At halftime: Kolasinic own goal hands Argentina early 1-0 lead – FOLLOW LIVE

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Story of the half: A third minute own goal by Sead Kolasinic gave Argentina the 1-0 lead but Bosnia & Herzegovina then settled in, controlling large portions of the match.

With a five man back line, Argentina should be getting more action from their wing backs but Marcos Rojo and Pablo Zabaleta have found their attacks foiled by strong defensive displays by Bosnia & Herzegovina. In fact, the better offensive displays have come from the wing play of B&H, who managed 12 first half crosses through the impressive Senad Lulic and Miralem Pjanic.

Lionel Messi & Co. have been stifled through the middle where B&H’s holding pair of Muhamed Besic and Izet Hajrovic have been strong, laying some thumping tackles. If the Barcelona man is to leave his mark on this game his second half approach will have to differ, meaning we could see him n more advanced positions and floating out on he wings.

Make no mistake about it though, B&H is still very much into this match. Could we see a second half double for the Dragons to do the impossible?

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Goals:

3′ – After Mensur Mujdza flew in on Sergio Aguero, fouling the Manchester City striker on the left side of the pitch, Lionel Messi stepped to the free kick from 30 yards out, sending in a lovely left-footed curling effort into the 6 yard box. Marcos Rojo rose above Emir Spahic to nick on to the far post, paralyzing Sead Kolasinic who’s left knee knocked the ball into his own net. Own goal.

Other key moments:

13′ – Zvjezdan Misimovic cutting up the middle of the pitch, skips by Javier Mascherano and provides a sensational ball over the top to Izet Hajrovic, who was unable to get by Argentine goalkeeper, Sergio Romero.

14′ – Misimovic again on the ball and working Mascherano, gets fouled for a free-kick from 25 yards out that Miralem Pjanic fires into the wall.

20′ – Pablo Zabaleta barrels down the right wing but it’s B&H left-back, Sead Kolasinac, flying in with a brilliant slide tackle the rips the ball of Zabaleta.

21′ – Messi skips through the midfield and into the box but Kolasinac isn’t fooled, laying a thumping tackle that gets all ball leaving the Barcelona man looking flustered.

32′ – Mascherano rips a right-footed shot from 25 yards out but it’s right at Asmir Begovic, who bats it down and out of the way.

33′ – Edin Dzeko gets his first touches on the ball but it’s a quick turn shot from 22 yards out that flies well over the bar.

41′ – Senad Lulic loses his man to win the corner and his near post header is sublimely saved by Romero, who tips the shot just wide of the post.

LINEUPS:

Argentina – Romero; Rojo, Garay, F. Fernandez, Campagnaro, Zabaleta; Di Maria, Mascherano, Rodriguez; Messi (c), Aguero.

Goals – Kolasinic (OG) 3′

Bosnia & Herzegovina – Begovic; Kolasinac, Spahic (c), Bicakcic, Mujdza; Besic, Hajrovic; Lulic, Misimovic, Pjanic; Dzeko.

Key players:

  • Zvjezdan Misimovic – The playmaker for B&H, he cut open Javier Mascherano on at least two occasions, playing lovely through balls to Izet Hajrovic and drawing fouls.
  • Sead Kolasinac – The 20-year-old left-back, who represented Germany youth level before rejecting a senior international career with Joachim Low’s side in order to accept a call-up from Bosnia-Herzegovin, conceded the own-goal but played well besides that, proving himself to be a no-nonsense, hard tackling defender, who shows little fear of Messi and Aguero.
  • Pablo Zabaleta – In Argentina’s 5-3-2 formation, Zabaleta is effectively playing as a right wing and while he’s getting forward the left side of B&H’s defense is proving difficult to unlock.
  • Lionel Messi – Having a lot of trouble through the center of the park with Kolasinac and holding midfielder Besic working hard to double up on him with every touch.

Numbers to know:

90% – Pass completion rate of Argentina, compared to 77% by Bosnia and Herzegovina.
243 – Number of total passes completed by Argentina
12 – Number of crosses by Bosnia and Herzegovina, compared to Argentina’s two.
3 – Minutes it took for Argentina to score the nation’s third quickest World Cup goal ever.

Questions for the second half:

  • Can Messi step up to the pressure? Messi has been unimpressive so far, struggling to create through the middle and finding himself in some tough tackles around the outside of the box. In the second half, he’ll need to find more space and create off the diagonals.
  • Can Bosnia and Herzegovina take their chances? The Dragons are not going to get in often on Argentina so when they do, they must take their chances. So far Hajrovic, Pjanic, Dzeko and Lulic have all had glimpses but only the latter really forced Romero to prove himself up to the task.

Who can Premier League clubs draw in Europa League?

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Group winners Arsenal and Manchester United will avoid a loaded batch of seeded teams, while runners-up Wolves can draw a bevy of powerful teams in the Europa League Round of 32.

Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo can find himself drawn against former club Porto, but also could have to match wits with Ajax’s Erik ten Hag, Inter Milan’s Antonio Conte, or Red Bull Salzburg’s Jesse Marsch.

[ MORE: Man Utd pounds AZ ]

Speaking of Marsch, the Salzburg boss could go from meeting Liverpool to squaring off with Steven Gerrard and Rangers.

Gerrard could also, of course, go up against hated playing days’ rival Manchester United.

Seeded teams
Ajax
Arsenal
Basel
Benfica
Braga
Celtic
Espanyol
Gent
Inter Milan
Istanbul Basaksehir
LASK
Malmo
Manchester United
Porto
Red Bull Salzburg
Sevilla

Unseeded teams
APOEL Nicosia
AZ Alkmaar
Bayer Leverkusen
Club Brugge
Copenhagen
CFR Cluj
Eintracht Frankfurt
Ludogorets Razgrad
Olympiacos
Rangers
Roma
Wolfsburg
Wolves
Shakhtar Donetsk
Sporting Lisbon

Who can Premier League teams draw in the Round of 32?

