Category Archives: Europa League

How Did Premier League Teams Fare in Europe?

Man Utd legend Rio Ferdinand worries about Andre Onana 'nightmare scenario'  after Bayern Munich howler | The Sun

The Premier League had eight representatives in the three European elite competitions, locking horns with several teams across the continent in the Match Day 1 fixtures.

The Champions League had the defending champions, Manchester City, alongside Arsenal, Manchester United and Newcastle, while the Europa League hosted the likes of Liverpool, Brighton and UEFA Conference League winners, West Ham. The only Premier League contingent in the Conference League this season was Aston Villa. Following their poor outings in the last Premier League campaign, Tottenham and Chelsea failed to qualify for Europe, which was surprising to say the least. 

Without further ado, here is the breakdown of Premier League clubs in the first round of European games.

Champions League

Arsenal 4-0 PSV

The Gunners put up a dominating performance against PSV Eindhoven in their return to the Champions League after six-and-a-half years out of the competition. Bukayo Saka opened the scoring from a rebound after Martin Odegaard’s goal-bound was saved by Walter Benitez. Saka turned from scorer to provider when he teed up Leandro Trossard in a transition play, and the Belgian maverick side-footed the ball home from outside the box.

Trossard got involved in the third goal of the night, dinking a sumptuous cross that was controlled superbly by Gabriel Jesus before he smashed the ball in with his follow up attempt. Arsenal captain, Martin Odegaard, put the final nail in PSV’s coffin with a trademark drilled effort to the far post. With the North London Derby looming, Mikel Arteta made some wholesale changes to key players to keep them fresh. 

Bayern Munich 4-3 Manchester United

It was a tumultuous time for both clubs, as the Bavarian giants didn’t have Thomas Tuchel in the dugout, following his suspension in the defeat to Manchester City last season, allowing Zsolt Low to take charge of the home side. Manchester United, on the other hand, has been plagued with issues on and off the pitch, and the players went into this game low in confidence, following successive Premier League losses to Arsenal and Brighton.

The opening goal of the match was downright embarrassing, as Leroy Sane fired a tame shot after a one-two with Harry Kane but for some inexplicable reason, the ball bundled past Andre Onana. The Cameroonian goalie probably wanted the ground to open for him to sink into, but the game had to go on. Bayern doubled their lead when the uber-talented Jamal Musiala made a mazy run and found Serge Gnabry from the byline, whose one-timed finish left Onana rooted to the spot.

Manchester United clawed one back through a scrappy goal from Rasmus Hojlund, but when Christian Eriksen handled the ball in his box from a Bayern Munich corner, and after a VAR check, a penalty was awarded. There are certain things in life – death, taxes and Harry Kane smashing in from 12 yards, which ensured Bayern’s two goal lead was restored, and the English captain scoring his first Champions League goal for the club against English opposition. This things are written in the stars, I guess.

Manchester United rallied for comeback and reduced the deficit again from Casemiro. The Brazilian midfielder showed great determination to latch onto Anthony Martial’s pass and fired the ball home while he was on the ground, but the Premier League side’s hope of an equalizer were dashed when Mathys Tel blasted in Bayern’s fourth goal of the night, thanks to a combination of Joshua Kimmich’s brilliant pass and shocking defending. Casemiro was on hand again to nod in Bruno Fernandes’ dead ball, bringing the pulsating encounter to an end.

This was Manchester United’s fourth defeat in five games, and they will need to come out of their shell when they face Burnley this weekend.

AC Milan 0-0 Newcastle

Nothing much to say about this game than the fact that it was a goalkeeping clinic from Nick Pope. The big man made eight key saves and was more than a match for everything the Italian giant posed at him. The defending was very resolute and Newcastle offered nothing from an attacking perspective. 

With Paris St. Germain and Borussia Dortmund still to play, Eddie Howe would know that he has his work cut out for him if he wants to advance from this Group of Death.

Manchester City 3-1 Red Star Belgrade

Like we have come to see in recent times, Manchester City always dominate their opposition but still find a way to concede in the game. Shockingly, Red Star Belgrade ended the first half ahead of the proceedings when Omar Bukari broke free of the defense and blasted the ball past Ederson.

