BATE Borisov came close against Chelsea – cracking the woodwork on three occasions – but the English side advanced to the Europa League knockout rounds with a 1-0 win in Belarus.
Meanwhile, Arsenal qualified for the next phase courtesy of a concurrent match in central Ukraine, while last season’s finalists Marseille and Belgian giants Anderlecht were eliminated from the continental competition.
Here is what happened in Thursday’s matches.
A draw between Ludogorets and AEK Larnaca did neither side any favors, as their dropped points and Bayer Leverkusen’s 1-0 win over FC Zurich led to the duo’s elimination. Leverkusen and Zurich are even on nine points with two matches remaining.
Celtic engineered an impressive 2-1 defeat of RB Leipzig, putting Brendan Rodgers’ outfit firmly back in contention for the knockout rounds. Rosenborg are almost out with no points from their opening four outings, and Thursday’s 5-2 home loss to Red Bull Salzburg sent their Austrian opponents through to the next phase.
Bordeaux’s Europa League mission is on life support. Anton Zabolotny’s second-half equalizer for Zenit St. Petersburg leaves the Ligue 1 club six points adrift of second-placed Slavia Prague, who drew at home to FC Copenhagen.
Anderlecht were eliminated with a 2-0 loss at Fenerbahce, whose fate is yet to be determined, along with that of Dinamo Zagreb and Spartak Trnava.
Danny Welbeck’s injury looked serious and was unfortunately the biggest takeaway from a forgettable 0-0 draw between Arsenal and Sporting CP at the Emirates Stadium. The Gunners confirmed qualification to the final 32 in the dour affair thanks to Qarabag’s 1-0 win at Vorskla Poltava.
F91 Dudelange, the first Luxembourg side to participate in the Europa League, are out following a 5-1 battering at Olympiacos. AC Milan sit third after a 1-1 draw at Real Betis.
Nothing is decided in a thrillingly tight quartet of Rangers, Rapid Vienna, Spartak Moscow, and Villarreal.
Marseille fell out of the Europa League after just four matches with a 2-1 loss at Lazio’s Stadio Olimpico. The win sent the Roman outfit into the next stage along with Eintracht Frankfurt, who overcame Group H cellar-dwellers Apollon Limassol.
Progression to the last 32 is still up for grabs for Besiktas, Genk, Malmo, and Sarpsborg. Besiktas are surprisingly bottom of the group with four points from four matches.
Akhisar Belediyespor were booted from the Europa League following a 3-2 home defeat to Sevilla. The Andalusians, meanwhile, are still vying with Krasnodar and Standard Liege to decide which two teams progress.
Astana, Dynamo Kyiv, and Rennes are still squabbling over a pair of spots to vault into the knockout rounds. Although Czech minnows FK Jablonec still have a mathematical chance, it would take a miracle for them to secure a place in the round of 32.
With their victory on Thursday, Chelsea are through as the top-placed team in Group L, while BATE Borisov, PAOK Thessaloniki, and MOL Vidi are fighting to capture second position.