Category Archives: EUROPA LEAGUE




In a battle of two historic giants of European football, Ajax play host to Scottish champions Celtic on Thursday in the first game of UEFA Europa League Group A, Will Burns is on hand with a full lowdown on Ronny Deila’s men.

CelticNo stranger to European competition, Glasgow-based club Celtic hold the moniker of being the first British club to have won the European Cup defeating Inter Milan in the final in May 1967. Domestically, The Hoops have clinched a grand total of 46 Scottish League titles and the Scottish F.A. Cup on 36 occasions, while lifting the League Cup a total of 15 times.

In the 1966-67 European Cup winning season, Celtic enjoyed their most successful year when it comes to silverware which will possibly never ever be repeated. Not only claiming European football’s most coveted prize but winning the League title, the Scottish F.A. Cup, the League Cup and the lesser-known Glasgow Cup.

After dispatching the threat of Aberdeen last season on the way to lifting the League title once again, Champions League qualification was a mist for the Scottish giants. However, a disappointing qualification campaign in pre-season in which Scottish clubs wade through three sets of qualifiers before clinching as group stage spot, Celtic fell at the final hurdle. A 5-0 aggregate win over Icelandic champions KR Reykjavík meant Celtic must face their conquers from the 2013/14 qualifiers, Polish side Legia Warsaw. After crashing to a 4-1 defeat away in Warsaw, Ronny Deila’s men hit Legia with a 3-0 defeat to emerge to the playoff on away goals. NK Maribor stood in Celtic’s way of the group stages and unfortunately for The Bhoys after holding the Slovenian champions to a 1-1 draw, they failed to clinch the spot after Maribor captain Tavares notched the only goal of the game.

Deila now has to prepare Celtic for another Europa League run after his first one ended in a valiant, but failed effort (4-3 on aggregate) last season with a last sixteen defeat to their 1966/67 final opponents Inter Milan.


The defending Scottish Premiership champions dropped two points to their closest rivals Aberdeen on Saturday lunchtime. What made things worse was that The Dons were down to ten-men when The Bhoys conceded the fatal second goal in a 2-1 defeat.

The result will have been a bitter blow to the confidence of Ronny Deila and his squad and Ajax and Frank de Boer may chomping at the bit, knowing this may be the perfect time to add more weight on The Hoops’ shoulders.

Celtic set up for Saturday’s game in a 4-2-3-1 formation and held the majority of the possession in the fierce but a close match at Pittodrie, however in front of goal is where they lost the game. Only three shots landed on target with eight sailing into the stands. The back four received a shake-up after Virgil van Dijk moved south to the Premier League in the transfer window so Tyler Blackett partnered Dedryck Boyata (pardon spelling in the below graphic) in the centre of the defence, wth Charlie Mulgrew on the left and the usually reliable Swedish right-back Mikael Lustig slotting into his normal position, although he did not appear comfortable dealing with Aberdeen’s crosses.

Celtic like to use a long ball from the back to send speedy striker Leigh Griffiths on his way racing onto goal, which is how the opener came about. Left-back Charlie Mulgrew launched a ball over the top of the Aberdeen back four onto Griffiths chest and Reds defender Andrew Considine pulled back the striker to give away a penalty. Griffiths converted for his ninth goal of the season.

150914 - Celtic

However, Aberdeen were encouraged by some slack passing by Boyata, and gradually claimed a foothold to fight back and grab an equaliser through a spot-kick of their own after the Belgian defender bundled Graham Shinnie over in the area in what was an unnecessary challenge. Adam Rooney stepped up to level the game up.

Tempers flared, as they do between these sides and Jonny Hayes was dismissed on 72 minutes for rash challenge on Lustig. Defensive frailties were unveiled in the dying seconds when Celtic simply failed to defend a free-kick that allowed Paul Quinn, unmarked, to head home the winner and send Aberdeen top of the Scottish Premiership with a game in hand.


A relatively young manager at only 39 years of age, former Norwegian defender Deila took over the reins at Parkhead in June last year after being very successful in his homeland with Strømsgodset, winning the Tippeligaen before leaving for Glasgow.

Quite the fan favourite for Hoops fans after just over a year in the job, Deila lead Celtic to a League and League Cup double but after failing to qualify for the Champions League football this year, the critics were out in force, pondering whether or not he is up for the job.

KEY PLAYER: Stefan Johansen

Strangely enough, Stefan Johansen arrived from Strømsgodset before Ronny Deila joined Celtic, then-manager Neil Lennon paid a £2 million fee for the midfielder. That price, after just over a year at the club, looks to be a absolute snip as Johansen has excelled and won acclaim for fans and the press for his performances in the League and Europe last term.

The 24-year old, Johansen is a technical, smart central midfielder with tremendous awareness for a pass. The left-footer’s range of passing is impressive and also a real threat from free-kicks. At Celtic he is played with as a creative playmaker in the middle of the park but can also be at home in a deep-lying role when protecting a lead.

Johansen will be have to be closely marked by Frank de Boer’s midfield with youngster Riechedly Bazoer or the experienced Nemanja Gudelj will have the task of keeping the Norwegian under control – both will have their hands full.


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This Thursday night John van der Brom takes AZ Alkmaar over to Serbia to face the stern test of Partizan Belgrade, here’s Milos Dusanovic of Serbian Footy to give us the lowdown on the current SuperLiga champions.

Partizan Belgrade

FK Partizan is one of the most famous and storied football clubs from the former Yugoslavia and Eastern Europe. They have won 26 league titles, 12 cup titles and were the first Eastern European club to appear in a major European final when they lost 2-1 to Real Madrid in the 1966 European Champions Cup.