Manchester City was a different beast in the second half and it was no surprise seeing them hit hard at Red Star Belgrade with everything they had. The Cityzen got a well-deserved equalizer when the red-hot Julian Alvarez latched onto Erling Haaland’s past, breezed past the goalie and prodded the ball home. Alvarez continued his good form by scoring a free kick from some distance, although it was more attributed to a poor goalkeeping display from Omri Glazer. Rodri settled the contest with a well placed effort to send Manchester City home and dry.

Europa League

West Ham 3-1 TSC Backa Topola

Featuring in the Europa League against such unknown opposition from Serbia afforded David Moyes the chance to rest his big guns with the likes of Lukasz Fabianski, Thilo Kehrer, Angelo Ogbonna, Aaron Cresswell, Pablo Fornals and Danny Ings. There were full debuts for new signings, Muhammed Kudus and Konstatinos Mavropanos.

The first goal arrived in comedic fashion as Ogbonna was robbed off the ball close to the center circle by Petar Stanic. The Serb used his pace to bear down on goal before placing it past Fabianski to put the visitors ahead in the London Stadium. The Hammers got an equalizer after some brilliant work from Said Benrahma on the left. His cross was aimed for Kudus but Nemanja Petrovic got ahead of the Ghanaian and scored an unfortunate own goal.

There was no denying Kudus his first West Ham goal when he got ahead of a defender to head James Ward-Prowse’s corner kick from point blank range. James Ward-Prowse was back on the assists again when his second was headed home by Tomas Soucek. Ward-Prowse has been a phenomenal signing for West Ham, scoring two goals and five assists in his first five games with the club.

LASK 1-3 Liverpool

Just like West Ham, Liverpool used the Europa League to rest a host of key players, handing out starts to Caoimhin Kelleher, Kostas Tsimikas, Stefan Bajcetic, Ben Doak, Harvey Elliot, Watara Endo, Darwin Nunez and new signing, Ryan Gravenberch.

The opening goal was a scorcher with Florian Flecker latching onto Sascha Horvath’s corner and blasting the ball home. Liverpool got their equalizer from the penalty spot, with Nunez converting from 12 yards when Luis Diaz was scythed down by a LASK defender. The Reds, in Purple, got ahead when Gravenberch sent a carefully threaded pass to Diaz, whose one-time finish put the ball past Tobias Lawal in the LASK goal. 

The final goal of the night was scored by the Pharoah himself, Mo Salah, who came on as a sub to get some minutes under his belt. He received Nunez pass, darted into the six yard box and poked the ball through the goalies legs in typical Salah fashion.

Brighton 2-3 AEK Athens

Brighton received a rude awakening in their first ever Europa League outing, as Greek side, AEK Athens came to their home turf to repeat the feat West Ham did a few weeks ago.

The match opener arrived when Djibril Sidibe was completely unmarked at the edge of the box and headed home a well lofted corner from Ehsan Haji Safi. Brighton earned a penalty in an awkward fashion, when Joao Pedro was tackled in the box by Safi and was given a yellow card for simulation, but after a VAR check, the referee reversed his initial decision and made the correct call. Pedro stepped up and converted the spot kick.

AEK Athens got ahead again after Levi Garcia’s free kick was sent home by Mijat Gacinovic. The Brighton defending was really poor and they got punished. Joao Pedro won yet another penalty when he used his pace to rob the ball off Damian Szymanski that brought him down as he attempted a clearance. He stepped up and sent the goalie the wrong way to level the scoring.

Brighton received a sucker punch late on, when Ezequiel Ponce took Niclas Eliasson’s pass on his stride and placed it past Jason Steele. 

Conference League

Legia Warsaw 3-2 Aston Villa

The last English team that featured in the UEFA Conference League won the whole damn thing, and in Unai Emery, Aston Villa has a manager with European winning pedigree, but they started their Conference League campaign on the wrong foot, losing to Legia Warsaw. With half an eye on the all-important clash against Chelsea, Emery made some wholesale changes with new loan signing from Barcelona, Clement Lenglet, coming into the fray alongside Calum Chambers, Youri Tielemans, Leon Bailey, Nicolo Zaniolo and Jhon Duran.

Legia Warsaw grabbed the lead when Pawel Wszlolek blasted in a cross from Patryk Kun in the center of the box. Aston Villa got their equalizer in swift fashion, just three minutes after Legia Warsaw scored from Duran. The hosts went ahead though star player, Ernest Muci, but Aston Villa clawed them back through a very good goal from Lucas Digne. With Moreno returning from injury, Digne’s place is under threat. 

