UEFA Cup goes to knockout stages

Aston Villa stumbled into the knockout stages of the Uefa Cup after a defeat at Hamburg but Pompey end their campaign with a win. Having already booked their safe passage out of Group F the 3-1 loss to Hambur mattered little to Martin O'Neill's men.

Two goals from Peter Crouch ensured Portsmouth ended their UEFA Cup campaign with a win as they beat Heerenveen 3-0 at Fratton Park. The England striker scored a quick-fire double just before the interval and Portsmouth not only successfully held on to their 2-0 lead but added to it in stoppage time with a header from Hermann Hreidarsson. Pompey's chances of qualifying from the group stages were ended by a 3-2 defeat by Wolfsburg, rendering this match a dead rubber between the bottom two sides in the group.

Wolfsburg joined Hamburg in securing top spots in their respective groups on a fine night for German teams in the UEFA Cup. The Wolves twice came from behind to earn a 2-2 draw at AC Milan while Hamburg were impressive 3-1 winners over a weakened Aston Villa side. Wolfsburg entered the game at the San Siro with a 100% record in the pool phase but went behind to a Massimo Ambrosini header. Cristian Zaccardo pulled the German outfit level after the break but Wolfsburg's joy was shortlived as Alexandre Pato scored seconds later to put the hosts back in front. Wolfsburg's efforts were rewarded as Jacek Krzynowek's strike took a crucial deflection off Mahir Saglik to level the score with nine minutes remaining and consign Milan to second in Group E.

Ajax finished second to Hamburg in their pool after a 2-2 draw at home to Slavia Prague. Ajax went ahead through Jan Vertonghen but Jaroslav Cerny and Marek Jarolim hit back before Luis Suarez converted a penalty in the 90th minute to deny Slavia a first UEFA Cup win.

Rodolfo Bodipo scored the winner 16 minutes from time to secure Deportivo La Coruna a place in the last 32 and dump Nancy out of the competition. The former Alaves striker came off the bench to rescue the Galicians with a sidefoot finish from just outside the six-yard box, breaking the hearts of the French visitors who would have gone through from Group H with a draw.

Ivan Djurdjevic scored the only goal of the game to enable Lech Poznan to squeeze into the last 32 with victory at Feyenoord. Djurdjevic's placed strike after 25 minutes ensured the Poles a place in the knockout stages at Nancy's expense by just a point. Defeat for Feyenoord completed a miserable campaign during which they lost all four games - the club's worst ever run in European competition.

FC Copenhagen pulled off a smash-and-grab job to beat Club Brugge 1-0 and claim Group G's final place in the knockout stages thanks to Cesar Santin's goal just before the hour. Club Brugge had started the night in third place, needing only to avoid defeat to go through. St Etienne held on to top spot in the group after playing out an exciting 2-2 draw against second-placed Valencia at a snow-covered Stade Geoffrey-Guichard. Brazilian forward Ilan twice put St Etienne ahead with contrasting first-half goals, but Valencia battled back both times thanks to strikes from forwards Fernando Morientes and Nikola Zigic.


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