Category Archives: EUROPA LEAGUE REPORT

EUROPA LEAGUE: FC Twente 1-1 Qarabag FK

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THURSDAY 28TH AUGUST

EUROPA LEAGUE PLAYOFF – SECOND LEG

Twente-Qarabag

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.

TEAMS

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.

BOOKINGS: None.

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

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THURSDAY 28TH AUGUST

EUROPA LEAGUE PLAYOFF – SECOND LEG

Shakhtyor-PSV

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.

TEAMS

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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EUROPA LEAGUE: PEC Zwolle 1-1 Sparta Prague

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THURSDAY 21ST AUGUST

EUROPA LEAGUE PLAYOFF – FIRST LEG

PECZwolle-SpartaPrague

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.

TEAMS

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

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THURSDAY 21ST AUGUST

EUROPA LEAGUE PLAYOFF – FIRST LEG

Zoyra-Feyenoord

ZOYRA LUHANSK 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.

TEAMS

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

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THURSDAY 21ST AUGUST

EUROPA LEAGUE PLAYOFF – FIRST LEG

Qarabag-Twente

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.

TEAMS

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.

BOOKINGS: None.

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

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THURSDAY 21ST AUGUST

EUROPA LEAGUE PLAYOFF – FIRST LEG

Qarabag-Twente

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.

TEAMS

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: SKN St. Pölten 2-3 PSV

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THURSDAY 7TH AUGUST

EUROPA LEAGUE – THIRD ROUND QUALIFYING – SECOND LEG

PSV-StPolten

SKN ST. PÖLTEN 2 – 3 PSV

PSV WIN 4-2 ON AGGREGATE

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.

TEAMS

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.

BOOKINGS: none.

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EUROPA LEAGUE: PSV 1-0 St. Polten

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THURSDAY 31ST JULY

EUROPA LEAGUE – THIRD ROUND QUALIFYING – FIRST LEG

PSV-StPolten

PSV 1-0 ST. POLTEN

PSV may rue the missing opportunities inside the Philips Stadion tonight as they will travel to Austria next week with a slender 1-0 lead over SKN St Pölten.

Philip Cocu chose a young side to face the Austrian Eerst Liga side with new signing Luuk de Jong spearheading the attack. Jeroen Zoet started in goal with an inexperienced back-four of Joshua Brenet, Jorrit Hendrix, Jeffrey Bruma and Abel Tamata ahead of him. In midfield, Oskar Hiljemark, Adam Maher and Marcel Ritzmaier lined up, with the latter returning from a successful period on loan at Cambuur last year. On the wings supporting De Jong saw Luciano Narsingh and Jurgen Locadia looking to supply the chances.

Although a young eleven was selected, the expectations inside the Philips Stadion was that PSV would send St. Polten back home with a hiding. That did not materialise. The Austrians arrived well organised and out to stifle the Eredivisie giants and stifle they did.

PSV could not get the ball into the box without an Austrian head or foot booting it away. No matter how much possession the hosts had they were unable to test the St. Polten goalkeeper Patrick Kostner. The major threats, ironically came from PSV’s Austrian midfielder Ritzmaier but he could not get his efforts from outside of the box on target.

After the team went into the break goal-less, PSV emerged with a grip on the game and the opening goal finally came on 56 minutes. Luciano Narsingh weaved some magic and placed a pin-point accurate ball to the back post where Luuk de Jong was waiting to head home.

Unable to add a second goal, it got worse late on for PSV. Stupidly, substitute Florain Jozefzoon received a double booking within four minutes by referee Slavko Vinčić for diving.

PSV head to Austria next week with the goal advantage and will need to improve if they wish to comfortably enter the next round.

TEAMS

PSV: Zoet, Brenet, Bruma, Hendrix, Tamata, Maher, Hiljemark, Ritzmaier (Vloet 78), Narsingh (Jozefzoon 72), De Jong, Locadia.

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

GOALS: De Jong 56.

BOOKINGS: De Jong 80, Jozefzoon 90.

SENT OFF: Jozefzoon 90+3.

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: None.

BOOKINGS: Segovia 30.

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EUROPA LEAGUE: FC Groningen 1-2 Aberdeen

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THURSDAY 24TH JULY

EUROPA LEAGUE – SECOND ROUND QUALIFYING – SECOND LEG

FCGroningen-Aberdeen

FC GRONINGEN 1-2 ABERDEEN

Aberdeen win 2-1 on aggregate

FC Groningen crash out of the Europa League at their first hurdle after Derek McInnes led his Aberdeen side to a 2-1 win thanks to first half goals through frontmen Adam Rooney and Niall McGinn.

It was an exciting start to the game inside the Euroborg and the hosts were unlucky not be ahead after just four minutes. From a Nick van der Velden corner, Johan Kappelhof rose above everyone at the back post but Aberdeen’s Jonny Hayes nodded off the line.

A few minutes later, Groningen had another golden opportunity to grab the lead but Serbian attacker Filip Kostic dragged his shot wide after he had worked hard to get himself through on goal.

The game slowed down until 24 minutes when Peter Pawlett, tricky throughout, jinked his way into the box and Brazilian defender Eric Botteghin clumsy tripped the striker. Polish referee Daniel Stefanski pointed straight to the spot and Adam Rooney sent Sergio Padt the opposite way to give the Dons the lead.

Rooney was involved in the second goal on 33 minutes. The striker held off the challenge of Kappelhof and lobbed Padt but the ball clipped the cross bar and bounced out. The Groningen defence were statuesque as they waited for the foul on Kappelhof to be awarded. Niall McGinn pounced on the rebound to slot past the keeper to double Aberdeen’s advantage.

The home side were given a lifeline just before half-time as a pin point accurate cross from Nick van der Velden found Maikel Kieftenbeld at the back post to power a header past Jamie Langfield who will be disappointed after getting a hand to it.

At half-time, Edwin van der Looi replaced the ineffective Danny Hoesen and Maikel Kieftenbeld with attacking pairing of Jarchinio Antonia and Michael De Leeuw to take the game to Aberdeen.

Just past the hour mark, Aberdeen had Langfield to thank for keeping the 2-1 advantage. After a great touch and flick into De Leeuw from Van der Velden, the substitute looked destined to grab the equaliser but the veteran keeper rushed out and forced the ball away with his feet. The groans around the Euroborg were drowning out the cheers from the 1,100 travelling Aberdeen fans.

Those travelling supporters had a massive sign of relief when Kostic worked his magic down the left wing and drove a low cross into the box. With De Leeuw arriving at the back post, Mark Reynolds got across to stick a leg out and force the ball behind for a corner. Replays showed that Reynolds was very lucky not to push the ball into his own net.

The hosts began pushing knowing they needed to two goals to send their fans home happy. However, the Eredivisie side were halted by the wall of red shirts and Groningen were reduced to long range efforts which Langfield kept at bay.

At the full-time whistle the Euroborg ended disappointed and the strife of the Europa League playoffs for Groningen last season came to no avail. Aberdeen progress to play La Liga side Real Sociedad in the third qualifying round to face last season’s Eredivisie top scorer, Alfred Finnbogason.

TEAMS

FC GRONINGEN: Padt, Hateboer, Botteghin, Kappelhof, Burnet (Van Nieff 62), Kieftenbeld (Antonia 46), Chery, Lindgren, Van der Velden, Hoesen (De Leeuw 46), Kostic.

SUBS NOT USED: Van der Vlag, Magnasco, Hiariej, Islamovic.

GOALS: Kieftenbeld 44.

BOOKINGS: Lindgren 63.

ABERDEEN: Langfield, Logan, Anderson, Reynolds, Considine, Jack, Flood (Low 90), McGinn, Hayes, Pawlett (Robson 66), Rooney (Goodwillie 74).

SUBS NOT USED: Brown, Murray, Taylor, Smith, Robson.

GOALS: Rooney 26P, McGinn 33.

BOOKINGS: Hayes 72.

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EUROPA LEAGUE: Aberdeen 0-0 FC Groningen

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THURSDAY 17TH JULY

EUROPA LEAGUE – SECOND ROUND QUALIFYING – FIRST LEG

Aberdeen-FCGroningen

ABERDEEN 0 – 0 FC GRONINGEN

FC Groningen travelled to Aberdeen and fought out a 0-0 draw at the Pittodrie Stadium in the first leg of their Europa League second qualifying round tie.

FC Groningen blijft doelpuntloos tegen Aberdeen

Groningen named two new signings in their starting line-up, with former Ajax striker Danny Hoesen and goalkeeper Sergio Padt making their debuts.

The hosts created the best openings against skilful opponents who made up for their lack of speed in the team with some no-nonsense tactics at time. They were opened up on several occasions but showed enough glimpses in possession to suggest it will be a very tough test for the Scottish side in the Euroberg Stadium in seven days time.

In the first-half, Aberdeen had an appeal for a penalty rejected when captain Russell Anderson felt he was fouled in the box, with Portuguese referee Hugo Filipe waved away protests from the Dons players. And with the first half clock ticking down, Groningen almost sneaked a crucial away goal just before the half-time whistle.

Attacking left-back Hans Hateboar got the better of Jonny Hayes down the right-hand side, his cutback was deflected off Aberdeen centre-back Mark Reynolds, but Langfield was on hand to save the defender’s blushes. The loose ball then fell to Hoesen, who from an acute angle was unable to get on target.

The second half began to get a bit heated with Peter Pawlett and Hayes continuing to be the victim of unfair challenges. Groningen saw two players cautioned as tempers began to flare, first Nick van der Velden received a booking for a challenge on Hayes, while Johan Kappelhof picked up a yellow for a foul on midfielder Ryan Jack.

In the closing stages, it was Groningen once again who almost got that all important away goal. The two substitutes Jarchinio Antonia and Dino Islamovic linked up well, with the later flashing a shot the wrong side of Langfield’s near post.

TEAMS

ABERDEEN: Langfield, Logan, Anderson, Reynolds, Hayes, Jack, Flood, Robson, Pawlett (Low 89), McGinn, Rooney (Goodwillie 76).

SUBS NOT USED: Brown, Taylor, Considine, Smith, Wright.

GOALS: None.

BOOKINGS: Hayes.

FC GRONINGEN: Padt, Hateboer, Botteghin, Kappelhof, Burnet, Lindgren, Kieftenbeld, Chery, Van der Velden (Islamovic 82), Hoesen (Antonia 65), Kostic.

SUBS NOT USED: Van der Vlag, Magnasco, Van Nieff, Hiariej, De Leeuw.

GOALS: None.

BOOKINGS: Hateboer, Lindgren, Kieftenbeld, Van der Velden.

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EUROPA LEAGUE REPORT: Benfica 2-0 AZ Alkmaar

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THURSDAY 10TH APRIL 2014

UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE LAST EIGHT – SECOND LEG

Benfica-AZ

BENFICA 2-0 AZ ALKMAAR

Benfica win 3-0 on agg.

Two back-post finishes from Rodrigo lead Benfica to a final four spot in the Europa League defeating Dick Advocaat’s AZ Alkmaar 2-0 to by three goals on aggregate.

Benfica-AZ highlights

The hosts took the lead in the 37th minute as Rodrigo got his first tapping home from six-yards out after being teed up by Eduardo Salvio. The young Argentine winger almost doubled the lead just before the interval but Salvio’s strike from inside the area drew a fine stop from AZ goalkeeper Esteban Alvardo.

It took 65 minutes before AZ got their first chance of a goal through full-back Mattias Johansson, the Swede’s effort from distance forced Artur Guilherme De Morães Gusmão into a fine save. Seven minutes later and Rodrigo stuck the final nail in AZ’s coffin with a comfortable finish from close range after getting on the end of another Salvio’s cross.

The visitors failed to trouble Benfica throughout, and left the competition where they had starred so brilliantly all season with a whimper.

TEAMS

BENFICA: Artur, Silvio (Almeida 4), Luisao, Garay, Siqueira, Sulejmani (Marković 70), Gomes, Fejsa (Pérez 64), Salvio, Cardozo, Rodrigo.

SUBS NOT USED: Lopes, Jardel, Djuričić, Lima.

GOALS: Rodrigo 39, 71.

BOOKINGS: Salvio 31, Andre Gomes 73.

AZ: Esteban, Johansson, Gouweleeuw, Wuytens, Viergever, Gudelj, Ortiz (Henriksen 79), Elm, Berghuis (Gudmundsson 77), Jóhannsson, Beerens (Haye 77).

SUBS NOT USED: De Winter, Reijnen, Gorter, Avdic.

GOALS: None.

BOOKINGS: Berghuis 23.

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AZ Alkmaar narrowly fall to Benfica

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Thursday 3rd April 2014

AZ-Benfica

AZ ALKMAAR 0-1 BENFICA

AZ resiliently battled Portuguese giants Benfica but lost by the single goal in the first leg clash of their last 8 Europa League tie.

The Dutch began the game as outsiders but the first 45 minutes saw AZ create the greater amount of chances and enjoying the majority of play. Wingers Roy Beerens and Steven Berghuis were the main threats with the former shooting narrowly wide after five minutes. The in-form Berghuis and his powerful long-range shooting called Benfica goalkeeper Artur into action twice but the stopper held firm and kept his clean sheet in tact.

After the goal-less first half, Benfica took the lead three minutes after the restart. AZ’s goalkeeper Esteban Alvarado rushed out to meet the ball at the feet of striker Oscar Cardozo. The Costa Rican diverted the Paraguayan’s effort away but it ended up landing perfectly for Argentine winger Eduardo Salvio to scissor-kick the ball into the net.

As Benfica had the advantage, the Portuguese looked likely to extend the score and but failed to do so. Cardozo was involved again and had an opportunity to bury AZ minutes later but he fluffed his lines and screwed his low drive wide.

AZ would hit on the break and midfielder Viktor Elm had a wonderful chance to level the game up but he headed tamely into Artur’s arms. However, it was end to end stuff as Rodrigo immediately went up the opposite end and in a horrendous miss, the striker stabbed Argentine defender Ezequiel Garay’s header high over the bar from yards out.

Looking tired as the time went on, Dick Advocaat’s side never managed to match the confidence they displayed in the opening half and only a fine double save from Esteban, denying substitute Lima and then André Gomes, prevented the tie to be over.

AZ now require a major upset in Lisbon if their European odyssey is to continue into the final four but holding this Benfica side down to just one goal must give them a slight glimmer of hope.

TEAMS

AZ: Esteban, Johansson, Gouweleeuw, Viergever, Poulsen (Gudmundsson 49), Gudelj (Henriksen 81), Ortiz, Elm, Berghuis, Jóhannsson, Beerens.

SUBS NOT USED: De Winter, Reijnen, Hoedt, Gorter, Avdic.

GOALS: None.

BOOKINGS: Johansson 78.

BENFICA: Artur, Maxi Pereira, Luisao, Garay, Siqueira, Salvio, Rúben Amorim (André Almeida 39), Gaitán, André Gomes, Cardozo, Rodrigo (Markovic 77).

SUBS NOT USED: Oblak, Jardel, Sulejmani, Djuričić, Lima.

GOALS: Salvio 48.

BOOKINGS: Gaitan 61, Siqueria 89, Salvio 90+2, Maxi Pereira 90+5.

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AZ hold Anzhi to progress to last eight

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Thursday 20th March 2014

AnzhiAZ

ANZHI MAKHACHKALA 0-0 AZ ALKMAAR

AZ win 1-0 on aggregate

AZ Alkmaar are in the hat for Friday’s Europa League quarter-final draw after a stalemate in Moscow tonight. Dick Advocaat’s men 1-0 win last week at the AFAS Stadion was enough to send the Dutch side through to last eight.

The Russians produced plenty of clever play but were unable to provide a goal and failed to get a shot on target throughout the ninety minutes. Advocaat obviously instructed his AZ side to protect their 1-0 lead from the first leg as they were happy to sit back and defend.

As Anzhi pressed, AZ grew in stature as the first-half progressed and might have gone in front just before the break when a Nemanja Gudelj free-kick smashed against a post. The in-form Steven Berghuis went close soon after the interval, with Aron Jóhannsson then calling goalkeeper Mikhail Kerzhakov into action.

Anzhi started to fade as the clock ticked down, but they nearly scored an unlikely leveller when Oleksandr Aliyev whistled a 25-metre free-kick narrowly wide.

Anzhi’s night ended on a sour note as Berghuis broke through on goal and with the goal at his mercy, Karlen Mkrtchyan had to commit the foul. As he was the last man he received a straight red.

AZ go into the draw with European giants like Juventus, FC Porto and Benfica but will hope to draw avoid those three to give themselves a great chance of progressing to the semis.

TEAMS

ANZHI: Kerzhakov, Grigalava, Epureanu, Gadzhibekov, Sobolev (Serderov 71), Agalarov (Abdulavov 85), Mkrtchyan, Aliyev, Burmistrov (Eschenko 68), Smolov, Bukharov.

SUBS NOT USED: Pomazan, Dzhenetov, Angbwa.

GOALS: None.

BOOKINGS: Griglava 43, Sobelev 69, Agalarov 81, Aliyev 85.

SENT OFF: Mkrtchyan 90+3.

AZ: Esteban, Johansson, Reijnen, Wuytens, Viergever, Poulsen, Gudelj, Berghuis, Elm; Jóhannsson, Beerens.

SUBS NOT USED: De Winter, Hoedt, Gorter, Ortiz, Henriksen, Gudmundsson, Avdic.

GOALS: None.

BOOKINGS: Wuytens 62.

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