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Europa League: Zenit, RB Leipzig squeak through; Burnley and Basel out

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The final 13 places in the Europa League group stage have been decided as the playoff round is now at an end.

Burnley’s Europa League campaign came to a finish as Sean Dyche‘s men were unable to overcome a first leg deficit, falling to Olympiakos on a 1-1 draw that led to a 4-2 aggregate scoreline. The Clarets put their best foot forward on Thursday, pounding the Greek side with eight shots in the first half, five more than they attempted all of the first leg. Unfortunately, it didn’t lead to anything tangible, and despite each team bagging goals in the final five minutes, it wasn’t enough for Burnley to advance. A visitor was there to watch the action:

Scottish giants Celtic left no doubt as they topped Lithuanian side FK Suduva 3-0 for a 4-1 aggregate decision. Leigh Griffiths, Callum McGregor, and Kristoffer Ajer all ended up on the scoresheet in the win.

Zenit St. Petersburg backed into the group stage despite a 2-1 road loss to Norwegian side Molde, leaning on their 3-1 first leg victory which propelled them to a 4-3 aggregate win. Daler Kuzyayev bagged the deciding goal in the 21st minute, and while Molde produced a spirited comeback, they fell a goal short.

German club RB Leipzig eeked through on a 3-1 win that gave them a 3-2 aggregate victory over Ukranian club Zorya Luhansk, with the winning goal coming on a penalty in the 90th minute. Emil Forsberg delivered the blow from the spot to send them through, overcoming a situation that would have seen them out on away goals following a 1-0 first leg loss in Ukraine.

Steven Gerrard‘s Rangers also barely squeaked through into the group stage after a 1-1 road draw at Russian club FC Ufa that gave them a 2-1 aggregate win. 20-year old Ovie Ejaria scored nine minutes in, but the end was incredibly nervy after Alfredo Morales and former Liverpool youngster Jon Flanagan were both sent off, leaving Rangers two men down for nearly the final half-hour.

Basel was bounced by Cypriot club Apollon Limassol on away goals after a 1-0 road loss in the second leg doomed them to a 3-3 aggregate. The Swiss club’s elimination is notable as it is the first time in a whopping 17 years that Basel has not reached the group stage of either the Champions League or the Europa League.

French side Bordeaux overcame a first-leg 0-0 draw to advance on a 2-0 home win over Belgian club KAA Gent. 22-year-old Francois Kamano scored the eventual decider in just the 10th minute, while Jimmy Briand added the insurance strike from the spot after the hour mark.

Other results (aggregate winner in bold)

Ludogorets Razgrad 4-0 Torpedo Kutaisi
Qarabag 3-0 Sheriff Tiraspol
CFR Cluj-Napoca 2-3 F91 Dudelange
FC Astana 1-0 Apoel Nicosia (penalties)
FC Midtjylland 0-2 Malmo
FC Copenhagen 
0-0 Atalanta (penalties)
Besiktas 3-0 Partizan Belgrade
KF Shkëndija 0-2 Rosenborg
Bronby 2-4 Racing Genk
FC Spartak Trnava 1-1 Olimpija Ljubljana
FCSB 2-1 Rapid Vienna
AEK Larnaca 3-0 AS Trencin
Maccabi Tel Aviv 2-1 Sarpsborg FK

Josef Martinez scores 2 more in win, including sensational solo work

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Josef Martinez scored his 25th and 26th goals of the MLS season, and if he challenges his MLS record of 31, he may also stare down soccer royalty.

The Venezuelan striker scored two more on Wednesday in a 2-0 defeat of FC Cincinnati in Ohio to give him goals in 15-straight league contests.

He now has 76 goals in 80 MLS games, which is good.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

On the season, he’s six goals shy of matching the Major League Soccer record he set with last season’s 31 regular season goals.

According to MLSSoccer.com, he’s six games shy of tying Lionel Messi’s world record for consecutive league matches with a goal.

Even that’s a little tricky: Messi scored in 21-straight games in which he was eligible for selection, but 19-straight before missing two matches for injury. In that remarkable run of 21, he also had a run of six-straight braces.

It’s not really worth it to attempt to compare the two streaks: If Martinez gets to 21 (or even 19), it’s amazing stuff and worth celebrating on a worldwide level. Everyone has a bad game every now and again, but Martinez still finds the score sheet in ’em.

Look at the magician’s tricks he used for this one, including a back heel first touch and two freeze-frame cut moves. That’s not even mentioning the finish.

USWNT announces final matches of World Cup-winning year

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CHICAGO (AP) The Women’s World Cup champion U.S. team will wrap up 2019 with matches against Sweden and Costa Rica.

