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Rediff.com  » Sports » Europa League: Juve frozen out, Atletico face early exit

Europa League: Juve frozen out, Atletico face early exit

Last updated on: December 2, 2010 09:55 IST

Juve once again held by Polish Lech

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Italian teams Juventus and Sampdoria were knocked out of the Europa League on Wednesday and holders Atletico Madrid were staring at an early exit after a 3-2 home defeat by Greek side Aris.

Juventus were held to a 1-1 draw by Polish champions Lech Poznan in Group A, their fifth in as many matches, in freezing weather which made a snow-covered pitch almost unplayable.

Second-placed Lech are three points ahead of Juventus and have a better head-to-head record on away goals after their 3-3 draw in the reverse fixture. Manchester City went top of the group and secured a berth in the last 32 with a 3-0 win over Salzburg.

Flamboyant Italian striker Mario Ballotelli scored twice for City at Eastlands and winger Adam Johnson added the third in the closing stages.


Image: Juventus' Alessandro Del Piero
Photographs: Reuters
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Juve had to battle past Lech defence

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Zenit St Petersburg made it five wins out of five in Group G with a 3-1 home success over Anderlecht and AEK Athens are in a good position to join them after beating Hajduk Split by the same score on a pitch resembling a quagmire.

Having scored a hat-trick in Lech's 3-3 draw with Juventus, Latvian striker Artjoms Rudnevs returned to torment the double European champions and triple UEFA Cup winners in front of a raucous home crowd braving the cold.

Rudnevs headed in a 12th-minute corner by Bosnia midfielder Semir Stilic and Lech keeper Krzystof produced a string of superb saves before Vicenzo Iaquinta, wearing a skiing cap like many of this teammates, set up a dramatic finish.

Juventus, wearing white shirts, were almost as invisible as the ball on a snow-covered pitch in the first half and although they improved after the break, Lech held on in the closing stages to send their fans into raptures.


Image: Juventus' Vincenzo Iaquinta celebrates after scoring against Lech on Wednesday

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Atletico stare at exit door

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Atletico, beaten by Aris 1-0 in their first match, are level on points with the Greek side in Group B but behind on head-to-head, meaning that progress into the knockout stage is no longer in their own hands.

Atletico are now at the mercy of eliminated Norwegians Rosenborg, who must do them a favour away to Aris if the holders are to progress with a result against group winners Bayer Leverkusen. The 1988 UEFA Cup winners clinched the group with a 1-0 win at Rosenborg.

Sergio Koke fired Aris into a second-minute lead but Atletico looked set to seal a berth in the last 32 after Diego Forlan and Sergio Aguero struck shortly afterwards.

Koke drew level with a penalty soon after the break before Nikos Lazaridis silenced the Vicente Calderon faithful in the 81st minute.


Image: Atletico Madrid's Diego Forlan celebrates after scoring against Aris on Wednesday

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Samp knocked out, Young Boys through

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Italy striker Giampaolo Pazini fired Sampdoria ahead against PSV Eindhoven on the stroke of halftime but the Dutch side stormed back thanks to a brace from Swede Ola Toivonen to stay top of Group I on 13 points.

They were joined in the last 32 by Ukraine's suprise packages Metalist Kharkiv, who sealed their berth with a 2-1 home win over Hungary's Debreceni.

Swiss campaigners Young Boys Berne celebrated an impressive 4-2 win over Vfb Stuttgart thanks to a late double from Zambian forward Emmanuel Mayuke, with both sides through from Group H.


Image: Young Boys Berne's Emmanuel Mayuka (right) celebrates with teammates after scoring against VfB Stuttgart on Wednesday

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