Saturday, 24 October 2015

Europa League Matchday Three Review

As the Champions League group stage had reached the halfway mark so has the Europa League with Matchday three featuring goals galore with only one game resulting in a 0-0 draw while the British trio all failed to win with a draw and two defeats between them.

After failing to win in either of their first two games, Fenerbache and Ajax faced off looking for the illusive first win. In what turned out to be a very tight game it was a late show from the Turkish side which saw them claim all three points as Santana struck on 89 minutes to secure a 1-0 win.

Molde hosted Celtic with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer returning as manager and what a superb return he had as his side raced into a 2-0 lead inside 18 minutes courtesy of goals from Kamara and Forren.

Kris Commons pulled one back for the Scots on 55 minutes but it was rapidly in vain as Elyounoussi made it 3-1 within a minute. The hosts held on to their lead to move three points clear at the top of the group.

FC Sion travelled to face Bordeaux looking to continue their unbeaten start after a win and a draw so far and they secured a narrow 1-0 win over the French side with Lacroix scoring the crucial goal on 21 minutes.

After drawing both games so far, Liverpool looked to make a perfect start under new manager Jurgen Klopp as they hosted Rubin Kazan. However, the Reds suffered an early blow as they fell behind to a strike from Devic on 15 minutes but the Russians suffered a double blow in the space of two minutes as Kuzman was sent off for a second booking on 36 minutes with Emre Can equalising from the resulting free-kick for 1-1. Both sides pushed for a winner but for Liverpool it was a third successive draw with the positive being remaining unbeaten.

After a win and a draw in their two games so far, Borussia Dortmund travelled to face winless FK Qabala who looked to avoid back-to-back defeats. The Germans opened up a 2-0 lead before half time with a brace in the 31st and 38th minutes from Pierre Aubameyang. The Gabon striker made 3-0 with his hat-trick strike on 72 minutes to wrap up the points but Qabala did have the last say on the scoreline with a 90th minute effort from Hilario for 3-1.

PAOK Salonica hosted FK Krasnodar looking for their first win having drawn both games so far while their opponents looked for a second victory. However, the only impact on the result came from a dismissal apiece late on with Jedrzeczyk sent off on 87 minutes for the visitors and De Macedo da Silva sent off two minutes later for the hosts as the sides drew 0-0.

Napoli travelled to face FC Midtjylland with both sides hoping to make it three wins in a row but something had to give and give it did as the Italians stormed to a 4-1 win. Callejon opened the scoring on 19 minutes for the visitors before a nine minute brace from Gabbiadini made it 3-0. Pusic pulled one back for the hosts just before half-time for 3-1 but it was to be a consolation as Higuain completed the rout in the 90th minute.

Legia Warsaw and Club Brugge faced off with both sides looking for their first points of the stage after two defeats so far. The Belgians opened the scoring on 39 minutes through De Fauw but were pegged back on 51 minutes by an equaliser from Kucharczyk as the sides shared the points in the 1-1 draw.

Dinamo Minsk made the long trip to face Villarreal looking to secure a first win of the stage after two defeats so far but were heavily beaten by the Spanish side who stormed to a 4-0 triumph. A first half brace from Bakambu on 17 and 32 minutes put the hosts in control before a third from Roberto Soldado on 61 minutes and fourth from Bailly on 70 minutes completed the rout.

After a perfect start of two wins, Rapid Vienna hosted Viktoria Plzen hoping to extend their joy at the expense of their visitors who also were unbeaten after a win and a draw. Plzen started the better of the two sides with the opening goal on 12 minutes from Duris but were pegged back on 34 minutes by an equaliser from Hofmann for 1-1. Two goals in 15 minutes either side of the hour mark from Schaub and Petsos put the hosts in control at 3-1 but Plzen cut the gap on 76 minutes through Hrosovsky to set up a tight last 14 minutes. However, the Austrians held on to their slim lead at 3-2 and remain clear on top of the group.  

A perfect start to the stage from Sporting Braga was under threat as they hosted a Marseille side looking for their second win. A tight first half from both sides saw them remain level at 0-0 into half-time and the equilibrium lasted past the hour mark before the sides shared a five goal thriller. Hassan and Eduardo put the hosts 2-0 up on 64 and 77 minutes before they were pegged back by two goals in three minutes. Alessandrini (84) and Batshuayi (87) struck for 2-2 but the French side's joy at drawing level was short lived as Silva secured a 3-2 win for the hosts two minutes from the end.

Two defeats in a row for FC Groningen left them travelling to face Slovan Liberec with hopes of avoiding the worst possible start while the Czechs looked for their first win. A tight game overall from both sides saw them remain level into the final ten minutes but the dismissal of De Leeuw for the Dutch side on 83 minutes followed by a goal from Luckassen for Liberec on 87 left them starring at a defeat. However, they battled on with 10 men and secured their first point of the stage with a last-gasp equaliser from Hoesen for 1-1.

St Etienne travelled to face Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk having earned just one point from a possible six while the Ukrainians looked for their second win. The French side managed to double their points tally as they secured a narrow 1-0 win courtesy of a 44th minute winner from Hamouma.

Lazio hosted winless Rosenborg looking to extend their unbeaten start after a win and a draw while the Norwegians hoped to avoid consecutive losses. The visitors were given an early boost as Nascimento was sent off inside six minutes for the hosts but they were unable to make the extra man count as they fell behind to a 28th minute strike from Matri. Lazio doubled their lead on 54 minutes as Gomes made it 2-0 but Rosenborg battled back with a 69th minute effort from Soderland but the ten men came out on top with at 3-1 with Candreva sealing the win on 74 minutes.

Two wins from two for Lokomotiv Moscow saw them go into the game at home to Besiktas on top of the group with the Turks just behind so it was no surprise when they shared the points in a 1-1 draw. The hosts struck first on 54 minutes through Bitencourt but were pegged back just ten minutes later by Gomez's equaliser and the visitors had the best chance to claim the win when Corluka was sent off for Loko on 69 minutes but they were unable to make the extra man into an advantage.

Sporting Lisbon looked to build on their one point from a possible six as they hosted fellow winless side Skenderbeu Korce. The visitors suffered a blow when Salihi was sent off on 23 minutes and went into half-time 2-0 down after two penalties in three minutes from Aquilani and Montero. A brace from Pereira sandwiched a Figueiredo effort as the hosts stormed to a 5-0 lead but the visitors did have some consolation as Jashanica scored a late effort for 5-1.

After a perfect start of two wins, FC Basel looked to extend their success against winless Belenenses who had taken one point from a possible six so far. The Swiss side boosted their hopes with a 15th minute opener from Lang but that was to be their only joy as the visitors levelled through Leal on 27 minutes before sealing the points on 45 minutes through Miranda for a 2-1 win.

Fiorentina went into the home game against Lech Poznan on the back of their first win while the Poles looked to secure their first success. A tight first hour saw the sides remain level at 0-0 before Kownacki broke the deadlock for the visitors on 65 minutes. Gajos doubled the lead to 2-0 with eight minute remaining before a strange end for the Italians saw Rossi make it 2-1 followed by the sending off of Rebic as Lech secured their first win.

Anderlecht hosted Tottenham looking for their first win while Spurs looked for their second after both had mixed starts to the group stage. Tottenham started superbly and took the lead inside four minutes through Christian Eriksen but their joy was soon dampened by a 13th minute leveller from Gillet. The Belgians came out on top though as they sealed a 2-1 in the 75th minute with Okaka's effort.

After drawing their first two games, Monaco's pursuit of  a first win continued as they hosted a Qarabag side with a win and a draw to their cause. A tight game saw the sides remain level well into the second half at 0-0 before a crucial strike from Traore sealed a 1-0 win for the hosts on 70 minutes.

Schalke went into the home game against Sparta Prague having won both games while the Czechs had secured four points from a possible six so a 2-2 draw was a fair reflection of both sides. Di Santo put the hosts ahead inside six minutes only to have his effort cancelled out five minutes after half-time by Fatai's equaliser for 1-1. Lafata completed the comeback for the visitors as they took a 2-1 lead on 63 minutes but they had to settle for a point as Sané salvaged the draw for the hosts at 2-2 in the 73rd minute.

After losing their first two games, Apoel Nicosia looked for a first win as they hosted Asteras Tripolis who in turn also looked for their first success after a draw and a defeat so far. The visitors started the better as they took a 1-0 lead inside eight minutes through Lluy but a penalty from Cavenaghi on 43 minutes levelled at 1-1. The hosts completed the comeback with a winner on 59 minutes from Cruz Junior for a 2-1 success.

Partizan Belgrade hosted Athletic Bilbao with their perfect start of two wins under threat while the Spanish side looked for their second win. The visitors went ahead on 32 minutes as Raul Garcia struck before a late effort from Urkiaga on 85 minutes wrapped up a 2-0 win.

FC Augsburg woeful start of two defeats saw them travelled to AZ Alkmaar looking to claim their first success and deny the Dutch side a second win. The Germans had the better of the luck as they secured a narrow 1-0 win courtesy of a 43rd minute strike from Trochowski.