Europa League wrap: 10-man Benfica stuns Rangers; Celtic, Milan thumped
Well that was nuts.
The Europa League delivered thrills and spills apart from the Premier League sides expected wins over non-traditional European powers (with apologies to Braga).
Glasgow rivals Celtic and Rangers both suffered humbling results, the latter unable to hold a 3-1 lead with a man advantage against Benfica while the former was throttled by underdogs Sparta Prague.
It’s all a part of our UEL wrap.
Benfica 3-3 Rangers
Up 1-0 on a 1st minute Rangers own goal, Benfica would’ve been right to feel it wasn’t their day when Nicolas Otamendi’s 19th-minute red card was followed by three concessions.
But second-half sub Darwin Nunez assisted Rafa Silva before scoring in stoppage time for the 10-man Portuguese powers, who claimed a point.
Alfredo Morales had a goal and an assist for Steven Gerrard’s men, whose seven points are level with Benfica and four clear of Lech Poznan.
Benfica’s a storied club, but wow.
Celtic 1-4 Sparta Prague
Celtic Park was a house of horrors for the Glaswegian hosts, who allowed a hat trick to Lukas Julis in a loss that puts the five points back of second-place AC Milan.
Czech national team star Ladislav Krejci scored off an assist from ex-Philadelphia Union playmaker Borek Dockal to cap off the scoring.
Celtic’s goal came from Leigh Griffiths. The Scottish powers needed all three points and perhaps six from their two meetings with Sparta Prague after getting just one from AC Milan and Lille.
AC Milan 0-3 Lille
Yusuf Yazici scored his second hat trick of the group stage as Lille bounced back from drawing Celtic to hand Milan a first UEL loss of the season.
Yazici was blanked against Celtic but scored thrice in a 4-1 win at Sparta Prague. The 24-times capped Turkish international, 23, has only scored twice in 34 other matches for Lille.
Two of Mike Maignan’s four saves came against Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was almost alone in trying to spearhead a Milan comeback.
USMNT forward Timothy Weah was an unused sub in the win.
PAOK 4-1 PSV Eindhoven
Eran Zahavi’s opening goal didn’t last, as PAOK stormed out of the halftime break with four goals in 21 minutes. Andrija Zivkovic had a hand in three of those goals on a grim day for the Greek side.
A silver lining for American fans is a second senior appearance for 20-year-old Richie Ledezma, who has been called into USMNT camp for next week’s friendlies. He made six touches and won his lone duel in about a dozen minutes off the bench.
Hoffenheim 5-0 Slovan Liberec
This one’s not about highlights or the result. Munas Dabbur and Sargis Adamyan each scored braces in the blowout, but the tribute to unused sub and Tottenham loanee Ryan Sessegnon was a special moment in the ongoing battle against racism.
Roma 5-0 CFR Cluj
Young Boys 3-0 CSKA Sofia
Rapid Vienna 4-3 Dundalk
Arsenal 4-1 Molde -- RECAP
Hapoel Be’er Sheva 2-4 Bayer Leverkusen
Nice 3-2 Slavia Prague
Lech Poznan 3-1 Standard Liege
Omonia 0-2 Granada
Rijeka 1-2 Napoli
Real Sociedad 1-0 AZ Alkmaar
Leicester City 4-0 Braga -- RECAP
Zorya Luhansk 1-4 AEK Athens
Sivasspor 2-0 Qarabag
Villarreal 4-0 Maccabi Tel Aviv
Ludogorets Razgrad 1-3 Tottenham Hotspur -- RECAP
Royal Antwerp 0-1 LASK Linz
Feyenoord 3-1 CSKA Moscow
Dinamo Zagreb 1-0 Wolfsberger
Red Star Belgrade 2-1 Gent