The Europa League returned on Thursday for Group Stage matchday 3 and moves were made around the groups from top to bottom.
There were two Premier League teams in play as Arsenal and Chelsea both triumphed in their contests. The Gunners had the tougher task on the road in Portugal against Sporting CP, and came away with all three points thanks to Danny Welbeck‘s 77th minute goal. Arsenal was the better side throughout the match and was rewarded 13 minutes from time on the break to earn its 11th straight win across all competitions.
[ FULL RECAP: Arsenal tops Sporting CP 1-0 ]
Chelsea, meanwhile, also picked up an important win, defeating BATE Borisov 3-1 behind a hat-trick from Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Making just his second start of the season – both in Europa League play – the 22-year-old was sensational, scoring his first two goals both inside the opening 10 minutes, and capping things off in the second half. His first was hit with authority just two minutes into the game, showing up unmarked in the box near the penalty spot and crashing Davide Zappacosta‘s cross into the far corner.
For the second, he poked in a corner in the 8th minute, beating Olivier Giroud to the ball to put a wry smile on his teammate’s face. Just before the hour mark, Loftus-Cheek completed the milestone with the best of the three, a low whipped shot tucked inside the far post.
The win moves Chelsea further clear at the top of the table with nine points, six clear of anyone else as all three other teams are level with three points each.
French side Marseille slumped to a 3-1 defeat to Serie A contenders Lazio as the visitors at the Orange Velodrome made the most of their chances, while the hosts did not. Lazio got off to a great start as Brazilian defender Wallace rose highest to meet a corner and head it into the back of the net just 10 minutes into the match. In the second half, Lazio doubled its lead on the hour mark with Felipe Cacideo there to finish off an absolutely delicious through-ball by Ciro Immobile. Dimitri Payet brought Marseille back with just four minutes to go with a wonderful free-kick, but it wasn’t enough as Adam Marusic finalized the scoreline with an outstanding finish.
Sevilla obliterated Turkish side Akhisar Belediyespor 6-0 on goals from five different finishers plus an own-goal to round things off.
AC Milan fell at home to Real Betis thanks to Giovani Lo Celso’s incredible left-footed curler for a 2-1 victory. The Argentinian is on loan from Paris Saint-Germain, and has been a wonderful addition to the Betis midfield. The Spanish side now leads Group F after its second victory in three matches.
The bevy of incredible goals continued as Ukranian side Dynamo Kiev went to France and topped Stade Rennais 2-1. Tomasz Kedziora ripped a rocket to give Kiev the early lead, and while Rennais would equalize just before halftime, the visitors would earn all three points in the 89th minute despite being reduced to 10 men just minutes before.
German side RB Leipzig topped Brendan Rodgers and Celtic 2-0 in Leipzig. Both goals were scored just four minutes apart soon after the half-hour mark. Celtic somehow allowed a cross to skip by 3 defenders and find Matheus Cunha with space to turn and shoot, opening the scoring in the 31st minute. Four minutes later, Bruma pounced on a loose ball in the box to double the lead and finish things off.
Bayer Leverkusen’s struggles continued as they fell 3-2 on the road at FC Zurich. The German side has just one win since September 26, coming over Cypriot club AEK Larnaca. Karim Belrabi scored a four-minute brace out of halftime to give his side the lead, but they collapsed and let Stephen Odey leak behind the defense on 78th minute breakaway for the winner.
Chelsea 3-1 BATE Borisov
Sporting CP 0-1 Arsenal
Marseille 1-3 Lazio
Sevilla 6-0 Akhisar Belediyespor
Stade Rennais 1-2 Dynamo Kiev
Villareal 5-0 Rapid Vienna
RB Leipzig 2-0 Celtic
FC Zurich 3-2 Bayer Leverkusen
Anderlecht 2-2 Fenerbahce
Rangers 0-0 Spartak Moscow
Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 Apollon Limassol
Besiktas 2-4 Racing Genk
F91 Dudelange 0-2 Olympiakos
Zenit St. Petersburg 2-1 Bordeaux
FC Spartak Trnava 1-2 Dinamo Zagreb
FK Qarabag 0-1 Vorskla
FC Salzburg 3-0 Rosenborg
FC Copenhagen 0-1 Slavia Prague
AEK Larnaca 1-1 Ludogorets Razgrad
Sarpsborg FK 1-1 Malmo FF
PAOK Salonika 0-2 Vidi