LONDON – Dinamo Zagreb sealed a playoff berth in the Europa League knockout stages after a stunning early goal from Mislav Orsic gave them a 1-0 win at a second-string West Ham United in Group H on Thursday.
West Ham had already secured top spot and an automatic last-16 berth while runners-up Dinamo will face one of the third-placed teams dropping down from the Champions League.
Orsic again shone against Premier League opposition in Europe’s second-tier competition after netting a hat-trick in Dinamo’s memorable 3-2 aggregate win over Tottenham Hotspur in last season’s knockout rounds.
The winger beat West Ham’s reserve goalkeeper Alphonse Areola with a dipping shot from the edge of the penalty area into the top corner, delighting a handful of away fans at London stadium.
Areola did well to keep out two long-range efforts from Luka Ivanusec and another by Orsic as Dinamo dictated the game and were rarely troubled by the home side.
Red Star Belgrade, the 1991 European Cup winners, clinched Group F with a 1-1 draw at Portugal’s Braga who finished second at the expense of third-placed Midtjylland who could only manage a 0-0 stalemate at Ludogorets.
Wenderson Galeno fired Braga ahead when he converted a 52nd-minute penalty before Aleksandar Katai replied with his own spot-kick, sending goalkeeper Matheus the wrong way after defender Radovan Pankov was fouled.
Midtjylland, who needed a win for a top-two finish, will go into the third-tier Europa Conference League where they will meet one of the runners-up for a last-16 berth.
Earlier on Thursday, Napoli secured a playoff berth with a thrilling 3-2 home win over Leicester City in Group C which sent the Premier League side from first to third in the standings and out of the competition. Spartak Moscow topped the group with a 1-0 victory at Legia Warsaw.