A roundup of all of Thursday’s action in the Europa League…
Arsenal 1-2 (4-2) Ostersunds FK
Ostersunds so nearly pulled off the most shocking upset of the 2017-18 season, as the Swedish side scored twice in 70 first-half seconds (WATCH HERE) to pull itself to within a goal of the Premier League giant.
Alas, the Gunners were awakened at halftime, and Sead Kolasinac restored a bit of order less than 90 seconds into the second half, putting Arsenal 4-2 ahead on aggregate and effectively ending the tie after one horrifically botched Ostersunds clearance.
The draw for the round of 16 will be held on Friday, at which point Arsenal and 15 other sides will learn their opponent for the next round.
RB Leipzig 0-2 (*3-3) Napoli
After a disastrous first leg at home, Napoli needed at least three goals to overcome the three away goals scored by RB Leipzig last week in Naples. The Serie A leaders controlled the game in every facet and created more than enough chances over the course of 90 minutes, but came up just short at the final whistle.
Piotr Zielinski bagged the opener after 32 minutes, but the following 50 would prove a frustrating exercise in futility for Napoli, as Lorenzo Insigne’s 86th-minute tally proved to be too little, too late. Now out of both domestic and European cup competitions, Maurizio Sarri’s side can turn its full focus to dethroning Juventus, the six-time defending Serie A champions.
Atalanta 1-1 (4-3) Borussia Dortmund
For the majority of Thursday’s second leg, Dortmund had one step out the door as they trailed Serie A side Atalanta 1-0 on the night, making the aggregate score 3-3 with no away goals of their own (two in the first leg for Atalanta).
Atalanta goalkeeper Etrit Berisha will have nightmares about his 83rd-minute howler, which turned a totally innocuous, speculative ball into a golden opportunity for Marcel Schmelzer to make it 4-3 on aggregate and bail Peter Stoger’s side out of embarrassment.
Atletico Madrid 1-0 (5-1) Copenhagen
Thanks to a 4-1 away victory in Copenhagen last week, Atletico Madrid had very little to play for on Thursday. That didn’t stop Diego Simeone from selecting a largely first-team lineup, a decision which was vindicated when Kevin Gameiro dashed any Danish dreams very early on, as the Frenchman bagged the game’s only goal after seven minutes.
Elsewhere in Europa League
Villarreal 0-1 (1-4) Lyon
Athletic Bilbao 1-2 (4-3) Spartak Moscow
Red Bull Salzburg 2-1 (4-3) Real Sociedad
AC Milan 1-0 (4-0) Ludogorets Razgrad
Lazio 5-1 (5-2) Steaua Bucharest
Zenit St. Petersburg 3-0 (3-1) Celtic
Braga 1-0 (1-3) Marseille
Lokomotiv Moscow 1-0 (4-2) Nice
Sporting CP 3-3 (6-4) FC Astana
Viktoria Plzen 2-0 (3-1) Partizan Belgrade
Dynamo Kyiv 0-0 (*1-1) AEK Athens
CSKA Moscow 1-0 (1-0) Red Star Belgrade
Arsenal were supposed to show up to the Emirates Stadium on Thursday, roll the ball out to midfield, kick it around a bit and, in just about any fathomable set of circumstances, advance to the Europa League round of 16 without breaking much of a sweat.
[ LIVE: Europa League scores ]
Ostersunds FK had a very different idea how the round-of-32 second-leg clash would go, as the Swedish side hit the Gunners for a pair of goal just 70 seconds apart in the first half — the first courtesy of a Calum Chambers own goal, quickly followed by the second from Ken Sema — to pull themselves back to within 3-2 on aggregate.
With 45 minutes still to play, we’re one more Ostersunds goal from extra-time. Arsenal are in desperate need of a goal with only Danny Welbeck and Reiss Nelson as the only attacking changes available off the bench.
