Good Wins For Manchester City & Celtic In Europa League

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On a night of mixed fortunes for the British representatives still in the Europa League only Celtic and Manchester City will be pleased with their 1st leg results.

Celtic in front of a partisan crowd of well over 35,000 were good value for their 2-0 win , dominating possession and defending well when Utrecht did come forward. The Dutch side only had one shot on target in the match but did have a few attempts at goal so Celtic will still need to be on their Guard in the return leg.

Manchester City will be delighted to have played quite badly and still came away from Romania with a 1-0 win thanks to a late goal from their new £24m striker Mario Balotelli. FC Timisoara had plenty of chances but its hard to see them getting anything from the away leg.

Liverpool on the other hand played well but now face a nerve wracking trip to Turkey after missing a second half penalty against Trabzonspor. They also had what looked like a good goal disallowed so now face the away leg with only a one goal cushion. Still if Roy Hodgson is serious about the competition and puts out a strong squat they should still progress.

Aston Villa fielded a second string team but still managed to get a credible 1-1 draw in Vienna and they will also expect to complete the job in the home leg, although Rapid did create a lot of chances and could easily sneak an away goal when they visit Villa Park.

Of the nights losers Motherwell look the best places to still progress, largely thanks to a 94th minute away goal against Odense BK. In a close game the home side snatched 2 goals and when Motherwell had Jennings sent off near the end things looked bleak. Then with virtually the last kick of the game Tom Hateley fired in a lovely free kick to give the Scots some hope. It was no less than Motherwell deserved and overall a draw would have been a fairer result. They look capable of overturning this in the home leg.

Dundee United looked decidedly second best against Greek giants AEK Athens losing 1-0 and will come out of this match thankful that its not already over for them. Unless they show a massive improvement in the second leg their European campaign will be a short one.

The New Saints who have undoubtedly exceeded their expectations this season lost 3-0 away to CSKA Sofia, however the Welsh champions defended resolutely and it took the Bulgarians until the 81st minute to break the deadlock. CSKA did have a lot of chances and it was no real surprise when Italian Giuseppe Aquaro grabbed the opener.  Then as it looked like TNS might return home with a great result the Bulgarians added two more to effectively end any slim hope TNS might have had. The attendance of 2,950 was a bit disappointing, however with it being a night match in Bulgaria it is not surprising that few Welsh fans traveled.

So with a little good fortune Britain will have five representatives in the Europa League group stages.

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