Joao Pedro
Joao Pedro's late goal against Marseille meant Brighton finished top of Group B in the Europa League. Toby Melville/Reuters

Matchday six of this season's UEFA Europa League group stages saw the final standings of each group confirmed and included both Brighton & Hove Albion and West Ham United topping their respective groups.

Liverpool had already secured top spot in Group E after their 4-0 home win over LASK on matchday five, so the Reds' 2-1 defeat away to Union Saint-Gilloise on Thursday did not affect anything. It also meant Jurgen Klopp could rest some of his important stars ahead of a massive Premier League clash with Manchester United on the weekend.

Brighton had already secured qualification into the knockout stages prior to Thursday's home clash with Marseille, but a win was needed in order for the Premier League side to top Group B and avoid playing a team dropping out from the UEFA Champions League in the playoff round.

Teams that top their groups in the Europa League advance directly into the last 16 and will be seeded for that tie, meaning they will get to play the second leg at home.

Brighton could not find a way past Marseille for most of the game as despite dominating the Ligue 1 side, the Seagulls were unable to finish off their chances. Marseille came close twice to opening the scoring as they hit the woodwork in either half.

After 88 minutes, Brighton finally got the goal they so desperately wanted as Joao Pedro finished off a wonderful team move with a superb strike into the far top corner. Pedro sits as the competition's top scorer currently with six goals to his name.

The matchwinner spoke to TNT Sports to touch on a brilliant night at the AMEX Stadium.

He said: "Thank you to my teammates, they always support me. I'm very happy to be top scorer in the Europa League. To be top of the table, in the league or top scorer, you need to keep going through hard work."

Brighton boss, Roberto De Zerbi, reflected on his side's achievement, telling TNT Sports: "I think this is the best moment in my time (at Brighton). It was an amazing game, we played amazing football and we deserved to reach the top of the table."

In Group A, West Ham had to pick up a home win against SC Freiburg on the final matchday to secure their passage into the last 16 and avoid playing in the playoff round.

David Moyes' side started the game with real intent as Lucas Paqueta struck the crossbar in the opening five minutes. Just less than 10 minutes later, Mohammed Kudus opened the scoring for West Ham as he latched onto a chipped pass over the top from Edson Alvarez and fired into the net.

Jarrod Bowen thought he had doubled the Hammers' lead shortly after, but his attempt was ruled out for offside. West Ham did get their second just before halftime as Alvarez played a one-two with Bowen before netting his first goal for the club.

West Ham saw the game out to win 2-0 and Moyes admitted to TNT Sports of the relief in finishing top of Group A. He stated: "It is really massive at the moment because of the amount of games we've got and the scheduling – it's so important for the players and the staff. We're going into a really busy period and our culture means we play a lot of games at Christmas."

Scottish Premiership side, Rangers, also finished their group stage campaign in the top spot as they picked up a 3-2 win away to Real Betis. Having had two leads cancelled out in the first half, Rangers needed a winner to secure safe passage into the last 16 and they found it 12 minutes from time through Kemar Roofe.

Rangers finished first in Group C and will now look to go on a similar run to the one they had in the competition two seasons ago, where they reached the final and lost on penalties to Eintracht Frankfurt.

Elsewhere, in the UEFA Europa Conference League, Aston Villa secured the top spot in Group E after drawing 1-1 away to Zrinjski Mostar. Unai Emery's side will now avoid playing a team that dropped out from the Europa League in the playoff round and will head straight into the last 16.