UEFA Europa League

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Europa League roundup: Everton, Milan move on

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Everton, AC Milan, and Marseille were among the name sides to avoid stumbling before the playoff round of the UEFA Europa League.

PSV Eindhoven, Freiburg, Gent, and Aberdeen? Not-so-much.

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The playoff round draw is Friday morning.

Milan 2-0 (3-0 agg.) Craiova

Giacomo Bonaventura gave the hosts a great exhalation with his ninth minute goal, and Patrick Cutrone scored his first Milan goal in the 52nd minute to help i Rossoneri waltz into the playoff round, its first European win since March 2014.

Ruzomberok 0-1 (0-2 agg.) Everton

Leading by one after the first leg, Ronald Koeman‘s men held firm at the back and youngster Dominic Calvert-Lewin came off the bench to give the Premier Leaguers breathing room and a spot in the UEFA Europa League playoffs, where they’ll be a seeded side and avoid most of the big names (Marseille, Milan, Ajax, Athletic Bilbao, Zenit Saint Petersburg).

Full scoreboard
Sion 1-1 (1-4) Suduva — Weds.
AEL 1-2 (1-2) Austria Wien — Weds.
Dinamo Minsk 1-1 (1-3) AEK Larnaca
Shkendija 3-0 (4-2) Trakai
Odd 0-0 (1-2) Dinamo Zagreb
Zenit Saint Petersburg 0-1 (2-1) Bnei Yehuda
Sparta Prague 0-1 (0-3) Crvena Zvezda
Apollon 2-0 (3-2) Aberdeen
Olexandriya 1-0 (1-0) Astra
Videoton 1-0 (2-2) Videoton
Gabala 1-2 (1-3) Panathinaikos
Fola 1-2 (1-3) Ostersund
Fenerbahce 1-1 (3-2) Sturm
Lyngby 1-3 (2-5) Krasnodar
Maritimo 2-0 (2-0) Botev Plovdiv
PAOK 2-0 (3-1) Olimpik Donetsk
Skenderbeu 2-1 (3-3, 4-2 on PKs) Mlada Boleslav
Lech 2-2 (2-2) Utrecht
Altach 3-1 (4-2) Gent
Hajduk Split 2-0 (2-0) Brondby
Midtjylland 2-1 (4-4) Arka
Oostende 0-0 (2-4) Marseille
Athletic Bilbao 3-0 (4-1) Dinamo Bucharest
Osijek 1-0 (2-0) PSV Eindhoven
Panionios 0-1 (0-2) Maccabi Tel-Aviv
Domzale 2-0 (2-1) Freiburg
Braga 2-1 et (3-2) AIK

LIVE – Everton in Europa League action

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Everton take a slender lend to Slovakia as Ronald Koeman‘s men square off against minnows MFK Ruzomberok on Thursday.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores ]

Leighton Baines‘ deflected effort is all that separates the teams following the first leg of their UEFA Europa League third-qualifying round first leg at Goodison Park last Thursday.

Koeman will be hoping for a much more fluid display from his attackers in the second leg as the Toffees aim to move one step closer to reaching the Europa League group stage.

[ MORE: Third qualifying round, first leg recap

Elsewhere there are plenty of European giants with a lot of work to do to reach the playoff round with AC Milan only 1-0 up against CSU Craiova after the first leg of their encounter, Athletic Bilbao is locked at 1-1 with Dinamo Bucharest ahead of the second leg at the San Mames on Thursday, while PSV Eindhoven trail Croatia’s Osijek 1-0 after a shock first-leg defeat in Holland last week.

Everton’s trip to the tiny northern Slovakian town of Ruzomberok kicks off at 2:45 p.m. ET and you can follow all the action from Slovakia, and around Europe, by clicking on the link above.

UEFA Europa League wrap: Everton, Milan, Marseille take leads

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Lone Premier League contestants Everton controlled proceedings at home but had trouble finding the finishing touch, while Milan and Marseille got goals from summer signings to nab wins of their own in the first legs of the UEFA Europa League’s third qualifying round on Thursday

[ MORE: Mendy a doubt for PL opener ]

All but two of the second legs will be held Aug. 3, with Sion-Suduva and AEL Limassol-Austria Wien the previous day.

