UEFA Europa League roundup: Spurs stumble to victory, Everton cruise to cusp of advancing

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It was a Greek adventure to forget for Tottenham Hotspur on Thursday as Mauricio Pochettino’s side struggled their way to a 2-1 victory — and a share of the top spot in Group C — with a 2-1 victory away to Asteras Tripolis.

Pochettino changed nine of 11 starters from the team that came back to defeat Aston Villa last weekend, and Spurs’ lack of cohesion showed early on. Not until Andros Townsend was awarded a penalty kick in the 36th minute did Asteras ever look in any serious trouble.

Spurs’ purple patch ran another 10 minutes as Harry Kane furthered his case for inclusion in a Premier League starting lineup by scoring Spurs’ second in the 42nd minute. The 21-year-old leaped over an Asteras defender to head home a cross from Townsend and Spurs looked to be on their way to a comfortable victory.

[ MORE: UEFA Champions League roundup – Tuesday ]

But, as is the recurring theme with Spurs, things weren’t as easy as they first seemed. Federico Fazio’s second red card in seven Tottenham appearances gave away a penalty and gave Asteras a glimmer of hope as Jeronimo Barrales converted to pull a goal back in the 90th minute.

Elsewhere…

Meanwhile, Everton continued their somewhat confusing 2014-15 campaign which sees them currently struggling to a 9th-place standing in the Premier League, but sitting all alone atop Group H in the Europa League, thanks to a 3-0 home victory over Ligue 1 side Lille on Thursday.

Roberto Martinez‘s side got off to a flying start when recently Leon Osman coolly finished what was initially an overhit cross by Aiden McGeady in the 27th minute. Phil Jagielka doubled Everton’s lead shortly before halftime with a perfectly executed diving header to send home a McGeady corner kick.

Steven Naismith scored one of the day’s better goals, though, in the 61st minute when he settled a wayward Leighton Baines cross, dug the ball out from underneath himself and rifled a finish into the top corner.

[ MORE: UEFA Champions League roundup – Wednesday ]

US national team defender Fabian Johnson played 90 minutes at right back — his position of the month, as chosen by Jurgen Klinsmann during the World Cup — in Borussia Monchengladbach‘s 2-0 victory away to Apollon Limassol. Gladbach lead Group A by a point thanks to next matchday’s opponent Villarreal, who fell to FC Zurich on Thursday, 3-2, setting up a duel for the group’s top spot on Nov. 27.

Last year’s winners, Sevilla, enjoyed a 3-1 victory over Belgian side Standard Liege which sees the Spaniards stay two points clear of the pack in Group G, needing only a victory over second-place Feyenoord next matchday to secure passage in the knockout rounds.

Other scores

FK Karabakh 1-2 Dnipro Dnipropretrovsk
Dinamo Moscow 1-0 Estoril Praia
Panathinaikos 2-3 PSV Eindhoven
Saint Etienne 1-1 Inter Milan
HJK Helsinki 2-1 Torino
FC Copenhagen 0-4 Club Brugge
Besiktas 2-1 Partizan Belgrade
Astra Giurgiu 1-1 Celtic
Dinamo Zagreb 1-5 Red Bull Salzburg
Feyenoord HNK 2-0 Rijeka
Wolfsburg 5-1 Krasnodar
Sparta Prague 4-0 Slovan Bratislava
Napoli 3-0 BSC Young Boys
Dynamo Kyiv 2-0 Aalborg BK
Rio Ave 2-2 Steaua Bucharest
Guingamp 2-0 Dinamo Minsk
Fiorentina 1-1 PAOK Salonika
Lokeren 1-1 Trabzonspor
Legia Warsaw 2-1 Metalist Kharkiv