Lazio crashed out of the Europa League tonight following their 2-1 defeat at Salzburg and Villarreal’s 2-0 win at Levski Sofia.
The results left the Italians third in Group G and unable to catch second-placed Villarreal, who ensured their progress to the last 32 alongside pool winners Salzburg.
Rabiu Afolabi put Salzburg ahead early in the second half and, although they were pegged back by Pasquale Foggia’s leveller five minutes later, Somen Tchoyi struck the winner 12 minutes from time.
Salzburg’s victory – their fifth in as many games – kept them six points clear of Villarreal, who eased past sorry Levski thanks to goals from Giuseppe Rossi and substitute Marcos Senna.
Villarreal are three points ahead of Lazio with one game still to go, but hold the better head-to-head record against the Serie A side so are guaranteed to progress.
The top two in Group I were also finalised this evening as Benfica and Everton booked their spots in the knockout phase.
The Portuguese outfit were 2-1 winners over BATE Borisov in Belarus.
Javier Saviola put the Lisbon giants in front within seconds of the restart, and the Argentinian then laid on a second for Fabio Coentrao.
BATE defender Sergey Sosnovskiy halved the deficit in the 69th minute but to little avail.
David Moyes’ Everton secured second place with a 1-0 triumph at AEK Athens, secured by Diniyar Bilyaletdinov’s early goal at the Olympic Stadium.
Fenerbahce secured top spot in Group H with a 1-0 win at FC Twente.
Diego Lugano’s second-half strike clinched the three points for the Turkish club to put them in an unassailable position, five points clear at the pool summit.
The result left the outlook less rosy for Twente, however. Steve McClaren’s side must win at Steaua Bucharest in a fortnight’s time to be sure of their place in the knockout phase.
Juan Carlos Toja netted an 87th-minute equaliser for Steaua Bucharest to secure a 1-1 draw at FC Sheriff and deal a hammer blow to the Moldovans’ hopes of advancing.
Amath Diedhiou put the home side ahead with only seven minutes remaining but Toja levelled four minutes later.