Europa League Roundup: Sensational comeback sees Tottenham progress, as last 16 draw is set

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2-0 down on aggregate with just over 30 minutes to play, Tottenham Hotspur looked to be heading out of the Europa League on Thursday.

But Spurs’ fighting spirit shone through in a wild second half at White Hart Lane, as Emmanuel Adebayor (who else?) inspired the stunning comeback.

Leading 1-0 from the first leg, Ukrainian side Dnipro scored just after half time as Roman Zozulya headed home to give Spurs a mountain to climb. But climb it they did, as Christian Eriksen curled in a pinpoint free kick to make it 1-1 on the night, then the pivotal moment came as Dnipro’s goalscorer Zozulya was sent off for a coming together with Jan Vertonghen. Tottenham pounced on that opportunity as Adebayor scored twice in four minutes to turn the tie on its head and put Spurs 3-1 up. Despite a few late chances for the away side that’s how it stayed and Tim Sherwood’s side are through to the last 16 of the Europa League after quite the scare. They will now face Benfica in the last 16, as two of the favorites for the Europa League clash.

LATEST EUROPA LEAGUE NEWS AND RESULTS

Elsewhere the other Premier League team in action was Swansea City, but the Welsh side succumbed to two late strikes against Napoli to crash out of their first-ever Europa League campaign. With the tie poised at 0-0 after an entertaining yet goalless first leg, Swansea went behind in the first half after Lorenzo Insignia opened the scoring. But the Swans fought back as Jonathan de Guzman equalized before half time and with the away goals rule in play, Swansea were heading into the next round.

In the second half Swansea played extremely well and Napoli looked out of ideas until the 78th minute when Argentine international Gonzalo Higuain rifled in a half-chance to put Napoli 2-1 up and break Swansea’s hearts. Late on as the PL club pushed forward to grab the goal that would’ve seen them go through they left Gokhan Inler to tap home the insurance goal. Hard luck on the Swans after a valiant effort against the Serie A giants, as Napoli will now play FC Porto in a mouth-watering tie.

Other notable results saw Juventus cruise through against Trabzonpor, as Juve will face Italian rivals Fiorentina. Spanish rivals Sevilla and Real Betis both made it through and will face each other in the next round and U.S. national team fans can also watch forward Aron Johannsson continue his Europa League journey, as AZ knocked out Slovan Liberec. The big upsets saw Red Bull Salzburg knock out Ajax and Lazio fall to Ludogorets Razgrad.

EUROPA LEAGUE RESULTS – Round of 32

Napoli 3 – 1 Swansea (agg 3-1) Tottenham 3 – 1 FC Dnipro (agg 3-2)
Rubin Kazan 0 – 2 Real Betis (agg 1 – 3)
Basel 3 – 0 Maccabi Tel Aviv (agg 3-0)
Eintracht Frankfurt 3 – 3 FC Porto (Porto win on away goals, agg 5 – 5)
FC Red Bull Salzburg 3 – 1 Ajax (agg 6 – 1)
Ludogorets Razgrad 3 – 3 Lazio (agg 4 – 3)
Sevilla 2 – 1 NK Maribor (agg 4-3)
Shakhtar Donetsk 1 – 2 Viktoria Plzen (agg 2 – 3)
AZ Alkmaar 1 – 1 Slovan Libere (agg 2-1)
Benfica 3 – 0 PAOK Salonika (agg 4-0)
Fiorentina 1 – 1 Esbjerg fB (agg 4-2)

Draw for Europa League Round of 16 – (Ties to be played March 13 & 20)

AZ Alkmaar v Anzhi Makhachkala
Ludogorets Razgrad v Valencia
Porto v Napoli
Lyon v Viktoria Plzen
Sevilla v Real Betis
Tottenham v Benfica
Basel v Salzburg
Juventus v Fiorentina

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Another Alexis link; Zlatan, the coach?

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Rumors linking Alexis Sanchez to the half-dozen clubs bigger than Arsenal won’t subside until the summer transfer window closes, which is to say, Thursday’s grandest transfer rumor links the Chilean with a move away from north London.

[ MORE: Wednesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Tuesday | Monday ]

With his current contract down to just 10 months, Manchester City are the latest club reportedly interested in snatching him away from the Gunners for a pittance of his true value. That’s not to say $77 million is anything to scoff at, but given the current climate of the transfer market, Sanchez would fetch something closer to $120 million with three or four years to run on his contract.

