Getty Images

Europa League: Chelsea rolls, Lazio tops Marseille, Milan falls

Leave a comment

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.

Full results

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

Europa League Wrap: Chelsea, Arsenal, Milan all win, Celtic loses in Austria

Getty Images
Leave a comment

It was a packed day of Europa League action, with more than five hours of coverage. Let’s summarize what we learned after Matchday 2.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]


Chelsea 1-0 Vidi FC

Alvaro Morata finally broke his goal duck, scoring for the first time in six weeks as Chelsea overcame Vidi FC, 1-0 at Stamford Bridge.

Morata’s clinical finish, stabbing a strike home at the near post off a Willian header, was thanks to a wonderful cross into the box by Cesc Fabregas and creative wide play from substitutes Ross Barkley and Eden Hazard. The Chelsea pair drew four defenders out of the box, opening space for both Willian and Morata.

With the win, Chelsea sits at the top of Group  L with six points from two matches.


Apollon Limassol 2-2 Marseille

Emilio Zelaya’s stoppage time chip canceled out a 2-0 lead by Marseille on the road as Limassol secured a massive point in the Europa League. The 2-2 result came in spite of a pair of terrific Marseille goals, first from Dimitri Payet on a maze-like run and second from former Brazil international Luiz Gustavo.


Red Bull Salzburg 3-1 Celtic

Despite a second-minute goal, Red Bull Salzburg emerged victorious after 90 minutes over Celtic. Israeli international Munas Dabbur scored twice for the hosts in the second half, canceling out Odsonne Edouard’s solo goal just over 90 seconds into the match. With the defeat, Celtic move into third place, tied with RB Leipzig on three points but below the German club on goal differential.

Scoreboard

Bayer Leverkusen 4-2 AEK Larnaca

Zurich 1-0 Ludogorets

Rosenborg 1-3 RB Leipzig

Red Bull Salzburg 3-1 Celtic

Bordeaux 1-2 FC Copenhagen

FC Zenit 1-0 Slavia Prague

Anderlecht 0-2 Dinamo Zagreb

Fenerbahce 2-0 Spartak Trnava

Qarabag 0-3 Arsenal

Vorskla 1-2 Sporting Lisbon

Milan 3-1 Olympiacos

Betis 3-0 Dudelange

Rangers 3-1 Rapid Wien

Spartak Moscow 3-3 Villarreal

Apollon Limassol 2-2 Marseille

Eintracht Frankfurt 4-1 Lazio

Malmo 2-0 Besiktas

Sarpsborg 3-1 Genk

Krasnodar 2-1 Sevilla [Game-Winning Bicycle Kick]

Standard Liege 2-1 Akhisarspor

Astana 2-0 Rennes

Jablonec 2-2 Dynamo Kiev

BATE 1-4 PAOK

Chelsea 1-0 Vidi FC

VAR paves way for Marseille’s 4-0 victory in season opener

Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images
Leave a comment

PARIS (AP) Marseille crushed Toulouse 4-0 on Friday as the French league season opened with a video assistant refereeing (VAR) decision leading to the first goal.

Attacking midfielder Dimitri Payet scored in each half, with his penalty on the stroke of halftime awarded after a video review. Striker Valere Germain added a third goal, while winger Florian Thauvin struck two minutes into injury time.

[ RECAP: Man Utd 2-1 Leicester City ]

Alerted by VAR officials that defender Kelvin Amian had blocked a cross with his hand, Ruddy Buquet checked the images. Having initially signaled a corner, the referee changed his mind and pointed to the spot.

Payet, who missed France’s World Cup title victory last month after being injured in the Europa League final, sent goalkeeper Baptiste Reynet the wrong way.

He netted again in the 62nd minute with a neat volley after Reynet had blocked Bouna Sarr’s angled shot.

“The ball came to me quickly, I just tried to guide it in,” Payet told Canal Plus television. “The end of last season was quite hard for me … so I just want to enjoy myself and start the season well.”

Payet completely controlled the game and sent Germain clean through with a defense-splitting pass in the 75th minute but Reynet saved well.

Payet got an ovation from the Stade Velodrome crowd when he was replaced by Thauvin – a member of France’s World Cup squad – in the 82nd minute.

Germain then expertly controlled midfielder Morgan Sanson’s pass and curled the ball past Reynet in the 89th minute before Thauvin skillfully flicked the ball up with his heel and slotted in from close range to complete the rout.

Marseille finished fourth last season and missed out on a Champions League playoff spot by one point.

Jerome Pugmire is at http://www.twitter.com/jeromepugmire

Neymar limps out of Brazil training

AP Photo/Andre Penner
1 Comment

Having drawn against Switzerland in its opener, Brazil now faces renewed concerns over the health of its megastar forward.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Neymar’s right foot was “still not 100 percent” when he took the field for the 1-1 draw on Sunday, and the 26-year-old left practice early two days later.

He missed nearly three months after fracturing his foot for PSG under pressure by Marseille’s Dimitri Payet, but returned to score for Brazil in friendly defeats of Croatia and Austria. Neymar has 55 goals in 85 caps.

Neymar was favoring his right foot as he limped off the pitch, two days after being fouled 10 times against Switzerland. Fox reports that Neymar will be fine to practice on Wednesday, but the situation bears close observation.

Neymar was injured in the 2014 World Cup quarterfinals when Juan Zuniga kneed him in the back.

Atletico Madrid wins third Europa League title

AP Photo/Christophe Ena
Leave a comment

A Frenchman ended the silverware dreams of a French power.

Antoine Griezmann’s brace, both assisted by Koke, led Atletico Madrid past Marseille 3-0, claiming the UEFA Europa League title on Wednesday in Lyon.

It’s the third Europa League crown for Atleti, and for Diego Simeone (two as Atleti manager, and one as Inter Milan player).

Gabi also scored for Atleti.

[ MORE: The Premier League season in statistics ]

Valere Germain was played through on goal very early, but missed his chance to give Marseille the lead.

The miss stung soon after, when Steve Mandanda made a poor clearance. Koke hit it to Griezmann first time, and the Atleti striker scored in his home country.

Marseille lost Dimitri Payet to an injury soon after the half-hour mark.

And Griezmann made it 2-0 before the second half was four minutes old, taking another Koke through ball and flicking over a diving Mandanda.

Kostas Mitroglou subbed into the game for Marseille and headed off the frame in the Ligue 1 side’s best chance to get back into the hunt.