Partizan has had modest success in Europe in the last 15 years, they have qualified for the Champions League group stages twice (2003 and 2010) and the Europa League group stages a total of seven times (2004,2006,2008,2009,2012,2014 and 2015). Partizan reached the round of sixteen of the Europa League in 2004 but since then they have only managed one victory in their last 26 group stage matches which is a truly terrible record. They will hope to end that horrible streak this time around but group L is extremely tough and it will take a lot for them to get a victory.


Partizan usually plays in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with most of their attacks coming from the wings through Andrija Živković and Aboubakar Oumarou. They also rely on the creativity of midfielders Stefan Babović and Saša Ilić to create goalscoring chances through the middle.

When it comes to Europe, the club installs defensive tactics and looks to hurt their opponents on the counter. Unfortunately this tactic does not work very well for them because the clubs back four is very weak and susceptible to mental and positioning errors.

150914 - Partizan Belgrade

The last match Partizan played was the 149th Belgrade Derby against bitter rivals Red Star this past weekend. Their defence was continuously cut apart in that match en-route to a disappointing 3-1 defeat. More of the same should be expected when they come up against stronger opposition in Group L.

MANAGER PROFILE: Zoran Milinković

Partizan’s manager is Zoran Milinković, he was appointed in late March and led the club to a league title. He is a experienced Serbian manager who is known for having organized sides that play hard.

He is currently on the hot seat and in danger of losing his job after the clubs poor performance in the Belgrade Derby. The usually dominant Partizan currently sits fourth in the league table with three losses from eight matches which is their worst start to a season since 2006/2007. If these disappointing results continue Milinković will be relieved of his duties before the end of the month.

KEY PLAYER: Andrija Živković

Partizan’s main danger man is without a doubt 19-year-old Andrija Živković. The speedy winger is one of the most coveted young players in Europe after leading Serbia to a surprising first place finish at this years’ FIFA Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand.

Živković is a difference maker on the pitch and his combination of speed and skill is very difficult for any side to deal with. He is Partizan’s main offensive weapon and the key to their counter attacking strategy in European matches.

Živković is also known for his set pieces, he can score free kicks and has a very good delivery from corner kicks which adds another potentially dangerous element to Partizan’s attacking play.


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EUROPA LEAGUE: Sparta Prague 3-1 PEC Zwolle






PEC Zwolle’s European dreams are over as Czech side Sparta Prague blew Ron Jans’ side away tonight in a 3-1 triumph writes Will Burns.

Sparta exploded out of the blocks and were ahead after just nine minutes with Ladislav Krejčí breaking past the Zwolle defence to slot past Diederik Boer in goal.

Zwolle attacked, searching for the equaliser and the all-important away goal but were hit on the break before half-time to virtually kill the tie off. Midfielder Bořek Dočkal finished a counter attack with a blast from outside the area, which cruelly deflected off Maikel van der Werff with Boer totally out of the reach.

Prague found a third just after the hour mark through Jakub Brabec before Zwolle grabbed a consolation through a Stef Nijland penalty kick, after Mustafa Saymak was fouled in the area by Radoslav Kováč.

The adventure is over for Zwolle, however they can be proud of reaching Europe just two seasons after promotion and with Ron Jans’ leadership they might be to qualify next year.


SPARTA PRAGUE: Bičík, Brabec, Kovac, Kadeřábek, Nhamoinesu, Matejovsky, Dockal, Mareček, Vacek (Konate 84), Krejci (Nespor 90+1), Lafata (Brezanik 90+1).

SUBS NOT USED: Stech, Svejdik, Hybs, Bednar.

GOALS: Krejci 10, Dockal 44, Brabec 62.

BOOKINGS: Matejovsky 32, Brabec 56, Nhamoinesu 57.

PEC ZWOLLE: Boer, Van Polen, Sainsbury, Van der Werff, Van Hintum, Rienstra, Saymak, Lukoki (Dekker 78), Drost, Thomas (Moro 70), Necid (Nijland 55).

SUBS NOT USED: De Jong, Ioannidis, Pereira, Lam.

GOALS: Nijland 83P.

BOOKINGS: Sainsbury 36.


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EUROPA LEAGUE: Feyenoord 4-3 Zoyra






Feyenoord win 5-4 on aggregate

Elvis is the KING of Rotterdam after a late Elvis Manu goal saved Feyenoord’s blushes and fired them into the Europa League group stages writes Ryan O’Grady.

Three lucky goals for Feyenoord followed by three defensive lapses that cost three goals and to round it all off Manu, the substitute, scored the winner in the 92nd minute. The fact that Feyenoord are through will cover up serious issues with their defensive performance tonight, but judging by Manu & Co’s reaction at the final whistle that’s something they’ll deal with that later because now is the time to celebrate their passage onto the group stages.

After a disappointing defeat at the weekend to Utrecht the pressure was on for Fred Rutten and he made two changes to the team, Nelom and Manu were replaced by Kongolo and Basaçikoglu respectively. Feyenoord started well with Schaken winning a free kick just to the right of the box after a foul by Ignjatijević. The Zorya defence dealt with the initial free kick but they could only clear it as far as Schaken on the edge of the box whose shot pinballed off different players before falling to te Vrede but his shot was well saved by Shevchenko. Then in the ninth minute Zorya had a chance of their own, after winning a free kick just outside the box, the ball was floated in and Segbefia got his head on it but it was blocked well by van Beek just in front of goal.

In the 13th minute Budkivskiy received the ball inside the D and turned van Beek before going down inside the box and the penalty was given, however the linesman immediately called over the referee and told him that Budkivskiy was pulling van Beek shirt and on replay he was shown to be correct and the penalty decision was rescinded with Budkivskiy lucky not to get booked for going down easily. Feyenoord replied with a goal from a free kick, it was delivered into the box and was dealt with once more by the Zorya defence but it again fell to a Feyenoord player, this time Vilhena, his shot was also deflected but it again fell to Te Vrede who this time made no mistake and smashed it home hard and low.

