The big week of European football continued on Thursday when the Europa League took centre stage which saw five British clubs in action plus our very own Shamrock Rovers.
In Group A, Michael O’Neill’s Hoops were in Greece as their European journey continued. They put in yet another battling performance but once again fell just short. Karl Sheppard’s second half goal drew Rovers level after an early POAK goal but they couldn’t hang on for a memorable draw and were beaten 2-1.
In the other game, Tottenham fielded a strong side to face Rubin Kazan at White Hart Lane which showed as they ran out 1-0 winners.
Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp said leading up to the game that striker Roman Pavlyuchenko as he scored the only goal of the game.
Tonight’s results mean Spurs lead the group with seven points while Paok are second on 5. Rovers remain pointless but will hope to get something when the Greek side visit Tallaght on 3rdNovember.
Group B remains unchanged after two draws. Standard Liege played out a goalless draw with Vorskla and Hannover were held by Copenhagen in Germany. That game finished 2-2. Liege and Hannover are joint top on 5 points while Copenhagen have four.
PSV won their third game out of three as they beat Hapoel Tel-Aviv in Israel. They now lead Group C by three points now after Legia Warsaw beat Rapid 1-0. Legia are in second while Bucharest are third.
Sporting Lisbon are running away with Group D after they maintained their winning run this campaign. The Portuguese side have now qualified for the next stage and are the first team to do so. They comfortably beat Vaslui in Portagal 2-0 which keeps them seven points clear of the other teams in the group. Zurich’s draw with Lazio means they join Vaslui all on two points and battling it out for second place.
Stoke’s impressive start to life in Europe continued with another convincing 3-0 win at home to Maccabi Tel-Avin. Goals from Kenwyne Jones, Cameron Jerome and Ryan Shotton sent Tony Pulis’ men to victory but Jerome damped the evening for the Potters with a sending off. They now top Group E as Dynamo Kiev beat Besiktas 1-0. The FA Cup finalists now have a three point lead from the Turkish side.
Athletic Bilbao top Group F despite being held to a 2-2 draw at home to Red Bull Salzburg. PSG failed to take advantage of the draw in Spain by only managing a draw themselves away to Slovan Bratislava.
FC Metalist Kharkiv beat Malmo 4-1 to go top of Group G. Dutch side AZ Alkmaar are second after drawing 2-2 at home to Austria Wien.
Birmingham won their fourth game in a row thanks to a Chris Wood 99th minute goal in Belgium to defeat Club Brugge. The Championship side went one down early on but David Murphy pegged Chris Hughton’s men back before Wood scored deep into injury time to win it. The win means Birmingham are join top of Group H.
In the other game in that group, Maribor held Braga to a 1-1 draw which suits Birmingham nicely. Braga are now two points behind the Carling Cup winners with Brugge on the same points as the midlands club.
Celtic’s chances of progressing remain intact thanks to a hard earned 1-1 draw in Rennes. Despite a calamitous first half own goal from Cha-du Ri. Charlie Mulgrew’s free kick was headed in by Joe Ledley in the second period to earn Neil Lennon’s men a point but the Bhoys stay bottom of Group I with just two points.
Italian side Udinese maintained their top spot with a 2-0 win over Athletico Madrid thanks to late goals from Benatia and Floro Flores. The result means the Italians stay top of Group I with Madrid in second.
Schalke are top of Group J thanks to a thumping 5-0 win away to AEK Larnaca. Maccabi Haifa won by the same score line at home to Steaua.
Fulham’s fine start was halted in Poland as they lost 1-0 to Wisla. Moussa Dembele was sent off in a game turning moment and the Cottagers slumped to their first European defeat this season. FC Twente over take Fulham at the top of group K though after they thrashed Odense 4-1. It’s a very tight group with all four clubs still in with a chance of progressing.
Finally, Anderlecht kept up their 100% record in Group L with an away victory. They beat Sturm 2-0 while Lokomotiv Moscow beat AEK Athens 3-1 in Moscow. It all means Anderlecht look likely to qualify as winners with Sturm Graz and Lokomotiv to battle it out for second.
Here are some interesting stats from Thursday’s Europa League games…
Chris Wood has scored the latest goal in the Europa League this season (99 mins 03 seconds).
Before Thursday’s games, Stoke City had attempted more long throws than any other Europa League team this season.
Prior to today, Club Brugge had lost just one of 17 competitive fixtures this season, winning 11 of them. Form.
The 5-0 against AEK Larnaca is the highest win ever of Schalke in an European game
Hannover are undefeated in European home games for 42 years; the last team to win was Leeds in 1969 (2-1 Fairs Cup)
Udinese are unbeaten at home in their last seven games in European competitions (excl. qualifying rounds): six wins, one draw.
Rennes have converted only three of their 59 shots in the Europa League this season.
Rennes were leading Celtic 1-0 at half time in their game but the French club didn’t have a single shot on target in the first period.
Thanks to Chris Wood’s late goal, Birmingham become the fourth English club to score in injury time in Europe this week- Man United, Man City, Arsenal were the others.
It was the 2nd match round in the Europa League (since 2009-10) with 10+ red cards. On November 5, 2009, 15 red cards were shown.
Roman Pavlyuchenko became the first Russian to score against Rubin Kazan in a European competition.