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Europa League: Rangers, Aberdeen, FCSB advance in first qualifying round

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The first qualifying round of the 2019/20 Europa League wrapped up Thursday as the competition pairs down teams en route to the group stage.

A couple of notable teams lived to see another day, including Steven Gerrard and Scottish side Rangers who passed its test with flying colors, hammering Gibraltar side St. Joseph’s 6-0 for a resounding 10-0 aggregate win. Jermaine Defoe scored a late brace but Colombian international Alfredo Morelos was the man of the hour, bagging a hat-trick including a stunning rabona at the doorstep that probably wasn’t necessary but still found the back of the net.

Fellow Scottish side Aberdeen who topped Finnish club Rovaniemen Palloseura – or RoPS – 2-1 for a 4-2 aggregate victory. English striker Sam Cosgrove put Aberdeen in front from the penalty spot in the 26th minute, and 19-year-old Scottish youth international Lewis Ferguson picked up the late game winner in the 94th minute with essentially the last kick of the game.

FCSB, previously known as Steaua Bucuresti, knocked off Moldovan club FC Milsami Orhei 2-1 for a 4-1 aggregate victory. FCSB, who finished second in the Romanian top flight last season, got the winning strike from 21-year-old Romanian youth international Razvan Oaida in the 42nd minute to give FCSB the victory.

Danish club Brondby advanced despite a 2-0 road loss, topping Finnish side FC Inter Turku 4-3 on aggregate thanks to their 4-1 victory in the first leg. Turku struck twice in quick succession after the break, scoring in the 52nd and 56th minutes, but it was too little too late.

Legia Warsaw shook off a 0-0 first leg draw and secured a 3-0 win over aptly-named Gibraltar side FC Europa. A brace from Spanish striker Carlitos led the way, with goals in the 7th minute and 60th minute to set the pace for the Polish side.

Irish club Shamrock Rovers advanced over Norwegian side SK Brann on a late winner by new signing Gary O'Neil who bagged an 87th minute strike to secure the 2-0 win and lead the Irish side through 4-3 on aggregate. O’Neil only just joined Shamrock Rovers from UCD this summer, and he came off the bench for the final 10 minutes and found the winner.

Swedish club Malmo, famous as Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s boyhood club, finished off Ballymena out of Northern Ireland 4-0 for a 11-0 aggregate bashing. Malmo featured four different goalscorers, including American international Romain Gall, who picked up his only international cap with a late bench appearances against Italy back in late 2018.

Croatian side Hajduk Split was upset by Maltese club Gzira United 3-1 at home, which gave the visitors the win on away goals after a 3-3 aggregate tie. Gzira striker Ben Hamed Kone struck for a pair, including the game – and matchup – winner in the 97th minute that sent the Maltese side through. The two goals were utterly spectacular, with the first coming in the 69th minute on a bicycle kick from all the way at the top of the box, while his second was a flick from nearly the same position that sent them through.

All Europa League scores (bold team advances)

Rangers 6-0 St. Joseph’s
Ballymena 0-4 Malmo FF
Legia Warsaw 
3-0 FC Europa
FC Milsami 1-2 FCSB
RoPS 1-2 Aberdeen
FC Inter Turku 2-0 Bronby
Apollon Limassol 
4-0 Kauno Zalgiris
Hapoel Be’er 1-0 KF Laci
Hajduk Split 1-3 Gzira United
Kilmarnock 0-2 Connah’s Quay
KR Reykjavik 0-0 Molde
Shamrock Rovers 
2-0 SK Brann
Hapoel Be’er 1-0 KF Laci
Tobol Kostanay 1-1 Jeunesse Eche 
FK Makedonija 0-3 Alashkert FC
Kairat Almaty
2-1 Siroki Brijeg
KS Teuta 1-0 FK Ventspils
FC Levadia Tallinn 3-2 Stjarnan
Rigas Futbola Skola 0-2 Olimpija Ljubljana
Universitatea Craiova 
3-2 Sabail
Dinamo Minsk 1-2 FK Liepaja
Levski Sofia 2-0 MFK Ruzomberok
Cracovia 2-2 Dunajska Streda
FC Vaduz 
2-1 Breidablik
Haugesund 5-1 Cliftonville
Neftchi 6-0 Speranta Nisporeni
Petrocub-Hincesti 0-1 AEK Larnaca
Torpedo Kutaisi 0-2 Ordabasy Shymkent
Zalgiris Vilnius 1-1 Honved
Zrinjski Mostar 
3-0 Akademija Pandev
Progres Niederkorn 1-2 Cork
UE Engordany 0-1 Dinamo Tbilisi
B36 Torshavn 2-3 Crusaders
FK Kukesi 1-1 Debrecen
Hibernians 0-1 Shakhter Soligorsk
IFK Norrkoping 
2-1 St. Patrick’s
NS Mura 2-3 Maccabi Haifa
Vidi 0-0 FK Zeta
FC Vitebsk 1-1 KuPS Kuopio
Shkupi 1-2 Pyunik
Buducnost Podgorica 4-0 JK Narva Trans
FC Spartak Trnava 2-0 Radnik Bijeljina
NK Domzale 1-0 Balzan FC
Radnicki Nis 2-2 Flora

