Football - Napoli
Napoli players in a huddle after holding off Leicester 3-2 to make the next round of Europa League on Thursday. Image Credit: AFP

Paris: Italian sides Napolio and Lazio along with Spanish club Real Sociedad, Galatasaray, Spartak Moscow. Crvena Zvezda, Braga, and Dinamo Zagreb all advanced from the Group stage of the UEFA Europa League, completing the line-up for the next stage in the second-tier competition in European club football.

Turkish club Galatasaray, Spartak Moscow (RUS), and Crvena Zvezda (SRB) topped their respective groups and along with Frankfurt (GER), Leverkusen (GER), Lyon (FRA), Monaco (FRA), and English side West Ham United as the eight teams to clinch a direct berth in the Round of 16.

Real Sociedad (ESP), Napoli (ITA), Lazio (ITA), Braga (POR), and Dinamo Zagreb (CRO) ended as runners-up in their respective groups and joined Olympiacos (GRE), Rangers (SCO), and Real Betis (ESP) in the knockout playoffs stage. These eight will join the eight teams that were transferred from the UEFA Champions League - Atalanta (ITA), Barcelona (ESP), Dortmund (GER), Leipzig (GER), Porto (POR), Sevilla (ESP), Sheriff (MDA), Zenit St Petersburg (RUS) to complete the lineup for the 16-team knockout playoffs. The eight playoff winners will advance to the last-16 stage.

On Thursday, Napoli held off a spirited comeback bid by English club Leicester City to win 3-2 and progress as Group C runners-up, sending the third-placed Foxes into the UEFA Europa Conference League.

Adam Ounas and Elif Elmas gave the home side a two-goal cushion by the 24th minute, but Leicester were level before the break, through Jonny Evans and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall - only for Elmas to score his second of the night, and Napoli’s decisive third, eight minutes after half-time.

Meanwhile, Mikel Oyarzabal scored twice as Real Sociedad beat PSV Eindhoven 3-0 and leapfrogged their opponents to claim second place in Group B.

Bruma clipped the crossbar for the visitors early on, but the crucial first goal came at the other end, Oyarzabal converting from the spot after Phillipp Mwene had blocked Adnan Januzaj’s shot with an arm. Oyarzabal took advantage of some PSV hesitancy to fire home the second just after the hour and, with Ibrahim Sangaré dismissed 15 minutes from time for a second yellow card - the PSV midfielder’s second dismissal of the group stage - Alexander Sørloth rifled in a late third.

In another match, Scotland’s Rangers denied French side Lyon a perfect record in Group A as they held them 1-1. Rangers went ahead in France then held on in the second half to take a point. Scott Wright gave the visitors the lead and the hosts responded well, drawing level through Calvin Bassey’s own goal. Peter Bosz’s group winners had several chances to win it but could not find a way through against the runners-up.

Already certain of qualifying, Germany’s Eintracht Frankfurt, held 1-1 by Fenerbahce of Turkey, were confirmed as Group D winners, thanks in part to Olympiacos’s 1-0 defeat at Antwerp. The Djibril Sow held off two defenders to score his first-ever European goal and give the visitors the lead, but Fenerbahçe responded just before the break, Mergim Berisha finishing after Makoto Hasebe had failed to cut out a cross.

Marseille booked their place in the knockout stage of the UEFA Europa Conference League after pipping Lokomotiv Moscow to third place in Group E with a 1-0 win. Arkadiusz Milik scored the only goal with a well-placed header from a superb Cengiz Under corner in the 35th minute, the home side holding on despite losing Valentin Rongier to a second booking ten minutes from time.