Friday, 6 November 2015

Europa League Matchday Four Review

Alike the Champions League, the Europa League traditionally sees its first qualifiers for the next stage at matchday four and this time around, four sides secured a place in the next stage.

Ajax's wait for a first win of the group continued after drawing 0-0 at home to a Fenerbache who remain just above them in second with a two point gap between the two sides.

Molde secured their spot in the last 32 with a 2-1 win away to a Celtic side who remain bottom of the group without a win. The hosts opened the scoring on 21 minutes through Elyounoussi only to be quickly pegged back by Kris Commons' 26th minute leveller for 1-1. However, Molde regained the lead on 37 minute with Helstad's effort which proved to be the winning goal on a night which only got worse for Celtic who had Bitton sent off in the 76th minute. 

Sion missed the chance to secure qualification but remain top of the group after salvaging a draw against third placed Bordeaux. The French side took a 1-0 lead on 67 minutes with a strike from Touré and looked set to secure a win only to be denied late on by an own goal from Chantome for 1-1.

Liverpool secured their first win of the group and their first away win in Europe for three years as they claimed a 1-0 win away to Rubin Kazan with the crucial strike coming on 52 minutes from Jordan Ibe who scored his first senior goal for the Reds.

Borussia Dortmund secured qualification and remain unbeaten at the top after a comfortable 4-0 win at home to FC Qabala who remain without a win at the bottom. Marco Reus opened the scoring on 29 minutes before Pierre Aubameyang doubled the lead just before half-time. The visitors night got worse with two further goals in the space of three minutes as Zenjov scored an on goal on 67 minutes followed by Mkhitaryan on 70 minutes as the Germans strolled through to the last 32.

FC Krasnodar sit second after opening up a four point lead over opponents PAOK after a 2-1 win which leaves PAOK winless after four games. Ferreira put the hosts ahead on 33 minutes before a penalty from Dos Santos on 67 minutes doubled the lead to 2-0. PAOK set up a tense finish with a 90th minute strike from Mak for 2-1 which is how it ended.

Napoli strolled into the next stage with a fourth win in a row as they demolished FC Midtjylland 5-0. The Italians started their charge after only 13 minutes with El Kaddouri's strike before going to 3-0 ahead after two from Gabbiadini's on 23 and 38 minutes. The Danes night got even worse as Maggio struck a fourth on 54 minutes and Callejon rounded off the win on 77 minutes.

Club Brugge remain in the hunt to qualify after claiming their first win with a 1-0 win at home to Legia Warsaw who remain bottom. The crucial strike came on 38 minutes as Meunier scored for the Belgians.  

Villarreal sit second and firmly in the hunt to advance to the next stage after a 2-1 win away to Dinamo Minsk who as a result cannot qualify after suffering a fourth successive defeat. Despite their poor form, the hosts actually struck first with an opener on 69 minutes from Vitus but their joy was short lived as Roberto Soldado levelled within three minutes with a penalty. The visitors secured the win with four minutes left as Politevich scored an own goal for 2-1.

Rapid Vienna continued their perfect run of wins to secure their spot in the next stage with a 2-1 win  away to Viktoria Plzen. The Austrians went ahead as early as the 13th minute through Schobesberger before deep into the second half, Plzen drew level with a 71st minute equaliser from Holenda. The win was secured just six minutes later by a slip and flick goal from Schobesberger to claim the points and qualification to the last 32.

FC Groningen are unable to qualify after slipping to their third defeat from four games after a late slip up at home to Slovan Liberec. The unfortunate strike came just nine minutes from the end as Padt scored an own goal to give the Czechs a 1-0 win.

After a bizarre robbery saw the boots stolen from the Braga camp, the Portuguese side's night got even worse as the slipped to a 1-0 defeat at Marseille. The crucial strike came on 39 minutes from Mbdia but despite the loss, Braga remain clear at the top.

Lazio remain unbeaten atop the group with qualification firmly in their sights after a 2-0 win away to Rosenborg who remain without a win from their four games. A first half brace from Djordevic in the ninth and 29th minutes opened up the 2-0 lead before the Italians were reduced to ten men late on with Diao's dismissal but the seven minutes was too short for the hosts to avoid a defeat.

St Etienne sit second after a comfortable 3-0 win at home to Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk who despite the loss remain in the hunt with the French side for qualification. Monnet-Paquet set the hosts on their way on 38 minutes before a second from Beric on 52 minutes and third from Hamouma on 65 minutes sealed the points.  

Lokomotiv Moscow remain clear atop the group and unbeaten after salvaging a 1-1 draw away to Besiktas who sit just behind them in second. Ricardo Quaresma put the hosts in front on 58 minutes but their joy was curtailed by a leveller from Niasse on 76 minutes who ensured a share of the points.

Skënderbeu Korçë claimed their first win of the group with a comfortable 3-0 victory at home to Sporting Lisbon. The hosts went ahead on 15 minutes with a strike from Lilaj before the visitors suffered a heavier blow just two minutes later as Rui Patricio was sent off with Lilaj slotting in the resulting penalty for 2-0. The gloss on the win came on 55 minutes as Nimaga completed the rout.  

Basel sit comfortably at the group's summit after a 2-0 win away to Belenenses with the Swiss side taking the lead on 45 minutes with a penalty from Janko before Emobolo added a crucial second for 2-0 in the 64th minute.

Fiorentina moved above opponents Lech Poznan after a 2-0 away win which puts them three points away from Basel at the top. The Italians opened he scoring late in the first half with a 42nd minute strike from Ilicic and the win was confirmed late on by a second from Ilicic in the 83rd minute.  

In the group's early game, Monaco kept top spot after salvaging a 1-1 draw away to FC Qarabag. The hosts went ahead on 39 minutes with a strike from Armenteros only to be denied by an equaliser from Cavaleiro on 72 minutes. However, their stay at the top would depend on the second game later on.

Tottenham Hostspur left it late to move above Monaco in the group as they won 2-1 at home to Anderlecht. Harry Kane put Spurs ahead on 29 minutes but the lead was cancelled out on 72 minutes by Ezekiel's leveller. The win and the three points were sealed with just three minutes left as Moussa Démbelé struck for 2-1.

In a battle between two sides without a win in the group, Asteras Tripoli claimed the glory as they sealed a 2-0 win against Apoel FC. The hosts made a stunning start by taking the lead inside two minutes through Bertoglio before sealing the win just before half-time with a strike from Giannou.

Schalke 04 remain clear at the top and alike opponents Sparta Prague are still unbeaten as the sides shared the points in a 1-1 draw. Lafata put the Czechs ahead inside six minutes but their lead was cancelled out before the 20th minute as Geis slotted in a penalty for 1-1.

Atletic Bilbao moved clear at the top after a stunning 5-1 win at home to Partizan Belgrade. The hosts opened the scoring on 15 minutes through Williams before an instant leveller from Oumarou for 1-1 but Williams struck again just two minutes later for 2-1.A third from Urkiaga made it 3-0 just before half-time and the hosts made sure of the points with two goals in the 71st and 81st minutes through Zubeldia and Urkola for 5-1.

FC Augsburg kept in the hunt for qualification by thrashing AZ Alkmaar 4-1 in a result that leave the Dutch side at the bottom of the group. A nine minute brace from Bobadilla in the 24th and 33rd minutes created a 2-0 lead but the visitors pulled on back through Janssen just before half-time for 1-1. However, the hosts sealed the points in the second half with Ji slotting in on 66 minutes before Bobadilla completed his hat-trick with on 74 minutes for 4-1.