The first leg of the Europa League knockout phase came and went, and gave fans a picture to what will likely come.
For Premier League sides, Tottenham looked poor on the road in Belgium en route to a 1-0 to KAA Gent.
[ MORE: Listless Spurs falls to Gent as goal drought continues ]
Meanwhile, Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored three of his less impressive goals as Manchester United survived at home against French side St. Etienne thanks to the striker’s hat-trick.
[ MORE: Manchester United wins 3-0 behind a trio from Zlatan ]
Elsewhere around the Europa League, Edin Dzeko looked unbeatable as he scored a hat-trick to put Roma through by a whopping 4-0 score on the road at Villareal. Brazilian youngster Emerson scored the opener just past the half-hour mark, but Dzeko took over in the second half as Roma made the second leg in the Italian capital a formality.
Alexander Lacazette scored twice as Lyon took command of their matchup with AZ Alkmaar thanks to a 4-1 road win in the Netherlands. Lyon fans have turned on Lacazette since he announced he would leave the club in the summer, but goals and wins assuage all problems, and his pair has the French side close to a berth in the final 16.
Fiorentina snatched a big 1-0 away victory at Borussia Monchengladbach despite the German side’s attacking intent. Federico Bernardeschi scored the game’s only goal in the 44th minute with an absolute peach of a free-kick from a good distance outside the top of the box. Dutch giants Ajax were held to a 0-0 draw on the road in Poland. Ajax held 64% possession but could only put five shots on target against Legia Warsaw, and were reduced to 10 men with six minutes to go as 21-year-old full-back Kenny Tete was shown as second yellow card.
Athletic Bilbao won 3-2 over Cypriot side Apoel Nicosia, but the visitors bagged an important second away goal in the 89th minute via Giannis Gianniotas on a superb one-two with former Gladbach and Hoffenheim striker Igor de Camargo. Anderlecht picked up a 2-0 home win over Russian giants Zenit thanks to a pair from 23-year-old Ghanan international Frank Acheampong.
Manchester United 3-0 St. Etienne
KAA Gent 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur
AZ Alkmaar 1-4 Lyon
Villareal 0-4 AS Roma
Borussia Monchengladbach 0-1 Fiorentina
Legia Warsaw 0-0 Ajax
PAOK 0-3 Schalke
Anderlecht 2-0 Zenit St. Petersburg
Athletic Bilbao 3-2 Apoel Nicosia
Olympiacos 0-0 Osmanlispor
FC Krasnodar 1-0 Fenerbahce
Celta Vigo 0-1 Shaktar Donetsk
FC Rostov 4-0 Sparta Prague
Astra Giurgiu 2-2 KRC Genk
Ludogorets 1-2 FC Copenhagen
Hapoel Be’er Sheva 1-3 Besiktas
WIGAN, England (AP) It was better than a hat trick.
A player for English soccer team Wigan had a night to remember when he scored his second goal before dashing off the field and to the local hospital, where his girlfriend was in labor.
[ MORE: Chelsea advances to UCL Round of 16 after win over Qarabag ]
A picture of Ryan Colclough holding his new-born baby, Harley, while still in his soccer uniform was shared on social media by Wigan chairman David Sharpe.
Colclough said his father, sitting in the stands on Tuesday for Wigan’s 3-0 win over Doncaster in the second division, “gave me the action that the waters had broken,” but he didn’t want to come off until the ball was out of play.
“My head was a little bit battered, but I went and scored, looked at the manager and he said we’ll bring you off now,” Colclough said Wednesday of his 58th-minute goal, which he celebrated by pretending to rock a baby. “I came off and was straight down the tunnel, grabbed my keys and my phone, and went to hospital.”
Colclough had visited the midwife that day, and was told the baby was unlikely to arrive for “another couple of days.”
LILLE, France (AP) French club Lille has provisionally suspended coach Marcelo Bielsa following a string of poor results in the top tier.
[ MORE: Basel stuns Man United late to keep UCL hopes alive ]
The northern side said in a statement that Bielsa has been suspended “as part of a procedure started by the club.” Lille did not elaborate.
Bielsa joined Lille this season but has failed to make the club competitive again, with the team second to last after 13 matches.
In today’s Euro Pod Edition, the Robbies breakdown the latest Champions League action. Man United lose at Basel, Chelsea cruise at Qarabag, Spurs impress against Dortmund, Man City continue to win, Liverpool surrender a 3-goal lead against Sevilla. Plus, the guys weigh in on the Oumar Niasse ban for diving and the Tony Pulis sacking.
Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.
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While several teams have already booked their place in the knockout phase, the Europa League reaches its penultimate round on Thursday with many big matches in hand.
[ MORE: Yannick Bolasie finally returns to Everton training ]
Of the two Premier League sides in the competition, only one will advance to the Round of 32, as Arsenal have all but assured themselves of the top spot in Group H. The Gunners can do so tomorrow with a win over Koln or a Red Star Belgrade defeat.
The other end of the spectrum features Everton, who has already been eliminated from reaching the next round after acquiring just one point in its first four matches.
European giants AC Milan can lock up a spot in the knockout phase on Thursday despite the club’s ongoing struggles in Serie A, while fellow Italian side Atalanta can move a step closer to the Round of 32 in Group E along with Lyon.
Here’s the full rundown of Thursday’s UEL matches.
Astana vs. Villareal — 11 a.m. ET
Konyaspor vs. Marseille — 1 p.m. ET
Rosenborg vs. Real Sociedad — 1 p.m. ET
Lazio vs. Vitesse — 1 p.m. ET
Viktoria Plzen vs. Steaua Bucuresti — 1 p.m. ET
Lokomotiv vs. Copenhagen — 1 p.m. ET
Zenit vs. Vardar — 1 p.m. ET
Red Bull Salzburg vs. Vitoria — 1 p.m. ET
Athletic Bilbao vs. Hertha Berlin — 1 p.m. ET
BATE vs. Red Star Belgrade — 1 p.m. ET
Ostersund vs. Zorya — 1 p.m. ET
Koln vs. Arsenal — 1 p.m. ET
Nice vs. Zulte Waregem — 1 p.m. ET
Lugano vs. Beer-Sheva — 1 p.m. ET
Ludogorets vs. Istanbul — 3:05 p.m. ET
Braga vs. Hoffenheim — 3:05 p.m. ET
AEK vs. Rijeka — 3:05 p.m. ET
AC Milan vs. Austria Wien — 3:05 p.m. ET
Lyon vs. Apollon — 3:05 p.m. ET
Maccabi Tel Aviv vs. Slavia Praha — 3:05 p.m. ET
Sheriff vs. Zlin — 3:05 p.m. ET
Partizan vs. Young Boys — 3:05 p.m. ET
Skenderbeu vs. Dynamo Kyiv — 3:05 p.m. ET
Everton vs. Atalanta — 3:05 p.m. ET