On Thursday slam was everything but boring, goals were hard to come by in the opening legs of the Europa League quarterfinals, but red cards and drama were everywhere. The highlight was Eintracht Frankfurt’s 1-1 draw with Barcelona at home, in which the hosts managed 16 shots while losing the possession war.
Ansgar Knauff’s goal shortly after halftime cancels out by Ferran Torres, who scored after a wonderful build-up. The encounter could have been a watershed moment for Frankfurt, but Tutu’s dismissal in the 78th minute ensured they’d have to cling on for dear life in the closing minutes.
Barcelona, like Galatasaray in the round of 16-second leg, will have a lot of work ahead of them, but they’ll be confident coming to Camp Nou while still in the tie. Bodo/Glimt has officially become Roma’s nightmare team, speaking of work to be done. Hugo Veltesen, who had previously beaten Jose Mourinho’s team twice in the Europa Conference League group stage, was once again the spoiler, scoring in the 89th minute for the home triumph.
Roma fared well in the first half, with Lorenzo Pellegrini scoring just before halftime, but Ulrik Saltnes canceled it out in the 56th minute. You never know what to expect from Roma these days, which adds to the allure of their games. And it’s difficult to call this an upset when the upstart team hasn’t lost to you three times.
Europa League scores
Braga 1, Rangers 0
RB Leipzig 1, Atalanta 1
West Ham 1, Lyon 1
Eintracht Frankfurt 1, Barcelona 1
Conference League scores
Leicester City 0, PSV Eindhoven 0
Marseille 2, PAOK 1
Bodo/Glimt 2, AS Roma 1
Feyenoord 3, Slavia Prague 3
West Ham fought hard in their 1-1 draw with Lyon, but given the circumstances, David Moyes is likely delighted with the outcome. For a risky challenge in which he was assessed to have pulled down Moussa Dembele, Aaron Creswell received a straight red card. While the contact was small, it was tough to claim that it was a clear rejection of an opportunity to score a goal. These are decisions that the referees must make.
Slavia Prague and Feyenoord
This game had nearly as many goals as the previous four Europa League games combined. Despite winning the xG fight 2.70 to 1.30, Slavia Prague will disappoint with a draw. Luis Sinisterra scored the first goal for the Dutch after only 10 minutes of play. Orkun Kokcu hit the post in the 18th minute, and Peter Olayinka wasted the greatest chance of the first half. He’d make up for it, scoring in the 41st minute to tie the game going into halftime.
Slavia Prague appeared to be closing the gap when Yira Sor scored in the 67th minute. But Marcos Baron equalized for Feyenoord just seven minutes later. In the 86th minute, Kokcu scored Feyenoord’s third goal. But Ibrahim Traore tied the tie late into stoppage time to keep things interesting ahead of the second leg in Prague.
Dimitri Payet Best Player
Payet was in Marseille for the day. His team took a one-goal lead into the second leg against PAOK thanks to four opportunities produced. A fantastic assist, and an absolute stunner of a goal. Gerson’s ban for that match (due to a stoppage-time red card) will be a blow. But if Payet keeps producing world-class, jaw-dropping smashes, everything is conceivable for the French team. While Payet isn’t expecting to do much on defense. He is at his finest and most dangerous in the attacking third, where he sets up crosses and creates opportunities for Marseille.
Europa League: Rangers’ disappointment
When you consider that the Rangers’ best chance. Qualifying for the Champions League is to win the Football Europa League, losing 1-0 to Braga isn’t ideal. Remember, this is the same Rangers team who thrashed Borussia Dortmund 6-1 in the previous round. So failing to even register a shot on target in a match where they had the upper hand is a huge disappointment. All of the shots were in the box, so it’s not like Braga stuffed. The box to prevent the Rangers from scoring. Braga had a nice plan and executed it after Abel Ruiz’s goal put them up in the 40th minute. But they’ll have to be cautious in the second leg if they want to keep their lead.
Dimitri Payet Best Goal Player
We’ve seen Payet do some crazy things on the field before. But his first time hitting on the halftime buzzer was something unique. Marseille won the match 2-1, and Payet’s stunning football goal should replaying. Payet is a walking highlight reel, and it’s incredible. That he can still deliver in ways that blow our minds at 35.