Man City & Liverpool Both Draw Europa League Games

Manchester City were held to a 1-1 draw in their home match against Italian Giants Juventus in the Europa League Group game last night.

The Italians looked impressive early and it was no surprise when they took the lead on 10 minutes thanks to a long range shot from Vincenzo Iaquinta. However Man City soon rallied and as half time approached City leveled thanks to a lovely Yaya Toure pass, which set up Adam Johnson. The second half brought a few chances but no goals, and overall a draw was a fair result.

Liverpool on the other hand will be somewhat disappointed with their performance in Utrecht and although the 0-0 scoreline means they top the group, the manner of their performance will give manager Roy Hodgson plenty of things to ponder. Liverpool looked disjointed and rarely managed to hold possession for long, and will probably feel slightly fortunate to have escaped with a draw, and Fernando Torres performance will again throw up questions in some quarters regarding his inclusion in the team. The will qualify from this group but will have to show a lot more than this when the competition starts t heat up if they are going to make the latter stages again.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Man City & Liverpool Both Win Europa League Openers

Manchester City crest
Image via Wikipedia

Liverpool and Manchester City justified their position among the early favourites winning their Europa League matches with some ease.  Man City looked very impressive in their 2-0 win in Austria against Red Bull Salzburg, dominating the possession and creating plenty of chances. The goals came from David Silva and Jo and had the City players been a little more composed in front of goal the score could easily have been 4 or 5.

Liverpool had to wait until the 81st minute to ease their nerves in this game having been pegged back in the 1st half and only leading 2-1 thanks to a N’Gog penalty early in the second half. However 2 late goals made the scoreline a little more flattering. To be fair Liverpool were somewhat below strength and with a decent draw they should do well in the competition again this season. Last year they lost in the semi finals to eventual winners Atletico Madrid.

Atletico Madrid were shock losers in their opening game losing 1-0 away to Greek side Aris Salonika.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Liverpool & Manchester City Get Winnable Europa League groups

The UEFA Europa League logo.
Image via Wikipedia

England’s two remaining representatives in this seasons Europa League should both progress despite not having the easiest of groups to navigate.

Manchester City have been drawn with Italian giants Juventus but the other opponents Polands Lech Poznan, and Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg shouldn’t pose too many problems for them.

Liverpool have an even easier looking group with Celtic’s conquerors FC Utrecht looking the main challengers, while Napoli & Steaua Bucharest complete the group.

If they don’t both progress it will be down to second string squads being played rather than their actual capabilities. For the sake of the English Europa Coefficient lets hope they play to win, although it would take a cataclysmic set of results to push England out of the top three places, so losing that 4th Champions League place.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Manchester City & Liverpool Fly The Flag For England In Europa League

Dirk Kuyt
Image via Wikipedia

Manchester City and Liverpool both managed fairly comfortable wins to ensure they progressed to the group stages of the Europa League. Man City rarely looked troubled in seeing off FC Timisoara and the final score could have been higher had they moved out of second gear.

Livepool had a slightly harder time of things in Turkey, and when Teofilo Gutierrez put Trabzonspor a goal up in 4 minutes memories of Liverpool’s 1-0 deafeat to them in the European Cup came to mind. However a late own goal put Liverpool back in the driving seat and then Dirk Kuyt scored what could be his last goal for the club with 2 minutes left to seal the win.

Sadly Aston Villa, who look in a bit of turmoil at the moment couldn’t complete an English Hat trick of wins, as they crashed out to Rapid Vienna for the second time in two seasons. Since Martin O’Neil left over the James Milner transfer Villa have looked in a bit of turmoil, losing 6-0 at Newcastle in the league and now missing out on the Europa League Group Stages.

In the game itself Villa had enough chances to go through and with 12 minutes to go were still 3-2 up on aggregate. However two late strikes were enough to see the Austrians safely through.

Enhanced by Zemanta

TNS Hold CSKA To a 2-2 Draw In Europa League

Badge of The New Saints
Image via Wikipedia

The New Saints did Wales proud last night gaining what is arguably their best ever European result. Although the tie was practically over given their 3-0 loss in Bulgaria, TNS battled bravely and even when they went 4-0 down on aggregate they never gave up, no only leveling the score but actually taking the lead despite being down to 10 men at the time. Sadly a historic win was prevented when Tiboni scored CSKA’s Equaliser in the 80th minute.

The big disapointment was the attendance which was a hugely disapointing 843. Its a shame that the people of Wales cant show a bit more committment to the team, given they have done the country proud this year.  

Enhanced by Zemanta

Dreadful Night For Scottish Clubs In Europe

Ricky van Wolfswinkel
Image via Wikipedia

The continuing downward spiral Scottish domestic football seems stuck in was cruelly in evidence again last night as none of their representatives in the Europa League managed to make it to the group stages, with the biggest humiliation being saved for Celtic.