Almost straight from the kick off a cross was put in for te Vrede but it was just too high and skimmed the striker’s head. In the 22nd minute the Feyenoord defence fell asleep, the ball was put into the Feyenoord box from the right wing and both van Beek and Wilkshire went for the same ball and got in each other’s way allowing the ball to fall to Malinovskiy but he seemed to panic under pressure from Immers and hit the crossbar when he should’ve at least got it on target. This moment of hesitation was punished almost immediately when Vilhena crossed from deep and Kongolo rose up to meet the header but missed the target, however it fell to Schaken who bundled it in from close range. After the goal Feyenoord seemed to be settling down for half time which meant there wasn’t a lot happened after that only when Basaçikoglu broke clear before sending in a dreadful cross.

The second half started well for Feyenoord, only two minutes in Schaken sent in a cross that should have been easily cleared but Bilyi didn’t seem to know what to do with it, eventually stooping low and heading it into his own net. Straight from the restart the Zorya players sent the ball back to their keeper who was charged down by Schaken and Shevchenko’s clearance hit Schaken right in the face before just going over the crossbar.

After this near miss Feyenoord’s defence crumbled, first Basaçikoglu gave away a foul on the near touchline in the 56th minute and the free kick was converted by Malinovskiy who got the slightest of touches on it with a free diving header. Then in the 70th minute, following a relatively quiet period, Kongolo headed out a dangerous looking cross for a corner but the resulting corner was converted by Bilyi who was inexplicably unmarked inside the six-yard box.

The comeback was complete in the 78th minute when just before he received the ball Immers slipped allowing Malinovskiy to collect the ball and from around 35 yards out scored a screamer into the bottom right corner leaving Mulder with no chance, however you could argue that once Immers slipped the defence could’ve put more pressure on him, instead they backed off allowing him to score and send the ten Zorya fans that had bothered to turn up into ecstasy.

This forced Rutten to bring on two attackers in Manu and Achahbar, for Clasie and Mathijsen respectively. The Manu substitution paid off in the 92nd minute when he received the ball on the edge of the box before impressively spinning and pushing past three players and slotting the ball home to spark rapturous celebrations all around De Kuip including on the bench and in the Director’s box.


FEYENOORD: Mulder, Wilkshire, Van Beek, Mathijsen (Manu 84), Kongolo, Clasie (Achahbar 84), Immers, Vilhena, Schaken, Te Vrede, Basacikoglu (Nelom 78).

SUBS NOT USED: Hahn, Nelom, Steenvoorden, Karsdorp, Vormer, Manu, Achahbar.

GOALS: Te Vrede 18, Schaken 27, Bilyi 48OG, Manu 90+2.

BOOKINGS: Basacikoglu 55, Te Vrede 87, Manu 90+3.

ZOYRA: Sjevtsjenko, Kamenjoeka, Bilyi, Ignjatijevic (Pysko 72), Pyljavskji, Karavajev (Chaykovsky 79), Tsjaikovksy, Segbefia (Ljubenovic 66), Malynovskyj, Chomtsjenovsky, Boedkivskij.

SUBS NOT USED: Santini, Lipartia, Yarmash, Boroday.

GOALS: Malynovskyj 56 & 80, Bilyi 71.



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EUROPA LEAGUE: FC Twente 1-1 Qarabag FK






Qarabag win on away goal rule 1-1

In the shock of the night, FC Twente were knocked out on away goals to Azerbaijan side Qarabag FK reports Will Burns.

Twente should have had this tie wrapped up when looking at the sides on paper but tonight, they were below par and rightly so, Qarabag emerged into tomorrow’s group stage draw.

Cuco Martina and Kamohelo Mokotjo were nearly punished for mistakes early on but Brazilian striker Reynaldo failed to have the quality to get past Twente keeper Nick Marsman.

The hosts gathered up the play but failed to trouble the Azerbaijan’s representatives until they took the lead before half-time through Luc Castaignos. Kasper Kusk and Kyle Ebecilio combined with the latter feeding the ball through to the big striker to finish in style.

The second-half began and Twente seemed content in keeping just the one goal advantage, however Qarabag had other ideas and five minutes into the half, they drew level. Albanian Ansi Agolli laid the ball into Macedonian international Muarem Muarem, whose first touch was awful, did well to control after the ball flicked up to volley home past Marsman. This was the away goal that all Twente fans dreaded.

The game dwindled on with chances being missed from Castaignos, Mokotjo and Hakim Ziyech. The latter going the closest, smashing an effort across the post.

Twente ran out of time and Qarabag and their small minority of their fans celebrated as the underdogs head into the group stages for the first time.


FC TWENTE: Marsman, Martina, Lachman, Bjelland, Schilder, Ebecilio (Eghan 64), Mokotjo, Ziyech (Borven 79), Mokhtar (Ould-Chikh 90+3), Castaignos, Kusk.

SUBS NOT USED: Stevens, Koppers, Breukers, Bengtsson.

GOALS: Castaignos 37.


QARABAĞ FK: Šehić, Qarayev, Medvedev, Sadygov, Agolli, Guseynov, Reynaldo, Muarem (Dias 71), Almeida, Chumbinhno(Yusifov 79), Nadirov (Teli 85).

SUBS NOT USED: Veliyev, Quliyev, Ahmadov, George.

GOALS: Muarem 51.

BOOKINGS: Qarayev 86.


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EUROPA LEAGUE: FC Shakhtyor Soligorsk 0-2 PSV






PSV win 3-0 on aggregate

Memphis Depay scored two late goals in a poor games against FC Shakhtyor, to send PSV into tomorrow’s group stage draw writes Will Burns.

