Section: Europa League

Europa League: Everton 0-1 Krasnodar

Everton’s much-changed side fell to a Europa League defeat as Krasnodar’s Ricardo Laborde took advantage of a Joel Robles error to score the winner.

England Under-18 captain Ryan Ledson was one of four debutants as Roberto Martinez – whose side had already won Group H – gave his youngsters a chance.

Laborde ran on to a through ball and checked to score at the near post, with keeper Joel badly positioned.

Striker Arouna Kone played 90 minutes as he ended a 14-month injury absence.

Kone’s inclusion in the Everton line-up was one of 10 changes Martinez made to the side beaten 1-0 at Manchester City in the Premier League last Saturday, with only Gareth Barry retaining his place, as 17-year-old midfielder Ledson made a solid impression.

Forward Kieran Dowell – capped by England at Under-18 level along with Ledson – also made his first senior appearance as an early substitute for hamstring injury victim Christian Atsu, while striker Chris Long and midfielder Gethin Jones came on late in the game.

But the most impressive of the young players given a chance by Martinez was left-back Luke Garbutt, making only his third Everton start as Leighton Baines was rested.

Garbutt, 21, made a number of surging forward runs, the best of which came after a quarter-of-an-hour, when Conor McAleny just failed to connect with his low cross before the ball ran loose for Steven Pienaar’s 25-yard shot to be pushed aside by keeper Andrei Sinitsin.

The former Leeds United youngster also tested Sinitsin with a second-half drive from out on the left.

Joel, making his first Everton appearance since March, suffered a bloody nose in keeping out Wanderson’s drive towards the near post shortly after Pienaar’s effort at the other end.

But the Spanish keeper was at fault as Krasnodar – who were already eliminated – took the lead in the 30th minute. Laborde escaped Pienaar’s attentions to run clear, and although he was forced to check as Joel narrowed the angle, the keeper left his near post open for the Colombian forward to fire in from a tight angle.

Kone, harshly booked for an accidental first-half elbow on Vitali Kaleshin, completed his first senior match since suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury in October 2013.

He had a smart shot on the turn beaten out by Sinitsin after Tyias Browning’s cross was deflected into his path, but Everton could not find an equaliser despite a brighter second half.

Read more at BBC Sport

Europa League: Dinamo Zagreb 4-3 Celtic

Poor defending cost Celtic away to Dinamo Zagreb as a Marko Pjaca hat-trick ensured they finished Europa League Group D with a defeat.

Kris Commons and Stefan Scepovic scored in-between two first-half Pjaca strikes, who netted again following Marcelo Brozovic’s curling shot.

Josip Pivaric’s late own goal gave Celtic hope of an equaliser.

But they fell short of a fourth but took away the consolation of having already qualified for the last 32.

With a place in the knock-out stages already secured, Ronny Deila picked a makeshift team with captain Scott Brown and Scotland team-mate James Forrest both rested.

However, the defending will concern the Norwegian manager with Celtic continuing to ship goals in Europe.

With John Guidetti still cup-tied, Deila rearranged his front men with Wakaso, Commons and Scepovic all given rare starts in an eerily near-empty Stadion Maksimir.

The latter two linked up for an early Celtic chance that goalkeeper Eduardo had to parry clear, but Zagreb fired an early warning when Hillar Soudani slipped the ball into the near post from an offside position.

It only delayed the opening goal. Pjaca nipped into a similar position and collected Arijan Ademi’s through ball, turned Adam Matthews inside out and picked his spot past Craig Gordon.

Celtic were not trailing for long, although the equaliser had a large touch of fortune about it.

Van Dijk’s free-kick rattled off the back of Nir Bitton, deceiving the Zagreb defence and allowing Commons to head into the net.

Celtic were beginning to warm to the task and within six minutes were ahead.

Commons curled in another free-kick that this time cannoned off the bar. Bitton headed the rebound into the path of Scepovic who had his back to goal but turned and directed the ball in from close range.

However, just when it looked like Celtic were growing in confidence, they kicked themselves in the foot.

Matthews swiped fresh air allowing Pjaca to take the ball past him and finish via a deflection off Bitton.

Brozovic could have made it three moments from Pjaca’s lay-off, but Gordon was equal to his shot.

The Celtic goalkeeper was busy again after the break, pulling off a double save to deny Soudani then Ademi, but he could do little about Zagreb’s third.

Domagoj Antolic cut the ball back for Brozovic, whose curling shot inside the near post was out of the top drawer.

Before Celtic could settle, Zagreb had grabbed a fourth.

Pjaca was given too much space outside the box and he thumped a long-range shot well beyond the despairing dive of Gordon.

If Celtic were shipping goals for fun, so were Zagreb and Emilio Izaguirre gave the Scottish champions hope when his cut back was diverted into the net by Pivaric.

