Facundo Ferreyra

AP Photo/Francisco Seco

Champions League wrap: Ronaldo leads Madrid; Besiktas posts big W

Leave a comment

Four terrific goals at Wembley Stadium were met by plenty more around the continent as the second batch of UEFA Champions League groups kicked off play on Wednesday.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]


Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Borussia DortmundRECAP

Son started the scoring with a terrific solo run down the left flank, turning the corner on Sokratis and then blasting a shot over the shoulder of Roman Burki.

Yarmolenko looked an able addition with a wonderful curling rip from atop the 18 to make it 1-1.

That’s when Kane gave the match its third goal within the first 15 minutes, and Burki was again victimized short side. Kane’s shot swept around Burki and may’ve even just kissed the post on its way to Spurs’ 2-1 lead. He’d add a second later.

Feyenoord 0-4 Manchester CityRECAP

A John Stones brace? Why not?

This one was supposed to be a tougher ask for City, but Pep’s men have pulled into a controlling position through Stones’ second minute marker and a Sergio Aguero goal off a Kyle Walker cross in the 10th.

Gabriel Jesus deposited a rebound to make it 3-0 after ex-Liverpool man Brad Jones pushed Benjamin Mendy‘s shot back away from goal. Stones nabbed the club’s fourth goal in the second half, nodding a David Silva cross home.

Liverpool 2-2 SevillaRECAP

Sevilla’s attack was always going to ask questions of the Reds’ defense, and it’s Wissam Bin Yedder’s fifth minute goal that has Liverpool trailing at Anfield.

Predictably, Liverpool had an answer, and it was Roberto Firmino who knotted the score line with a 21st answer goal. Then Mohamed Salah, no stranger to European competition, did some work of his own to make it 2-1 before the break.

It looked set for 3-1, but a Sadio Mane-won penalty was put off the post by Firmino. That would come back to haunt the Reds, as Joaquin Correa was given acres of space to level the score in the 72nd minute.

Porto 1-3 Besiktas

Anderson Talisca, Cenk Tosun, and ex-Liverpool man Ryan Babel scored as Turkey’s powers opened their bid for a winnable group. It won’t be easy, and Dusko Tosic’s own goal briefly had it level in Portugal.

Real Madrid 3-0 APOEL Nicosia

Cristiano Ronaldo is okay when it comes to this UEFA Champions League thing, you know? The Portuguese 32-year-old scored two on the day, the second a penalty kick.

Sergio Ramos added to the fun with an overhead goal, as the reigning champs twice-over look fine at home.

Shakhtar Donetsk 2-1 Napoli

Raise your hand if you had Napoli down early in Ukraine. Those with ’em up have Taison to thank for the 15th minute opener, and feel downright psychic thanks to Facundo Ferreyra‘s second-half insurance goal. Arkadiusz Milik pulled one back for the visitors with a 71st minute penalty kick.

RB Leipzig 1-1 Monaco

Emil Forsberg scored for the hosts just after the half-hour mark at Germany’s Red Bull Arena, with Youri Tielemans not needing long to answer for the 2017 semifinalists.

Maribor 1-1 Spartak Moscow

Alexander Samedov, Russia’s lone goal scorer against Mexico at this summer’s Confederations Cup, scored Spartak’s goal at the Ljudski Vrt, but the hosts’ Damjan Bohar netted in the 85th minute to split the points.

Europa League preview: Liverpool 180 minutes from final

AP Photo/Jon Super
Leave a comment

Previewing Thursday’s UEFA Europa League semifinal first legs set to take place in Spain and Ukraine…

[ MORE: Champions League roundup ]

Villarreal vs. Liverpool — 3:05 p.m. ET

When Jurgen Klopp took charge at Liverpool back in October, he did so with the understanding and expectation that he would lead the once-great Premier League side back to its former standing as a club that competed for trophies with regularity. Fast forward six months from his appointment, and Klopp has the Reds three short extremely long hours from their first European final of what could be many finals together. Of course, they lost out to Manchester City on penalty kicks in the League Cup final at Wembley back in February.

The Reds’ last semifinal appearance in European competition? The 2009-10 Europa League, when they lost to that season’s eventual champions, Atletico Madrid (the side that triumphed over Clint Dempsey‘s Fulham in the most unlikely of cup runs). With a top-four place in the Premier League just about a mathematic impossibility now (Liverpool currently trail third- and fourth-place Manchester City and Arsenal by nine points with only 12 more up for grabs on the season), winning the Europa League is Klopp’s last crack at UEFA Champions League qualification next season, an major recruiting tool as he begins building his own squad in the summer transfer window.