Philip Cocu named a strong side in Belarus this evening as a place in the Europa League group stages and around €3 million in revenue was at stake. Only a few changes in the eleven that defeated rivals Ajax last Sunday, with the impressive Luciano Narsingh on the bench with Jetro Willems with Georginio Wijnaldum not in the matchday eighteen. Oskar Hiljemark sat in the midfield with Jürgen Locadia up front and Abel Tamata lining up at left-back.

The hostile environment inside the Borisov Arena may scared the two sides into playing, as the first half was a weak show by both teams with only six shots being exchanged throughout the first 45 minutes. Half-time came with no goals which came as no surprise since the chances were limited.

The second half was more of the same with both sides very cautious and Shakhtyor knowing one more goal from PSV would kill off the tie.  PSV should have received a penalty after Memphis Depay was tripped in the area by Ihar Kuzmianok however, Welsh referee Lee Evans waved away appeals.

Chances for Depay and Luuk de Jong went begging and it looked like PSV were holding on for the 0-0 draw that would put them through. However, in the dying minutes Depay provided two goals and some magic to send the Eindhoven fans back to Holland with a smile on their face. Depay slalomed through the Shakhytor defence, skipping past Alyaksey Yanushkevich then avoiding Kuzmianok’s challenge to slot home past Artur Kotenko to give Cocu’s men the lead.

In stoppage time, Depay added a second and his eighth goal in six games to put PSV in tomorrow’s Europa League group stage draw.


FC SHAKHTYOR: Kotenko, Yurevich, Kuzmianok, Matveichyk, Yanushkevich, Leonchik, Rios, Stargorodskiy, Galyuza (Yanush 63), Guruli (Wojciechowski 55), Osipenko.

SUBS NOT USED: Gavrilov, Tsevan, Tupchiy, Kovalev, Vasilewski.

GOALS: None.

BOOKINGS: Rios 70, Yanush 79.

PSV: Zoet, Brenet, Bruma, Rekik, Tamata, Maher (Ritzmaier 79), Hendrix, Hiljemark, Locadia (Narsingh 67), De Jong, Depay.

SUBS NOT USED: Pasveer, Koch, Willems, Vloet, Jozefzoon.

GOALS: Depay 89 & 90+2

BOOKINGS: Brenet 64.


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Four Eredivisie sides in Europa League playoff action this Thursday night and Total Dutch Football’s Will Burns, Lawk Raoof and Ryan O’Grady provide their best bets for all four encounters.





The return leg in the Borisov Arena in Belarus will be an interesting match. The prize is €2m or €3m for qualifying, big interest and big prizes for both the teams, who will prevail? Lawk Raoof thinks PSV will find life easy in Belarus.

With a marginal 1-0 home win for PSV in the first leg, this upcoming clash for a Europa League place is hardly settled. The Eindhoven side narrowly defeated a good organized Shaktyor Soligorsk and with the previous Eredivisie clash against arch enemy Ajax, it will be a tough fight to win this game for De Boeren. With the great prize money on the line, both teams will be eager to get through. The home advantage cannot be ignored, winning 5-1 against Derry City and a 5-2 victory against Zulte Waregem are great wins and shows the power and thrive this teams has got in their home ties.

However PSV take with them two players in real form, Georginio Wijnaldum and Memphis Depay will be the great weapons for this match. Also, with the one goal lead, PSV can relax and Shaktyor has to attack to force a goal. This leads to an opportunity for Philip Cocu’s side to profit from the room they will get and counter, which was proven to be deadly against Ajax on Sunday.

Place a small stake on 2-0 for a PSV win, as the counter attack combined with the individual class of Depay and Wijnaldum means they will easily win this match in Belarus.


PSV to win 2-0 (7/1 – Bet Victor)



Qarabag FK held FC Twente to 0-0 draw in Azerbaijan last week but Will Burns thinks Alfred Schreuder’s men should progress comfortably.

Qarabag showed last week that they had talents that could threaten Twente. The Brazilian contingent of Danilo Leandro Dias, Chumbinho, Richard Almeida and Reynaldo created problems from Darryl Lachman and Rasmus Bengtsson. However, Schreuder can boast talents like Hakim Ziyech, Kamohelo Mokotjo, Youness Mokhtar, Kasper Kusk and Luc Castaignos, the Enschede side are too strong to see a decent victory come full-time.

Except the home side to come out of this match with a two or three goal win to progress into the Europa League group stages in style.


Twente -1 (13/8 – Bet Victor)



After an awful display at the weekend, Fred Rutten’s Feyenoord will look to bounce back on Thursday and send themselves through to the Europa League group stages, Ryan O’Grady believes they can.

A potentially season-changing game awaits Feyenoord on Thursday night. An uneventful and rather dull first leg ended in 1-1 draw which means that if the second leg ends 0-0, which is a possibility consider the performances in the first leg, it will see Feyenoord progress into the group stages.

However if Zorya were able to spring an upset and Feyenoord were knocked out then it is almost certain that Jordy Clasie will leave, if it is has not already (he missed training on Monday adding more fuel to the fire). Such a top quality player isn’t likely to stay with the club if there is no European competition and it could also affect whom the club bring in as no Europa League means less money with which Fred Rutten and the board will able to play with, which is likely to completely rule out the signing of a striker such as Guidetti, a signing that already didn’t look promising.

A much improved performance is needed for Fred Rutten’s side after a disappointing defeat at home to FC Utrecht at the weekend, whilst Zorya are coming off the back of a 0-0 draw away to Chernomorets.


Feyenoord to win 2-1 (8/1 – Bet Victor)



Ron Jans’ PEC Zwolle are in the form team in the Netherlands right now, starting an undefeated season with wins over Vitesse and Ajax, however Will Burns thinks it may be tough in Prague on Thursday night.

