Tag Archives: Europa League

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 PREVIEW: FC Groningen vs. Aberdeen

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THURSDAY 24TH JULY

EUROPA LEAGUE – SECOND ROUND QUALIFYING – SECOND LEG

FCGroningen-Aberdeen

FC GRONINGEN vs. ABERDEEN

WhiScottish Police are set to travel with Aberdeen fans to the Netherlands in an effort to control any trouble before and after the second qualifying round Europa League match-up against FC Groningen. There is expected to be some fireworks on the field as both teams try to qualify for the third round qualifying game to be played at the end of the month.

Groningen will be favorites having held the Dons to a scoreless draw in the first leg, at Pittodrie. The Scottish outfit have new summer signing David Goodwillie to call upon with an eye on finding a goal to see them through. Aberdeen will have to curb the influence of the Dutch side’s talisman, Filip Kostic, if they are to stand a chance and forcing playmaker Tjaronn Cherry to cough up possession will be key for the visitors.

You can expect Groningen to take the game to their opponents and expect Danny Hoesen to be a force up front for the hosts.

FC Groningen have not played a role in Europe since 2007 and they will be looking to make sure they will progress to play Real Sociedad in the third qualifying round of the competition. Groningen should win this tie but Aberdeen should make it tough so the bet to look for should be Groningen to win with Both Teams To Score, which Bet Victor offer at a great 13/5.

BEST BET: FC Groningen win with Both Teams To Score (13/5 – BET VICTOR) – Click here to bet with BET VICTOR and receive up to £25 free bets for new customers.

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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 PREVIEW: Aberdeen vs. FC Groningen

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THURSDAY 17TH JULY

EUROPA LEAGUE – SECOND ROUND QUALIFYING – FIRST LEG

Aberdeen-FCGroningen

ABERDEEN vs. FC GRONINGEN

The first Dutch football calendar gets underway this Thursday night in Scotland as FC Groningen travel across the water to play Aberdeen.

Last season Aberdeen qualified for Europe for the first time since 2009, finishing in third in the Scottish Premiership, which capped off a great 2013/14, their 100th year in Scottish top flight football. To add to the great finish in the league campaign The Dons added their sixth League Cup trophy to their cabinet with a penalty shootout victory against Inverness.

The Reds are likely to line up in fluid 4-2-3-1 formation that will see Adam Rooney (five goals in the first two qualifying ties) on his own up front with Jonny Hayes, Niall McGinn and veteran Barry Robson sitting behind him. Waiting in the wings will be new signing David Goodwillie on the bench. Goodwillie, formerly of Blackburn Rovers, signed on a free transfer after been released by Rovers at the end of last season.

Manager Derek McInnes knows that the Eredivisie side will be a tough game for his side: “Groningen have a bit of pace and presence, playing a similar system to ourselves. It will be a good test for us, but it will be a good test for them as well because we’ve got better as we’ve gone along. Groningen are a bit behind us in terms of competitive matches, but we are up and running. It is good to get competitve football now and we will certainly need to be competitive in the games against Groningen.”

To read more about Aberdeen, click here to read an excellent insight from Chris Rumbles.

FC Groningen head to Pittodrie with four new signings in tow. New first team goalkeeper Sergio Padt, tricky playmaker Jarchinio Antonio and striker Danny Hoesen will all get a start in Scotland with veteran substitute goalkeeper Peter van der Vlag in reserve. Losing young prodigy Richiaro Zivkovic to Ajax would have been a blow but Hoesen and Tjaronn Chery will be ready to step up to supply the goals.

Lining up in an attacking  4-3-3, one player looking to shine will be Filip Kostic. The Serbian left winger has been rumoured to be heading out of the Euroborg all summer, ready to move onto bigger and better things, however, Kostic is still present and look to him to give English right-back Shaleum Logan a torrid time on Thursday night.

I can see the Eredivisie side being too strong for Aberdeen and goals will be scored but it will be a tight one. With Hayes and Rooney in great form, life for the Groningen back four may be difficult and central defender partnership Johan Kappelhof and Eric Botteghin will have to be a the top of their game to keep a clean sheet.

Groningen to head home with an advantage is 17/10 at Bet Victor but you may want to sit on the fence and go for the draw at 12/5.

BEST BET: FC Groningen to win (17/10 – BET VICTOR) – Click here to bet with BET VICTOR and receive up to £25 free bets for new customers.

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EUROPA LEAGUE: What can Groningen expect from Aberdeen?

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This Thursday, FC Groningen travel to Scotland to face Premiership side Aberdeen in the UEFA Europa League Second Qualifying Round First Leg. Total Dutch Football asked Aberdeen fan Chris Rumbles, to give us a rundown on what The Dons are all about.

BRIEF HISTORY

Despite a multitude of links to the Netherlands via former players and managers, this will be only the second time Aberdeen has faced Dutch opposition in Europe. The Dons previous Eredivisie encounter was a 2-2 aggregate loss to Feyenoord in the 1987/1988 UEFA Cup Second Round, a tie that came shortly before Aberdeen’s influx of players from the Netherlands that included the signings of Paul Mason and Theo ten Caat, both from FC Groningen. Since the club’s halcyon European days in the 80s (excluding the Feyenoord result of course), success at both domestic and European level has been a rarity. Derek McInnes’ first full season in charge as manager in 2013/2014 was a fruitful one that served as a reminder of the potential of the club. The Pittodrie side’s victory over Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the League Cup Final in March put an end to the club’s twenty-year long trophy drought, and in an instant Derek McInnes’ side reinstated a sense of footballing pride in the North-East of Scotland. To borrow a phrase from the music world, Aberdeen is now preparing for that difficult second album.

THE TEAM

When the outgoing Craig Brown claimed he had left his successor Derek McInnes a ‘legacy’, many baulked at the notion. But one shouldn’t forget that club captain Russell Anderson, defensive partner Mark Reynolds, tricky winger Jonny Hayes, and Aberdeen’s talisman, Niall McGinn, were all Brown signings who were integral to last season’s achievements. Those four are part of a strong starting eleven that typically sets up in a fluid 4-2-3-1 formation that sees the three supporting the lone striker usually interchanging. The midfield can also be flattened to a five or a four with an attacking midfielder depending on the opposition.

Goalkeeper Jamie Langfield is now in his tenth season with the club and last season was potentially the 34-year-old’s best yet. Though capable of the calamitous as much as miraculous, Langfield has cut out many of the major errors that have punctuated his Pittodrie career, earning 15 league clean-sheets out of 38 fixtures last season to take his overall tally in Scotland’s top-flight to 102. Contributing to Langfield’s shutout record in recent times has been the dependable centre-half partnership of Russell Anderson and Mark Reynolds. Anderson’s vast experience coupled with Reynold’s pace and reading of the game, make up one of Scotland’s best defensive pairings. The permanent signing of Shaleum Logan this summer following a highly successful six month loan spell from Brentford will undoubtedly prove to be an astute one. The English right-back has given Aberdeen fans something they have been crying out for years: a genuine fullback. The left flank however remains one of Aberdeen’s real weaknesses. Centre-half Andy Considine and winger Jonny Hayes both filled in for the matches against FK Daugava Riga in the absence of the injured Clark Robertson. Even with Robertson fit again, his relative inexperience renders the left-back position a weakness which most fans believe is a transfer priority.

Last summer’s signings of Willo Flood and Barry Robson; have given the Dandies’ midfield a new lease of life. The addition of Flood in particular has been pivotal to the Dons injecting an energy and tenacity into midfield that had, until then, been lacking. Flood has been described by his manager as the ‘heartbeat’ of the Aberdeen team; testament to the diminutive Dubliner’s duty of disrupting the opposition’s rhythm and catalysing Aberdeen’s. Alongside Flood in central midfield is usually Ryan Jack, though Barry Robson can often partner his former Dundee United, Celtic, and Middlesbrough colleague depending on other personnel. Jack’s deep-lying midfield role is a quiet but often effective one, dictating play while giving others license to roam forward. Robson, meanwhile, provides a level of nous and vision from his favoured central position as well as from the right. His arrival at the club has seen the Dons become a real threat from set-pieces thanks to the 35-year-old’s pinpoint accuracy. From the bench, Nicky Low and Cammy Smith can also provide urgency and skill around midfield in equal measure, despite their inexperience.

Of the Dons forward contingent, Jonny Hayes is undoubtedly in the best form at the time of writing. Hayes set-up three and scored one across the two–legged affair with FK Daugava Riga. His injury in Riga will be a concern to an Aberdeen side already bereft of options on the left-side. Another potential absentee for the Groningen tie is Peter Pawlett. No stranger to the treatment table, Pawlett gave his footballing career a much-needed shot in the arm last season with a host of dazzling performances that culminated in his first Scotland call-up in May. Pawlett provides Aberdeen with pace and a focus on one thing: attacking. His seven goals last season were a significant improvement on his 1 other Aberdeen goal scored over the previous five seasons.

Two players who have found the net for Aberdeen on a more regular basis are Niall McGinn and Adam Rooney. Signed as an out-and-out striker, McGinn’s first two seasons at Aberdeen have seen the Northern Ireland international score 35 goals in 84 games. He is, in every sense, Aberdeen’s number ten. Full of creativity and skill, McGinn’s role has altered since his first season under Brown, but even in a wider role last season he still finished top scorer with 14 goals. That number is also the total number of goals McGinn’s fellow Irishman Adam Rooney has scored since joining the Dons in January from Oldham Athletic, including five of Aberdeen’s eight goals against FK Daugava Riga. His performance in the away leg last week typified what he offers Aberdeen: a penalty-box striker with real presence. Brought into challenge, or possibly complement Rooney, is recent signing David Goodwillie. The striker’s free transfer to Aberdeen comes after a barren three-year spell with Blackburn Rovers that promised so much after a multi-million pound move from Dundee United. Goodwillie’s chequered off-the-field past is perhaps reflected in the length of the contract, but the three-times capped Scotland player will be hoping his latent talent will emerge to prove any doubters wrong.

The post-match scenes that followed Aberdeen and FC Groningen’s last competitive matches of the past season could not have been further apart; the Dons were crestfallen as Motherwell beat them with the last kick of the game, forsaking second spot to their opponents on the day. FC Groningen, meanwhile, celebrated after they dismantled AZ 3-0 in the Europa League play-off, providing a return to European football following a seven year absence. Yet despite these contrasting fortunes, it might just be the Dons who enter the tie the more confident of the two with the extra qualifying round bolstering both their match sharpness and experience ahead of what is set to be a stern test for both teams. It is a tie Dons supporters will go into with realistic, rather than quixotic, hopes.

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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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EUROPA LEAGUE PREVIEW & BETTING TIPS: Benfica vs. AZ Alkmaar

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THURSDAY 10TH APRIL 2014

UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE LAST EIGHT – SECOND LEG

Benfica-AZ

BENFICA vs. AZ ALKMAAR (20:05 BST)

Dick Advocaat takes his side to Lisbon on Thursday night to face a Benfica side that have not lost a European game at home in the last 11 attempts, and have won their last five games at home against Dutch opposition.

A third Europa League semi-final in four years is in touching distance for Jorge Jesus’ men as the Primeira Liga leaders go into their quarter-final second-leg with a 1-0 advantage.

All history aside for the Portuguese side, the Eredivisie club should not be underestimated as although they may not have reached the semi-finals of a European tournament since 2004-05, they currently hold an undefeated six game streak in European away matches.

Domestically, AZ have only one win from their last seven matches in all competitions, the visitors are on a poor run of form and drew 2-2 against by relegation contenders Roda JC on Sunday afternoon. Benfica on the other hand, are in fine form with just once defeat since last November.

Although, the hosts are without suspended duo Nicolas Gaitán and Maximiliano Pereira after the pair reached their booking limits last time out, they do welcome back midfielder Enzo Perez after he sat out the first leg for the same reason.

AZ are struggling to find the net as of late, scoring only six goals in the last eight games in all competitions, I can see Benfica winning and keeping a clean sheet. Bet Victor are offering 6/5 for Benfica to win to nil and this is our best bet in this match.

BEST BET: Benfica to win to nil (6/5 – Bet Victor)

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EUROPA LEAGUE PREVIEW & BETTING TIPS: AZ Alkmaar vs. Benfica

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Thursday 3rd April 2014

AZ-Benfica

AZ ALKMAAR vs. BENFICA (20:05 BST)

AZ Alkmaar face the huge task of getting past Portuguese giants Benfica, who have a great history against Dutch clubs in Europe.

The Portuguese champions have only experienced one defeat in the last ten games over teams from the Netherlands and it was a penalty-shootout loss to Guus Hiddink’s PSV in the European Cup of 1988/89. On the other hand, in the past AZ have a great record against clubs from Portugal, defeating Sporting Braga and Sporting Lisbon while holding Pacos de Ferreira to a draw.

Jorge Jesus’s Benfica defeated Tottenham Hotspur to progress, and will be arrive in Alkmaar confident of reaching the semis, after being victorious in 25 of their last 29 matches in all competitions. Domestically, Dick Advocaat’s men are in poor form with just one win from their last five games and European football may be out of reach next season unless they can win the Eredivisie Europa League play-offs. They currently sit in seventh in the Dutch top flight, although they would qualify for this tournament again, if they could pull of the unlikely achievement of winning it.

AZ are struggling to score goals and there was just the one goal over Alkmaar’s two legs against Anzhi in the last round, and that was a penalty kick. The Dutch side however, will certainly face a tougher test against the Portuguese league leaders are likely to have too much quality for their hosts, though Advocaat will ask his side to defend deep to ensure they have something to play for in the second leg.

Our best bet would seem to be Benfica to win but keep a clean sheet and Bet Victor are offering a massive 2/1 which is a price we cannot ignore.

BEST BET: Benfica to win to nil (2/1 – Bet Victor)

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EUROPA LEAGUE: Feyenoord out, AZ through

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THURSDAY 29TH & FRIDAY 30TH AUGUST

QUALIFYING PLAY-OFF – SECOND LEG

Feyenoord - Kuban Krasnodar

FEYENOORD 1-2 KUBAN KRASNODAR

Kuban win 3-1 on agg.

Ronald Koeman’s season is going from bad to worse after Feyenoord crashed out of the Europa League at the qualifying stage at the hands of Russian Premier League side Kuban Krasnodar.

Feyenoord were awarded an early penalty after just two minutes of play, when Samuel Armenteros, a recent signing from Anderlecht, was tripped over in the box. However, the usually profilic Graziano Pelle saw his spot kick saved by goalkeeper Aleksandr Belenov.

In a high-octane opening of the match, the hosts saw themselves ahead on seven minutes with Pelle, this time, finishing his chance. After being played through by midfielder Lex Immers, the Italian finished the move well for Feyenoord to draw level on aggregate.

Feyenoord’s lead was not for long, as Krasnodar equalised on 18 minutes. Another defence splitting ball saw Gheorghe Bucur sped past Daryl Janmaat, and stopping the ball on the byline, crossing for Ivelin Popov to finish with ease.

The sides went in level at half-time and just five minutes after the interval, the Russians shocked Koeman’s side with a second goal. The creator turned goalscorer as Bacur finished with a excellent volley from outside the penalty area.

The Dutch side pushed looking for a way back into the tie but failed to trouble the organised Krasnodar defence, as they saw out the win.

Feyenoord are now the third Eredivisie team to be eliminated before the group stages, not a good stat for the Dutch UEFA coefficient for future tournaments.

AZ pip Atromitos in delayed finish

AZ ALKMAAR 0-2 ATROMITOS

3-3 on agg. – AZ Alkmaar win on away goals rule

In a Europa League first, this tie was played over two different days as AZ Alkmaar advanced to the group stages. The Dutch side went through despite the 2-0 home defeat to Greek side Atromitos, they progress on away goals after the 3-1 victory in the first leg.

Inside the first minute, AZ Alkmaar found themselves down to ten men, when Marcus Henriksen was sent for a early bath for a challenge on Javier Umbides. The red card was very harsh as replays showed that there was minimal contact between the players.

The Greeks had a glorious chance to take the lead when they were awarded a penalty on 18 minutes. AZ goalkeeper Esteban Alvarado, who gave away the spot-kick, redeemed himself to save the penalty from Dimitris Papadopoulos.

The Greek striker also redeemed himself by opening the scoring on 53 minutes. Just six minutes later the match was halted for safety reasons due to an electrical fire linked to the floodlighting system at the AZ Stadion.

When the game was stopped, AZ trailed 1-0 on the night but led 3-2 on aggregate. Under UEFA’s competition regulations, the match resumed on Friday morning from the point of abandonment. Thanassis Karagounis struck a second goal for the Greek visitors on 75 minutes, but despite Stefano Napoleoni hitting the woodwork late on, AZ held on to progress on away goals.

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EUROPA LEAGUE: AZ success as Feyenoord falter

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THURSDAY 22ND AUGUST

QUALIFYING PLAY-OFF – FIRST LEG

KUBAN KRASNODAR 1-0 FEYENOORD

Ronald Koeman’s Feyenoord suffered their fourth successive defeat this season at the hands of Russian Premier League side Kuban Krasnodar. Senegalese striker Ibrahima Baldé got the only goal of the game on the hour mark.

If it were not for goalkeeper Erwin Mulder, Koeman’s side could have been returning to Rotterdam virtually out of the competition. The Russians left with just the 1-0 win but it was well-deserved after yet another lacklustre display from Feyenoord.

Goalscorer Baldé was lively throughout the game and had glorious chance to give the Russians the lead after just three minutes, but the Senegalese striker fired narrowly wide from just inside the area, much to Mulder’s relief.

Feyenoord failed to find the net and even the usually consistent Italian hitman Graziano Pellè had yet another off-night wasting his side’s best chance of the game. Pellè flicked a shot onto the post and midfielder Lex Immers over hit the rebound and blasted it over Aleksandr Belenov‘s crossbar.

Into the second period, the Russians looked much more likely to score and continued to press for the opening goal but this did not materialised until the 60th minute. Baldé was in the right place at the right time to fire home. A long ball by Ángel Dealbert was knocked down by Ivelin Popov into the striker’s path to force the ball past Mulder.

De Kuip hosts the return leg next Thursday, with Ronald Koeman knowing that his team still with a good chance to reach the group stages. However, he will also understand that their performance needs to improve quickly otherwise the season looks to be a write-off, even at this early stage.

Atromitos FC - AZ

ATROMITOS 1-3 AZ ALKMAAR

AZ Alkmaar look likely to advance to the group stage of the competition after an excellent 3-1 in Greece against Atromitos.

After a uneventful goalless first-half, Jóhann Gudmundsson helped himself to a brace with Aron Jóhannsson scoring in the middle of the goals to give the Dutch side the win.

Gudmundsson opened the scoring on 50 minutes, with the newly American striker Jóhannsson grabbing the second on 73 minutes. AZ looked comfortable even though the Greeks scored a 76th minute spot-kick from 31-year-old striker Dimitris Papadopoulos. However, Gudmundsson added a third in stoppage time to give AZ the two-goal cushion to return home tomorrow morning.

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EUROPA LEAGUE QUALIFYING: Vitesse 1-2 Petrolul Ploiesti

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THURSDAY 9TH AUGUST

THIRD ROUND QUALIFYING – SECOND LEG

VITESSE 1-2 PETROLUL PLOIESTI

FC Petrolul win 3-2 on aggregate

Another Eredivisie crashed out of the Europa League when they were odds on favourites to progress, as Vitesse tasted a 2-1 defeat to Romanians FC Petrolul.

The Arnhem side were full control from the opening whistle using Ecuadorian right-winger Renato Ibarra’s speed to frighten the life out of the Petrolul defence. With the Vitesse midfield discovering to how much damage Ibarra could cause, he saw the ball often and was near to scoring, before blazing his chance over the bar after smartly cutting in from the wing.

Against the run of the play, the Romanians went ahead on 20 minutes after attacking with a route one ball from goalkeeper Peterson Pecanha. Tall Congolese striker Ferebory Dore flicked it on and Vitesse’s on-loan defender Patrick van Aanholt failed to cut the ball out. This allowed Frenchman Damien Boudjemaa to home in on goal and fire past the helpless Piet Velthuizen.

Vitesse needed to regroup and fight back, and they surged forward looking to get a goal before half-time, but they wasted numerous opportunities, with young Norweigan Marcus Pedersen having the best chance cleared off the line just before the interval.

The Dutch side looked leggy after the break and Petrolul looked to wrap the game up. However, the GelreDome crowd cheered them on and the hosts always looked their most dangerous from a corner, and minutes after Kelvin Leerdam headed over they found their equaliser on 72 minutes.

Defender Jan-Arie van der Heijden, who earlier in the first-half received a black eye from an elbow, slammed the ball home after it was uncontrollably bouncing around from a Theo Janssen corner.

The supporters now were louder than ever and just eight minutes after the goal, Vitesse were given another inspiration to attack for more goals as Jean Alcenat received his second booking for a foul on Georgian wide man Giorgi Chanturia. Alcenat was protesting and he had every right to, as it was a very soft decision that ended in Chanturia throwing himself to the ground.

The crosses were coming in thick and fast and the strange fact that the aerial threat of Mike Havenaar did not start the game is a question that only Peter Bosz could answer. The striker went the closest to winning the game with five minutes remaining but after receiving a cross from Chanturia, he headed straight at goalkeeper Pecanha.

The game was settled in a cruel way for Vitesse and more so their spectators. In the last kick of the game, the ten-man of Petrolul won a free-kick in a dangerous area on the outside of the box. Romania striker Gheorghe Grozav stepped up and curled the ball home with a shot that left Velthuizen stranded.

After the game, Janssen was interviewed by Fox Sports and stated: “This is destroying and we are ashamed. I think we were much stronger than the Romanians, but a lot of the team have played below their normal level. This is just a shame for the club and the fans.”

When asked the Vitesse midfielder agreed that without the sales of star players in the summer they would have progressed this evening: “With Bony and Van Ginkel in the squad, we would have definitely won this contest. Up front we did not have enough power to finish.”

A terrible performance from yet another Eredivisie side, and now Vitesse join FC Utrecht as being eliminated from the tournament at the qualifying stage. This will not help the Dutch coefficient for future European competitions, and the KNVB can only hope that PSV and Ajax can display a good showing in the Champions League and Feyenoord and AZ Alkmaar in the remainder of this tournament when they draw is made on Friday.

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EUROPA LEAGUE: Utrecht embarrassed by Differdange

Header-EuropaLgeReport
THURSDAY 18TH JULY
EUROPA LEAGUE SECOND ROUND QUALIFYING – FIRST LEG

FC DIFFERDANGE 03

2-1

FC UTRECHT

El Rafik 26, 57

H.T

1-1

Mulenga 2

In front of 1,500 of their own travelling supporters, FC Utrecht stumbled at the first hurdle of Europa League qualifying tonight, as they suffered a shock defeat in Luxembourg to FC Differdange 03 losing by two goals to one.

Copyright 2013 VI Images

Wantaway striker Jacob Mulenga gave the visitors a good start in the second minute, a cross from debutant Kenny Teijsse was met by the head of striker for the opening goal.

The Zambian then had a great chance to double the lead just after the restart, but he hit the post with his finish.

Utrecht became vulnerable at the back and Differdange were level on 26 minutes. Moroccan striker Omar El Rafik scoring the equaliser and after the break he found the net again on 57 minutes.

Head coach Jan Wouters stated after the game this was the worst defeat under his leadership at the club.

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EREDIVISIE EUROPA LEAGUE PLAYOFF REPORT: 26th May 2013

FC Utrecht 1 ( Duplan 46)

FC Twente 2 (Tadic 34, Chadli 36)

FC Utrecht win 3-2 on aggregate

Utrecht keeper Robin Ruiter is mobbed by celebrating fans
Utrecht keeper Robin Ruiter is mobbed by celebrating fans

FC Utrecht survived a second-leg fightback to wrap up a 3-2 aggregate win over FC Twente and clinch a berth in UEFA Europa League competition next season

After defeating Twente 2-0 last week Utrecht were in pole position to take the European spot ahead of Sunday’s matrch.

But two wonder goals in two minutes gave Utrecht a fright as Twente looked to scrape through. Dusan Tadic on 34 minutes and Nacer Chadli (36) hit two long range beauties giving goalkeeper Robin Ruiter no chance of saving.

But Frenchman Edouard Duplan, also on target in midweek, hit the crucial goal a minute after the restart for Utrecht after hyet another howler from Twente goalie Sander Boschker. The goalkeepers mis-kicked clearance was failed to get under control from Felipe Gutierrez, Duplan robbed the Chilean and slotted home in the empty goal.

Utrecht’s prize is a place in the second qualifying round for next season’s UEFA Europa League.

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