KEIR RADNEDGE in MONTE CARLO: APOEL Nicosia benefited here today from the luck of the Irish at the expense of Turkey’s Fenerbahce.
The Istanbul club was expelled from the group stage of this season’s Europa League after losing twice over this week.
First they crashed 5-0 on aggregate to Arsenal in the Champions League play-off round then they had their appeal against disqualification for matchfixing rejected by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Defeat by Arsenal, theoretically, had ‘relegated’ Fenerbahce into the Europa League but the CAS ruling meant UEFA had to restorea ‘lucky loser’ to the competition.
That draw was undertaken by UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino before a media briefing and an Irish journalist picked out the ball containing APOEL’s name.
Even later entrants were AZ Alkmaar. Their Europa League home leg last night was halted because of a fire in the stand. No-one was hurt but the completion of the tie had to be delayed until this morning. Alkmaar conceded one goal in the remaining 31 minutes but progressed on the away goals rule on a 3-3 aggregate.
Also reinstated in European competition were Tromso of Norway. They had lost to Besiktas in the qualifying round but CAS, this morning, rejected an appeal by these Turks against their own matchfixing ban, hence Tromso were resurrected and placing in the group stage draw.
Full Europa League draw
Group A: Valencia, Swansea, Kuban Krasnodar, St Gallen.
Group B: PSV Eindhoven, Dinamo Zagreb, Chornomorets Odesa, Ludogorets Razgrad.
Group C: Standard Liege, Salzburg, Elfsborg, Esbjerg.
Group D: Rubin Kazan, Wigan, Maribor, Zulte Waregem.
Group E: Fiorentina, Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, Pacos Ferreira, Pandurii Targu Jiu.
Group F: Bordeaux, APOEL, Eintracht, Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Group G: Dynamo Kiev, Genk, Rapid Vienna, Thun.
Group H: Sevilla, Freiburg, Estoril, Slovan Liberec.
Group I: Lyon, Real Betis, Guimaraes, Rijeka.
Group J: Lazio, Trabzonspor, Legia Warsaw, Apollon Limassol.
Group K: Tottenham, Anzhi Makhachkala, Sheriff, Tromso.
Group L: AZ Alkmaar, PAOK Salonika, Maccabi Haifa, Shakhter Karagandy.