Celtic sensed an equaliser and went on the front foot.

Henderson had Eduardo scrambling back to tip his shot over the bar before Van Dijk headed across goal and Scepovic hit a post, but they could not find a fourth goal.

Read more at BBC Sport

Europa League: Spurs 1-0 Partizan Belgrade

Tottenham secured their place in the Europa League knockout stage with victory over Partizan Belgrade, but their achievement was overshadowed by three first-half pitch intruders.

The match was suspended by the referee for 10 minutes just before the break following the third incident.

Benjamin Stambouli scored a second-half winner when he followed up a Roberto Soldado shot that hit the post.

Soldado also had a close-range shot blocked by goalkeeper Milan Lukac.

It proved another frustrating night in front of goal for Tottenham’s Spanish striker. Aside from those two efforts, he also failed to connect with Erik Lamela’s teasing ball across the six-yard area.

The 29-year-old’s failure to score means it is only two goals in 13 appearances this season, and 13 in total since he signed at the start of last season for £26m.

However, the home crowd recognised that he was one of better Spurs performers on the night by applauding when he came off in the second half – and he played an integral part in the goal.

The 49th-minute breakthrough resulted from the best move of the match. Soldado played a deft one-two with Stambouli before firing a shot against the upright. The French midfielder followed up with a crashing finish past Lukac – his first goal for the club.

Soldado was more accurate when he managed to get hold of one of the three intruders who invaded the White Hart Lane pitch.

The separate incidents happened in the first half, with referee Yevhen Arnovskiy bringing the players off after the third occurrence. Following a brief conference, the players re-emerged to play what remained of the first half.

After the break, Mauricio Pochettino’s men were much improved. The early goal lifted them, and Paulinho and Lamela went close with shots from distance, while top scorer Harry Kane, who replaced Soldado, had a free-kick pushed away by Lukac.

Group C’s bottom side Partizan troubled their opponents in the first half with efforts from Danko Lazovic and Nikola Ninkovic, although the closest they came was in the closing stages when France keeper Hugo Lloris clawed away Vladimir Volkov’s header.

Read more at BBC Sport

Europa League: Celtic 1-3 FC Red Bull Salzburg

Celtic qualified for the knockout stage of the Europa League despite falling to defeat at home to Salzburg.

Salzburg’s win secured the Austrian’s top spot in Group D, with Alan scoring twice in the first-half and Naby Keita adding another late on.

Celtic’s riposte came from Stefan Johansen and they played more assuredly after the break, but they were undone by Salzburg’s initial zeal.

Astra defeat Dynamo Zagreb in Romania to ensure Celtic finished second.

Celtic were immediately swamped. If Ronny Deila had not been so grim-faced and concerned at the alarming lack of resistance amongst his own players, he would have admired Salzburg’s accomplishment.

The visitors were everything the Celtic manager would wish his own side could be: swift of thought and movement, incisive, quick and precise in their passing, and capable of winning the ball back effectively. The home side were overwhelmed.

Salzburg came into the game as the highest scorers in the competition and the effectiveness of their attack was clear.

There was an element of good fortune about the early goal. Massimo Bruno’s shot was deflected in an arc over the Celtic defence, with the ball dropping to Alan inside the area, with the striker prodding a volley into the net.

Martin Hinteregger’s header demanded a sharp save from Craig Gordon, but the visitors could not be contained.

Four minutes after opening the scoring, Alan added a second. He was a lithe, elusive figure up front, and the Celtic defenders were leaden footed in comparison.

When Andre Ramalho headed a corner on, Alan reacted first and converted from close range.

There was almost a third, when the impressive Jonathan Soriano swept in a free-kick, but as Gordon correctly realised the referee had awarded an indirect set piece.

With Salzburg playing a narrow formation, they could command the midfield, but that also left Celtic with hope on the flanks. It took 30 minutes for a foray to become meaningful, but when Emilio Izaguirre hurled in a cross from the left Johansen finished crisply and accurately.

The goal revived the Celtic support and brought renewed purpose to the home side. It was clear why Salzburg have such an impressive European record though, because they were unfazed. They kept their poise but also their sense of adventure, and one counter-attack took just three quick passes to cover the length of the field.

Celtic were more composed after the interval. They lacked a cutting edge, though, which prompted some fans to holler for James Forrest to be brought on. The sense was that if the game was to be rescued, Celtic needed to be more threatening.

There was a reminder, too, of the danger the visitors still carried. A break upfield saw Soriano and Bruno exchange passes, but the former finished weakly from the edge of the area, sending the ball trundling wide.

Salzburg were capable of a casual aplomb, but they could also be unnerved. Celtic came close when Leigh Griffiths saw a header from Izaguirre’s cross saved, but the equaliser wouldn’t come.