Zwolle improved vastly in the second half on Sunday to clinch a great 2-1 win over Vitesse and were dreadfully unlucky not to grab a win last Thursday. After missing a penalty in the first leg, defender Maikel van der Werff scored a free-kick, albeit deflected, on Sunday in the home victory.

They travel to Prague to face Sparta who over the weekend lost a derby match against Dukla Prague by a goal to nil, which may inspire them to triumph in this match to appease the home fans. They currently sit fourth in the Czech top flight with nine points in five games.

This match could be a tight one, with Sparta defending their away goal or Zwolle will go forward in search to a vital away goal themselves. Either way, expect this game to finish a draw, either going to extra time (1-1) or a Zwolle away goals win (2-2).


Draw (3/1 – Bet Victor)

EUROPA LEAGUE: PEC Zwolle 1-1 Sparta Prague






PEC Zwolle will be ruing first half chances, including a missed penalty, as they drew their first ever game in European competition 1-1 against Czech giants Sparta Prague reports Will Burns.

Ron Jans decided to select Czech striker Tomas Necid against the club, Necid seen as his biggest rival growing up as a Slavia Prague fan. The big 6ft 3inches forward was constant thorn in Sparta’s side tonight and his performance will surely earn himself a place in Jans’ starting line-up at the weekend against Vitesse Arnhem.

Zwolle dropped Jody Lukoki to the bench and replaced him with Greek attacked Nikos Ioannidis, a summer loan signing from Olympiakos. Sparta keeper David Bičík was kept busy throughout the night and on six minutes, Ioannidis fired a great effort at the stopper after cutting in from the right wing, but Bičík held firm.

Jesper Drost then had a golden opportunity minutes later, after some great work from New Zealand winger Ryan Thomas. Thomas weaved his way into the area from the left wing and Necid controlled the 19-year-old cross into the path of Drost. Unfortunately, for the midfielder he failed to connect properly with his first time shot and scuffed his effort wide.

Necid then decided to test Bičík with a half-volley from the edge of the box after again linking up well with Thomas, however minutes later Necid had a bigger impact on the game when he was fouled in the area by Jakub Brabec. Immediately, English referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot but Maikel van der Werff hit a poor penalty as Bičík easily saved the spot-kick.

The visitors only had one real chance before half-time when Pavel Kadeřábek latched onto a mistake by Zwolle goalie Diederik Boer. The right-back crossed for Costa Nhamoinesu in the centre, but the Zimbabwean sliced his shot and Boer recovered to save on the line. Further efforts from Necid and long range efforts from Thomas and Mustafa Saymak tested Bičík but the sides went into the break goal-less.

Ron Jans decided to bring on the tricky Jody Lukoki on at the interval for Ioannidis to give his side more creativity on the right-wing. However, it was the Czechs that should have taken the lead nine minutes after the restart. Veteran striker David Lafata had a great chance just before the hour-mark but Drost got back to clear off the line.

Minutes after Bart van Hintum had flashed a shot across goal, substitute Jody Lukoki gave the hosts the lead, their first ever goal in Europe. After a great exchange of passes between Lukoki, Necid and Drost, the former Ajax winger was on hand to tap home to make it 1-0.

The Ijsseldelta Stadion exploded however, the atmosphere was cut short by Sparta’s equaliser four minutes later. The impressive Kamil Vacek, a recent on-loan signing from Chievo, sped down the right wing and beat Van Hintum with ease. Vacek cut back to Ladislav Krejčí in the box whose shot clipped off Van der Werff and past Boer in goal to level the game up and give Prague that all important away goal.

Tomas Necid may have won the game for Zwolle after his free header from Lukoki’s corner was well wide with minutes to go. The game finished all square and Zwolle has to get at least one goal over in Prague next Thursday to qualify further.


ZWOLLE: Boer, Van Polen, Sainsbury, Van der Werff, Van Hintum, Rienstra, Saymak, Ioannidis (Lukoki 46), Drost, Thomas (Nijland 65), Necid.

SUBS NOT USED: De Jong, Dekker, Moro, Pereira, Lam.

GOALS: Lukoki 77.

BOOKINGS: Lukoki 77, Van Polen 86.

SPARTA PRAGUE: Bičík, Kadeřábek, Kovac, Brabec, Nhamoinesu, Marecek, Husbauer (Prikryl 66), Matejovsky, Dockal (Vacek 76), Lafata (Bednar 90+2), Krejci.

SUBS NOT USED: Stech, Svejdik, Konaté, Breznanik.

GOALS: Krejci 82.

BOOKINGS: Matejovsky 57.


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EUROPA LEAGUE: Zoyra 1-1 Feyenoord






Feyenoord disappoint in Europe once again as they head back De Kuip with a 1-1 draw in what could be Jordy Clasie’s last game for the club. Maksim Beliy gave Zorya the lead with a deflected free kick before te Vrede levelled in the 37th minute in an uneventful game in Ukraine reports Ryan O’Grady.

Feyenoord came into this game off the back of a slightly disappointing draw with Heerenveen at home, whilst opponents Zorya were coming into this game in 7th in their domestic league. This game was not only important for Feyenoord but for Dutch football in general, if you look at the UEFA country coefficients then you’ll notice that Ukraine lie in eighth just ahead of the Netherlands in ninth, so a win for Feyenoord could benefit all Dutch teams who qualify for Europe in the future.

