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Red Cards dominate Europa League action

Red cards dominated Thursday's action in the Europa League as several clubs ended their matches with just nine players after having two men sent off.

sports Updated: Nov 07, 2009 17:21 IST

Red cards dominated Thursday's action in the Europa League as several clubs ended their matches with just nine players after having two men sent off.

There was joy though for Werder Bremen, Shakhtar Donetsk and Galatasaray as they secured their place in the next round with two games to spare.

Werder Bremen scored late in the game through Tim Borowski and Hugo Almeida in their Group L match against Austria Vienna to move to 10 points, three more than second-placed Athletic Bilbao, who drew 1-1 at Nacional Funachal, who ended the game with ten men.

Both games in Group F ended in away wins, with Galatasaray's 3-0 victory at Dinamo Bucharest ensuring them a place in the next round, while Panathinaikos, who won 1-0 at Sturm Graz are also virtually guaranteed a place in the next round.

Shakhtar Donetsk made it four wins out of four in Group J after winning 2-0 at Toulouse, while Club Brugge won 4-2 at Partizan Belgrade to stay second with seven points. The Serbian club had a man sent off.

In Group G Red Bull Salzburg also won their fourth game as they beat a ten-man Levski Sofia 1-0 with a goal in the third minute of injury time, while the game between Villarreal and Lazio, which the home side won 4-1, ended with both sides having had a man sent off.

Although Salzburg have 12 points, they are not yet assured a place in the next round as Lazio and Villarreal have six points.

In Group K CFR Cluj clawed their way back to 2-2 in the 90th minute against Sparta Prague, although they were playing with just nine men after having two sent off, but Prague struck deep into injury time to win 3-2 and take them to seven points.

The other game in the group ended 1-1 between FC Copenhagen and PSV Eindhoven. The Dutch side lead the table with eight points.

Turkish club Fenerbahce lead Group H with nine points after beating a ten-man Steaua Bucharest 3-1, while Twente Enschede are second on seven points after their 2-1 victory against FV Sheriff.

In Group I Benfica Lisbon, who beat Everton 5-0 in Portugal in their first match, managed another victory against the Premier League side, winning 2-0 to go to nine points.

Everton remain second on six points though as the second match in the group saw AEK Athens draw 2-2 against a ten-man BATE Borisov, taking both teams to four points.

Earlier Dutch giants Ajax Amsterdam, Belgium club Anderlecht and Hapoel Tel Aviv closed in on a place in the knock-out stage of the Europa League with good victories.

Former Champions League winners Ajax won their Group A game 2-0 at Dinamo Zagreb, who had a man sent off in both halves, while Anderlecht beat Timisoara 3-1 in the other group match.

The two winners top the group with eight points from their four games - five more than Zagreb.

Hapoel have an even bigger lead in Group C after their 3-0 victory at Rapid Vienna. The Israeli club is on nine points, while SV Hamburg are second with seven points after being held to a goalless draw by visiting Celtic.

In Group B Italian Serie A club Genoa stayed in the hunt for a place in the next round after beating Lille 3-2 with a last-gasp goal to move to six points - just one point behind the French club.

Valencia are also on six points after playing to a 2-2 draw at Slavia Prague in a game that saw both sides having a man sent off.

Beleaguered Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin put their woeful Bundesliga form aside with a 3-2 victory at Heerenveen to move to four points in Group D.

Although leaders Sporting Lisbon have a comfortable lead at the top of the table with ten points after playing to a 1-1 draw at home against Ventspils, they are not yet assured of a place in the next round.

Hertha's coach Friedhelm Funkel said that his side deserved the victory. "The team believed in themselves and were rewarded at the end. We did not only fight, we also created chances."

AS Roma came from behind against Premier League club Fulham to register a 2-1 victory in their Group E game to move above the visitors on seven points.

Fulham, who ended the game with nine men after having Erik Nevland sent off shortly after the restart and Paul Konchesky being red carded in injury time, stay on five points and are now four points behind leaders Basel, who beat CSKA Sofia 3-1.

Fulham coach Roy Hodgson criticized the sending off of his players. "Well, the referee makes the decisions. What I think makes no difference at the end of the day.

"In the two games against Roma we had three players sent off and quite frankly I did not see a single sending-off offence.

"With that type of refereeing decisions, it is very, very hard to get a result."

Hodgson received some support from Roma player John Arne Riise. "I think the two red cards were quite harsh. The red card changed the game, even though we did play better in the second half.

"I told Nevland that that was never a red card and told him to stay calm and accept it," the Norwegian said.