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Benfica, Everton through in Europa

Benfica players celebrate a crucial goal in the Belarus on their way to the last 32.
Benfica players celebrate a crucial goal in the Belarus on their way to the last 32.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Benfica, Everton, Ajax and Hambuirg seal places in Europa League knockout stage
  • Italian giants Lazio crash out with 2-1 defeat to Red Bull Salzburg
  • Fenerbahce progress with superb 1-0 win at FC Twente
  • Valencia go top of Group B with impressive 3-1 win over Lille

(CNN) -- Portuguese giants Benfica and English Premier League side Everton booked their places in the knockout stage of the Europa League as Serie A side Lazio crashed out of the competition on Wednesday.

Benfica won 2-1 at BATE Borisov in the Belarus to clinch top spot in Group I with injury-ravaged Everton defying appalling conditions in the Greek capital to beat AEK Athens 1-0 to finish second in the same group.

But in Group G there was a shock exit for Lazio, who lost 2-1 at Austrian champions Red Bull Salzburg, who go through as winners.

With Spanish side Villarreal winning 2-0 at Levski Sofia in Bulgaria, it meant the Italians could not finish second in a tough group.

Benfica owed their victory to goals from Javier Saviola and Fabio Coentrao, while Russian international Diniyar Bilyaletdinov put Everton ahead in the sixth minute against AEK.

Dan Gosling and defender Sylvain Distin, who was doubtful before the start, were both forced off to add to the injury woes for David Moyes' men, but they defended stoutly to earn a deserved win.

"It's very important to have qualified with a game to spare as it gives us a week where we don't need to be too intense with the squad," Moyes told Press Association.

Turkish side Fenerbahce clinched top spot in Group H with a 1-0 win at Steve McLaren's FC Twente with Diego Lugano's second-half goal sealing a vital victory.

It's very important to have qualified with a game to spare as it gives us a week where we don't need to be too intense with the squad
--David Moyes

Twente must now win at Steaua Bucharest in two week's time to make sure of progressing after Juan Carlos Toja scored an 87th-minute equalizer for Steaua in a 1-1 draw at FC Sheriff of Moldova.

One of the other tournament favorites Valencia went to the top of a tight Group B with a 3-1 win over Lille.

Joaquin scored after three minutes and then doubled the lead on 32.

The impressive Juan Mata sealed victory seven minutes after halftime. Slavia Prague and Genoa were scoreless in the group's other game.

Hamburg also made sure of their spot in the last 32 with a 2-0 victory at home to Rapid Vienna in Group C with second-half goals by Marcell Jansen and Marcus Berg securing their passage..

Hapoel Tel-Aviv lost 2-0 at Celtic, but are assured of second spot and qualification ahead of the Scottish side.

In Group A, Martin Jol's Ajax Amsterdam booked their place in the knockout phase with a come-from-behind 2-1 victory at nine-man FC Timisoara - despite missing two second-half penalties.

The top two teams from each of the 12 groups go through to the last 32 where they will be joined by third-placed teams from the Champions League group stage, including five-time European champions Liverpool.