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EUROPE: Anderlecht makes its case for Europa

RSC Anderlecht is in a must-win situation Thursday, and its going to need a little help, too.

The Belgian champion will advance to the UEFA Europa League's round of 32 with a win Thursday over visiting Hajduk Split and a victory by Zenit St. Petersburg over AEK Athens.

Anderlecht, with former Chivas USA captain Sacha Kljestan (Huntington Beach/Huntington Beach HS) in midfield, is 1-3-1 in Group G of Europe's No. 2 club competition and sits three points behind AEK (2-2-1) in the battle for second place. RSCA holds the tiebreaker with the Greeks and will advance if they finish even on points.

The Mauves might seem to be in an advantageous position. Zenit (5-0-0) has won all but one of its group matches by two goals, and the Russian group leader romped to a three-goal lead in the other victory, a 3-2 decision over Hajduk Split in Croatia.

All AEK needs is a draw to advance, but if they lose, Anderlecht is ready to take advantage.

Scottish champion Rangers FC, with midfielder Maurice Edu (Fontana/Etiwanda HS) expected back shortly from a knee injury, dropped into the round of 32 after finishing third in its group in the top-tier UEFA Champions League.

A draw Friday in Nyon, Switzerland, will set up eight four-team brackets for round-of-32 matches Feb. 17 and 24 and round-of-16 games March 10 and 17. The survivors will be drawn March 18 into an eight-team bracket. The final is May 18 in Dublin, Ireland.

The Champions League's round-of-16 draw also will be held Friday, with matches slated for Feb. 15-16 and 22-23 and for March 8-9 and 15-16. The final is May 28 at Wembley, outside London.

Who's in? Who's out? Who's still in contention? Here are the lists:

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Champions League round-of-16 qualifiers

Group A -- Tottenham (England), Inter Milan (Italy); B -- Schalke 04 (Germany), Lyon (France); C -- Manchester United (England), Valencia (Spain); D -- Barcelona (Spain), FC Copenhagen (Denmark); E -- Bayern Munich (Germany), AS Roma (Italy); F -- Chelsea (England), Olympique Marseille (France); G -- Real Madrid (Spain), AC Milan (Italy); H -- Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine), Arsenal (England)

Europa League round-of-32 qualifiers

Group A -- FC Twente (Netherlands); B -- Benfica (Portugal); C -- Rangers FC (Scotland); D -- Rubin Kazan (Russia); E -- FC Basel (Switzerland); F -- Spartak Moscow (Russia); G -- Ajax Amsterdam (Netherlands); H -- Sporting Braga (Portugal)

Eliminated from European competition

Group A -- Werder Bremen (Germany); B -- Hapoel Tel Aviv (Israel); C -- Bursaspor (Turkey); D -- Panathinaikos (Greece); E -- CFR Cluj (Romania); F -- MSK Zilina (Slovakia); G -- Auxerre (France); H -- Partizan Belgrade (Serbia)

EUROPA LEAGUE

Round-of-32 qualifiers

Group A -- Manchester City (England), Lech Poznan (Poland); B -- Bayer Leverkusen (Germany); C -- Sporting Lisbon (Portugal); D -- Villarreal (Spain); E -- Dynamo Kiev (Ukraine), BATE Borisov (Belarus); F -- CSKA Moscow (Russia), Sparta Prague (Czech Republic); G -- Zenit St. Petersburg (Russia); H -- VfB Stuttgart (Germany), Young Boys Berne (Switzerland); I -- PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands), Metalist Kharkiv (Ukraine); J -- Paris Saint-Germain (France); K -- Liverpool (England); L -- FC Porto (Portugal), Besiktas (Turkey)

Still to be determined for round of 32

Group B -- Aris Thessaloniki (Greece) or Atletico Madrid (Spain); C -- KAA Gent (Belgium) or Lille (France); D -- PAOK Thessaloniki (Greece) or Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia); G -- AEK Athens (Greece) or RSC Anderlecht (Belgium); J -- Sevilla (Spain) or Borussia Dortmund (Germany); K -- Steaua Bucharest (Romania) or Napoli (Italy)

ETC.: Brad Friedel's hopes for a shutout were dashed at the end, but Aston Villa halted a four-game losing streak with a 2-1 triumph over West Bromwich Albion. … Carlos Bocanegra's Saint-Etienne ended a nine-game Ligue 1 winless streak (but extended its unbeaten streak to five games) with a 2-0 victory at AS Monaco. … Kljestan's Anderlecht fell from the top spot in Belgium's Jupiler League after a 0-0 draw with KSC Lokeren. The reigning champs dropped a point behind Racing Genk, which beat Royal Charleroi, 2-1.