Muci scored his brace and what proved to be the match winner, sending Villa fans to agony.

It was an eventful set of European games and it was nice to see Premier League clubs slug it out against the rest of the continent. 


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Arsenal 1-1 Sporting CP: Gunners Penalized on Penalties

Arsenal 1-1 Sporting CP (3-3 agg, 3-5 pens): Martinelli penalty heartache  ends Gunners' Europa League hopes

Antonio Adan was the hero of the night for Sporting CP

Match Report – Match Highlights – Post-Match Press Conference

Final Result: Arsenal 1-1 Sporting CP  (Xhaka 19′ | Goncalves 62′)

Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Ramsdale; Tomiyasu (White 9′), Saliba (Holding 21′), Gabriel, Zinchenko; Jorginho (Partey 65′), Xhaka; Nelson (Saka 66′), F. Vieira (Odegaard 100′), Martinelli; G. Jesus (Trossard 46′)

Following the pulsating 2-2 draw at Lisbon, the stage was set for what was going to be a thriller, and Arsenal gaffer, Mikel Arteta, made some changes to the squad that ran riot against Fulham over the weekend. Takehiro Tomiyasu came in for Ben White in right back, Jorginho returned to the fray with Thomas Partey rested. In midfield, Fabio Vieira and Reiss Nelson got the nod ahead of Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka, while Gabriel Jesus made his first start in four months ahead of the hattrick of assists hero, Leandro Trossard.

The first notable highlight of the game was Tomiyasu leaving the pitch due to injury after he hyper-extended his knee in an attempted tackle on Francisco Trincao. It looked innocuous at the onset but after spending time with the physios, it was evident that his night was over. Sporting CP drew first blood when Trincao waltzed his way from the right and fashioned a chance for himself, curling a good effort that missed by a lick of paint. However, Arsenal scored the all-important match opener when Jorginho located Gabriel Martinelli with a peach of a pass. The Brazilian bore down on goal from the left like he did against Leicester, but his shot was parried by Antonio Adan in the Sporting CP goal. Captain of the night, Granit Xhaka, latched on the parried effort and smashed in a rebound that went past the goalie to the Sporting CP net. 

Arsenal’s joy from the goal was somewhat short-lived, as William Saliba had to be subbed for Rob Holding due to injury. Saliba has been immense all season long, so losing him now will be a very bitter pill to swallow. We hope it was precautionary as the defender was clearly in some discomfort and signaled to be substituted.

Arsenal had a chance to go two goals up when Gabriel Jesus showed great movement to evade his markers and fire a goal-bound shot, but Adan made a superb save on his near post. Late on, Sporting CP almost leveled the tie when Manuel Ugarte saw Aaron Ramsdale off his line, but his drilled effort ricocheted off a player to go wide. Based on recommendations from the medical team, or just a tactical switch, Arteta felt that Gabriel Jesus had run his race for the night and brought on Trossard as a half time sub.

Early in the second half, Sporting CP got the equalizer from one of the most audacious goals you’d ever see. Jorginho and Xhaka attempted a one-two in the center circle with Jorginho failing to connect with the loose ball from Xhaka. Paulinho, who wasn’t having any joy in Arsenal’s box, won the ball from Jorginho in the Arsenal half and passed it to Pedro Goncalves. The young Portuguese has already scored 16 goals this season and is full of confidence, but it still takes some stuffing to attempt what he did. See Ramsdale way off his line, Goncalves launched a fantastic lofted surface-to-goal piledriver that floated in the air before dipping under the cross bar to hit the back of the net.


It’s the kind of goal that gets nominated for a Puskas Award, and sadly, Arsenal were on the receiving end of it.

The home side’s confidence was rattled by conceding such a goal, Sporting CP had the wind in their sails, with Paulinho guiding his header from a corner kick over the cross bar. With Sporting CP clearly on the ascendancy, Arteta looked to gain a stronghold of the game and brought on the duo of Saka and Partey. As expected, Partey brought stability to the middle of the park while Saka became a thorn in the flesh of the Sporting CP defenders. 

With Arsenal pushing to get the match winner, there was some vulnerabilities at the back and a through ball to Marcus Edwards with Holding no where in sight saw the young North London lad go one on one with Ramsdale, but his shot smashed Ramsdale on the face for a corner kick. 90 minutes wasn’t enough to settle the contest and extra time beckoned. 

