The Europa League reached the end of its group stage campaign on Thursday in thrilling fashion as European giants such as Napoli joined intriguing sides such as Wolfsberg in the round of 32.
Read on for everything you need to know about the final round of fixtures:
Key Matchday 6 scores, storylines
- CSKA Sofia 3, Roma 1
- Young Boys 2, CFR Cluj 1
- Roma win group; Young Boys advance
CSKA Sofia's win over Roma might have been drama enough for Group A. Even though head coach Paulo Fonseca had rested several key names for the trip to Bulgaria, his side having already won the group, he surely would not have expected his side to collapse to a 3-1 defeat, particularly after 18-year-old Tomasso Milanese's first senior goal cancelled out Tiago Rodrigues' early opener. However a brace from Ali Sowe ensured that CSKA bowed out of Europe in style.
The drama in Bulgaria was nothing compared to the closing minutes in the match between Young Boys and CFR Cluj with the former needing just a point to secure second spot behind Roma. For 84 minutes that's what they seemed to be heading for until substitute Gabriel Debeljuh pounced on a rebound to set up a thrilling finale.
Cluj goalkeeper Cristian Balgradean saw red and conceded a penalty for a foul on Cedric Zesiger, and Jean-Pierre Nsame converted the resulting penalty. The drama did not end there, Nsame was sent off for a bad tackle and Young Boys netted a winner when Gianluca Gaudino finished a counter as CFR chased the goal they needed. Even though that ended the qualification matter it was not the end of a remarkable final 12 minutes as Damjan Dokovic was dismissed for a foul.
- Napoli 1, Real Sociedad 1
- Rijeka 2, AZ Alkmaar 1
- Napoli win group; Sociedad advance
The group of death lived up to its billing. The table toppers in Spain, a Napoli side stocked with attacking weapons and an AZ Alkmaar side that might have won the Dutch title last season were locked in a battle for two qualifying spots that was not decided until the final minutes of added time in both games.
A win would guarantee Napoli the top spot and eliminate Real Sociedad, and for most of the match at a sodden Stadio San Paolo that seemed the most likely result after Piotr Zielinski netted a goal for Napoli just before half-time. However Sociedad created the bulk of the chances throughout the match and were rewarded for their endeavor when the ball dropped to Willian Jose in the box, the Brazilian rifling home an equalizer in the 92nd minute.
A goal for AZ Alkmaar, drawing 1-1 away to Rijeka, would have taken the Dutch side through but the Croatian side stunned Group F in the dying minutes as Ivan Tomecak netted to earn them their first win of the competition.
How Matchday 6 played out
- Roma had already qualified as group winners before their 3-1 loss at eliminated CSKA Sofia. Young Boys joined them in the last 32 with a dramatic late win over CFR Cluj.
- Arsenal are through as group winners and beat Dundalk 3-1 in Dublin to ensure they remain the only club in European competition with a 100% record.
- Molde secured second place ahead of Rapid Vienna with a 2-2 draw in Austria.
- Slavia Prague and Bayer Leverkusen had both qualified before meeting tonight -- a brace from Leon Bailey setting the stage for a comfortable win for the latter side, who topped the group.
- Rangers had already qualified and assured themselves of top spot with a 2-0 win away to Lech Poznan. That result meant Benfica, who drew with Standard Liege, had no chance of finishing first.
- Granada were held to a 0-0 draw by PAOK in Greece.
- That opened a gap for PSV Eindhoven, who needed to beat Omonia and hope Granada dropped points. They kept up their end of the bargain with a 4-0 win in Cyprus.
- Napoli and Real Sociedad both qualified after a 1-1 draw in Naples, Willian Jose scoring for the visitors in the 92nd minute. Meanwhile AZ Alkmaar conceded in the 93rd minute to strengthen Sociedad's hand, Ivan Tomecak earning a 2-1 win for already eliminated Rijeka.
- Leicester City and Braga had already qualified for the knockout stages. A win at home to AEK Athens would have guaranteed the Foxes top spot in the group and they comfortably claimed that victory with Cengiz Under and Harvey Barnes striking early.
- Lille, needed to beat Celtic in Glasgow to guarantee themselves top spot with AC Milan winning 1-0 over Sparta Prague. Timothy Weah scored for the French side at Celtic Park as Christophe Galtier's side twice came from behind only for David Turnbull to earn the Scottish champions their first win of the group stages.
- Villarreal had already qualified as group winners prior to their match against Qarabagh. This was suspended after an outbreak of COVID-19 in the Azeri squad.
- Maccabi Tel-Aviv will join them in the knockout stages after they beat Sivasspor 1-0 in Israel.
- Antwerp and Tottenham Hotspur had qualified before tonight's game with their meeting in London a clash for top spot. Spurs needed to win and that is exactly what they did, Carlos Vinicius and Giovanni Lo Celso netting in the second half.
- Dinamo Zagreb had already qualified as group winners.
- Wolfsberg joined them in the knockout stages with a 1-0 win over Feyenoord.
- Hoffenheim have won the group with Red Star assured of second place behind them.
- Hoffenheim wrapped up their campaign in style, beating Gent 4-1.
Champions League additions
Eight third-place teams in the Champions League group stage join the Europa League round of 32 draw.
The four teams with the best record - Manchester United, Shakhtar Donetsk, Club Brugge and Ajax -- will be seeded for the draw on Dec. 14. Krasnodar, Red Bull Salzburg, Olympiacos and Dinamo Kiev will not.
When is the round of 32 draw?
The draw for the round of 16 will take place on Dec. 14, 2020 at 8 a.m. ET. It will take place at the House of European Football in Nyon, Switzerland.
When does the round of 32 begin?
The round of 32 begins Feb. 18. The second legs take place on February 25. For the full Europa League schedule click here.