[ MORE: Diego Costa releases statement — “I must return to Atletico Madrid” ]


Zlatan Ibrahimovic is four months into rehabilitation from the career-threatening knee injury he suffered in April. With five or six months still to go, the big Swede is nearing the point of the process during which he’ll likely announce his next club.

If Manchester United have their way, the 35-year-old might just stick around Old Trafford a while longer. Here’s the catch: Jose Mourinho is reportedly considering offering Ibrahimovic a role on his coaching staff in the interim before he completes his rehab and gets the OK to return to action.

[ MORE: Chelsea plan to raid Spurs — Danny Rose for $64 million ]


14 days remain before the end of the summer transfer window, and Tottenham Hotspur are still yet to sign a single player. The $65 million received upon Kyle Walker‘s departure would burn a hole in the pocket of everyone not named Daniel Levy.

That said, Tottenham are still expected to sign someone before the window closes, and they could certainly do worse than Suarez from Barcelona — that’s Denis Suarez, of course, not Luis. The 23-year-old Spanish midfielder is reportedly close to completing a move to Napoli, but Spurs are said to be late entrants into the race and could easily hijack the deal.

Costa statement: Let me go, “I must return to Atletico Madrid”

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Diego Costa has made his intentions clear: he plans to leave Chelsea as soon as possible and return to Atletico Madrid, and only Atletico Madrid.

[ MORE: Top takeaways from Costa’s incredible rant ]

Following his explosive interview over the weekend, in which he blames manager Antonio Conte for sabotaging a new contract which was to be signed earlier this year and reveals he has returned to his childhood home in Brazil to wait out the whole ordeal, Costa released a short statement on Thursday in which he states in no uncertain terms that his mind is made up regarding his future:

“My destination is already set. I must return to Atletico Madrid next season. It turns out that there is the impasse that Chelsea does not want to release me. But I believe that this situation will be resolved now on my return to Spain.”

The main hurdle standing between Costa and a return to Atleti is the club’s transfer ban which is in place until January. Los Rojiblancos can technically sign players this summer, but will be unable to register said player(s) until the start of the next window.

Championship Focus: Bluebirds flying, Villa second-last

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The wild 46-game slate that is the Football League Championship is already howling, with all 24 teams three matches deep into their campaigns toward Premier League promotion (or avoiding relegation to League One).

The three clubs relegated from the Premier League last season all sit within the Top 8 after three match days. Sunderland is unbeaten with a win and two draws, while Hull City is 1-1-1.

[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]

Middlesbrough has two wins from three matches, three points behind three sides who’ve started a perfect 3-0.

Wolves and Ipswich Town are two of the three, and Cardiff City leads the way. Owner Vincent Tan has seen his club score six goals without conceding once in defeats of Burton Albion, Aston Villa, and Sheffield United.

Burton is 0-3, while Steve Bruce‘s Villa is just one point better and sits 23rd.

As for individual superlatives, Bristol City’s Bobby Reid has four goals to lead the league while familiar names Lewis Grabban (Sunderland) and Abel Hernandez (Hull City) are among a quartet of players to score thrice.

Meanwhile, PL transfer target Jota of Brentford continues to impress with three assists through three matches. Will he remain in the second tier by the close of the transfer window?

MLS Snapshot: Montreal Impact 3-0 Chicago Fire

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The game in 100 words (or less)Ignacio Piatti is very good at soccer, and Chicago backstop Matt Lampson is going to see him deep into his dreams. Piatti beat Lampson up close on a turnover and then, with Montreal ahead 2-0 off a PK, the Argentine curled a surprise shot from distance around the keeper. Game, set, match, and it wasn’t even halftime. The loss keeps Chicago from using its match-in-hand to catch second place New York City FC, while the three points move Montreal to within two points of the East’s final playoff position.

Three moments that mattered

6′ — Piatti starts the party — Gifted a chance with the keeper by a sloppy missed clearing attempt, the Argentine deftly pops the ball over Fire keeper Matt Lampson.

36′ — Lampson hurts his cause — Chicago’s backstop wasn’t at fault on the opening goal, but he was for the second. After chopping down Matteo Mancosu in the box, Lampson guessed wrong on the striker’s penalty kick and the Fire went down 2-0.

38′ — It’s not your night, Lamps — Pretty sure you can anyone named Lampson, Lamps. Anyway, this time it was one of MLS’ top newcomers who set up Piatti for a goal. “Nacho” has his 12th of the season thanks to Blerim Dzemaili, and my goodness did Piatti do well here.

Man of the Match: Piatti.