MICHAEL ADUBATO - Friday, December 17, 2010
Both Anderlecht and Villareal secured victories in Europa League action with the Belgians beating Hajduk Split and the Spanish overcoming Club Brugge in mid-week.
Anderlecht 2 - 0 Hajduk Split
For the Belgian champions to qualify for the next round, they had to beat the Croatians and hope that Zenit St. Petersburg could do them a favor and do the same to AEK Athens in Greece. The Russians did just that, putting Anderlecht into the draw today.
Sacha Kljestan went the distance in the Belgian snow, but it was Tom De Sutter who sent the fans into a frenzy in just the 11th minute as he breached the Croatian defense and struck goal. The Belgian shot with his left foot but had to be assisted by the post for the net bender.
The hosts were the only ones to create any chances in the first half and one of them paid off when Matias Suarez collected the ball just outside the box on the right side and curled a fantastic shot into the net at the far post to double the lead in the 40th minute.
Anderlecht will now wait for the draw of the final 32 teams today, six a.m. EST, and hope to avoid the bigger teams. A meeting between Kljestan and international team mate Jozy Altidore could be on the cards however.
Villareal 2 - 1 Club Brugge
See Michael Adubato's Press Box Report.
Aris Thessaloniki overcame Rosenborg 2 - 0 to continue into the next group, however Freddy Adu did not take part.