Man City skates by West Ham in Premier League Asia Trophy

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Manchester City’s youth squad did the first-half job, which meant the heavy artillery coming off the bench was that much scarier. Man City came from behind to lead at halftime, and Raheem Sterling scored twice in the second half and the defending Premier League champions were no match for West Ham in a 4-1 victory in the semifinals of the Premier League Asia Trophy in Nanjing.

Pep Guardiola started a mostly second-choice lineup from the opening whistle, with David Silva and Aymeric Laporte the only true first-teamers in the squad. Claudio Bravo manned the net to begin, with new arrival Rodri also among the starters. West Ham’s lineup, meanwhile, was a strong one with Felipe Anderson, Mark Noble, Angelo Ogbonna, Jack Wilshere, Michail Antonio, and Manuel Lanzini all among a first-choice starting lineup.

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West Ham took the lead 25 minutes in through Noble who delivered from the penalty spot, but not without help from Felipe who was the star of the first half for the Hammers and won the penalty after sending Manchester City defender Angelino to the ground.

The lead didn’t last long as David Silva leveled things up in the 33rd minute, a wonderful start to his final season at Manchester City. He received a fabulous delivery from 18-year-old Spanish youth international Adrian Bernabe who rifled one to the far post where Silva was waiting, and the 33-year-old chested it down before unpacking a low finish from a tight angle.

City would go in front three minutes later as 20-year-old Man City youth product Lukas Nmecha won a soft penalty on a foul by Ogbonna, and the youngster took it himself and buried the spot-kick for the lead.

Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva and Leroy Sane all came on at halftime for the defending Premier League champions, while West Ham brought on the likes of Robert Snodgrass, Javier Hernandez, and Andriy Yarmolenko.

The changes for Manchester City overwhelmed West Ham, with Sane picking up a loose ball near the halfway line and feeding a beautiful pass through the back line to Sterling clean on goal who put City 3-1 up on the hour mark. That saw John Stones, Kyle Walker, Ilkay Gundogan and Oleksandr Zinchenko all come in off the bench for Pep Guardiola and into the fray.

The big three did it again in the 72nd minute as de Bruyne picked Carlos Sanchez’s pocket in the attacking third and fed Sane on the left. He sent it back to de Bruyne who layed it off for Sterling’s second goal of the match.

In squad notes, a pair of England youth internationals went the distance for Man City as Ian Poveda-Ocampo and Taylor Harwood-Bellis were the only two to complete the full 90 minutes. Notable for West Ham, Winston Reid came off the bench for the final 19 minutes, his first game action in over 16 months.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Trio chasing Dortmund youngster, Everton eyes Traore

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As teams motor towards preseason, front offices are hoping to wrap up deals to give the squad plenty of opportunities to gel rather than make late additions that are sometimes jarring to team chemistry. Still, there are holes to be filled and as dominoes fall, some moves affect others as the transfer window rolls on.

Borussia Dortmund has produced a stunning amount of young wingers who have gone on to become massive assets to the German side. First Christian Pulisic arrived and netted the club millions in a move to Chelsea this summer. He was pushed out by fellow teen winger Jadon Sancho who has turned into a valuable piece himself. Behind the England youngster is Danish youth international Jacob Bruun Larsen who broke into the first team setup last season alongside Sancho and made 24 Bundesliga appearances, scoring two goals and assisting two more.

According to English tabloids, Larsen is on the watch list of several Premier League clubs and, like Pulisic, could be considered expendable by the German side after the explosion of Sancho last season. Among others, the Daily Mail has linked Manchester United, Arsenal, and Liverpool to the 20-year-old who would cost somewhere in the region of $19 million, a relatively cheap price in a market that more and more values young talent more than anything.


French television program Telefoot reports that Everton is chasing former Chelsea winger Bertrand Traore who has spent the last two seasons at Lyon. The 23-year-old has come into his own in France, scoring 20 goals in 65 league appearances with Lyon.

According to the report, Traore would cost somewhere in the vicinity of $34 million, tripling Lyon’s investment two years ago when the brought Traore to France from Chelsea. That price could also increase should the three clubs find themselves in a bidding war. Traore could pair well with Richarlison, either playing on the left wing or through the middle.


