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Tuesday 23 September K.O. 19:45

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Europe Edges Closer

Blues have all but guaranteed the Club a place in the Europa League.

Europe Edges Closer

Everton's FA Cup semi-final victory over Manchester United has all but guaranteed the Club a place in next season's Europa League.

The Toffees' dramatic 4-2 penalty shoot-out victory over Sir Alex Ferguson's side has set up a May 30 encounter with Chelsea at Wembley in the 2009 FA Cup final.

If Everton defeat Guus Hiddink's side then they will secure a place in the Europa League because the FA Cup provides one qualification place for the competition.

However, should Chelsea win the final Everton will still qualify for the Europa League as the London club are set to qualify for the Champions League via their league position.

However, Chelsea are still two points short of being mathematically certain of a final position in the top four. And should they finish outside the top four and win the FA Cup - and Everton were also to finish outside the top seven - the Toffees would be denied European football.

Should such a hugely unlikely scenario be avoided, then Everton will be enjoying European football for the fourth season in five - underlining the progress being made by David Moyes and his squad.

The Europa League replaces the Uefa Cup and adopts a format that mirrors the Champions League.

If Everton qualify they will have to overcome a first round tie before entering a new format group stage.

The new-look league will have 48 clubs in 12 groups of four, with teams playing each other home and away as opposed to just once as it stands now.

The top two in each group then join the eight third-placed Champions League clubs in a 32-club knock-out stage.

The competition will also have its TV rights sold centrally, in the same way as the Champions League. This switch should increase income to clubs.

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