With a comfortable 2-0 lead from the home leg Celtic were expected to be more than capable of at least holding out and taking the tie on aggregate, however the writing was on the wall after 20 minutes when Utrecht leveled the scores thanks to a second Ricky van Wolfswinkel penalty. He completed his hat trick early in the second half and when Barry Maguire added the fourth Celtic’s night to forget was completed.

Dundee United were always going to struggle to qualify against AEK following their home leg defeat and once they went 2-0 down on aggregate thanks to a nice goal from ex Fulham & Portsmouth midfielder Papa Bouba Diop they never looked like getting back into the game. An equaliser on the night briefly gave them some hope but AEK were the better team on the night. The match was watched by a tiny crowd of only 600, of which 500 were Dundee United fans due to AEK’s pitch being unplayable and the vandalisation of the alternative venue at Panionios. This meant that the home fans were banned for fear of crowd trouble.

The only bright spot on the night was Motherwells valiant effort in defeat and despite going 3-1 down on aggregate thanks to Peter Utaka’s 28th minute goal, they continued to drive forward and battered the Odense goal. However it was not to be their night and even when playing against 10 men Odense somehow kept them at bay. A missed penalty summed up Motherwells night and the expectant crowd of 9,105 were left wondering what might have been had Well been a bit sharper in front to goal. Odense finished the game with 9 men as Espen Ruud was sent off when conceding the penalty.

This leaves Glasgow Rangers as Scotlands only European representative and given they are in a tough group its hard to see Scotland improving their European coeficient this year.  There is a real possibility that they could lose their second Champions League place soon if this dismal run continues.

Enhanced by Zemanta

No Home Field Advantage for AEK Athens Tonight

Dundee United, who are having a hard time of it in the SPL this season have been given a slight ray of hope tonight against AEK thanks to the home fans being banned due to the risk of crowd trouble.

The game was originally set to be played at the Olympic Stadium but this was  deemed unplayable on Monday and the venue switched to Nea Smyrni Stadium, the home of Greek Superleague rivals Panionios.

But with typical Greek fervor angry Panionios fans broke into the ground and proceeded to dig up the pitch and damaged the goalposts so ending any hope of playing it there. Now it looks like the crowd will struggle to reach 1,000 of which 600 will be Dundee United fans.

Even with no home crowd backing AEK will take some stopping and if Dundee United perform as they did against Inverness Caledonian on Saturday the final score could be embarrassing.

None of the British teams look assured of qualification tonight, however it will be a big surprise if Celtic Liverpool and Manchester City don’t make the group stages.

Aston Villa and Motherwell both have good chances, while Dundee United and Welsh Side TNS are playing in hope rather than expectation.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Good Wins For Manchester City & Celtic In Europa League

Celtic crest
Image via Wikipedia

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.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Seven British Clubs In Europa League Knockout Ties

The seven British clubs in the Europa League knock out stages kick of their 1st leg ties tonight with some facing tough tests. Of those involved Liverpool & Manchester City will be quietly confident of progressing against Turkish side Trabzonspor, and Romanians FC Timisora, and Aston Villa should be capable of beating Rapid Vienna over two legs. However the other four clubs face a slightly less certain future in the competition.

Unfortunately the three Scottish representatives Celtic, Motherwell and Dundee United have been handed very tricky ties and none can feel confident of progressing. If pushed for a prediction then it would be that Celtic and Dundee united will make it but Motherwell, who have done well to reach this stage will probably go out.

Flying the flag for Wales is The New Saints, TNS who are here like Celtic by virtue of their Champions League performances. They have an almighty task against Bulgarian side CSKA Sofia, and unfortunately its almost impossible to make a case for the Welsh side progressing.

Tonight’s Fixtures involving British Clubs:-

FC Timisoara v Man City

Rapid Vienna v Aston Villa

Odense BK v Motherwell

Celtic v FC Utrecht

Liverpool v Trabzonspor

Dundee Utd v AEK Athens

CSKA Sofia v The New Saints

Enhanced by Zemanta

Mixed Fortunes For British Clubs In Europa League Draw.

The Three English participants in this years Europa League should comfortably progress to the group stages thanks to being handed relatively straight forward ties.

Manchester City, who finished 5th in the Premier League last season have what should be a fairly straight forward task against FC Timisoara of Romania who just scraped past Finnish Minnows MyPa 1947 in the qualifying rounds. Unless Manchester City decide they don’t want to compete in this competition and put out a youth side there progression looks assured.

Aston Villa might have a bit more of a problem against Austrian side Rapid Vienna who boast several internationals in their squad and are 32 times Austrian Champions. They also have some European pedigree having twice reached the old Cup Winners Cup Final. If any of the English clubs are likely to struggle it will be them.  Martin O’Neil will need to put out a full strength squad if they are to progress to the group stages.