Arsenal had a big chance to settle the contest when a terrible past for Youssef Chermiti put Trossard through, but he fired his shot on an onrushing Adan, who tipped the ball to the woodwork, before a Sporting CP defender cleared the ball. Odegaard came on for the ineffectual Vieira to add some impetus to the Arsenal attack, and the home side went for the jugular but didn’t draw blood. Three set pieces in quick succession ensued, with Holding nodding Saka’s corner over the bar, and Gabriel attacking the ball twice with goal-bound headers but Adan was on hand to make more important saves.

With both teams failing to settle the contest in 120 minutes, we had to go to the lottery of the penalty shootout, and all honesty, I wasn’t too confident, bearing in mind that Adan had a stromer, and the nerves could get the better of the youngins in the club. The fact that Sporting CP started the kicks and played them close to their own fans didn’t help as well.

Jeremiah St. Juste blasted the opener past Ramsdale, before Odegaard side-footed his own spot kick to the far corner, sending the goalie the wrong way. Ricardo Esgaio had too much power in his penalty which was to hot for Ramsdale, before the starboy, Saka, came on and confidently dispatched his past Adan. Both takers for the third spot kick had nervy moments, with Ramsdale getting a hand, albeit a weak one, to Goncalo Inacio’s penalty, and Trossard’s own kick just crept beyond Adan.

Then came the fourth spot kicks. Artur Gomes’ penalty was quite poor, but it somehow found its way under Ramsdale to make it 4-3. Martinelli stepped up, bounced the ball for God knows how long, dropped it on the spot and side-footed a poor ball that was parried by Adan.

This meant that Nuno Santos, scorer of that amazing rabona goal against Boavista over the weekend, had a chance to put his name in the tabloids as a hero in Lisbon. The Baldie dropped the ball on the spot and absolutely smashed it past Ramsdale to make it 5-3. This is the second competition that this Arsenal side is crashing out on home turf, with Brighton defeating the Gunners before the World Cup at the Carabao Cup’s first hurdle.

The manager spoke about the rued misses in the game in his post-match presser, and stated that Martinelli will bounce back from his penalty losing anguish, like Saka did in the European Championships finals last summer. He also touched on the injuries suffered in the contest, and while Tomiyasu’s own would probably be long term, Saliba might be available for selection against Crystal Palace.

As Odegaard clearly stated, we have 11 finals to play in the Premier League, starting with Crystal Palace at home this weekend. In as much as I’d have loved to go all the way in the Europa League, losing out now, brings clarity to the season, as stated by the gaffer, Arteta.

“It’s a huge blow, but it brings clarity to the season. It’s 11 games to play for, 11 Premier League games, and a big final against Crystal Palace. The focus has to be there, the energy has to be there and learn from tonight.”


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Sporting CP 2-2 Arsenal: Spoils Shared at the Iberian Battle

Sporting CP 2 - 2 Arsenal - Match Report |

Match Report – Match Highlights  Post-Match Press Conference

Final Result: Sporting CP 2-2 Arsenal (Inacio 34′, Paulinho 55′ | Saliba 22′, Morita OG 62′)

Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Turner; White, Saliba, Kiwior (Gabriel 71′), Zinchenko (Tomiyasu 63′); Jorginho (Partey 71′), Xhaka; Saka, F. Vieira, Nelson (Smith-Rowe 71′); Martinelli

Prior to kickoff, there was talk of illness swapping through the squad with Kieran Tierney, Martin Odegaard and Gabriel Jesus affected, but rotations were still expected, as Arsenal gaffer, Mikel Arteta, made six changes to the side that won right at the death against Bournemouth. Matt Turner stepped in between the sticks for Aaron Ramsdale, Jakub Kiwior made his long awaited debut ahead of Gabriel, who was overdue for a rest, Jorginho got the nod ahead of Partey while the likes of Fabio Vieira and goalscoring hero, Reiss Nelson, got starts.

However, it was Sporting CP that drew first blood when their dangerman, Pedro Goncalves, got behind Jorginho and sent William Saliba to the cleaners before side footing a shot that went wide off the mark. Arsenal had the lion’s share of the possession and it took its toll after some pressure led to a corner kick that was swung in by Vieira and nodded home by Saliba. While his teammates celebrated with the big defender for converting yet another set piece, there was some altercation between Oleksandr Zinchenko and the Sporting CP captain, Sebastien Coates. That earned both players a place in the referee’s book, but there was more damage done to the Sporting CP backline, as Coates, who was walking on a tight rope before the match, earned himself a suspension for the second leg next week.

