Europa League 2023-24: Late Pedro goal gives Brighton win over Marseille and top spot in group

Joao Pedro’s late goal earned Brighton & Hove Albion a dramatic 1-0 win over Olympique Marseille on Thursday to secure the host’s top spot in Europa League Group B.

Both sides went into the final matchday of the group stage assured of a place in the next round but Brighton needed all three points to progress directly to the round of 16 as leaders.

Marseille will now go into the play-off round after finishing two points behind Brighton with 11.

Pedro scored two minutes from time from a Pascal Gross pass with a superb shot into the top left corner to send the home crowd into raptures. The Brazilian reached six goals in six games in the tournament.

Marseille had come close to taking the lead with two shots hitting the woodwork early in each half.

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In the other group fixture, Ajax won 3-1 at AEK Athens to finish third and go into the Europa Conference League knockout play-offs.

West Ham United comfortably secured the top spot in Group A with a 2-0 home victory against runners-up Freiburg, courtesy of first-half goals from Mohammed Kudus and Edson Alvarez.

Olympiakos concluded its campaign by securing third place following a 5-2 win at home against Serbian side Backa Topola featuring a rapid-fire brace from Daniel Podence.

A dramatic Group C decider ended with Rangers clinching the top spot with a 3-2 win over Real Betis thanks to Kemar Roofe’s strike from a corner in the 78th minute.

Betis took third place and will go into the knockout play-offs of the Europa Conference League after Sparta Prague finished second by beating Aris Limassol 3-1 with a brace from Veljko Birmancevic.

Atalanta emerged as the winners of Group D following a 4-0 victory at Rakow with Luis Muriel scoring twice to complete their group stage unbeaten.

Sporting finished second despite a 3-0 home victory against Sturm Graz, with Goncalo Inacio scoring twice from corners. The Austrian side claimed the third spot in the group.

The draw for the knockout round playoff games, featuring the eight runners-up from the Europa League groups and the eight third-placed teams from the Champions League group stage, will be made on Monday.

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