U.S. Soccer announced Wednesday that the U.S. will face Sweden in Columbus, Ohio, on Nov. 7 and Costa Rica in Jacksonville, Florida, on Nov. 10.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

The team is wrapping up its World Cup victory tour next month with matches against South Korea on Oct. 3 in Charlotte, North Carolina, and on Oct. 6 in Chicago.

Coach Jill Ellis is stepping down following the match in Chicago after leading the team to a pair of consecutive World Cup titles.

The United States is 15-1-2 this year and currently riding a 14-game winning streak.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Report: Mane to get big raise, Liverpool contract through 2025

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Liverpool’s Senegalese sensation looks set to stay at Anfield deep into his 30s.

Sadio Mane is in talks with the Reds hierarchy over a new deal that will run through 2024-25, and pay him more than $15 million per season.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

Mane, 27, currently has a deal through 2023, but surely wouldn’t mind a raise. And Liverpool will be happy to tie him down on Merseyside a bit longer.

He’s scored six times in seven matches this season, also grabbing an assist. That’s on a better pace than his 26 goals and five assists over 50 appearances in 2018/19.

Mane has 70 Premier League goals at the moment. Do you tip him to eclipse 100 while still at Anfield? 125?

Europa League preview: Man Utd, Wolves, Arsenal begin group stage

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The Europa League begins its group stage on Thursday, with the three Premier League combatants taking on clubs from Kazakhstan, Portugal and Germany.

Manchester United’s kids are gonna get some playing time when Astana visits Old Trafford on Wednesday.

Teenager Mason Greenwood and 21-year-old Axel Tuanzebe will start, and Sergio Romero will be between the sticks.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

And the Manchester Evening News notes that Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes could also start at Old Trafford, meaning the veterans in the fray will be quite important.

Enter Fred, the forgotten $68 million man from Shaktar Donetsk. The 23 minutes he played last week versus Leicester City account for his lone time on the pitch this season.

Here’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer:

“I’m sure we’ll see more and more of Fred. We spoke about it earlier, he’s had some great games in midfield with Scott against PSG and Arsenal, for example, and we’re just waiting for that to flourish.”

Fred had an odd record under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last season, barely in the squad when the team started hot but trusted against PSG and Barcelona in the Champions League.

Speaking of little-used midfielders, Arsenal boss Unai Emery is getting a little grief for leaving Mesut Ozil behind for the Gunners’ trip to Germany for a big match with Eintracht Frankfurt.

Ozil made his first start of the season in Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Watford at the weekend, playing 71 minutes and departing with the club up 2-1.

So why not even bring him abroad? Rest.

“Because we are going to play another match on Sunday,” Emery said, via The London Evening Standard. “My decision is because he played and also I’m thinking tomorrow the focus and the first 11 and after that I decided who are the players who can be the best for tomorrow and also the players not and that is Sokratis and Mesut.”

Sokrastis Papastathopoulos is also out, having played a big role in the embarrassing performance at Watford.

There have been tough times for Wolves as well, who sit in the relegation zone after five matches of the Premier League season.

They’ve been quite good in Europa League, though, dispatching a pair of minnows before winning both legs against Serie A side Torino.

Why the inconsistency? It’s not fixture congestion, according to Ruben Neves:

“I don’t think fatigue has anything to do with it, Neves said, via The Birmingham Mail. “We’re all top players, we’re used to it, we’re used to playing a lot of games in quick succession. I don’t think the Europa League has (anything) to do with our position in the Premier League. Obviously, we haven’t had the start that we’ve wanted, but it’s been a beautiful journey into the Europa League. This is a historic moment for Wolves and we’re going to do our best in this competition.”

Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men are in Portugal to meet Braga, one of three tricky opponents in Besiktas and Slovan Bratislava.

Full slate

12:55 p.m. ET
CFR Cluj v. Lazio
LASK v. Rosenborg
Getafe v. Trabzonspor
PSV Eindhoven v. Sporting Lisbon
Basel v. Krasnodar
APOEL Nicosia v. Dudelange
Copenhagen v. Lugano
Standard Liege v. Vitoria SC
Qarabag v. Sevilla
Eintracht Frankfurt v. Arsenal
Rennes v. Celtic
Dynamo Kiev v. Malmo

3 p.m. ET
Wolfsburg v. Oleksandriya
Espanyol v. Ferencvaros
Rangers v. Feyenoord
Porto v. Young Boys
Slovan Bratislava v. Besiktas
Borussia Monchengladbach v. Wolfsberg
Partizan v. AZ Alkmaar
AS Roma v. Istanbul Basaksehir
Gent v. Saint-Etienne
Manchester United v. Astana
Wolves v. Braga
Ludogorets Razgrad v. CSKA Moscow