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Football | Europa League

Chelsea, Spurs win; Liverpool lose



Oscar scored a late winner less than a minute after coming on as a susbtitute as Chelsea snatched a 1-0 victory at Sparta Prague in the Europa League last 32 on Thursday.

The Brazilian replaced Juan Mata in the 81st minute and was on target shortly afterwards to put the Champions League holders in command ahead of the home leg next week.

Gareth Bale's double lifted Tottenham 2-1 past Olympique Lyon, but Newcastle were held 0-0 by Metalist Kharkiv and Liverpool went down 2-0 at Zenit St Petersburg.

Russia enjoyed a perfect night as apart from Zenit's win visiting Rubin Kazan ambushed title holders Atletico Madrid 2-0 and Anzhi Makhachkala came from behind to beat Hanover 3-1.

The biggest surprise was Victoria Plzen's 3-0 triumph at Italy's Napoli from Vladimir Darida in the 28th and late goals from Frantisek Rajtoral and Stanislav Tecl.

Plzen did better than the fellow-Czechs from Prague who contained an average Chelsea for a long time and also had scoring chances before Oscar broke their resistance in the 82nd.

"Mata was doing a great job but he was a bit tired in my opinion. I needed fresh legs and the quality of Oscar was very good because he made the difference," Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez said.

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He added that Chelsea, the first Champions League winners to go out in the group stage of the next edition, and its players "have to realise it (the Europa League) is another opportunity to win a trophy."

The Blues are well-positioned to wrap up the tie at Stamford Bridge in a week's time, and their next opponents could be Ajax Amsterdam, who beat 10-man Steaua Bucharest 2-0 in a duel of former European champions from Toby Alderweireld's header and Ricardo van Rhijn.

Bale converted free-kicks in in the 45th and in injury time, having now scored the last six goals for Spurs who escaped despite Lyon's equalizer from Samuel Umtiti.

In St Petersburg, Brazil forward Hulk's blast in the 70th and a tap from Sergey Semak a minute later clinched victory for the 2008 champions Zenit after Hulk was denied by the post and Luis Suarez came close twice for Liverpool.

"We are very disappointed to have lost the game ... We had the chances to score and we were defensively solid so to concede the goals in the last 20 minutes was very disappointing," Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said.

Rubin stole an early lead at Atletico when Gokdeniz Karadeniz tapped home six minutes into the game, and the Russians held on to win despite the dismissal of defender Roman Sharanov at the end of the first half, and even got a second - from their Spaniard Pablo Orbaiz five minutes into stoppage time.

The Dagestan club Anzhi play their home games in Moscow, where Cameroon star Samuel Eto'o tapped the equalizer in the 34th, saw a badly-executed penalty saved by Ron-Robert Zieler in the 59th and set up his side's third from Mbark Boussoufa in the 64th against hanover.

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Ex-champions Bayer Leverkusen were caught out cold on the counter by Benfica, and German agony was complete when Stuttgart had to swallow an injury-time 1-1 against Belgium's Genk, and Borussia Moenchengladbach suffered the same fate in a wild 3-3 with 10-man Lazio.

Martin Stranzl scored from the spot, then had another penalty saved by Federico Marchetti and aimed at the right post, after Lazio had reversed the score from Sergio Floccari and Libor Kozak, and had Andre Diaz sent off.

The hosts went back on top from a third penalty, converted by Thorben Marx, and a free-kick from Juan Arango, but Kozak had the last laugh with a header for 3-3 in the fourth minute of stoppage time.

"We were punished for wanting even more. That is very bitter," said Moenchengladbach goalkeeper Marc Andre ter Stegen, who has been linked with Barcelona.

Italy's only win was Inter Milan's 2-0 against Cluj, Levante crushed Olympiakos 3-0, Dynamo Kiev and Girondins Bordeaux drew 1-1, Basle beat Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk 2-0, while BATE Borisov and Fenerbahce produced no goals.

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