Europa League 2012: Breaking Down Most Surprising Results from Matchday 5
Matchday 5 of the 2012 Europa League group play saw a lot of top teams confirm the top spots of their respective pools by advancing through to the final 32.
But that's not to say there weren't any surprising results from the captivating slate of matches, as clubs from all over the world scrapped to prove themselves. Some clubs had to battle through adversity to stay alive entering the final group matches, while others overcame 10-man scenarios to pull out three points.
Here is a trio of the most surprising results from Thursday's action.
Stuttgart 5, Steaua 1
This was a massive upset, as the German club sits in 12th place in the Bundesliga table (h/t ESPN Soccernet) while the hosting Romanians were leading Group E entering the fixture.
The Reds struck early and often, with four goals in the first 31 minutes of action. Shinji Okazaki scored his second consecutive goal at 55' before the Army Men knew what hit them. Steaua striker Mihai Costea came off the pine to score in the 83rd minute, but it was of little consolation.
It was the first loss in this stage for the Army Men and their worst defeat ever in UEFA competiiton (h/t UEFA.com). They will travel to face F.C. Kobenhaven in the final match.
Suddenly, Group E is up for grabs heading into the next set of fixtures, due to take place in early December. Stuttgart will look to ride its wave of momentum against Molde, who is already eliminated.
SSC Napoli 2, AIK 1
Edinson Cavani put home a penalty kick in extra time to lift the Azzurri to the next stage in Sweden in what was the final fixture to be hosted within Rasunda Stadium.
Napoli overcame a red card by stout defender Salvatore Aronica and played a man down for the most crucial portion of the match to notch the game-winner. In such an emotional game for the home fans, it was remarkable that the Azzurri could muster the fortitude in the final 10 minutes to gain three points.
It was a physical game overall, with Napoli committing 30 fouls to AIK's 27 (h/t UEFA.com). That kind of heated competition made for one of the most dramatic, stunning fixtures in this year's group play.
Andreas Alm's club will have to take solace in a valiant effort in the penultimate Group F showdown, as it improved vastly on its 4-0 defeat to the Azzurri on Matchday 1.
KRC Genk 1, Videoton 0
Vidi continues to surprise in its bid to become the first Hungarian team to make it to the knockout phase of the UEFA Europa League, according to UEFA reporter Peter Murphy.
This is a prime example of the platform the typically unappreciated competition can provide to the non-powerhouse teams across the globe. Despite a valiant effort by the recently invincible home team, though, Genk found a way to squeak by its upstart opposition.
A header by the Belgian club's winger, Elyaniv Barda, in the 20th minute was enough to give the visiting favorites the edge. All the chances by Videoton went by the wayside, and Paulo Sousa's club continued to be mired in a perpetual second-half drought.
Every goal Vidi has scored in Group G have been before the break, and they find themselves in a must-win situation in the finale in order to make the knockout round.
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