  • AREA PLAYERS IN EUROPE

D CARLOS BOCANEGRA (Alta Loma/UCLA)

Club: Saint-Etienne (France, Ligue 1)

Last week: 90 minutes as Les Verts (6-4-7) climbed to seventh with a 2-0 victory at AS Monaco

Season: 13 league games (13 starts) with 1 goal, 14 games (14 starts) with 1 goal in all competitions

Next: Saturday vs. last-place Arles (1-12-4)

M MICHAEL BRADLEY (Manhattan Beach)

Club: Borussia Moenchengladbach (Germany, Bundesliga)

Last week: 90 minutes as last-place Die Fohlen (2-10-4) were routed, 3-0, at SC Freiburg

Season: 15 league games (15 starts) with 3 goals; 17 games (17 starts) with 4 goals in all competitions

Next: Friday vs. ninth-place Hamburger SV (6-7-3); Tuesday, Dec. 21, at seventh-place Hoffenheim (6-4-6)

D JAY DENNY (Santa Monica)

Club: Hednesford Town (England, Southern League Premier Division)

Last week: Saturday's game vs. Didcot Town postponed because of snow

Season: 19 league games (17 starts), 23 games (20 starts) with 1 goal in all competitions

Next: Saturday at 11th-place Swindon Supermarine (6-3-6); Tuesday, Dec. 21, at Boldmere St. Michaels in a thrice-deleayed Birmingham Senior Cup clash

M MAURICE EDU (Fontana)

Club: Rangers FC (Scotland, Premier Division)

Last week: Did not play because of knee injury in Tuesday's 1-1 draw at Bursaspor in a UEFA Champions League Group C finale, nor as the first-place Blues (12-1-2) tied, 1-1, in Saturday's SPL clash at Inverness Caledonian Thistle

Season: 12 league games (10 starts) with 1 goal, 4 UEFA CL games (4 starts) with 1 goal, 17 games (15 starts) with 2 goals in all competitions

Next: Friday's UEFA Europa League rounds of 32/16 draw; Saturday vs. 10th-place St. Mirren (3-9-4); Tuesday, Dec. 21, at seventh-place Dundee United (5-5-4)

M BENNY FEILHABER (Irvine/UCLA)

Club: AGF Aarhus (Denmark, 1.Division)

Last week: League is on winter break

Season: 14 league games (14 starts) with 4 goals, 17 games (16 starts) overall with 7 goals

Next: March 20 vs. Hobro (5-7-3)

G BRAD FRIEDEL (Bay Village, Ohio/UCLA)

Club: Aston Villa (England, Premier Division)

Last week: 90 minutes, making 1 save, as the Villans (4-7-5) climbed to 14th in a 2-1 victory Saturday over West Bromwich Albion

Season: 17 league games (17 starts), 28 goals allowed, 56 saves, 4 shutouts; 19 games (19 starts), 31 goals allowed, 63 saves, 4 shutouts in all competitions

Next: Saturday at 18th-place Wigan (3-7-7)

M SACHA KLJESTAN (Huntington Beach)

Club: RSC Anderlecht (Belgium, Jupiler League)

Last week: Started, played 56 minutes as Les Mauves et Blancs (12-2-5) were held to a 0-0n draw by KSC Lokeren, falling into second place, one point behind Racing Genk

Season: 11 league games (8 starts) with 2 goals, 18 games (15 starts) with 3 goals in all competitions

Next: Thursday vs. Hajduk Split in UEFA Europa League Group G finale; Friday's UEFA Europa League rounds of 32/16 draw; Sunday at sixth-place Club Brugge (9-7-3)

D DALLAS MOORE (Santa Monica)

Club: Halesowen Town FC (England, Southern League Premier Division)

Last week: Saturday's game at Cirencester Town postponed to Jan. 12 because of poor weather

Season: 12 league games (12 starts) with 1 goal

Next: Tuesday at second-place Salisbury City (11-1-5); Saturday vs. fourth-place Chippenham Town (7-2-10)

F YURA MOVSISYAN (Pasadena/Pasadena City College)

Club: Randers (Denmark, SAS-Ligaen/Superliga)

Last week: League is on winter break

Season: 17 league games (15 starts) with 5 goals, 25 games (20 starts) with 14 goals in all competitions

Next: March 6 vs. ninth-place Nordsjaelland (6-9-4)

F MATT TAYLOR (Irvine/UCLA)

Club: Rot Weiss Ahlen (Germany, 3. Bundesliga)

Last week: Saturday's game at last-place Werder Bremen II postponed because the field was unplayable

Season: 11 league games (11 starts) with 7 goals, 1 cup game (1 start), 12 games (12 starts) with 7 goals in all competitions

Next: Wednesday vs. second-place Hansa Rostock (13-3-2); Saturday vs. ninth-place TuS Koblenz (6-6-6)