Liverpool have a potentially tricky but very winnable tie against Turkish side Trabzonspor, who although not a household name in the UK are the most successful Turkish club who are not based in Istanbul, having won the league 6 times and the main domestic cup 8 times. The clubs have met once before in Europe in the 1976-7 season in the European Cup ( the Champions League predecessor) 2nd round. Liverpool won 3-1 on aggregate but did lose 1-0 in the away leg before going on to lift the trophy for the 1st time.

Overall it will be a bit of a surprise if England doesn’t have all three teams in the group stages, although if one is to miss out it will probably be Villa.

The same cant be said for the remaining Scottish sides all of whom face tough tasks and it is not inconceivable that all three could miss out on the group stages.

Celtic face Dutch side FC Utrect, who finished 7th in the Eredivisie last season should be no match for the Scottish side, however Celtic being poor travelers will want to get a good lead in the home leg and anything less than a win at Park Head will probably se them go out. Still their spirited Emirates Cup performance and passable result against Braga should see them start favourites for this game.

Dundee United have a very tough draw, taking on Greek side AEK Athens who have played in Europe every year since the 1991-2 season and are veterans of 180 European games, including wind in the group stages of the Champions league. They made the group stage last season but heavy defeats by Everton effectively ended their hopes of further progress. Dundee United however are a team on the up and will enter the competition full of confidence thanks to an excellent SPL season. They also collected the Scottish Cup thanks to a comfortable win over Ross County. This one could be close but hopefully the Scots side will do enough to prevail.

Motherwell who have had to come through two qualifying games to reach this stage having first beat Breioablik of Iceland and then Aalesunds of Norway, will be hoping to make it three Scandanavian wins in a row when they face Denmark’s OB Odense. Odense are no world beaters and are currently languishing in 6th place in the Danish League although with only 3 matched played its early days. Motherwell have done really well to reach this stage given their limited resources and unfortunately this may be where their European Adventure ends.

Finally it is great to see Wales have a representative at this stage in the shape of The New Saints (TNS),who qualified by virtue of their Champions league achievements. TNS had a big European night against belgian side Andrelect and now have another nice tie against experience Bulgarian side CSKA Sofia, who put Cliftonville out in the last round.

Much as I would like to see TNS go through there is no way that they can overcome a side of CSKA’s caliber. Despite this hopefully the people of Wales will turn out and give them some decent support.

So overall we expect Liverpool Man City & Villa to progress without too much fuss, Celtic to scrape through thanks to their home form, Dundee United to just sneak it and Motherwell and TNS to bow out.

Still 5 British clubs in the group stages is a good result and if they take the tournament serious then a repeat of last seaons successes looks on the cards.

Europa League play-off draw in full:

Liverpool (England) v Trabzonspor (Turkey)

FC Timisoara(Romania) v Manchester City (England)

Rapid Vienna (Austria) v Aston Villa (England)

Celtic v Utrecht (Holland)

Dundee United  v AEK Athens (Greece)

OB Odense (Denmark) v Motherwell

CSKA Sofia (Bulgaria) v TNS (Wales)

Besiktas(Turkey) v HJK Helsinki (Finland)

Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia) v VfB Stuttgart (Germany)

Sibir Novosibirsk (Russia) v PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands)

BATE Borisov (Belarus) v Maritimo (Portugal)

Luzern (Switzerland) v Lokomotiv Moscow (Russia)

Gyor ETO (Hungary) v Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia)

PAOK Salonika (Greece) v Fenerbahce (Turkey)

Villarreal (Spain) v Dnepr Mogilev (Belarus)

Paris St Germain (France) v Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)

Bayer Leverkusen (Germany) v Tavria Simferopol (Ukraine)

CSKA Moscow (Russia) v Anorthosis Famagusta (Cyprus)

Hajduk Split (Croatia) v Unirea Urziceni (Romania)

Feyenoord (Netherlands) v Ghent (Belgium)

Racing Genk (Belgium) v Porto (Portugal)

Debrecen (Hungary) v Litex Lovech (Bulgaria)

Aris Saloniki (Greece) v Austria Vienna (Austria)

Galatasaray (Turkey) v Karpaty Lviv (Ukraine)

Palermo (Italy) v Maribor (Slovenia)

Club Bruges (Belgium) v Dinamo Minsk (Belarus)

Omonia (Cyprus) v Metalist Kharkiv (Ukraine)

Vaslui (Romania) v Lille (France)

Napoli (Italy) v Elfsborg Boras (Sweden)

Sporting (Portugal) v Brondby (Denmark)

Grasshoppers (Switzerland) v Steaua Bucharest (Romania)

Borussia Dortmund (Germany) v Garabagh Agdam (Azerbaijan)

AIK Stockholm (Sweden) v Levski Sofia (Bulgaria)

Sturm Graz (Austria) v Juventus (Italy)

Getafe (Spain) v APOEL Nicosia (Cyprus)

AZ Alkmaar (Netherlands) v FK Atyrau (Kazakhstan)

Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk(Ukraine) v Lech Poznan (Poland)

Enhanced by Zemanta
Page 1 of 41234»

Social Widgets powered by