West Ham United dropped points for the first time in this season’s Europa League as a late own goal by Tomas Soucek in a 2-2 draw at Genk denied it a fourth successive win in Group H on Thursday.
It looked as though Said Benrahma’s second-half brace had secured the Hammers a last-16 spot with two games remaining but Soucek’s attempted clearing header flew past Alphonse Areola in the 87th minute.
The London club is certain to continue its European campaign in the new year, however, as it leads the standings with 10 points from four games, four better than Dinamo Zagreb which beat Rapid Vienna 3-1.
Olympique Lyonnais guaranteed a place in the last 16 as it beat Sparta Prague 3-0 to maintain its 100 per cent record in Group A. Islam Slimani struck twice for the French club which is now the only team in the competition yet to drop points.
Rangers drew 1-1 at Brondby and is level on four points with Sparta Prague which it faces next.
This season’s Europa League has been revamped with the eight group winners moving through automatically to the last 16 while the eight runners-up will go into a playoff round with the teams finishing third in their Champions League groups.
West Ham has been enjoying a remarkable campaign under David Moyes but his 1,000th game as a manager did not start well as Genk took the lead in the fourth minute when Joseph Paintsil slotted home at the far post.
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The visitor, fourth in the Premier League, was off the pace in the first half but vibrant in the second and Benrahma equalised with a clinical finish from a pass cut back across the area by Vladimir Coufal. The Algerian then produced a superb solo effort in the 82nd minute, jinking through the Genk defence before poking a shot into the net.
Genk got a reprieve when Soucek’s diving clearance skimmed off his head and the ball flew into his own goal.
“I think we are six unbeaten, the players are doing a brilliant job,” Moyes said. “I am getting told we have qualified. If that’s the case great, the next task is to try and win the group.”
Napoli moved top of Group C with a 4-1 win away to Legia Warsaw having fallen behind after 10 minutes while Leicester City drew 1-1 at home to Spartak Moscow and stayed third.
Eintracht Frankfurt look favourites to reach the last 16 in Group D after a 2-1 victory at Olympiakos courtesy of a stoppage-time goal by Jens Petter Hauge. The German club is four points clear of the Greek side.
Monaco topped Group B with eight points after a 0-0 draw at home to PSV Eindhoven while in Group G Bayer Leverkusen breezed past Real Betis 4-0 with Moussa Diaby scoring twice.
It leads the section on 10 points with Betis on seven. Celtic boosted its hopes of making progress as it beat Ferencvaros 3-2 away to reach six points.
Red Star Belgrade suffered a first loss in Group F as it went down 1-0 to Midtjylland thanks to an own goal by Guelor Kanga. It trails Braga by two points after the Portuguese side beat Ludogorets 4-2.
There was little movement in Group E as both games ended all square. Galatasaray is top on eight points after a 1-1 draw with Lokomotiv Moscow while Olympique de Marseille’s Dimitri Payet scored a late equaliser in a 2-2 home draw with Lazio for whom Felipe Anderson and Ciro Immobile were on target.
Lazio is second on five points with Marseille on four.