Napoli scored a thrilling 3-2 win at home to Leicester City on Thursday to reach the knockout stage of the Europa League and sit second in Group C behind Spartak Moscow.
Spartak won 1-0 at Legia Warsaw to secure an automatic berth in the round of 16 while Napoli face a play-off against one of the third-placed teams in the Champions League who were relegated to Europe’s second tier after the winter break.
Third-placed Leicester will enter the third-tier European Conference, where they will enter a play-off against one of the runners-up in the tournament in the round of 16.
Adam Unas put Napoli ahead in the fourth minute with a low shot, and the Serie A side seemed to be in control of the pace after Elgif Elmas made it 2-0 with a header after selfless action from Andrea Betania.
The squalid defense cost the hosts twice in quick succession before the break, as Jonny Evans hit a rebound in the 27th minute and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall equalized for Leicester.
North Macedonia playmaker Elmas put Napoli’s lead back on the front shortly after the break, sending a neat cross pass into a well-established defense before slotting the ball past goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.
Spartak, who beat Napoli in the lead with a superior record in head-to-head matches, went ahead after goalkeeper Alexander Selikhov saved a penalty in stoppage time and striker Zelimkhan Bakayev scored the winning goal in the 17th minute at Ligia Stadium.
Bakiyev curled from the edge of the penalty area, but it was Selikov who emerged as the hero for Spartak, bypassing Thomas Beckhardt’s penalty that would have sent the Russians off had the Czech striker scored.
Real Sociedad also booked a playoff as they finished second in Group B thanks to a 3-0 home win over PSV Eindhoven, which put the Spanish side ahead of the 1988 European Cup winners.
Mikel Oyarzabal put Sociedad ahead with a penalty kick in the 43rd minute and added the second before Alexander Sorloth scored in stoppage time for a comfortable victory.