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Europa League: Dzeko rampant, Ajax held, Fiorentina wins

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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.

FINAL SCORES:

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

CCL: Lodeiro from 45; Royer’s diving header — SEA, RBNY lead (video)

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After 45 minutes of their respective CONCACAF Champions League knockout-round quests, things are going unnervingly well for the Seattle Sounders and New York Red Bulls.

[ MORE: FC Dallas disappoint in CCL; Club America flying ]

If you’ve watched Major League Soccer teams try, try and try again — only to eventually fail in spectacular fashion — in CCL over the years, you might say things are going a little too well.

There’s still another 45 minutes to be played on Thursday — plus the return legs next week — but both the Sounders and Red Bulls hold 1-0 halftime leads, and the vitally important away goals which come with it. Nicolas Lodeiro’s 45-yard, first-time lob of the Santa Tecla (El Salvador) goalkeeper in the 15th minute has already been eternally etched into the memories of Sounders fans.

Just 15 minutes later, Daniel Royer perfectly executed the diving header and got on the end of Bradley Wright-Phillips’ curling ball into the box to Jesse Marsch’s side ahead of Honduran side CD Olimpia.

Villarreal DF Semedo charged with attempted murder

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MADRID (AP) A Spanish judge has charged Villarreal defender Ruben Semedo with attempted murder and ordered him to be temporarily detained without bail.

Court officials in Lliria say on Thursday the Portuguese player is also charged with assault, robbery, illegal detention, and illegal possession of firearms.

Semedo testified before a judge on Thursday, and left the court in handcuffs.

The 23-year-old Semedo was detained early Tuesday, accused of tying up, assaulting and threatening another man last week. Authorities say he and two other men allegedly held the victim captive while they robbed his apartment.

Semedo’s agents told Spanish media the player denies any wrongdoing.

Villarreal on Tuesday said it was investigating Semedo and would take appropriate disciplinary action.

Villarreal signed Semedo from Sporting Lisbon last summer for a reported fee of $17 million.

Wenger: Arsenal “complacent, had no ideas” in Ostersunds loss

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Perhaps Sunday’s League Cup final had already reached the forefront of their minds, but Arsene Wenger admonished his players, whom he said were “complacent, not focused” and “had no ideas” for much of Thursday’s Europa League defeat, at home, to Swedish side Ostersunds.

[ MORE: Premier League TV schedule | Man United vs. Chelsea ]

The Gunners advanced to the round of 16 on the back of their 3-0 first-leg victory last week, but Wenger was understandably displeased by the effort he saw and expressed such feelings in no uncertain terms, before quickly easing up and praising the fact they were able to pull back a goal against the current fifth-place team from Sweden — quotes from the BBC:

“We were not at the races in the first half,” said Wenger, who saw his side booed off at half-time and full-time. I think in the second half it was much better and we should have scored a few goals.

“In the first half, we were in trouble and in danger because we were complacent, not focused and were open every time we lost the ball. We had no ideas with the ball and that’s why we were in trouble.

“We responded very well because we did the job to qualify, but that’s what we have to take from the night and that’s all.”

With Arsenal now trailing fourth-place Chelsea by eight points (and seven back of fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur), winning the Europa League might just be the Gunners’ last chance at qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

Batshuayi racially abused by Atalanta fans

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Borussia Dortmund striker Michy Batshuayi says he was subject to racist chants from Atalanta fans during a Europa League game in Italy.

The Belgium international, on loan from Chelsea, tweeted:

Dortmund advanced to the round of 16 by drawing 1-1 to beat Atalanta 4-3 on aggregate on Thursday.

The game was played at Mapei Stadium in Reggio Emilia because Atalanta’s home stadium is unsuitable for UEFA games.

There have been several incidents of racism at Serie A matches this season.