Zinchenko put that fracas behind him and was close to doubling Arsenal’s lead when he blasted a shot at the edge of the area straight to Antonio Adan in goal after his initial freekick was blocked by the wall. Sporting CP’s center forward, Paulinho, held the ball up against Saliba and fed his left center back, Goncalo Inacio, that had made a rare foray to support the attack. Inacio’s low drive was saved superbly by Turner, but the American goalie, and his Polish colleague, Kiwior, wouldn’t cover themselves in glory for the equalizer conceded by Arsenal. Kiwior failed to jump at the ball and Turner was in sixes and sevens as Inacio leapt to repeat the feat Saliba did at the other end 11 minutes earlier.

Sporting CP pressed the Gunners hard, forcing Arteta’s men to make mistakes at the back, but Turner showed great awareness to make a save from Marcus Edwards shot. Just before the halftime whistle, Granit Xhaka made contact with Nelson’s looping cross, which some of the ball had passed the line, but Adan reacted well to make a great save. There was time for some comedy and confusion when the referee handed a yellow card to Gabriel Martinelli, when it was Xhaka that clearly impeded the goalkeeper. It brought back memories of Kieran Gibbs earning a red card for a handball committed by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Right at the end of the half, Turner made a huge mistake to play the ball out from the back and passed the ball straight to Paulinho. Luckily for Turner and Arsenal, Edwards wasn’t on the same wavelength with his strike partner and that great chance for Sporting CP went begging. 

The start of the second half was pulsating with end to end stuff from both sides, earning the appreciation of both crowds and surely the viewers watching at home. Sporting CP started the attacking bouts with Francisco Trincao wiggling his way into the danger area and blasting a shot that was saved by Turner, but Hidemasa Morita’s rebound was weak, allowing the goalie to recover and make a routine save. Arsenal launched their own flurry of attacks in quick succession, and it commenced when Zinchenko sent Martinelli clean on goal with an intelligent pass, but the Brazilian chose precision over power, allowing Adan to make a good smart save. Vieira had a chance at the edge of the box and fired just wide. Martinelli got on the end of a beautiful Zinchenko cross and failed to hit the target.

You just had a feeling that Arsenal would be made to rue those misses and it came to pass with Goncalves firing a low drive that was parried by Turner, but his effort went straight to the path of Paulinho that was sandwiched between two Arsenal defenders but reacted quicker than them to guide the ball to an unguarded net. Martinelli had a chance to equalize for Arsenal when he made a lung-bursting incredible solo run, a la Chelsea at Stamford Bridge a few seasons ago, but instead of placing the ball past the keeper, he chose to go round him, allowing Justin St. Juste to make a last-ditch challenge to quell the threat. The game was quite open and the Arsenal defense was left exposed when an over the top ball saw Paulinho bear down on goal with only the keeper to beat but his lack of composure got the better of him as he blasted his effort wide.

That critical miss came back to bite Sporting CP as Arsenal clawed themselves back into the game when Xhaka’s attempted pass to Martinelli was intercepted by Morita, but the goalie was left flat-footed, as the interception turned out to be an embarrassing own goal. The night couldn’t get any worse for Morita, whose yellow card a few minutes earlier ruled him out of the second leg. 

Takehiro Tomiyasu came on for Zinchenko and got in on the attacking act when he went to the byline and swung in a cross for Vieira whose header was tipped over the bar by Adan. Loads of substitutions took place afterwards for both sides and the introduction of Thomas Partey, as well as Gabriel, brought some much needed security to the Arsenal backline, and as expected the tempo of the game was slowed down. There was almost time for late drama, and it was served by Bukayo Saka, that managed to evade his markers and blast a shot that was saved by Adan. A few millimeters to the far post, like he did with David de Gea, and Arsenal fans would have gone into delirium.

A draw seemed like a fair result in the grand scale of things, a sentiment shared by captain of the night, Granit Xhaka. Arsenal have it all to do in the second leg, but they will have to return to the Premier League to take on Fulham in their charge to win their first league title in 19 years.

After a quite intense battle in the Iberian peninsula, the spoils were shared, and we have no arguments with that.


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