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Leverkusen secures spot in Europa League's knockout round

Near-arctic conditions couldn't stop Leverkusen from a 1-0 win at Norway's Rosenborg Trondheim. That victory sends them into the knockout stages of the Europa League, Europe's second-tier football competition.

Leverkusen's Lars Bender (middle) and Trondheim's Mattias Bjarsmyr (left) and Mikael Lustig vie for the ball

Leverkusen's Lars Bender (middle) vies for the ball in Norway

The last time Bayer Leverkusen met Norwegian side Rosenborg Trondheim for the Europea League it was early fall in Germany and Leverkusen cleaned up with a 4-0 victory. On Wednesday night they did it again with a 1-0 win, despite the frigid temperature of minus 15 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit).

A single goal by Bayer Leverkusen's Sidney Sam in the 35th minute was enough to beat Trondheim and lock in the top spot in their Europa League group, making their scheduled December 16 match against Atletico Madrid irrelevant.

"All in all the team did well as expected, clinching a deserved win," said coach Jupp Heynckes.

Stuttgart's first Europa League loss

Also playing in freezing conditions in Bern, Switzerland, Stuttgart squandered an early lead to eventually lose 4-2 to Young Boys Bern - the first loss in their Europa League campaign. The beginning of the match was delayed for half an hour while snow was cleared from the artificial pitch and the players got another break at the 29th minute after the field markings had been obscured by more snow.

Stuttgart's Elson kneels on the snow covered pitch

It was a tough - and icy - match for Stuttgart

David Degen opened up the scoring for Bern in the 35th minute, but goals by Pawel Progrebnjak and Sven Schipplock brought Stuttgart back into the game. Scott Sutter leveled the score in the 78th minute, however, and Emmanuel Mayuka sealed the deal with two goals in two minutes near the end of the match.

With the win Bern secured their spot in the knockout stage, which Stuttgart had already done in the fourth match of the competition. In addition to Bern and Leverkusen, five other teams also booked their spots in the next round on Wednesday: PSV Eindhoven, Sporting Lisbon, Lech Poznan, Metalist Kharkiv and Manchester City.

Current champions Atletico Madrid suffered a shock loss but are still in the running, while two-time European champion Juventus crashed with a draw against Lech Poznan.

Author: Holly Fox (AFP, dpa, SID)
Editor: Nicole Goebel

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