Europa League Roundup: Liverpool, Tottenham Advance to Knockout Round

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 6, 2012

UDINE, ITALY - DECEMBER 06:  Liverpool head coach Brendan Rodgers (L) celebrtate victory with Jonjo Shelvey during the UEFA Europa League Group A match between Udinese Calcio and Liverpool FC at Stadio Friuli on December 6, 2012 in Udine, Italy.  (Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images)
Dino Panato/Getty Images

Thursday was the sixth and final matchday in the group stage of the Europa League. 

While some groups were already decided going into the final matchday, EPL clubs Liverpool and Tottenham still had work to do to advance to the knockout round.

Liverpool was set to play Udinese and barely survived the match with a 1-0 win. 

The Reds went ahead in the 23rd minute through a Jordan Henderson goal and were the dominant side for the majority of the match.

Liverpool were given a scare when Udinese forward Antonio Di Natale entered the match in the 86th minute. Di Natale almost scored an equalizer with the last kick of the match, as his shot went about 10 inches above the goalpost. 

Brendan Rodgers' squad was handed an unlikely reward after the match, as they finished first in Group A after Young Boys defeated Anzhi, 3-1, in Switzerland. 

Liverpool advances to the knockout round after finishing with 10 points in the group. They will be joined by Anzhi, who advanced on goal differential over Young Boys.

The second EPL club to advance into the final 32 of the Europa League on Thursday were Tottenham Hotspur, who won 3-1 at home against Greek club, Panathinaikos

Spurs went ahead in the first half after Emmanuel Adebayor scored in the 29th minute off of a beautiful assist from the American, Clint Dempsey. 

Panathinaikos added more drama to Tottenham's chances of advancement to the group stage when Zeca headed home an equalizer in the 54th minute.

Spurs took care of business late in the match as Clint Dempsey headed a shot off the post and off Panathinaikos' keeper, Orestis Karnezis, into the back of the net for a Karnezis own goal in the 76th minute.

Jermain Defoe added a goal to the victory with his fourth Europa League goal of the season in the 83rd minute. 

Tottenham finished second in Group J with 10 points, two points behind group winner Lazio of Serie A. 

The third EPL club involved in the group stage, Newcastle United, lost 2-0 to Bordeaux in their Group D match. The loss by the Magpies did not matter as the club were already qualified for the final 32.

The club finished in second place behind Bordeaux in Group D.

In other matches played on Thursday, defending champions Atletico Madrid fell on the road to Group B rivals, Viktoria Plzen, 1-0.

The result from the Czech Republic meant that Atletico qualified for the final 32, but finished in second place. 

The second place finish by the defending champions means that Atletico Madrid could be paired with Chelsea in the round of 32.  This would would be a rematch of the UEFA Super Cup in August, which was won by Atletico. 

The other group that needed to be decided on Thursday was Group E, where three clubs still had a chance to advance to the knockout round going into the day. 

After the final whistle blew in both Group E matches, Steaua Bucuresti and Stuttgart were the two clubs who were successful in clinching qualification to the knockout round.

Steaua won the group with a 1-1 draw with third place finishers FC Copenhagen, while Stuttgart were saved by goal differential after a shock 1-0 loss to last place, Molde, at home. 

The draw for the round of 32 in the Europa League will be held on December 20th with the 24 clubs from the group stage being joined by the eight third-place finishers from the Champions League group stage.