Europa League

Europa League Round Up: Athletic Bilbao and Lokomotiv Moscow through

This is it for the Europa League group stages. Teams such as Arsenal and AC Milan were already through while the likes of Everton and Hoffenheim were confirmed to be missing out. Despite this there were still plenty of places in the knockout rounds up for grabs. The teams who made it through will also be joined by CSKA Moscow, Celtic, Atletico Madrid, Sporting Lisbon, Spartak Moscow, Napoli, RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund who enter the Europa League after finishing third in their Champions League groups.

Group A

Villarreal 0-1 Maccabi Tel Aviv

Salvia Prague 0-1 FC Astana

Villarreal’s game against Maccabi Tel Aviv didn’t have any impact on the table. However, Nick Blackman who is on loan at Maccabi Tel Aviv from Derby County will be very happy to have scored the winner against the Spanish giants. Slavia Prague vs Astana was a completely different story, as with the Czechs just one point ahead of Astana it was a winner takes all situation to see who would take the second qualifying spot. It was the side from Kazakhstan who advance, although Marin Anicic’s winner wasn’t without it’s drama, as the referee had a long conversation with the linesman before awarding the goal.

Group B

Dynamo Kyiv 4-1 Partizan Belgrade

Young Boys 2-1 Skenderbeu

A win for Partizan Belgrade against Dynmo Kyiv would have meant they leapfrogged their opponents to take top spot in the group, but Dynamo stopped any thoughts of that happening pretty quickly. Junior Moraes will take most of the plaudits due to his hat trick, but Mykola Morozyuk played a massive part in the emphatic win as he scored the opener before putting both of Moraes’ first two goals on a plate for him. Young Boys didn’t have the best of Europa League campaigns this year, but Roger Asale’s 95th winner gave the Swiss side something to celebrate.

Group C

Istanbul Basaksehir 2-1 Braga

Hoffenheim 1-1 Ludogorets

Braga may have lost against Istanbul Basaksehir due to a second half penalty from Emre Belozoglu, but Ludogorets’ draw against Hoffenheim means that the Portuguese side top the group. Hoffenheim didn’t have anything to play for as they were confirmed to be out before the final group game, but it was their striker Philipp Ochs who opened the scoring. Ludogorets needed at least a draw to take the second place spot and Wanderson managed to get the equaliser which got them through.

Group D

Rijeka 2-0 AC Milan

Austria Vienna 0-0 AEK Athens

AC Milan have won the group, but nonetheless will be disappointed about their showing in Croatia as they lost 2-0 to Rijeka. The first of Rijeka’s goals was a superbly struck free kick from Jakov Puljic while the second was a deft finish from Mario Gavranovic. AEK Athens have taken the second qualifying place after drawing against Austria Vienna. Remarkably this result means they did not lose any of their group matches, drawing five times and winning once.

Group E

Apollon Limassol 0-3 Everton

Atalanta 1-0 Lyon

Everton have had a miserable Europa League campaign, but their youthful side including debutants Harry Charsley and Fraser Hornby ended it with a win against Apollon Limassol. Ademola Lookman was by far the best player on the pitch, netting twice with the second being a real cracker. It was Nikola Vlasic who bagged the third. It was already confirmed that Atalanta and Lyon would be going through, but their match decided who would top the group. It was a scrappy header from Andrea Petagna which was the difference and put Atalanta top after being very impressive throughout.

Group F

Copenhagen 2-0 Sheriff Tiraspol

Zlin 0-2 Lokomotiv Moscow

The dynamic of this group has been constantly changing throughout the tournament and it has happened again. Sheriff Tiraspol had been top of the group, but after their loss against Copenhagen and Lokomotiv’s victory over Zlin, the Moldovan side dropped from first to third, meaning they fail to progress to the knockout rounds. They will feel hard done by, but they really didn’t help themselves as Jairo got sent off just after the hour mark Ziguy Badibanga missed a penalty not long after. Lokomotiv were convincing in their win, which was sealed by a delightful chip from Jefferson Farfan.

Group G

FCSB 1-2 Lugano

Hapoel Be’er Sheva 0-2 Viktoria Plzen

Having cruised their way to the top spot after the first couple of group matches, FCSB will have to settle or second spot after taking their foot off the gas in recent weeks. This time around they lost out to Lugano after conceding twice in just over half an hour. Viktoria Plzen are the ones who took advantage of this to overtake FCSB, as goals from Lukas Hejda and Tomas Horava gave them the win against Hapoel Be’er Sheva.

Group H

Arsenal 6-0 BATE Borisov

Red Star Belgrade 1-0 FC Koln

Arsenal had already secured their place at the top of this group, but they reaffirmed their dominance with a brilliant display against BATE Borisov, who were recently recrowned champions of Belarus. Jack Wilshere has been at the centre of Arsenal’s play throughout their Europa League campaign and that was the same in this game. He kept the team ticking over, assisted Mohamed Elneny and scored the pick of Arsenal’s goals. The important game in this group though was Red Star Belgrade vs FC Koln, as they battled it out for a place in the knockout rounds. It was a first half strike from Slavoljub Srnic which was the difference and got the Serbian club through.

Group I

Marseille 0-0 Red Bull Salzburg

Vitoria Guimaraes 1-1 Konyaspor

Red Bull Salzburg have been brilliant defensively in the Europa League this season, conceding just once in six games. Thankfully for Marseille they didn’t need to score to get into the knockout rounds, as a draw was enough for them to take second spot. Had Konyaspor beaten Vitoria they would have been level with the French side, but after going ahead through a goal from Mehdi Bourabia they conceded in the cruelest of ways, as Ali Turan turned the ball into his own net to score an own goal.

Group J

Zorya Luhansk 0-2 Athletic Bilbao

Hertha Berlin 1-1 Ostersund 

Athletic Bilbao had a very underwhelming start to their Europa League campaign, but have managed to come out on top of Group J. It was the ever dependable Aritz Aduriz who opened the scoring for the side from the Basque region, with Raul Garcia scoring the second to put the result beyond any doubt. Despite this win, Ostersund would have still won the group had they been able to beat Hertha Berlin. When Sotiris Papagiannopoulos opened the scoring for the Swedish side it seemed as though they would do just that, but Peter Pekarik equalised for Hertha Berlin. Brwa Nouri had the chance to secure the win from the penalty spot in the 87th minute, but USA Under 20 stopper Jonathon Klinsmann, the son of Jurgen who was making his debut for the German side got down well to his left and saved it. Despite this, Ostersund are still in the knockout stages, which is a tremendous achievement for the club.

Group K

Zulte Waregem 3-2 Lazio

Vitesse Arnhem 1-0 Nice

There really wasn’t anything to play for in this group, as it was already confirmed that Lazio would top the group and Nice would take second spot. This showed in the team selection of the table toppers as the likes of Ciro Immobile, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Stefan de Vrij, Mario Balotelli and Allan Saint-Maximin were all rested. Zulte Waregem and Vitesse Arnhem both managed to take advantage of that and get wins on the night to make the table look a bit closer.

Group L

Real Sociedad 1-3 Zenit St Petersburg

Vardar 1-1 Rosenborg 

It had already been confirmed that Real Sociedad and Zenit St Petersburg would be the teams progressing to the knockout rounds from Group L, but the match between the pair settled who would top the group. The score was 1-1 with an hour gone, but an outstanding over head kick from former Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic put the Russian club ahead, with a dazzling run and finish from Leandro Paredes securing the three points for Zenit. In the other game, Vardar were denied the win by a Nicklas Bendtner penalty, but they will be happy to have finally earned a point in this Europa League campaign.

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