PARIS- Tottenham and Inter Milan on Thursday qualified for the Europa League group stage draw but among those failing to make it across the play-off line were Lyon and Real Sociedad. Also missing from Friday's draw in Monaco were Hull City, Spurs' Premier League rivals who agonisingly on their first European adventure lost out on away goals to Belgian outfit Lokeren.
"That's European football...we've experienced it and what it's all about, the frustrations, the disappointments, the away goal rule...," Hull boss Steve Bruce said. "To go out the way we did is the worst, away goals, but that's the competition. That's what playing in Europe is like." Tottenham continued their bright start to the season with a 3-0 win at White Hart Lane over Cypriot outfit Limassol earning them a 5-1 aggregate victory.
The goals in an impressive showing by the north Londoners came from Harry Kane, who also had a penalty saved, Paulinho and Andros Townsend. The play-off success extended new manager Maurico Pochettino's winning streak to four matches in all competitions since his arrival from Southampton in the close-season. "Always when Tottenham enter the competition we need to go as far as possible. We try, step by step," said the new boss.
Tottenham won a penalty when Karim Fegrouch brought down Kyle Naughton with just six minutes on the clock. The AEL goalkeeper was taken to hospital after receiving a nasty-looking knee to the head in the collision, but his replacement Pulpo Romero kept out Kane's spot-kick. But young striker Kane netted on the stroke of half-time after poor Limassol defending. Paulinho provided the assist and the Brazilian midfielder was the beneficiary of more sloppy play from the Cypriots four minutes into the second half when he fired home to double the lead.
Townsend then celebrated his England recall by slotting home a 66th minute penalty. Hull, having lost 1-0 in the first leg, needed a two-goal win at the KC Stadium to progress. But while Robbie Brady's brace was enough to ensure a 2-1 victory, Jordan Remacle's 49th minute strike proved crucial in separating the sides. The Tigers, who qualified for the competition after reaching the FA Cup final last season, suffered a setback in the 72nd minute when Ivorian striker Yannick Sagbo was sent off for a rash lunge on Giorgios Galitsios.
There was late drama as Tom Huddlestone's late strike was blocked on the line by defender Alexander Scholz with the last kick of the game as the visitors advanced. Inter Milan sauntered into the draw with a 6-0 second leg rout for a 9-0 aggregate win over Iceland's Stjarnan. Dutch 1978 UEFA Cup champions PSV Eindhoven maintained their interest on Europe's second tier competition with defeat of Belarus side Shakhtyor Soligorsk.
A total of 31 places in Friday's draw in Monaco were up for grabs on Thursday in a competition which for the first time rewards the winner with automatic qualification for the Champions League. Thursday's play-off winners join the ten Champions League play-off losers and seven automatically qualified teams in the group stages which get underway on September 10.
Among those noticeable by their absence were former multiple French champions and Champions League regulars Lyon, who crashed out on away goals to Romania's Astra Giurgiu.
Spaniards' Real Sociedad also failed to cross the line. Leading 1-0 after last week Real came unstuck 3-0 at Russian outfit Krasnodar. While Lyon missed out another French Ligue 1 side, former European heavyweights Saint Etienne scraped past Turkey's Karabukspor on spot-kicks. "I always had belief in them," said a relieved Saint Etienne manager Christophe Galtier.