Milan, Villarreal and Nice reach knockout round

Europa League, Astana vs Villarreal – Astana Arena, November 23, 2017 Villarreal’s Rodri in action with Astana’s Patrick Twumasi (REUTERS/Alexei Filippov)

(Reuters) – AC Milan, Villarreal and Nice reached the knockout stage of the Europa League after posting wins on Thursday in the penultimate round of the group stage.

Arsenal lost to Cologne 1-0 in Germany but still finish top of Group H while Hertha Berlin crashed out of the competition after a 3-2 loss to Athletic Bilbao.

Everton, already eliminated, suffered a humiliating 5-1 defeat at home to the Italian side Atalanta with Danish forward Andreas Cornelius and midfielder Bryan Cristante each claiming a brace.

The Bergamo club progress from Group E along with Olympique Lyon, who crushed Apollon Limassol 4-0.

Seven-time European champions AC Milan crushed Austria Vienna 5-1 after going a goal down. Portuguese forward Andre Silva and Patrick Cutrone each scored twice.

Spain’s Villarreal moved into the next round after beating Astana 3-2 to end the Kazakh club’s 17-game unbeaten run.

Substitute Cedric Bakambu scored twice after being introduced on the hour to put Villarreal 3-1 up; an 88th-minute Patrick Twumasi goal for the hosts made no difference to the result.

Italian Mario Balotelli scored twice, including a penalty, for Nice as they went through from Group K with a 3-1 victory over Belgium’s Zulte Waregem.

Arsenal were already assured of progress before their trip to Germany but will still be disappointed to have a fallen to the Bundesliga’s bottom club.

Serbian champions Partizan Belgrade progressed with a pulsating 2-1 home win over Young Boys Berne.

Real Sociedad progress with Zenit St Petersburg from Group L due to a 1-0 win at Norway’s Rosenborg. Mikel Oyarzabal grabbed the winner in the 90th minute.

Portugal’s Braga will also be in the last 32 after beating Hoffenheim 3-1. Brazilian midfielder Fransergio scored twice after the break.

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