Everton 1-0 MFK Ruzomberok

For over an hour, Everton had better than 70 percent possession at Goodison Park and nothing to show for it. But Leighton Baines‘ 65th minute rip deflected home to give the Toffees a deserved lead over its Slovakian opposition ahead of next week’s match in Ruzomberok.

Everton finished the match with a 20-8 edge in shots and 72 percent possession.

CSU Craiova 0-1 AC Milan

New Milan man Ricardo Rodriguez bagged a 44th minute free kick to give the free-spending Rossoneri a notable start to life in the UEL.

Marseille 4-2 KV Oostende

Valere Germain’s move from Monaco to Marseille is paying big dividends already, with French striker helping himself to a hat trick at his new home stadium.

UEFA Europa League first legs
Mlada Boleslav 2-1 Skenderbeu Korce
Trakai 2-1 FK Shkendija
Olimpia Donetsk 1-1 PAOK
Maccabi Tel-Aviv 1-0 Panionios
Utrecht 0-0 Lech Poznan
AIK 1-1 Sporting Braga
PSV Eindhoven 0-1 Osijek
SK Sturm Graz 1-2 Fenerbahce
Suduva 3-0 Sion
Krasnodar 2-1 Lyngby BK
AEK Lamaca 2-0 Dinamo Minsk
Dinamo Bucuresti 1-1 Athletic Bilbao
Botev Plovdiv 0-0 Maritimo
Bnei Yehuda 0-2 Zenit St. Petersburg
Astra Giurgiu 0-0 Oleksandriya
Brondby 0-0 Hajduk Split
Arka Gdynia 3-2 Midtjylland
Gent 1-1 Rheindorf Altach
Red Star Belgrade 2-0 Sparta Prague
Panathinaikos 1-0 Gabala
Bordeaux 2-1 Videoton
Aberdeen 2-1 Apollon Limassol
Dinamo Zagreb 2-1 Odd Grenland
Freiburg 1-0 Domzale
Austria Wien 0-0 AEL Limassol

LIVE – Everton kick off Europa League campaign

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Wayne Rooney will play his first competitive game for Everton in 13 years.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores

That storyline will dominate Everton’s return to Europe as they kick off their 2017-18 UEFA Europa League campaign in front of a packed house at Goodison Park on Thursday.

The Toffees welcome Slovakian side MFK Ruzomberok for the first leg of the third qualifying round as they aim to make it back to the group stage for the first time since 2014-15.

Click on the link above to follow not only Everton’s game but all of the Europa League qualifiers going on across Europe this afternoon with the likes of AC Milan, Fenerbache, PSV, Marseille and Athletic Bilbao all in action.

If Ronald Koeman‘s side successfully navigate their way past Ruzomberok then they will be in the play-off round which is the final hurdle before the group stage.

UEFA Europa League Final preview: Manchester United vs. Ajax

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Jose Mourinho’s big European gamble takes center stage on Wednesday in Sweden, when Manchester United attempts to topple young Ajax in the UEFA Europa League Final.

United’s chances for UEFA Champions League qualification, a magnificent opportunity, are overshadowed by the pall cast over Manchester by sinister terrorist attacks at a pop concert that killed and injured many on Monday night.

Alas, there’s soccer to be played, and Mourinho is looking to make it a trio of shiny items in his first year on the job. United beat Leicester City for the Community Shield, then topped Southampton in the EFL Cup Final en route to Sweden.

United’s well-documented dearth of healthy defenders will march out one more time on Wednesday, with Chris Smalling and Phil Jones tasked with manning the center of the back line. Expect Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian out wide.

[ MORE: Full 2016-17 season reviews

Despite the injury to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Mourinho’s attack is going to give Ajax fits. Marcus Rashford has been next level for most of the second half of the season, and United will also likely feature Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba atop Ander Herrera.

If someone is going to break United down, it could be midfield wizards Davy Klaassen and Lasse Schone. The creative middle men have a variety of options to find with the ball, including on-loan Chelsea man Bertrand Traore and Danish teenager Kasper Dolberg.

But how will they deal with United’s attack? Sure Ajax has stopped Lyon, Schalke, Copenhagen, and Legia Warsaw, but United and Mourinho? That’s another challenge for Peter Bosz and his men.

Ajax won the 1992 UEFA Cup, and this is United’s first ever trip to this particular final. The Red Devils are heavy favorites, and we expect United to prevail. Don’t sleep on Juan Mata heroics. Call it 3-1.