Europa League action on Thursday did not disappoint one bit. First, Real Betis loanee Giovanni Lo Celso scored an absolute rocket. Then Ruben Loftus-Cheek scored a hat-trick for Chelsea. Dynamo Kiev winger Tomasz Kedziora struck a missile with incredible pace to help the Ukranian club to a vital win. Now, add Standard Liege striker Renaud Emond to the list with the latest amazing goal.
With the Belgian club down 1-0 at home to Russian visitors Krasnodar at the break, Standard launched a speculative ball forward which easily found the head of a Kiev defender double-teaming Mehdi Carcela-Gonzalez. It wasn’t cleared far enough, falling to the feet of Emond.
However, instead of collecting the clear and marauding forward in space, he saw a glimmer of light behind Krasnodar goalkeeper Andrei Sinitsyn, and let it fly. The result was one of the more spectacular volleys you’ll ever see from just inside the attacking third.
The goal helped Standard Liege to a thrilling 2-1 victory, with the winner coming in the 93rd minute off the foot of Cyprus international Konstantinos Laifis. The win moved Standard Liege up to six points, leaving three teams all level on points at the top of a wide-open Group J.
For Emond, it’s another tally mark on his fantastic start to the 2018/19 season. He has two goals in his last two Europa League matches, added to his five goals in Belgian league play through the first 11 matches of the campaign.
The UEFA Champions League moved one more step toward the playoff round with Tuesday’s first legs of the third qualifying round.
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Malmo 1-1 MOL Vidi
Uwe Rosler’s hosts held the lead for a whopping nine minutes, through Anders Christiansen, before the Hungarian club formerly known as Videoton answered through Loic Nego.
USMNT midfield prospect Romain Gall made his UEFA Champions League debut, playing the final 10 minutes of the draw. Gall managed a shot during his appearance.
Standard Liege 2-2 Ajax
Dusan Tadic struck again, scoring another UCL goal for the visitors as they built a 2-0 away lead (Klaas Jan Huntelaar bagged the other). But Medhi Carcela scored in the 67th minute and Renaud Emond converted a penalty deep into stoppage time to send the tie back to Holland level at two.
Benfica 1-0 Fenerbahce
USMNT midfielder Keaton Parks was not in the 18, but goal scorer Franco Cervi very much was and saw his deflected shot put the Portuguese hosts ahead after one leg.
Slavia Prague 1-1 Dynamo Kiev
Astana 0-2 Dinamo Zagreb
Qarabag 0-1 BATE Borisov
Red Star Belgrade 1-1 Spartak Trnava
Celtic vs. AEK Athens
Red Bull Salzburg vs. Shkendija
PAOK vs. Spartak Moscow
Everton manager Ronald Koeman won’t be stopping with Morgan Schneiderlin.
Koeman is on the precipice of adding Manchester United midfielder Schneiderlin, who is reportedly undergoing a medical with Everton on Wednesday ahead of a $27 million switch.
[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]
The Liverpool Echo says that the Toffees are issuing a $13 million offer to Standard Liege for 24-year-old Algerian playmaker Ishak Belfodil.
Making his debut for Lyon at age 17, Belfodil has been around a bit. He’s spent time with Inter Milan, Livorno, Parma, Bologna, and UAE club Baniyas Club.
In 21 matches with his Belgian side, Belfodil has nine goals and four assists. Three of those goal came in five Europa League matches.
Victor Valdes finally has relief from the total disaster his short Manchester United career became.
The Spaniard signed with the Red Devils in early January of last year after the expiry of his Barcelona contract, and while it initially appeared to be a positive signing, giving the club someone to push David De Gea, it soon broke down into a war of words between Valdes and Louis Van Gaal. Valdes refused to play for the reserve team, causing van Gaal to banish him from the training ground.
Manchester United announced Sunday that the 34-year-old has been loaned to Belgian club Standard Liege until the end of the season.
Even just a few hours after the announcement, Valdes already has some skeptics at his new club. “Personally, I’m a bit divided,” Standard winger Mathieu Dossevi told RTL Sports. “Obviously, Valdes is a very good player, a great player, but the signing was not where it was most needed. [Current Standard starting goalkeeper] Guillaume [Hubert] is a very good player for us at the moment, so why replace him?”
But there’s no guarantee that the signing is intended to replace Hubert. The loan move’s official release on Standard’s website read, “His arrival will be a great opportunity for our young goalkeepers to develop themselves. Victor will bring over his year-long experience and the youth will get advice of one of the best goalkeepers in the world in the next few months.”
Victor Valdes wants out of Manchester in the very worst of ways.
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Having not made a single appearance for Manchester United since the end of the 2014-15 season, Valdes, a three-time UEFA Champions League winner while at Barcelona, has seen his career come to a screeching halt at Old Trafford after a behind-the-scenes feud with Louis Van Gaal.
How desperate is Valdes, a six-time La Liga champions while at Barcelona, to leave Man United? He’s reportedly considering a loan move to Belgian Pro League side Standard Liege in order to return to first-team action, according to a report in the Independent.
[ MORE: Wednesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Tuesday | Monday ]
Valdes was close to completing a similar move to Turkish Super Lig side Besiktas back in August, but the deal fell apart not long before the summer transfer deadline. The 34-year-old has just six months remaining on his contract at United, so even if a move fails to materialize during the January transfer window, Valdes will be free to sign anywhere in the summer.