The game kicked off very slowly with the first shot on target coming in the 21st minute. Before that there were barely any half chances, with only a couple of note, one was te Vrede running clear before over-running the ball and the second occurred when Vilhena slid in to get a touch on a cross from Schaken but it went well over. Then in the 21st came the first real chance, Chaykovskiy was booked for a challenge on Kongolo where he swung for the ball but Kongolo manages to knock it past him before he was brought down. Clasie stepped up to take the free kick and it looked like it was heading into the top corner before Shevchenko, the Zorya keeper, made a really good save and pushed it out for a corner which came to nothing. The reply from Zorya came in the 27th minute when they won a free kick on the edge of the box, Khomchenovskiy touched it to Maksim Beliy before he fired a low ball in that gained a deflection and went into the bottom corner leaving Mulder with no chance and brought out an eccentric celebration from Vernydub, the Zorya coach. This brought a short period of pressure from the home side, with another free kick 3 minutes later that Ignjatijević put just wide. Then in the 32nd minute Feyenoord replied with a shot from Vilhena on the edge of the box that was blocked by the goalscorer Beliy. This was followed by the Feyenoord equaliser, Wilkshire controlled a cross-field ball before he sent in a cross that beat three defenders before Mitchell te Vrede tapped it in from close range, the Zorya centre-back should’ve have positioned himself better so he could’ve cut out the cross. The half was then finished off by a long-range effort from Clasie into the bottom corner of the net but was saved by Shevchenko.

During half time a substitution was made by Zorya, Maksim Malyshev had to come off after sustaining a head injury in the first half and was replaced by Oleksandr Grytsay. The start of the second half was almost identical to the first half with nothing happening at either end where up until the 59th minute the only event of note was Kongolo getting booked for a challenge on Karavayev. In the 59th minute van Beek fouled striker Budkivskiy who was Zorya’s most useful player on the night. The free kick was taken by Malinovskiy and was headed for the top corner on the near side of the goal but it was well saved by Mulder. Almost immediately after this shot came two golden oppurtunities for Zorya, first Budkivskiy received the ball in the box with far too much space around him but his was shot was palmed away by Mulder only for Karavaev to try and follow it up but at the crucial moment he was tackled brilliantly by captain Jordy Clasie This was followed by a substitution from Feyenoord coach, Frank Rutten, who took off Boëtius, who has clearly not been performing at his best recently, and brought on new signing Basaçikoglu, who had no impact whatsoever. In the 67th minute Khomchenovskiy was one-on-one with the keeper but Mulder came out well and saved the shot easily. Then Jordy Clasie had to come off because he had been struggling with cramp since his brilliant last-ditch tackle 10 minutes earlier and was replaced by Vormer. Another eventless few minutes passed by ended only by a brilliant chance for Lex Immers. Substitute Vormer sent in a cross onto which Lex Immers ran onto right in front of goal before unbelievably putting it over, he was under pressure from Chaykovskiy and arguably had a penalty claim for his challenge but he still should have put the ball away. This was followed immediately by a Zorya counter attack where they themselves were unlucky not receive a penalty after a van Beek challenge. In the 89th minute came the best chance yet for Feyenoord, Schaken ran down the line before putting in a lofted cross that was met at the far post by Vilhena but he inexplicably put it wide and to use a common footballing phrase ‘it seemed easier to score than miss’. He appeared to try and place the header rather than just heading it down which almost certainly would’ve resulted in a goal and the win for Feyenoord. However the Feyenoord performance as a whole was poor and they didn’t deserve the win.


ZORYA: Shevchenko, Kamenyuka, Beliy, Ignjatijevic, Pysko, Karavayev, Chaykovsky, Malyshev (Gritsay 47), Khomchenovskiy, Segbefia (Malinovsky 57), Budkovskiy.

SUBS NOT USED: Santini, Khudzik, Yarmash, Ljubenovic, Pylyavskyi.

GOALS: Beliy 27.

BOOKINGS: Chaykovskiy 21.

FEYENOORD: Mulder, Wilkshire (Karsdorp 83), Van Beek, Mathijsen, Kongolo, Clasie (Vormer 73), Immers, Vilhena, Schaken, Te Vrede, Boëtius (Basacikoglu 63).

SUBS NOT USED: Hahn, Nelom, Steenvoorden, Manu.

GOALS: Te Vrede 38.

BOOKINGS: Boëtius 29, Kongolo 55.


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EUROPA LEAGUE: PSV 1-0 FC Shakhtyor Soligorsk






PSV Eindhoven win the first out of two games after attacking midfielder Adam Maher led his team to a 1-0 win thanks to a deflected shot. Next week the teams face each other in the return leg in Belarus writes Lawk Raoof.

It was clear at the start of the game that Shakhtyor wasn’t headed for Eindhoven to impress the fans with flashing combination football. Sadly, it came only to make football impossible for home-team PSV Eindhoven. PSV impressed by high-tempo pressing football and combination through the middle to break through the Belarus defense of Shakhtyor Saligorshk. However, it was after a quarter hour that the first Dutch opening was created by Brenet after a good combination at the right. But defensive winger Brenet choose the wrong side of the goal. After the good first half hour of the match another big chance occurred for PSV. Striker Luuk de Jong had a great opportunity to crack the match with a goal, however his header missed the goal. The greatest moment of the first half was the cheeky lob of World Cup star Memphis Depay which could barely be ticked over by the goalie.

After 59’ minutes of gameplay it was Adam Maher who opened the score by a deflected shot after a short corner from Depay. It was his first goal for PSV in 2014. It was a great relieve and the importance of this goal is great. The team lead by Cocu could play at a slower pace to spare energy for the biggest game of this season on Sunday against four-time Eredivisie champions Ajax. However, an enormous mistake from PSV defender Bruma lead Shakthyor to a chance to play even, but they missed at open goal. It stayed 1-0 for PSV and the return is still left to be played.


PSV: Pasveer, Brenet, Bruma, Rekik, Tamata, Wijnaldum, Hiljemark (Hendrix 51), Maher (Ritzmaier 88), Locadia (Narsingh 63), De Jong, Depay.

SUBS NOT USED: Zoet, Willems, Jozefzoon, Vloet.

GOALS: Maher 59.