Instead, the substitute Keita added a third with a header after a Salzburg counter attack.

Read more at BBC Sport

Europa League: Wolfsburg 0-2 Everton

Everton are through to the Europa League knockout stage as Group H winners after victory at Wolfsburg.

A 1-1 draw in the other group game between Krasnodar and Lille meant the Toffees progressed regardless of the result in Germany.

Three points ensured top spot, however, as Romelu Lukaku powered home before half-time after Wolfsburg’s Ivan Perisic had a goal ruled out.

Kevin Mirallas sealed victory in the second half with a goal on the break.

Everton, four points ahead of Wolfsburg at the top of the group, progress to the last 32 with a game to spare as they look to secure a first European trophy since 1985.

Both sets of players went into the game unaware of the scoreline in the group’s other fixture, which kicked off one hour earlier.

Each side knew, however, that a win would guarantee qualification and that might have played its part in a frenetic start.

Wolfsburg, with eight wins from their last nine games, were immediately on the offensive as Perisic lashed into the side-netting while Aaron Hunt drew a full-stretch save out of Tim Howard.

Sylvain Distin hit the bar with a downward header between those chances but Wolfsburg should have been ahead midway through the half, when Perisic was wrongly ruled offside when he stabbed home from close range.

It was a let-off for Everton, and a crucial one, as they hit Wolfsburg on the break just before half-time.

Distin’s header aside, the visitors had barely threatened in the first 45 minutes but snatched the lead when Lukaku received a pass from Kevin Mirallas, outmuscled two defenders and ran through on goal before finishing calmly.

Knowing that defeat would leave them needing at least a draw in their final game against Lille, Wolfsburg again pressured the Everton defence in the second half.

The hosts were again denied when former Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner had a header ruled out for offside, but also Everton looked dangerous on the break – though Aiden McGeady somehow contrived to sidefoot over when presented with an open goal.

However, Everton wrapped up the win with another breakaway goal as Lukaku sent Mirallas away and the forward confidently slotted home.

Read more at BBC Sport

Europa League: Everton 3-0 Lille

Everton cruise to win over lacklustre Lille to go clear at the top of Group H.

Everton took control of Group H in the Europa League with a 3-0 win over a listless Lille side at Goodison Park.

After a cagey opening to the game, it was Leon Osmanwho opened the scoring with an excellent half-volleyed finish after 27 minutes, which was the perfect way to celebrate his new one-year contract extension.

The goal prompted a spell of Everton domination which culminated in Phil Jagielka’s headed goal from Aiden McGeady’s corner four minutes before half-time.

Lille offered almost nothing in response, with Liverpool-bound Divock Origi unable to make an impression on the game.

It was left to Steven Naismith to kill the game off on the hour-mark, as he smashed Leighton Baines’ cross into the roof of the net to send the Toffees three-points clear at the top of Group H.

Read more on Yahoo Sport

 

Europa League: Astera Tripolis 1-2 Spurs

Townsend and Kane goals earn Spurs win.

Tottenham are just one win away from qualifying for the knockout rounds of the Europa League after a nervous 2-1 win over Asteras Tripolis in Greece.

Harry Kane continued his excellent recent form with the crucial second goal at the Theodoros Kolokotronis Stadium.

A subdued first half came to life when Andros Townsend was fouled in the penalty area by Khalifa Sankare and the England winger lashed in from the spot.

It was 2-0 just five minutes later that Townsend played provider by looping in a cross from the left and Kane nodded in from six yards out to increase his tally to 10 goals for the season.

Tripolis pulled one back late on when Federico Faziowas sent-off for hauling down the appropriately named Jeronimo Barrales in the area, allowing the Argentine to score from the spot.

But the home side will be ruing spurning several to earn at least a draw that their attacking play merited. Spurs held on, however, and are now just one win away from the knockout rounds in Group C.
A home win over Partizan Belgrade on November 27 will secure Tottenham’s progress in their penultimate match of the section.

Read more on Yahoo Sport

Europa League: Spurs 1-1 Besiktas

Demba Ba’s late penalty for Besiktas denied Tottenham their first win in Group C of the Europa League.

The ex-Chelsea man converted after Vlad Chiriches handled in the area having let the ball slip through his legs.

Harry Kane gave Spurs the lead in the 27th minute when he surged forward before firing a low shot past keeper Tolga Zengin from the edge of the area.

Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris twice denied Olcay Sahan with brilliant saves, before tipping over an effort from Ba.

Both Besiktas frontmen were a constant menace for Tottenham, who were lucky not to lose to Slaven Bilic’s Turkish side.

The former Croatia manager would have been frustrated by the failure to secure a first group win and by the exceptional keeping of stand-in skipper Lloris.