Aston Villa is back in the Premier League after winning the Championship playoff, and now they look to strengthen the squad to prepare for a long stay in the top flight. One target mentioned is Bristol City defender Adam Webster who has been with his current club just one season after joining from Ipswich Town last summer.

Webster, 24 years old, started all but three of Bristol City’s league games last season and scored three goals. The Bristol Post report states that Villa has seen a $15 million bid rejected as the Championship club apparently holds out for an offer as high as $38 million, a strong position for a club in the second tier, but the new Premier League side feels they can negotiate that price down to meet somewhere in the middle.

Bristol City has sent a couple of players to the Premier League in the past few years, with Bobby Reid going to Cardiff City and Joe Bryan moving to Fulham both last summer.


According to Spanish publication El Dorsal, Newcastle is fearing the imminent departure of star attacker Ayoze Perez, who has been linked with moves to Spanish sides Valencia and Real Betis. The report states that Perez, who scored 12 Premier League goals last season and 42 in his Newcastle career, would net somewhere in the vicinity of $25 million, a surprisingly attractive price for a dangerous 25-year-old attacker.

The links are nothing new for Perez this summer, who last month was connected to Valencia by Spanish radio station Radio Cope, and now English tabloids claim that the La Liga side has held talks with Perez’s agents.


Real Madrid is hoping to keep Ajax attacker Donny van de Beek on its radar with uncertainties surrounding Paul Pogba and Christian Eriksen, according to Spanish publication AS. The report claims, as many have before it, that Zinedine Zidane prefers Pogba but Florentino Perez are hoping to pull off a move for Tottenham star Eriksen.

There are roadblocks to both moves, however. Any approach for Pogba would be extremely expensive and while Pogba has been rumored to be unsettled at Manchester United with the club missing out on the Champions League, the club at this point seems unwilling to sell one of its most valuable assets. Eriksen is a more realistic option financially, but the AS report says talks for the Danish playmaker have “ground to a halt.”

With that in mind, they have kept in touch with van de Beek who impressed in Ajax’s Champions League run and is considerably younger than the other two options at just 22 years old. However, he would be a more long-term move as the Dutch international would have to battle to beat out the likes of Luka Modric and Toni Kroos.


English tabloids have claimed that Tottenham and Juventus are chasing Burnley’s Dwight McNeil who made 21 Premier League appearances for the Clarets last year on the left wing. The 19-year-old England youth international arrived in Burnley’s youth system from the Manchester United academy in 2014 and has come through the Burnley setup, becoming a regular in the squad in mid-December of last season, scoring three goals and assisting five.

The teen has made six appearances for the England U-20 side, scoring and assisting in the 4-0 win over Guatemala back on June 11 in his last showing.

An aging Juventus squad is hoping to get younger, claims The Sun, while Spurs will also consider a bid in the range of $38 million.

Wolves find out opponents for Europa League campaign

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Wolverhampton Wanderers’ first European game in over 39 years will see them play in the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round draw.

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Wolves’ reward for finishing seventh in the Premier League last season is to play either the winner of Crusaders and B36 Torshavn. The former are from Northern Ireland and the latter are from the Faroe Islands.

Baring a huge shock, Wolves will be heading into the third qualifying round, and Nuno Espirito Santo‘s side will then have to play in the knockout round of the Europa League qualifying system as they are still six games away from making the group stage of the competition.

Wolves will use this competition as preseason and if they do end up making the group stage, it is pretty clear they will take their first European campaign since 1980 very seriously and they will be up their with the favorites to win it all.

The first round draw for both the UEFA Champions League and Europa League was made on Tuesday, and the second round for the Europa League has now set up the schedule through early August.

Below is the second qualifying round draw in full, with both the main path and the Champions path games taking place on July 25 and Aug. 1.


Second qualifying round main path – 25 July & 1 August (Seeded teams in bold)

IFK Norrkoping (SWE)/Saint Patrick’s (IRL) v Dinamo Minsk (BLR)/Liepaja (LVA)
Barry Town United (WAL)/Cliftonville (NIR)/Haugesund (NOR) v Sturm Graz (AUT)
Lechia Gdansk (POL) v Inter Turku (FIN)/Brondby (DEN)
Domzale (SVN)/Balzan (MLT) v Malmo (SWE)/Ballymena United (NIR)/NSI Runavik (FRO)
CSKA-Sofia (BUL)/OFK Titograd (MNE) v Osijek (CRO)