Leading European scorers this season : VillarrealCedric Bakambu (9 goals); Roberto Soldado, Leo Baptistao, bruno (2 goals each) | LiverpoolPhilippe Coutinho, Divock Origi, Adam Lallana, James Milner (2 goals each)

Knockout-round paths to the semis: Villarreal — 2-1 (agg.) over Napoli; 2-0 (agg.) over Bayer Leverkusen; 6-3 (agg.) over Sparta Prague | Liverpool — 1-0 (agg.) over Augsburg; 3-1 (agg.) over Manchester United; 5-4 (agg.) over Borussia Dortmund

[ MORE: Europa League in-focus — Liverpool heads to Villarreal ]

Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Sevilla — 3:05 p.m. ET

Sevilla are two-time defending UEL champions, 180 minutes from appearing in their third consecutive final. No side has won any three consecutive European titles since Bayern Munich lifted the European Cup three straight years from 1974 to 1976. Of the four sides remaining in this year’s competition, their first-leg trip to Donetsk on Thursday is certainly the most daunting, give the distance traveled (2,300 miles) and the volatile atmosphere they’re bound to encounter.  The only other time these sides have met in official competition came in the 2006-07 UEL round of 16, when Sevilla advanced following a dramatic 3-2 second-leg victory (5-4 on aggregate), before going on to win that year’s edition of the competition.

Leading European scorers this season: Shakhtar — Alex Teixeira (no longer at Shakhtar), Eduardo Silva (3 goals); Facundo Ferreyra, Darijo Srna, Viktor Kovalenko (2 goals) | Sevilla — Kevin Gameiro (5 goals); Fernando Llorente (3 goals); Yevhen Konoplyanka, Ever Banega (2 goals)

Knockout-round paths to the semis: Shakhtar — 3-0 (agg.) over Schalke; 4-1 (agg.) over Anderlecht; 6-1 (agg.) over Braga | Sevilla — 3-1 (agg.) over Molde; 3-0 (agg.) over Basel; 3-3 (agg.) 5-4 PKs over Athletic Bilbao

Europa League Roundup: Liverpool draws at Dortmund, while Sevilla, Villarreal, and Shakhtar all win

Getty Images
Leave a comment

With the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals finishing up earlier in the week, the Europa Leg took the field Thursday as European play ramped up. Every single team playing got at least one goal, with plenty of late scoring.

Three of the four games saw a winner, with two of those three winners coming on the road. Here is a roundup of the action:

Borussia Dortmund 1-1 Liverpool

Both teams had big moments just before the 20th minute. Dortmund nearly struck first when Marcel Schmelzer got around Simon Mignolet and cut back to Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the center of the box with the goal open, but Mamadou Sakho made a goal-saving block in traffic on Mkhitaryan’s shot. Liverpool then found a chance of their own on a set-piece after a Marco Reus foul, as Dejan Lovren tried to bounce a header over Roman Weidenfeller, but the goalkeeper was smart to it, earning a foul as Lovren looked to head back in the rebound.

Dortmund’s relentless press gave Liverpool plenty of problems in their own half, and Mkhitaryan was a monster in front of the box, but it was Liverpool that struck first against the run of play. Adam Lallana found Divock Origi in space up front, and one-on-one with Lukasz Piszczek, the 20-year-old turned and fired past Weidenfeller for a 35th minute lead. Weidenfeller had to make another save – off his face – on the last kick of the first half as Origi sprung free on another counter.

Just 2 minutes back after the break Mats Hummels equalized for the home side off a corner. Coutinho continued to cause the Germans problems, forcing a pair of saves, the first a quality low save after good Liverpool combination play. Dortmund poured attackers forward in the final 15 minutes, but were unable to find a way through a packed box and past Simon Mignolet. Liverpool remains unbeaten in the Europa League this season.

Athletic Bilbao 1-2 Sevilla

A pair of goals soon after halftime provided much of the action, but the winner came late as Vicente Iborra tapped home in the 83rd minute for a huge away win. Artiz Aduriz scored just two minutes after the break with a header from the far post across the face of goal putting Athletic ahead, but Sevilla leveled it back up nine minutes later through Thimothee Kolodzieczak who finished expertly into the top corner after Ever Banega sucked the Athletic goalkeeper out of net.

Iborra finished off a wonderful move from Kevin Gameiro, who tap-danced across the top of the box before threading a ball through three defenders to a streaking Iborra who ended up one-on-one Athletic goalkeeper Iago Herrerin. The win is the first of the entire season for Sevilla on the road in any competition outside of the Spanish Cup.

Villarreal 2-1 Sparta Prague

The home side dominated for much of the game, scoring three minutes through Cedric Bakambu in and should have had a few more, but the Czechs came back to even it up deep into first-half injury time as Jakub Brabec used his head to redirect a corner into the back of the net.

Roberto Soldado was a force up front, and Bakambu picked up his brace just past the hour mark on a layoff from Denis Suarez which Bakambu buried into the top corner. It’s the third brace in Europa League play this season from Bakambu, the first time that’s happened in four years.

Braga 1-2 Shakhtar Donetsk

The heavy favorites put themselves in good position after away goals from Yaroslav Rakitskiy and Facundo Ferreyra sent them through. The Ukranians weathered 20 shots from Braga – six on target – until the final few minutes when they conceded a header from Eduardo to give the home side a lifeline in the quarterfinal.