In a scintillating display of football prowess, Cody Gakpo propelled Liverpool into the Europa League last 16 with a dazzling double that led his team to a commanding 4-0 victory over LASK. This triumphant performance, orchestrated by Jurgen Klopp's tactical finesse, saw the Reds clinch top spot in Group E at Anfield. Gakpo's two-goal spectacle was complemented by strikes from Luis Diaz and Mohamed Salah, solidifying Liverpool's dominance in the group.
Klopp, leveraging the depth of his squad, made nine changes from the lineup that faced Manchester City, affording key players much-needed rest. The resounding success at Anfield, coupled with Toulouse's goalless draw against Union Saint-Gilloise in the group's other fixture, grants Klopp the luxury of rotating his squad in the remaining pool stage fixture.
Brighton, embarking on their maiden European campaign, etched their name into the next phase with a 1-0 triumph over AEK Athens. Joao Pedro played a pivotal role in securing Brighton's passage, converting a penalty after being fouled by Damian Szymanski. AEK's fate was further sealed as they were reduced to 10 men in the 85th minute.
In Group B, Roberto De Zerbi's side, positioned second, is hot on the heels of Marseille after the French side's dramatic 4-3 victory over 10-man Ajax. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's hat-trick, including a stoppage-time penalty winner, showcased Marseille's resilience. Meanwhile, Ajax's hopes were dashed as they succumbed to defeat after Steven Berghuis received a red card in the 63rd minute.
West Ham secured their place in the knockout round with Tomas Soucek's 89th-minute goal sealing a 1-0 victory over Backa Topola in Serbia. Freiburg joined Group A leaders West Ham with a resounding 5-0 win against Olympiakos.
In Group C, Sparta Prague's 1-0 victory over leaders Real Betis adds intrigue to the qualification battle, as second-placed Rangers drew 1-1 with Aris Limassol. Atalanta claimed top spot in Group D with a 1-1 draw against Sporting Lisbon, while Rennes' 3-0 win against Maccabi Haifa secured their passage in Group F alongside Villarreal.
Slavia Prague's 3-2 victory at Sheriff guaranteed their spot in the knockout round from Group G, while Roma advanced with a 1-1 draw at Servette. Bayer Leverkusen emerged as Group H winners, securing their place in the last 16 with a convincing 2-0 victory over Hacken.
As the football drama unfolded, the Europa Conference League witnessed crowd troubles marring Aston Villa's 2-1 win against Legia Warsaw. Pre-match violence, including flares and missiles hurled at police, led to Legia supporters being kept out of the stadium, resulting in injuries to three police officers during clashes with Polish fans.