Liverpool set to clinch place in Europa League knockouts




Liverpool and its Premier League counterpart West Ham United and Brighton can all clinch spots in the knockout phase of the Europa League this Thursday with a round of group games to spare, while troubled Ajax face elimination from the competition.

The Anfield side could have already wrapped up their place in the next round earlier this month, but they succumbed to a 3-2 defeat by Toulouse amid a euphoric atmosphere in France, albeit only after having a last-gasp equaliser ruled out by the VAR.

That victory was celebrated, understandably, by Toulouse and their supporters as one of their greatest-ever results, but it should go down as nothing more than a minor setback for Jurgen Klopp and his team.

Having won its previous three outings in Group E despite massive changes to the line-up each time, Liverpool needs to avoid defeat at home against LASK of Austria to secure progress before its final match away to Union Saint-Gilloise in Belgium next month.

ALSO READ: Mead proud of England return after ‘tough days’ watching World Cup

Indeed it will qualify regardless provided the Belgians do not win in Toulouse at the same time but there is also a chance the Reds could wrap up the top spot in the group — that would ensure they advance straight to the last 16 rather than having to participate in an extra round of play-offs.

While Liverpool sit just two points off the top of the Premier League, LASK is third in the Austrian Bundesliga, five points behind leaders Red Bull Salzburg.

Its biggest threat is likely to come from goal-scoring midfielder and captain Robert Zulj, but it would be an enormous shock if it took anything from its trip to England.

West Ham is in a similar position to Liverpool, knowing a win this midweek will take it through from Group A but that it could qualify regardless if results elsewhere go its way.

ALSO READ: Champions League 2023-24: Manchester City claims top spot after recovering to beat Leipzig 3-2

The Hammers will be in northern Serbia to take on TSC Backa Topola, a team they defeated 3-1 in London in September but who have just claimed a notable 4-0 win away at domestic league leaders Partizan Belgrade.

David Moyes’s team are level atop their group with Freiburg and will qualify for the knockout phase come what may as long as the Germans avoid defeat at home to Olympiakos of Greece.

Ajax revival

Brighton and Hove Albion will extend its first-ever European adventure into the new year if it gets the better of AEK Athens away in Group B, which would be a measure of revenge after it lost 3-2 when the sides met in England in September.

Roberto De Zerbi’s side looked up against it when they followed that by drawing 2-2 in Marseille, but they have since beaten Ajax twice to find themselves eyeing the next round.

ALSO READ: Champions League 2023-24: Barcelona beats Porto 2-1, returns to knockout stage

Beaten Europa League finalists in 2022, Rangers has a chance to qualify this Thursday if it wins at home to Aris Limassol of Cyprus in Group C.

Rangers has an impressive record at home in the Europa League, winning seven and drawing one of its last eight matches there in the competition.

It did lose 2-1 away to Aris in October, but that was before the appointment of Philippe Clement as manager, since when it is unbeaten.

ALSO READ: Champions League 2023-24: Last-gasp Mbappe penalty earns PSG 1-1 draw with Newcastle

“It is a massive game at Ibrox on Thursday where we need to get three points to put us in a good position in the group, and that is all our main focus now,” captain James Tavernier said after Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Aberdeen.

Marseille and last season’s runner-up Roma can also qualify, but Ajax needs to beat the French club away to keep alive its chances.

It has been a dreadful season so far for the Dutch giants, although they are undergoing a revival domestically, with three wins and a draw in their last four games since John van’t Schip became the coach.


Source link

━ more like this

China Sanctions: China sanctions US firm Kharon, provider of research on Xinjiang

BEIJING: China's foreign ministry said it had sanctioned Kharon, a US firm founded by former treasury department officials that provides data to companies...

Bry-Air Conducts the 13th Biannual Eye Camp to Support Underprivileged People Suffering from Eye-Related Problems

Bry-Air Conducts the 13th Biannual Eye Camp to Support Underprivileged People Suffering from Eye-Related Problems Staying true to its commitment to enhancing lives through CSR...

Ukraine: Ukraine claims destruction of major Russian navy vessel in Crimea

Ukraine's air force said on Tuesday that it had destroyed a major Russia landing ship stationed in the Crimean waters, after the Russian-installed...

Mavericks’ Luka Doncic reaches 10,000-point career milestone

Mavericks star Luka Doncic reached 10,000 career points during the first quarter of Dallas’ road game against the Phoenix Suns. Doncic reached 10,000...

Indonesia nickel plant explosion death toll rises to 18

JAKARTA: The death toll after an explosion at a Chinese-funded nickel-processing plant in eastern Indonesia over the weekend has risen to 18 with...