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November 7, 2009

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Shakhtar on course in Europa

SHAKHTAR Donetsk kept up its excellent Europa League title defence when a 2-0 win in Toulouse on Thursday clinched a place in the first knockout round.

Turkey's Galatasaray also advanced with two matches to spare, winning 3-0 at Dinamo Bucharest in Group F, while Salzburg is on the verge of progressing after beating Group G rival Levski Sofia 1-0 with a stoppage-time goal by Franz Schiemer.

Werder Bremen left it late to beat Austria Vienna 2-0 in Group L, Tim Borowski and Hugo Almeida on target as the Germans moved into the last 32.

Second-half goals by Luiz Adriano and Olexiy Gai in southern France gave Ukrainians Shakhtar a maximum 12 points from four games in Group J.

Group E is turning into a real dogfight. Former Liverpool full back John Arne Riise scored for Roma in a 2-1 triumph over England's Fulham in the Olympic Stadium after the Serie A club had gone behind.

Stefano Okaka Chukka grabbed the winner after Erik Nevland was sent off for visiting Fulham, who ended with nine men when Paul Konchesky was red-carded in stoppage time.

The win lifted Roma into second place, two points behind Basel who beat CSKA Sofia 3-1.

"With these types of refereeing decisions it's very hard to get a result," Fulham manager Roy Hodgson told ITV after his side slipped to third. "We hope the referees will be a bit kinder to us in the Premier League than in this league."

England's other side Everton also lost, going down 0-2 at home to Benfica after its heavy defeat in Portugal two weeks ago. Benfica tops Group I with nine points, three more than Everton.

Ajax Amsterdam overcame Dinamo Zagreb 2-0 in Group A and is favorite to go through with Anderlecht, which scored its 500th goal in European competition in a 1-3 defeat of FC Timisoara.

Valencia still has work to do in Group B after a 2-2 draw with 10-man Slavia Prague.

Another Spanish side, Villarreal, was involved in an incident-packed match against Lazio, winning 4-1 in a Group G clash that featured two red cards and eight bookings.

Two goals from Robert Pires inspired second-placed Villarreal. Lazio had Roberto Baronio sent off while Villarreal's Gonzalo was also dismissed.


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