Europa League roundup: Juventus eliminates Fiorentina; Sevilla needs penalty kicks to see out rival Betis

Leave a comment

Real Betis earned a shock win last week at the Sanchez Pizjuan, its 2-0 lead after leg one of its Europa League Round of 16 matchup with rival Sevilla giving the verdiblancos hope a run in Europe could overshadow a relegation-destined campaign. But Gabriel Calderón’s team is ultimately a 20th place side, which made Sevilla’s comeback today at the Estadio Benito Villamarín less remarkable than expected. After 90 minutes of the second Seville derby in eight days, the visitors had forced extra time with their own 2-0 result.

Thirty minutes later, the teams’ quarterfinals fates would be decided by penalty kicks. After Vitolo opened with a miss for Sevilla, each team make their next three, leaving Alfred N’Diaye’s miss to bring the rojiblancos even at the end of the fourth round. A conversation from Ivan Rakitic followed by a miss from Nono sent Unai Emery’s side through.

Form may go out the window in derbies, but over 180 minutes, talent has a better chance of shining through. After one leg, Real Betis were on the verge of seeing its rivals out of Europe. Seven days later, they’re the ones on the outside looking in, no longer holding out hope Europa can offset their inevitable return to the second division.

Elsewhere:

  • Anzhi Makhachkala 0-0 (0-1) AZ Alkmaar – Aron Johannsson’s early penalty kick in leg one ends up sending last year’s Dutch Cup winners into Europa’s final eight.
  • Valencia 1-0 (4-0) Ludogrets – The Bulgarians’ three-goal loss at home sealed their fate, with Pace Alcácer’s second half score that the Mestalla confirming their ouster.
  • Viktoria Plzen 2-1 (3-5) Olympique Lyonnais – Bafetimbi Gomis’s goal just before half time put Lyon up four. It also cancelled out the Czech champions’ away goal. Goals near the hour from Daniel Kolár and Stanislav Teci made the final more respectable.
  • Benfica 2-2 (5-3) Tottenham Hotspur – Much like in Plzen, an early goal confirmed the first leg’s lopsided result. Nacer Chadli, however, tried to bring Spurs back with a late brace only to see Lima’s 95th minute penalty kick conversation see Tottenham out of Europe.
  • Fiorentina 0-1 (1-2) Juventus – A piece of free kick magic from Andrea Pirlo saw Juventus take the lead in the 71st minute, with the 10-man Viola left short-handed after Gonzalez Rodríguez’s 69th minute dismissal.
  • Napoli 2-2 (2-3) Porto – Second half goals from Nabil Ghilas and Ricardo Quaresma left Porto up two after Goran Pandev’s early opener. Needing three goals to go through, the partenopei would only get Duván Zapata’s stoppage time consolation.
  • Red Bull Salzburg 1-2 (1-2) Basel – Held scoreless in leg one, Basel saw Marek Suchy sent off in the ninth minute. Soon after, Jonathan Soriano gave Red Bull a 1-0 lead. In the second half, though, a 10-man Basel saw Marco Streller score the decisive goal in the 50th minute, with Gaston Sauro adding insurance 10 minutes later.

After slow start, Belgium takes care of business against feisty Panama

Getty Images
Leave a comment

All it took was one goal to bring Belgium to life.

Following a frustrating first 45 minutes, in which Belgium put a pair of shots into the side netting and forced saves from Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, Dries Mertens 47th minute goal opened the floodgates, as Belgium went on to defeat Panama, 3-0, Monday afternoon in Sochi.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

But Panama never made it easy for the Belgians. From the opening whistle the CONCACAF nation showed its incredible spirit, chasing down Belgium all across the field and making life incredibly difficult for Belgium attackers Romelu Lukaku, Mertens and Eden Hazard. Hazard was hacked down all over the field, and while he did earn fouls and a few yellow cards were issued to Panamanian players, it was enough to get in Hazard’s head.

Two minutes into the second half, everything changed. A wonderstrike from Mertens opened the game, and forced Panama to attack and try and tie the match, which gave Hazard, de Bruyne and Lukaku more space to operate.

In the heat and humidity of the Sochi summer, Panama’s veteran defense began to tire, allowing de Bruyne the space to deliver a terrific assist to Lukaku in the box, putting Belgium up 2-0 in the 69th minute.

 

Six minutes later, Lukaku was put through on the break, chipping over Penedo to confirm the victory.

With the win, Belgium moves to the top of Group G. Up next for Belgium is Tunisia on Saturday, while Panama takes on England on Sunday.

VIDEO: de Bruyne delivers gorgeous assist on Lukaku goal

Getty Images
Leave a comment

It took a little bit of patience, but Romelu Lukaku finally got on the scoresheet at the 2018 World Cup, thanks to a delicious assist from crosstown club rival Kevin De Bruyne.

The Manchester City playmaker delivered a spectacular outside-of-the-boot cross into the box, where Lukaku’s head met it and guided it towards the far post for Belgium’s second goal of the day.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Arsenal close in on Leno; Man City near Jorginho signing, and more

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Arsenal looks like it will have a new man between the pipes for next season.

According to a report from German publication SportBild, Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno will be introduced as an Arsenal player on Tuesday, after a reported $23-29 million transfer fee. The 26-year-old was on Germany’s 35-man pre-World Cup squad, but was one of the last cuts as Joachim Low went with Manuel Neuer, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Kevin Trapp in Russia.

Leno became the full-time starter for Leverkusen as a 20-year-old, and has held the position of the No. 1 for the last six seasons, earning plenty of Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League experience along the way.

It’s unclear what will happen to current Arsenal No. 1 Petr Cech. The 36-year-old Premier League legend experienced one of his worst seasons in net for Arsenal and he could begin the season as a backup, unless he moves to a new club. He reportedly has a contract through 2019.

Here’s some more transfer rumors from around the Premier League and Europe.

(more…)

VIDEO: Mertens scores wonderstrike for Belgium

Getty Images
Leave a comment

After a frustrating 45 minutes, it took only two minutes for Belgium to finally get on the board, even if it was a goal sprinkled with magic dust.

Off a partially cleared ball on the right side of the box, Belgium attacker Dries Mertens whalloped a shot that arced over Panama (and former LA Galaxy) goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, giving Belgium a 1-0 lead.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ]