Sunday, 29 November 2015

Europa League Matchday Five Review

Alike the Champions League, the Europa League group stage reached the penultimate set of games with a number of sides having already secured qualification and a fair few more just on the fringes going into matchday five.

A
Celtic hosted Ajax knowing anything but a win would see them eliminated while the Dutch side hoped to keep in the hunt to advance to the next stage. The Scots made a stunning start as McGregor gave them a 1-0 lead inside the first three minutes but were pegged back in the 21st minute by a leveller from Milik. The visitors ensured they would remain in the hunt to advance going into the final game as they sealed a late 2-1 win with an 87th minute winner from Cerny.

Already qualified Molde FK hosted Fenerbache with their unbeaten run under threat against the Turks who looked to edge closer to qualification with a victory. The hosts suffered an early blow as Rindaroy was sent off after just 10 minutes but despite the numerical disadvantage, they went into the interval on level terms at 0-0. However, the extra man did pay off for the visitors in the 68th minute as Santana struck the opening goal for 1-0 before the win and the end of Molde's good run was ended by Tufan's 84th minute strike for 2-0.


B
Rubin Kazan played host to FC Sion looking to remain in the hunt to advance while the Swiss side had hopes of confirming a place in the next stage. However, the hopes of the visitors were dented on 34 minutes with the sending off of N'Doye but they held on long into the second half at 0-0 before opening up to a 72nd minute strike from Georgiev for 1-0. The Russians were searching for their first win of the group and confirmed their first success with a 90th minute strike from Devic for 2-0.

Liverpool hosted Bordeaux knowing a win would guarantee their place in the next stage while the same result would see the French side eliminated having failed to register a win so far. The visitors were gifted a chance to open the scoring on 33 minutes as Reds 'keeper Simon Mignolet was penalised for holding on to the ball for too long and Henri Saivet fired in from the resulting set-piece for 1-0. The lead was short lived  as Liverpool levelled from the penalty spot with James Milner slotting in on 38 minutes for 1-1 and the hosts gained the lead just before the interval as Christian Benteke fired in for 2-1 which was enough to seal the points and a place in the last 32 for the Reds.


C
FK Krasnodar played host to already qualified Borussia Dortmund looking to join the Germans in the next stage with a win. They did just that with a narrow 1-0 win which they achieved with a stunning start as Mamaev slotted in a penalty in the second minute. The solitary goal was enough to hold off the visitors for the remaining 80 odd minutes and saw the Russians seal their place in the next stage.

The other game in the group saw PAOK Salonica hosts FC Qabala with both sides looking to register a first win in the group stage and avoid finishing bottom below the two qualifying teams. The sides seemed to cancel each other out as they shared the points in a 0-0 draw leaving them both to hope for a last chance win in the final round of games.


D
Already qualified FC Napoli travelled to face Club Brugge looking to extend their 100% record to five wins and deny the Belgians the chance to close in on qualification. The two sides battled well in the first half with the only dent in the armour coming for the hosts as Vlad Chiriches put the Italians ahead on 41 minutes. The solitary goal was enough to claim a 1-0 win and put Napoli just one win away from a perfect 18 point haul.

Legia Warsaw hosted FC Midtjylland looking for their first win of the group while the Danes hoped to seal qualification to the next stage. The hosts opened the scoring in the 35th minute with a strike from Prijovic and the single goal proved to be enough to seal a first success for the Poles. The result leaves both sides in the mix with Brugge for the final spot in the next stage.


E
Dinamo Minsk hosted Viktoria Plzen in the group's early kick-off with the Belarusians still searching for their first win after four losses and such a result potentially eliminating their opponents. The two sides seemed destined to share the points in a 0-0 draw as the game went on but a strange final minutes saw the hosts seal their first success. However, firstly they went down to ten men with the late dismissal of Veretilo before sealing a 1-0 win with a strike from Adamovic in added time.

After Plzen's failure to win, Villarreal hosted already qualified Rapid Vienna safe in the knowledge that they had secured qualification due to their superior points total but with the Austrians yet to suffer defeat, they looked to retain top spot. Both sides boasted strong defensive records ahead of the meeting so it was no shock that they remained level late into the second half before the hosts broke the deadlock on 78 minutes via Soriano Llido's strike which sealed a 1-0 win and put them atop the group standings.


F
Marseille played host to already eliminated Groningen with hopes of edging towards the next stage while the Dutch side looked to secure a first win of the group stage. The hosts opened the scoring on 28 minutes as Mdiba made it 1-0 but they were pegged back shortly after the restart as Maduro levelled for 1-1 after 50 minutes. The win went to the French side though as Batsuyahi sealed the 2-1 success in the 88th minute.

Already qualified Sporting Braga hosted Slovan Liberec with hopes of continuing on top of the group while the Czechs looked for a win which would edge them towards the next stage. The visitors pursuit of a shock win gained pace in the 35th minute as Efremov put them ahead only for his effort to be cancelled out just before the interval by a 42nd minute equaliser from Ferreira for 1-1. The hosts sealed the win late on with a strike from Sousa for 2-1.



G
After securing qualification in the previous game, Lazio hosted Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk looking to extend their unbeaten run and in doing so eliminate the Ukrainians from the competition. The Italians made a stunning start with a fourth minute opener from Candreva for 1-0 but were pegged back just after the hour mark by Gama's equaliser for 1-1. The sides were level for less than three minutes as Parolo made it 2-1 to the hosts before a late strike from Djordjevic confirmed a 3-1 victory.

St Etienne travelled to face to Rosenborg knowing a win would secure a place in the next stage and thereby eliminate the Norwegians from the competition. The hosts opened the scoring just before the interval as Søderland struck in the 40th minute for 1-0. However, the French side managed to salvage a point with an 80th minute equaliser from Roux who slotted in a penalty and due to Dnipro's loss, the visitors secured qualification to the next stage. 


H
Besiktas played hosts to Skenderbeu Korce with both still in the hunt to reach the next stage but with the Turks knowing a win would eliminate their opponents from the competition. The hosts opened the scoring in a tight first half with Tusan striking for 1-0 in the 35th minute and he struck again in the second half making it 2-0 on 78 minutes to seal the points and leave the visitors bottom of the group.

Lokomotiv Moscow hosted Sporting Lisbon with both sides firmly in the hunt to reach the next stage but with the Russians knowing a win would seal their place in the last 32. They started superbly with an opening goal inside five minutes form Bitencourt before being pegged back by a 20th minute equaliser from Montero before going 2-1 behind after Ruiz's 38th minute strike.  The visitors opened up a two goal lead before the interval as Martins made it 3-1 and the win was sealed on the hour mark as Pereira made it 4-1 to leave both sides in the hunt to advance going into the final game.


I
Belenenses hosted Lech Poznan with both hoping to remain in the hunt to advance going into the final game but depending on the other game, a win for either could eliminate the other. However, both sides remain in the fight to advance after sharing the points in a 0-0 draw.

They aforementioned duo can still advance after Fiorentina failed to secure a win away to FC Basel who had the chance to guarantee qualification with a win. The Italians opened the scoring on 23 minutes through Bernardeschi before going down to ten men with the dismissal of Roncaglia just three minutes later. Despite the numerical disadvantage, they doubled their lead to 2-0 on 36 minutes as Bernardeschi struck again but the Swiss side pegged them back through Suchy in the 40th minute. The extra man did pay off for the hosts though as they secured a 2-2 draw with a 74th minute leveller from Elneny which secured their place in the next stage and left Fiorentina in a three-way battle to advance.  


J
Tottenham Hotspur made the long trip to face FC Qarabag knowing a win would seal a place in the next round while the hosts looked to remain in the hunt to advance with a victory. A tight game saw both sides look destined for a share of the points as the score remained at 0-0 deep into the second half but the visitors struck a winner as Harry Kane sealed a 1-0 triumph and a place in the last 32 with a 78th minute strike. 

After Tottenham's success in the early game, Monaco hosted Anderlecht knowing that a win would see them join the EPL side in the next stage while the Belgians looked to force the fight for the final qualification spot into the final game. They did just that as they sealed a 2-0 win with strikes in either half with Gilet's 45th minute opener followed by a 78th minute strike from Acheampong.



K
Schalke 04 hosted Apoel Nicosia with both still in the hunt to advance but in the knowledge that a home win would sent the Germans through and eliminate the Cypriots. A tight game saw the sides remain level at 0-0 deep into the second half but a late strike from Choupo-Moting in the 86th minute sealed qualification for the hosts with a 1-0 win.

Sparta Prague also had the chance to advance into the next stage as they hosted Asteras Tripoli who needed a win to prevent being eliminated from the competition. The Czechs struck the opening goal in the 33rd minute as Brabec scored for 1-0 and the slim lead looked to be enough as the game entered the final ten minutes. However, Asteras were given a lifeline as the hosts were sent down to ten men with the dismissal of Krejci on 82 minutes but they were unable to draw level as the hosts secured their place in the next stage.  


L
AZ Alkmaar hosted Partizan Belgrade knowing anything but a win would see them eliminated while the visitors hoped to remain in the hunt to advance with success of their own. The hosts opened the scoring just after the interval as Dos Santos made it 1-0 on 48 minutes but the visitors battled back to equalise on 65 minutes through Oumarou before sealing the win late on as Zivkovic struck for 2-1 in the 89th minute. 

Athletic Bilbao travelled to face FC Augsburg knowing a win would guarantee them a place in the last 32 while success for the Germans would set up a three-way fight for qualification in the final game. The visitors started the better of the two sides and took the lead inside 10 minutes through Susaeta before being pegged back by an equaliser four minutes ahead of the interval from Trochowski for 1-1. Bobadilla gave the Germans a 2-1 lead just before the hour mark before a late brace from Aduriz in the 83rd and 86th minutes completed the comeback for the Spanish side who sealed a 3-2 win and a place in the next stage.