SHAKHTYOR: Kotenko, Yamushkevich, Kashevski, Kuzianok, Galyuza (Leonchik 88), Matveychik, Stargorodsky, Yurevich, Guruli (Kovalev 89), Yanush (Osipenko 85), Rios.

SUBS NOT USED: Tsevan, VasilevskI.

GOALS: None.

BOOKINGS: Kuzmainok 66, Stargorodsky 70, Kashevski 73.


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EUROPA LEAGUE: Qarabag FK 0-0 FC Twente






FC Twente held Azerbaijan champions Qarabağ FK in a lacklustre 0-0 draw to begin their Europa League campaign reports Will Burns.

New signing from Heerenveen, Hakim Ziyech made his first appearance for Twente and playing in the middle with Kamohelo Mokotjo was a mouth-watering prospect pre-game. However, despite exchanging passes well, they failed to create the clear cut chances that were expected of them.

The opening half was poor with only Twente keeper Nick Marsman tested the once to prevent Azerbaijani international striker Vüqar Nadirov from long range, a few minutes before the interval.

After the break, Twente had the majority of the play and Swedish defender Rasmus Bengtsson nearly gave the Alfred Schreuder’s men the lead, but Qarabağ captain Rashad Sadygov had a lucky escape and cleared the Swede’s header off the line.

The game dwindled out and in the last 15 minutes you could see Twente were happy with the draw and take the Azerbaijan side back to Enschede next Thursday with no goals in the tie. Twente will be confident of advancing but will need to step it up to make sure of a positive outcome.


QARABAĞ: Sehic, Qarayev, Medvedev, Sadygov, Guseynov, Reynaldo, Muarem (Alaskarov 67), Agolli, Dias (Tagiyev 56), Richard, Leroy George (Nadirov 29).

SUBS NOT USED: Veliyev, Quilyev, Yusifov, Teli.

GOALS: None.

BOOKINGS: Medvedev 35.

FC TWENTE: Marsman, Martina, Lachman, Bengtsson, Schilder, Mokotjo, Ebecilio, Ziyech (Eghan 77), Mokhtar, Castaignos (Børven 90+4), Kusk (Hölscher 69).

SUBS NOT USED: Stevens, Andersen, Koppers, Breukers.

GOALS: None.

BOOKINGS: Castaignos 35, Kusk 45, Hölscher 86.


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EUROPA LEAGUE: Preview and Betting Tips


Four Eredivisie teams head into the Europa League playoffs this Thursday and Will Burns and Lawk Raoof is here to inform you which bets provide the key to profit in the first legs.





Alfred Schreuder heads into a hard trip to Azerbaijan with the best squad FC Twente has in recent years, however Will Burns suggests that the Horsemen of Azerbaijan will not make it easy for the Enschede boys.

Qarabağ FK’s 2-1 home victory against Austrian champions Red Bull Salzburg was an extraordinary result in the Champions League third qualifying round first leg, particularly as Salzburg battered Ajax 6-1 over two legs in the Europa League last year and in this game, Gurban Gurbanov’s side finished the match with only nine men.

Strangely enough, Qarabağ and Twente have met at this stage before in 2009/10 with the Eredivisie side winning 3-1 in the home leg but held to a goal-less draw in the return leg. I feel that Twente will be two strong over the two legs but may find life difficult in Stadium Tofig Bahramov Republican. Their coach Gubanov at only 42-years-old has had six years at the club and he has them playing attractive football and they are not reliant on one player.

The side has a Brazilian contingent, with winger Danilo Leandro Dias, attacking midfielder Chumbinho, anchorman Richard Almeida and forward Reynaldo vital components in the side. However, against the likes of new signings Hakim Ziyech and Kamohelo Mokotjo, creative midfielder Youness Mokhtar, speedy winger Kasper Kusk and clinical striker Luc Castaignos, Twente should have enough power in their eleven to sneak a narrow win.

Twente are favourites and rightly so, however do not expect a whitewash, the Dutch side to win 1-0 or 2-1. A Twente win is valued at Bet Victor at 17/20 and I feel that is the safest and recommended bet in this first leg tie.


Twente to win (17/20 – Bet Victor)



Lawk Raoof tells you to tune in this Thursday night for a solid 3-0 win by PSV against Belarusian Cup winner FC Shakhtyor Salihorsk. Be ready to view the clash between David versus Goliath, PSV versus Shaktyor, a Europa League group place versus nothing.

PSV started the Eredivisie season with a great 3-2 win against Willem II and a beastly 6-1 home-win against NAC Breda with World Cup stars Georginio Wijnaldum and Memphis Depay in a defining role. The first leg of the two games will be at the Phillips Stadium in Eindhoven this Thursday, while the second game will be in Belarus, against 2014 cup-winner FC Shakhtyor Salihorsk. The team started in 1961 and has a small capacity of just 4,200 fans in their stadium.

It should not be any surprise that the team should not be underestimated, with quick wingers and a direct playing style they are a typical counter-team. To comprise the danger coming from this fit team is to look at their win against Zulte Waregem (BEL) with an aggregated 7-4 win and their aggregated win against Irish side Derry City of 6-2. Both games with a flashing counter-attack.

However, with the current form of the PSV players, their teamwork and class they will easily win this game by my prediction by 3-0. The team out of Belarus comes out of a poor quality league and has only came so far by winning both second and third qualifying round games against weak opponents and winning the 2014 national cup.

I recommend placing a small stake on PSV to win 3-0 at 6/1 at Bet Victor. Cocu’s men will explode out of the blocks and this time with great combination game defeat this enemy.


PSV to win 3-0 (6/1 – Bet Victor)



Fred Rutten’s Feyenoord face a tough trip to the Ukraine to face Zoyra Luhansk, a team that struggled to defeat Norweigans Molde FK in the last round in a narrow 2-1 win. Will Burns feels that Rutten’s men may be too strong for the Ukrainians.

The Rotterdammers will have to be aware of striker Pylyp Budkivskiy who has notched once in four games this season so far but is well capable of putting himself about and ruffling the feathers of any defence. The Luhansk side have done their homework and speaking to, the Zorya head coach Yuriy Vernydub seemed confident: “We didn’t expect easy opponents at this stage. Feyenoord are one of the strongest teams in the play-offs. We will do our best to give a respectable account of ourselves. They have some Dutch international players who played in Brazil, but there is nothing to be scared of. Chornomorets Odesa beat PSV last season and we will have our chances.”

Rutten will also be confident heading into Ukraine with talent on the plane like Jordy Clasie, Jean-Paul Boetuis and Lex Immers and I cannot see Feyenoord being troubled too much, however I find it hard to see where the goals may come from. Stand-in striker Mitchell te Vrede has hardly been inspiring this season BUT to his credit he has been in the right place at the right time and scored two goals in two games so far.

Look Feyenoord to win by the single goal and the 1-0 scoreline is 13/2 at Bet Victor may be worth a small stake but taking Feyenoord to win gets you a price of 23/20 which is a safer bet.


Feyenoord to win (23/20 – Bet Victor)



Excitement is in the air in Zwolle as Ron Jans leads his side into their first ever European adventure against Czech side Sparta Prague, Will Burns predicts it will be a good night for the Blauwvingers.

Domestically, PEC Zwolle are on fire. First defeating Ajax 1-0 in their own backyard for the Johan Cruijff Schaal then clocking up two wins in two games over FC Utrecht and FC Dordrecht. Like Czech football expert Chris Boothroyd mentioned in his piece yesterday, this is possibly the best time to play Sparta Prague. Champions League elimination via Swedish outfit Malmo FF and then crashing to Banik Ostrava at the weekend, Prague are on the ropes and an in-form Zwolle could smell blood and go to kill this tie off in the first leg.

Sparta will be missing influential midfielder Lukas Vacha, who will sit this game out due to a suspension after his last-minute dismissal against Malmo earlier this month. One link between the clubs will be Zwolle’s latest signing, Czech striker Tomas Necid. The big 6ft 3 forward was introduced in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Dordrecht and set up Mustafa Saymak’s 93rd minute winner. Necid grew up supporting Sparta’s bitter rivals Slavia and has also had two spells at the club, including his youth development.

Zwolle have their tails up and with this being their first ever venture into European football, I see Thursday being a special night and a win against their Czech rivals at the hot atmosphere inside the Ijsseldelta Stadion. Bet Victor are offering 8/5 for the home win and it is a fantastic price that cannot be ignored. I cannot see a price for a Tomas Necid anytime goal, however it would be a lovely story if he gets a run out.


PEC Zwolle to win (8/5 – Bet Victor)

All odds are with Bet Victor, click here to join and claim up to £25 in free bets for all new customers.


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After today, PSV will have qualified for the fourth qualifying round Europa League competition with an aggregated 2-4 win for PSV, they barely defeat Austrian underdogs St. Polten today with 2-3.

PSV has qualified for the play-off round of the Europa League in a filled 8,000 people NV Arena. It ended tonight with 2-3 for PSV and therefor they defeated ST. Polten. But it didn’t do it with a lot of conviction. The first hour was terrible with a lot of bad passing and terrible ball-contact moments of Phillip Cocu’s team. They made a lot of mistakes and let St. Polten play their own game.

However, St. Polten didn’t become real dangerous and in the 28’ minute PSV became dangerous with a great counter initiated by Adam Maher. Marcel Ritzmaier let Jurgen Locadia score the 1-0 with a diagonal goal. ST. Polten needed to make at least 3 goals to still win the match and it was a Goliath task by the Austrian underdog. But never lacking in support from the Austrian fans. The first real dangerous moment came from a slipper from Dutch defender Jeffry Bruma, but the attempt from Daniel Segovia landed just near the goal.

After the rest PSV’s game didn’t get any better. World Cup-star Memphis Depay started warming-up and proved to be of great value for PSV. Because just under a hour ST. Polten set the score straight and made the 1-1 after a long distant goal from forward Segovia. A fault of PSV keeper, who slipped, caused the keeper to lack to stop the attempt. 1-1. This caused St.Polten to believe in there chances and they pushed forward.

The much spoken Tottenham-target Memphis Depay was able to immediately score the 1-2 after a lucky PSV attack in the 68’ minute. 2 minutes later an assist from the same World Cup-star made Luuk de Jong score the 1-3 and PSV was certain to advance in the Europa League.

Konstatin Kerschbaumer, St. Polten best man today, restored there honour by making the 2-3 in extra time. But it didn’t matter. PSV is through with a poor game and result. One thing is for sure, the defense need some great investments otherwise it will be a tough year for PSV.


PSV: Zoet, Brenet, Bruma, Hendrix, Tamata, Maher, Hiljemark, Ritzmaier (Depay, 65), Narsingh (Arias 73’), De Jong, Locadia.

SUBS NOT USED: Pasveer, Koch, Wijnaldum, De Wijs, Boljevic.

GOALS: Locadia, 28., Memphis Depay, 68’, Luuk de Jong, 70.

BOOKINGS: Bruma 88’

ST. POLTEN: Kostner, Huber, Wislo, Grasegger, Holzmann (Ambichi 65), Stec, Parada Calvillo, Kerschbaumer, Hofbauer, Segovia (Noel 76), Fucik (Hartl 46).

SUBS NOT USED: Riegler, Brandl, Schibany, Hayden.

GOALS: Daniel Lucas Segovia, 56’., Konstatin Kerschbaumer, 90+3.



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