Laci (ALB)/Hapoel Beer-Sheva (ISR) v Siroki Brijeg (BIH)/Kairat Almaty (KAZ)
AEK Larnaca (CYP)/Petrocub-Hincesti (MDA) v Levski Sofia (BUL)/MFK Ruzomberok (SVK)
Zeta (MNE)/Fehervar (HUN) v Breidablik (ISL)/Vaduz (LIE)
Molde (NOR)/KR Reykjavík (ISL) v Cukaricki (SRB)/Banants (ARM)
Roma (ITA) v Debrecen (HUN)/Kukesi (ALB)

Arsenal Tula (RUS) v Neftçi (AZE)/Speranta Nisporeni (MDA)
UE Sant Julia (AND)/Europa (GIB)/Legia Warszawa (POL) v Vitebsk (BLR)/KuPS Kuopio (FIN)
Gabala (AZE) v Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO)/SP La Fiorita (SMR)/Engordany (AND)
Aberdeen (SCO)/RoPS Rovaniemi (FIN) v Fola Esch (LUX)/Chikhura Sachkhere (GEO)
Luzern (SUI) v Riteriai (LTU)/KI Klaksvik (FRO)/SP Tre Fiori (SMR)

Espanyol (ESP) v Stjarnan (ISL)/Levadia Tallinn (EST)
Utrecht (NED) v Akademija Pandev (MKD)/HSK Zrinjski (BIH)
Malatyaspor (TUR) v Olimpija Ljubljana (SVN)/Rigas FS (LVA)
Royal Antwerp (BEL) v Viitorul (ROU)
Prishtina (KOS)/St Joseph’s (GIB)/Rangers (SCO) v Cork City (IRL)/Progres Niederkorn (LUX)/Cardiff Met (WAL)

Cracovia Krakow (POL)/Dunajska Streda (SVK) v Atromitos (GRE)
Pyunik (ARM)/Shkupi (MKD) v FK Jablonec (CZE)
Radnicki Nis (SRB)/Flora Tallinn (EST) v Eintracht Frankfurt (GER)
Buducnost Podgorica (MNE)/Narva Trans (EST) v Zorya Luhansk (UKR)
Ventspils (LVA)/Teuta (ALB) v Gzira United (MLT)/Hajduk Split (CRO)

Strasbourg (FRA) v Maccabi Haifa (ISR)/NS Mura (SVN)
Wolverhampton (ENG) v Crusaders (NIR)/B36 Torshavn (FRO)
Mlada Boleslav (CZE)
 v Ordabasy Shymkent (KAZ)/Torpedo Kutaisi (GEO)
Aris Thessaloniki (GRE) v AEL Limassol (CYP)
Brann (NOR)/Shamrock Rovers (IRL) v Kauno Zalgiris (LTU)/Apollon Limassol (CYP)

Jeunesse Esch (LUX)/Tobol Kostanay (KAZ) v Vitória SC (POR)
AZ Alkmaar (NED)
v Hacken (SWE)
Budapest Honved (HUN)/Zalgiris Vilnius (LTU) v Sabail (AZE)/Universitatea Craiova (ROU)
Alashkert (ARM)/Makedonija Skopje (MKD) v FCSB (ROU)/Milsami Orhei (MDA)
Shakhtyor Soligorsk (BLR)/Hibernians (MLT) v Esbjerg (DEN)
Lokomotiv Plovdiv (BUL) v Radnik Bijeljina (BIH)/Spartak Trnava (SVK)
Connah’s Quay (WAL)/Kilmarnock (SCO) v Partizan (SRB)


Second qualifying round Champions Path – 25 July & 1 August (Seeded teams in bold)

Group 1

SP Tre Penne (SMR)/FC Santa Coloma (AND) v Sūduva (LTU)/Crvena zvezda (SRB)
BATE Borisov (BLR)/Piast Gliwice (POL) v Dundalk (IRL)/Riga FC (LVA)
Partizani (ALB)/Qarabag (AZE) v Sheriff Tiraspol (MDA)/Saburtalo (GEO)

Group 2

Ararat Armenia(ARM)/AIK (SWE) v Feronikeli (KOS)/Lincoln Red Imps (GIB)
Valur Reykjavik (ISL)/Maribor (SVN) v Ferencvaros (HUN)/Ludogorets (BUL)
Slovan Bratislava (SVK)/Sutjeska (MNE) v The New Saints (WAL)/Winners of the preliminary round

Group 3

Losing finalist, preliminary round v Astana (KAZ)/CFR Cluj (ROU)
HJK Helsinki (FIN)/HB Torshavn (FRO) v Linfield (NIR)/Rosenborg (NOR)
Nomme Kalju (EST)/Shkendija (MKD) v F91 Dudelange (LUX)/Valletta (MLT)