Nov 23 (Reuters) - Spain’s Villarreal and France’s Nice were among the qualifiers for the knockout stage of the Europa League, with one game remaining to play, after wins on Thursday.
Arsenal lost to Cologne 1-0 in Germany but still finish top of Group H while Hertha Berlin crash out of the competition after a 3-2 loss to Athletic Bilbao.
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 and an 88th-minute Patrick Twumasi goal for the hosts made no difference.
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.
European debutants Ostersunds, who now top Group J with ten points, triumphed 2-0 at home to Ukrainian side Zorya Luhansk, taking the lead through an own goal from Dmytro Hrechyshkin in the 40th minute before a long-range effort from Saman Ghoddos secured the win 13 minutes from the end.
Salzburg enjoyed a comfortable 3-0 win over Portugal’s Vitoria Guimares thanks to goals from Israeli Moanes Dabour, Andrea Ulmer and South Korean Hwang Hee-chan.
Viktoria Plzen progress after a 2-0 win over Romania’s Steaua Bucharest which came after second-half goals from Milan Petrzela and Jan Kopic.
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.
Sehrou Guirassy’s 62nd-minute penalty, after he was brought down by Mathieu Debuchy, was all that separated the two sides although Reiss Nelson and Jack Wilshere both went close to levelling in the final moments but were foiled by Cologne keeper Timo Horn.
AC Milan, Everton and Olympique Lyon were all in action later on Thursday.
Reporting by Simon Evans