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Europa League

Europa League Round Up: Lazio, Ludogorets and Lyon secure vital wins

At the halfway point of the Europa League stages only FCSB, Arsenal, Lazio and Zenit St Petersburg have maintained a 100% record, while FC Koln and FK Vardar are the only teams to stay pointless. There was drama for Everton, Athletic Bilbao and Marseille which you can read about here.

Group A

Villarreal 2-2 Slavia Prague

FC Astana 4-0 Maccabi Tel Aviv

With Villarreal and Slavia Praha joint top of the table, a win for either would have allowed them to open up a lead at the top of the table. It seemed as though it would be the Czech side who would do that when they went 2-0 up within half an hour, but goals from Manu Trigueros and Carlos Bacca secured a point, meaning they stay level. The result that made things interesting was FC Astana’s 4-0 win against Maccabi Tel Aviv, as this means they now sit just one point between the leaders.

Group B

Dynamo Kyiv 2-2 Young Boys

Skenderbeu 0-0 Partizan Belgrade

Despite losing their 100% record in this round, Dynamo Kyiv are still running away with things in Group B with seven points. Meanwhile, the draws in both fixtures means that BSC Young Boys are in second with three points, although Partizan Belgrade and Skenderbeu are both just one point behind them, it’s going to be interesting to see who secures the second qualification spot into the knockout rounds.

Group C

Braga 0-2 Ludogorets

Hoffenheim 3-1 Istanbul Basaksehir

Ludogorets have completely taken Group C by storm since drawing against Istanbul Basaksehir on the opening day. Their win against Hoffenheim last week means that their victory over Braga puts them top of the group at the halfway stage. The other big story of the group was that Hoffenheim finally got their first win of the campaign after failing to live up to expectations so far. It was pretty comfortable this time around with goals from Benjamin Hubner, Nadiem Amiri and Nico Schulz securing the win and giving them hope of getting into the qualification places.

Group D

AC Milan 0-0 AEK Athens

Austria Vienna 1-3 Rijeka

AEK Athens have shown their resilience already in the Europa League this season. They’ve done so again to hold an AC Milan side including Andre Silva, Suso and Hakan Calhanoglu to a 0-0 draw and end their 100% record in the Europa League this season. This result means that they are two points ahead of Rijeka despite the Croatians securing their first win of the campaign, putting them in pole position to secure a place in the knockout stages.  

Group E

Atalanta 3-1 Apollon Limassol

Everton 1-2 Lyon

Everton and Lyon had both been expected to do well in this group but came into their meeting without a win between them, making this a hugely important game. Everton got off to the worst possible start when Mason Holgate fouled Marcal to give away a penalty which Nabil Fekir converted in the sixth minute. Everton have had a very frustrating time this season and that showed when Ashley Williams’ push on Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes started a coming together that even included a supporter, Williams was at the centre of it the whole time but somehow got away with a yellow. The Everton skipper then headed in a Gylfi Sigurdsson free-kick to equalise, but it wasn’t enough as Bertrand Traore secured the win with a wonderful flick a quarter of an hour from time. Meanwhile, Atalanta continued their impressive Europa League record this season to beat Apollon Limassol and go into the halfway stage of the groups two points ahead of Lyon. Everton have a big task on their hands if they’re to get into the knockout rounds as they only have one point after three games.

Group F

Sheriff Tiraspol 1-1 Lokomotiv Moscow

Zlin 1-1 FC Copenhagen

Every game apart from one has been a draw in this group and that trend continued. Lokomotiv Moscow’s win against Zlin is the only thing that separates all of these sides at the group’s halfway point, which makes the second half very interesting.

Group G

Hapoel Be’er Sheva 1-2 FCSB

Lugano 3-2 Viktoria Plzen

When Harlem Gnohere came on for FCSB in the 69th minute the score was 0-0. After just one minute of being on the pitch he swivelled with the ball before placing it into the bottom corner before heading in to double their lead and ensure that Isaac Cuenca’s late goal wasn’t enough to get a point for Hapoel Be’er Sheva. Lugano had struggled before this match day, but their win over Viktoria Plzen means that everyone in the group besides FCSB are on three points each, making the race for a knockout place very interesting.

Group H

Red Star Belgrade 0-1 Arsenal

BATE Borisov 1-0 FC Koln

Arsenal put out a weakened side with a back three made up of Matthieu Debuchy, Rob Holding and Mohamed Elneny, but managed to come away from Belgrade with all three points after another athletic goal from Olivier Giroud rounded off a move orchestrated by Jack Wilshere. It was Richmond Boakye-Yiadom who came closest for Red Star when he hit the woodwork with a header. In the other game of the group, it was a second-half goal from BATE Borisov right back Alyaksey Ryas which won them the game and put the Belarusians in second place ahead of Red Star Belgrade on goal difference.

Group I

Konyaspor 0-2 Red Bull Salzburg

Marseille 2-1 Vitoria SC

Vitoria SC took the lead through a well taken Rafael Martins goal, but Lucas Ocampos dragged Marseille to get three points with a goal and then an assist which set up the simplest of finishes for Maxime Lopez. However, Red Bull Salzburg have managed to maintain their one-point lead on Marseille thanks to a 2-0 win away against Konyaspor.

Group J

Ostersunds 2-2 Athletic Bilbao

Zorya Luhansk 2-1 Hertha Berlin

Ostersunds and Zorya Luhansk were the underdogs of Group J when the campaign begun, but at the halfway point they occupy the top two spots after this week’s results. Things could have been even better for Ostersunds though, as after seeing Aritz Aduriz capitalise on a mistake from Aly Keita to score early on Alhaji Gero and Curtis Edwards scored to put the Swedes ahead only for Inaki Williams to score at the death

Group K

Nice 1-3 Lazio

Zulte Waregem 1-1 Vitesse Arnhem

Nice vs Lazio was by far the biggest game of this Europa League match day. It’s already nearly a full blown conclusion that both are through as even after this game week Zulte Waregem and Vitesse Arnhem only have a point each, but finishing top of the group could be important when it comes to the latter stages. The game got off to a crazy start, as Mario Balotelli got Nice off to a great start when he scored with a brilliant header after four minutes but indecisiveness from Dante and Yoan Cardinale allowed Felipe Caicedo to score from a kick off routine that followed. However, it was Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic who stole the show, as after getting the assist for Caicedo’s goal he went and got a brace of his own to ensure Lazio maintain their 100% Europa League record this season.  

Group L

Zenit St Petersburg 3-1 Rosenborg

Vardar 0-6 Real Sociedad

Zenit St Petersburg and Real Sociedad have been dominant in this group and that continued here. It was an Emiliano Rigoni hat-trick which earned Zenit a comfortable win against Rosenborg, also taking him to the top of the scoring charts with five goals. Real Sociedad, on the other hand, were rampant with Willian Jose scoring four of the Spanish side’s six goals on the night.

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