Arsenal: APOEL Nicosia, AZ Alkmaar, Bayer Leverkusen, Club Brugge, Copenhagen, CFR Cluj, Ludogorets Razgrad, Olympiacos, Rangers, Roma, Wolfsburg, Shakhtar Donetsk, Sporting Lisbon

Manchester United: APOEL Nicosia, Bayer Leverkusen, Club Brugge, Copenhagen, CFR Cluj, Eintracht Frankfurt, Ludogorets Razgrad, Olympiacos, Rangers, Roma, Wolfsburg, Shakhtar Donetsk, Sporting Lisbon

Wolves: Ajax, Basel, Benfica, Celtic, Espanyol, Gent, Inter Milan, Istanbul Basaksehir, LASK, Malmo, Porto, Red Bull Salzburg, Sevilla

Four-star Manchester United wins Europa League group

Manchester United Mata Greenwood
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Manchester United is in fine feather and showing it, smashing AZ Alkmaar in a stylish 4-0 win at Old Trafford in Europa League play on Thursday.

Juan Mata had a goal and set up two others, while Mason Greenwood scored twice after Ashley Young opened the scoring in a group-claiming victory.

[ MORE: Saka leads Arsenal comeback ]

United wins the group with 13 points, conceding just twice in six matches.

The Red Devils have won three-straight matches, as AZ joins Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur in the loss column. Up next is a Sunday visit from Everton in the Premier League before Wednesday’s League Cup quarterfinal visit from Colchester United.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer handed starts to James Garner, Brandon Williams, and Axel Tuanzebe, bringing youngsters Ethan Laird and Tahith Chong off the bench.

Greenwood, 18, now has six goals in 22 senior appearances, while Mata, 31, gets on the score sheet for the first time this season.

For his career, the award-winning Spaniard is doing okay, though: 125 goals and 149 assists in 542 senior appearances.

Ljungberg hails ‘amazing’ teen Saka after game-changing performance

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Arsenal phenom Bukayo Saka‘s big day spurred the Gunners to a top seed in the Europa League knockout rounds.

Arsenal went behind on two deflected goals in the second half’s first 25 minutes, but Saka answered with a goal and an assist in three minutes to take a point from Belgium in a 2-2 draw at Standard Liege.

[ RECAP, VIDEO: Standard Liege 2-2 Arsenal ]

Saka was at the heart of it of all good things Arsenal, the 18-year-old handed plenty of responsibility. despite his tender age.

“He was amazing,” said interim manager Freddie Ljungberg. “He was a bit upset with me before the game that he had to play wing-back and full-back. He’s a tremendous talent.”

Saka had four key passes to go with his goal and assist, winning six of eight duels while producing two tackles and an interception.

Ljungberg said Arsenal hasn’t sent its young players on loan enough, though that hardly applies to Saka given he was 17 until September.

The injured Gunners used Konstantinos Mavropanos, Emile Smith-Rowe, Joe Willock, and Reiss Nelson in the Starting XI, and brought Gabriel Martinelli off the bench.

“I feel sorry for our young players,” he said. “A lot of them haven’t been on loan, they’ve not had that exposure to men’s football. Some of them made mistakes but they’ll learn from those mistakes and won’t do them again.”

Smith-Rowe was loaned to RB Leipzig last season and Nelson starred on loan at Hoffenheim. Mavropanos played first team football for Greek Super League side PAS Giannina in his late teens.

Arsenal joins Premier League sides Wolves and Manchester United in the knockout rounds, having lost the Europa League final to rivals Chelsea at the end of last season.

The Gunners beat West Ham on Monday and host Manchester City at 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday.

Arsenal uses thrilling comeback to win Europa League group

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Nothing Arsenal-related is allowed to be easy, it seems.

The Gunners used a goal and an assist from Bukayo Saka to come back from a two-goal deficit and draw Standard Liege 2-2 in Belgium on Thursday, winning its Europa League group when Vitoria came back to beat Eintracht Frankfurt on a wild afternoon of soccer.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Arsenal trailed on second half goals from Samuel Bastien and Selim Amallah, but rallied behind Bukayo Saka and Alexandre Lacazette to score a second-straight win for interim boss Freddie Ljungberg.

Saka sent in a laser cross in the 78th minute and Lacazette did quite well to power it under the bar.

He’s loving this competition, having made a serious entrance earlier in the tournament versus Eintracht Frankfurt. The 18-year-old now has two goals and five assists across all competitions this season.

The Gunners needed just three more minutes to tie the score on a day they outshot the hosts 15-11.

Saka showed his nose for goal to tie the score five minutes later with a dribble to the top of the 18 and a sly finish to the keeper’s left.

This was all happening around the same time Vitoria scored twice in three minutes to take a 3-2 lead on Eintracht Frankfurt.

Standard Liege goes from the knockout rounds to nothing in a blink, while Eintracht goes from winning the group to second.

The field for the Europa League is looking fierce, with Inter Milan, Benfica, Ajax, Club Brugge, Olympiacos, Shakhtar Donetsk, Bayer Leverkusen, and Red Bull Salzburg joining the competition via transfer from the UEFA Champions League.

Arsenal joins Premier League sides Wolves and Manchester United in the knockout rounds, having lost the Europa League final to rivals Chelsea at the end of last season.

The Gunners beat West Ham on Monday and host Manchester City at 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday.