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Europa League wrap: Barcelona rescue Napoli draw; Dortmund thumped by Rangers

Tottenham put themselves in a great position with their business in January, but which clubs could have done more to improve?

The knockout round playoffs (round of 32) of the Europa League kicked off on Thursday, with the eight runners-up from the group stage taking on eight UEFA Champions League 3rd-place finishers.

[ MORE: Firmino, Salah win it late; Bayern salvage Salzburg draw ]

A roundup of the day’s results, and highlights, from Europe’s second-tier competition…

Barcelona 1-1 Napoli

Barcelona fell a goal behind Napoli just before the half-hour mark, but Xavi’s side battled back for a 1-1 draw that gives them every chance at securing a requisite result in leg no. 2 next Thursday.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made his first start for Barcelona after joining from Arsenal on transfer deadline day. Aubameyang took three shots, but failed to put any of them on target.

Piote Zielinski pounced on a rebound in the 29th minute to make it 1-0 to the visitors, but Ferran Torres hit back from the penalty spot in the 59th. Torres had a pair of other clear-cut scoring chances throughout the game, but put the ball over the crossbar when he must have done better.

Borussia Dortmund 2-4 Rangers

Dortmund weren’t just beaten by Rangers, they were hammered and embarrassed by a harder working, more confident side from the Scottish Premiership. Rangers jumped out to 2-0 lead in the span of three minutes just before halftime, as James Tavernier converted from the spot in the 38th minute and Alfredo Morales tidied up at the back post shortly after.

It was 3-0 just four minutes into the second half, when John Lundstram let a first-time strike fly from the edge of the box. Jude Bellingham scored a stunner from 20 yards out almost immediately thereafter, but an own goal charged to Dan-Axel Zagadou restored the three-goal lead in the 54th.

Dortmund were, however, handed a lifeline — a shred of doubt in Rangers’ minds — that gives them hope in the second leg: Raphael Guerrero, from all of 25 yards out, inside the near post.

USMNT attacker Gio Reyna came off the bench at halftime, ramping his workload up to 45 minutes after a half-hour appearance in his return to action last week. Reyna had previously been unavailable due to a hamstring injury he suffered with the USMNT back in September, at the start of 2022 World Cup qualifying.

[ MORE: Mbappe scores stoppage-time winner vs Real Madrid; Man City cruise ]

RB Leipzig 2-2 Real Sociedad

Another USMNT star, Tyler Adams, played all 90 minutes in RB Leipzig’s draw with La Liga side Real Sociedad, and he did so at… center back, at least according to some of the popular providers of stats. In possession, Adams was effectively the same deep-lying midfielder he’s always been; out of possession, Adams perhaps sat a bit deeper than usual, but didn’t log any additional defensive actions and had clearly been given his customary freedom to roam.

Europa League results

Barcelona 1-1 Napoli
Borussia Dortmund 2-4 Rangers
RB Leipzig 2-2 Real Sociedad
Atalanta 2-1 Olympiacos
Porto 2-1 Lazio
Sevilla 3-1 Dinamo Zagreb
Zenit St. Petersburg 2-3 Real Betis
FC Sheriff 2-0 Braga

Europa Conference League results (knockout round playoffs)

Leicester 4-1 Randers
Celtic 1-3 Bodo/Glimt
Marseille 3-1 Qarabag
PSV Eindhoven 1-0 Maccabi Tel Aviv
Fenerbahce 2-3 Slavia Prague
Midtjyland 1-0 PAOK Thessaloniki
Rapid Vienna 2-1 Vitesse
Sparta Prague 0-1 Partizan Belgrade

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