Week 28 of the Premier League is almost here as the battle for the top four and against relegation takes center stage at a pivotal moment in the season.
[ STREAM: Every PL game live ]
If you, like me, love to dissect all the games and predict what the score will be and which team will win, I encourage you to get involved in the comments section below. Let’s have a bit of fun.
Okay, so I’ve consulted my crystal ball and here’s how we see things panning out. Listen carefully, because this is very specific.
[ STREAM: Premier League “Goal Rush” ]
With the first section labelled “basically, free money” for the picks I think are dead certs. The section labelled “don’t touch this” means if you’re betting I advise you to stay clear, while the “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” section are the long shots. If it is better odds you are after, those are the picks to go for.
BASICALLY, FREE MONEY
Crystal Palace 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur – (Sunday, 7 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]
Liverpool 3-1 West Ham – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, CNBC) – [STREAM]
Leicester City 2-0 Stoke City – (Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET, CNBC) – [STREAM]
DON’T TOUCH THIS…
Brighton 1-2 Swansea City – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Gold) – [STREAM]
Burnley 1-1 Southampton – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Gold) – [STREAM]
Bournemouth 1-1 Newcastle – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Gold) – [STREAM]
Watford 1-2 Everton – (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Gold) – [STREAM]
“SO YOU’RE TELLING ME THERE’S A CHANCE…”
West Brom 1-2 Huddersfield – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Gold) – [STREAM]
Manchester United 1-3 Chelsea – (Sunday, 9:05 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]
ROME (AP) From unknown status to Roma’s savior. From future star to national hero.
In the space of 2 1/2 weeks, Turkey winger Cengiz Under has undergone quite a transformation.
That’s what five goals in four matches do for a 20-year-old footballer.
Add in Under’s pro-military salute after his two-goal performance against Benevento this month, and it’s easy to see why he’s become an emblem for the government of Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The salute was seen as supporting Turkey’s offensive against a Kurdish enclave in northern Syria.
A day after the brace, Turkey Minister of Youth and Sports Osman Askin Bak tweeted “No need to explain” next to a photo of Under saluting. The tweet included emojis of a Turkish flag and clapping hands.
The reception comes in sharp contrast to what NBA player Enes Kanter has faced from his home country.
Turkish prosecutors are seeking more than four years in prison for the New York Knicks player on charges of insulting Erdogan.
Kanter cannot return to Turkey because his passport has been canceled. He is a vocal supporter of Fethullah Gulen, the U.S.-based cleric blamed by Turkey for last year’s failed military coup.
Likewise, former national soccer team players Hakan Sukur and Arif Erdem have been stripped of their medals by the government for criticizing Erdogan.
As for Under, Erdogan reportedly called him in July to offer good luck when he completed a 13 million euros ($16 million) transfer from Basaksehir, an Istanbul club owned by the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
But Under was not involved in any goals in his first 14 matches with Roma and was starting to be seen as a misplaced acquisition by new sporting director Monchi.
Until he scored 43 seconds into a 1-0 win over Hellas Verona at the start of the month that ended Roma’s five-match winless streak in Serie A.
Then came the brace and an assist as Benevento was beaten 5-2.
“Under has done extraordinary things and improved a lot,” Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco said. “Right now he’s a decisive player.”
In a 2-0 win at Udinese last weekend, Under scored the opener with a powerful, rising shot from beyond the area.
The fine form extended to Under’s Champions League debut against Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday. Under’s opener in a 2-1 loss kept alive Roma’s hopes of advancing after the second leg at home in three weeks.
While there have been no more salutes from Under since the Benevento match, that hasn’t lessened his popularity.
“Our national pride scored his first goal in the giants’ league,” the Haberturk newspaper headlined on Thursday.
Up next for third-place Roma and Under: AC Milan on Sunday.
Suzan Fraser in Ankara contributed to this report.
More AP Serie A coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/SerieA
Andrew Dampf on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/asdampf