which puts the pair level on points; crucially, though, the Austrian team have a superior head-to-head record. They will travel to ŠK Slovan Bratislava having only to match PSG's performance against Group F winners Athletic Club.
Raúl González's predatory skills appeared as sharp as ever as his first UEFA Europa League goal – to add to 71 in the UEFA Champions League – earned Schalke a 2-1 home victory against FC Steaua Bucureşti and passage as Group J winners. The Romanian outfit could join them in the last 32 as AEK Larnaca FC's 2-1 triumph over Maccabi Haifa FC means second spot is still available.
RSC Anderlecht maintained the tournament's sole 100% record with a 2-1 win at AEK Athens FC, though that does not guarantee bragging rights in Group L. Lokomotiv, who had substitute Maicon to thank for a 3-1 home success against SK Sturm Graz, could supplant the Belgian outfit if they beat them by more than two goals in Brussels on 14 December.
Sporting Clube de Portugal, who clinched their berth in the knockout stage on matchday three, sealed first place in Group D with a 2-0 defeat of FC Zürich in Lisbon. They ended the Swiss side's ambitions in the process, yet the headlines were made elsewhere in the section as a 0-0 draw with S.S. Lazio at Peatra Neamt kept Romanian minnows FC Vaslui well placed to finish second.
Through to round of 32
Club Atlético de Madrid
FC Lokomotiv Moskva
FC Metalist Kharkiv
FC Schalke 04
R. Standard de Liège
Sporting Clube de Portugal
Stoke City FC
* The eight teams that finish third in their UEFA Champions League groups will transfer to the UEFA Europa League for the knockout phase.