The France international saved Spurs on three memorable occasions. He used his foot to divert Sahan’s goalbound effort wide and then sprung off the turf to tip over the striker’s loaded drive. His skills were then tested when he pushed Ba’s fierce close-range half-volley over the bar.

Lloris was finally beaten with a minute of normal time remaining, no thanks to team-mate Chiriches. A ball played for Sahan went under the Romania international’s legs before he handled.

The Senegal international  stepped up to take the spot-kick, stuttered on his run before planting his effort past the Tottenham number one. It was his fifth goal in six appearances against the north London side.

Besiktas, second in the Turkish league, were more potent in attack than their counterparts. They managed 24 efforts on goal as opposed to six for Tottenham, who only had three on target.

One of those came from the boot of Kane. The under-21 international once again highlighted his potential with a superbly taken goal in the first half.

Having picked up the ball from Nabil Bentaleb, the forward turned his marker then drove forward before guiding a low shot into Zengin’s bottom-left corner.

Kane, who looked far more threatening than struggling frontman Roberto Soldado, also had a low angled drive saved by the Beskitas keeper at his near post.

The result means Tottenham have only two points from their first two group matches.   Their next opponents are Group C leaders Asteras Tripoli.

Read more on BBC Sport

 

Europa League: FK Krasnodar 1-1 Everton

Samuel Eto’o’s late goal salvaged a point for a lacklustre Everton in their Europa League group-stage game at FK Krasnodar.

The Cameroon striker was perfectly placed to tap in a cross from Leighton Baines with eight minutes remaining.

Brazilian forward Ari had fired the home side ahead after capitalising on a mistake from Phil Jagielka.

The Toffees, who were second-best in Russia, now have four points from two Group H games.

Two weeks ago, they got their campaign off to the best possible start courtesy of a comfortable 4-1 home win over German side Wolfsburg.

That victory showcased a bright, attacking display from a near first-choice Roberto Martinez side to give them confidence of achieving their manager’s aim of going as far as possible in this season’s competition.

However, despite again naming a strong side, the Spaniard’s team were distinctly average in Russia to provide a reality check to their ambitious aims, and they needed a trademark piece of finishing from experienced European campaigner Eto’o, 33, to dig them out of a hole.

Martinez made five changes for the 4,800-mile round trip, but kept his defensive unit – including holding midfielder Gareth Barry – intact.

For much of the first half, this proved a wise decision against a Krasnodar team who produced the kind of positive and incisive display that had seen them score 11 unanswered goals in three Europa League wins this season prior to Thursday.

Martinez’s backline had to deal with a number of attacks during the first 20 minutes, which saw Marat Izmailov twice go close, initially with a flicked effort from close range that landed on the roof of the net and then a shot from the edge of the box that Tim Howard did superbly to palm away.

Having survived, the Toffees grew into the game and went close themselves as Aiden McGeady, who spent three-and-a-half seasons in Russia with Spartak Moscow, saw a low shot saved by Andriy Dykan, who was static soon after as a John Stones header sailed just past the post.

However, with so much hard work done and half-time looming, Everton gifted Krasnodar the lead when Jagielka’s ill-judged touch on Odil Ahmedov’s pass put Ari through on goal to slot in the opener.

Martinez introduced Romelu Lukaku at half-time but it did little to stem the flow of the game as the home side continued to pour forward.

It was another substitute, home midfielder Wanderson, who came close to adding to the scoreline with a jinking run into the box that ended with him hooking a shot against the bar.

With time running out, Eto’o, who now has 45 European goals in 111 appearances, found space in the box to poke home Baines’s delivery and snatch an unlikely point for the away side, who could even have won it but for a neat save from Dykan to deny Lukaku with a header.

Read more on BBC Sport

 

Europa League: Everton 4-0 Wolfsburg

Everton marked their return to Europe with a 4-1 Europa League victory over Wolfsburg at Goodison Park.

The Toffees’ last European campaign came back in 2009-10 when they advanced to the final 32, and they will be hopeful of at least reaching that stage this season after claiming all three points in their Group H opener.

They only had to wait for 15 minutes until their first goal with Ricardo Rodriguez turning Steven Naismith’s effort into his own net, while the second came on the stroke of half-time as Seamus Colemanconverted Leighton Baines’ delivery.

Baines struck the third from the penalty spot just after the break, before Kevin Mirallas added extra gloss to the scoreline with a neat finish at the death.

Tim Howard looked to have earned a well-deserved clean sheet after making a string of fine saves, only to be beaten by Rodriguez’s excellent set-piece, which proved to be the last kick of the game.

There is a long way to go given Everton’s tricky draw, which has also pitted them against Ligue 1 leaders Lille and Russian outfit Kuban Kranodar, but Roberto Martinez will take much encouragement from this performance.