UEFA To allow Spectators Back Into Matches

(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 28, 2020 shows the UEFA logo at the organization's headquarters in Nyon. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 28, 2020 shows the UEFA logo at the organization’s headquarters in Nyon. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

 

UEFA will allow spectators back into matches in the Champions League and its other club and international competitions “at a maximum of 30 percent” of capacity, European football’s governing body announced on Thursday.

Up until now, all matches in the Champions League, Europa League and Nations League have been played behind closed doors because of Covid-19, but the decision follows a successful experiment at the Super Cup in Budapest last week, when around 15,500 spectators watched Bayern Munich beat Sevilla.

However, the loosening of restrictions is subject to national authorities giving the green light and UEFA acknowledged that certain games may still go ahead behind closed doors or with even more limited numbers of fans.

Away supporters will not be allowed in “until further notice”.

“Today’s decision is a sensible first step which puts fans’ health first and respects the laws in each country,” said UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin.

“While we all face a common enemy in Covid, different countries have different approaches and different challenges at any given moment.

“This decision allows much more local flexibility to deal with admitting fans than was previously the case, always respecting the assessment of local authorities.”

According to UEFA, a total of 27 countries across Europe currently allow some fans to attend matches.

The decision will come into effect as of next week when a series of international friendly matches precedes the next two rounds of games in the Nations League.

The Champions League group stage begins on October 20, with the draw having taken place earlier on Thursday. The Europa League will also begin later this month.

AFP

UEFA Allows Five Substitutes In Champions League, International Matches

(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 28, 2020 shows the UEFA logo at the organization's headquarters in Nyon. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 28, 2020 shows the UEFA logo at the organization’s headquarters in Nyon. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

 

UEFA will allow up to five substitutions to be made by teams in all European club and international matches this season, it announced on Thursday, although a decision has yet to be reached for next year’s European Championship.

The decision, announced following UEFA’s Executive Committee meeting in Budapest, applies to this season’s Champions League, Europa League and women’s Champions League, as well as the remainder of the Nations League, the qualifying play-offs for Euro 2020 and qualifiers for the next women’s European Championship.

“Another decision” will be made for the finals of Euro 2020, which were postponed to June and July next year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The change comes after several national team coaches called on UEFA to allow five substitutions in the Nations League, which started earlier this month with only three replacements permitted to come on during games.

The five substitutes regulation was brought in earlier this year to help teams cope with the extra demands caused by a packed match calendar as football returned after a long Covid-19 shutdown in the European spring.

European football’s governing body also permitted five substitutions to be made during games in the latter stages of last season’s Champions League and Europa League, played in August.

It has been maintained in many European leagues, although the English Premier League has notably opted to limit substitutions to three per team per game.

The announcement was hailed by global players’ union FIFPro, which said it would “help to better manage the unprecedented workload which players face in the coming months because of calendar disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

“This is the right decision and a good first step to ease pressure on elite-level players. We will continue to push for further innovative ways to reduce their mounting workload and protect their health and performance,” said FIFPro’s general secretary, Jonas Baer-Hoffmann.

Meanwhile, UEFA also announced that the finals of this edition of the Nations League will be played from October 6-10, 2021 and revealed that Italy, the Netherlands and Poland had all expressed interest in hosting the matches.

The inaugural Nations League finals in 2019 were held in Portugal, with the hosts beating the Netherlands in the final.

AFP

UEFA Europa League Third Qualifying Round Draw

(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 28, 2020 shows the UEFA logo at the organization's headquarters in Nyon. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 28, 2020 shows the UEFA logo at the organization’s headquarters in Nyon. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

 

The draw for the third qualifying round of the 2020/21 UEFA Europa League, made at UEFA’s Swiss headquarters in Nyon on Tuesday:

Nomme Kalju (EST)/NS Mura (SLO)/AGF Aarhus (DEN) v PSV Eindhoven (NED)

Charleroi (BEL) v Sfintul Gheorghe Suruceni (MDA)/Partizan Belgrade (SRB)

Hibernians (MLT)/Fehervar (HUN) v Servette (SUI)/Reims (FRA)

St Gallen (SUI) v AEK Athens (GRE)

FC Botosani (ROM)/KF Shkendija (MKD) v Lokomotiv Plovdiv (BUL)/Tottenham Hotspur (ENG)

Progres Niederkorn (LUX)/Willem II (NED) v Lincoln Red Imps (GIB)/Rangers (SCO)

Budapest Honved (HUN)/Malmo (SWE) v Lokomotiva Zagreb (CRO)

FK Ventspils (LAT)/Rosenborg (NOR) v Alanyaspor (TUR)

KF Teuta (ALB)/Granada (ESP) v Lokomotiv Tbilisi (GEO)/Dynamo Moscow (RUS)

LASK (AUT) v Dunajska Streda (SVK)/Jablonec (CZE)

Bala Town (WAL)/Standard Liege (BEL) v FK Vojvodina (SRB)

OFI Crete (GRE)/Apollon Limassol (CYP) v Hammarby (SWE)/Lech Poznan (POL)

Sporting (POR) v Viking Stavanger (NOR)/Aberdeen (SCO)

FK Kukesi (ALB)/VfL Wolfsburg (GER) v Desna (UKR)

HNK Rijeka (CRO) v Aris Thessaloniki (GRE)/Kolos Kovalivka (UKR)

Shamrock Rovers (IRL)/AC Milan (ITA) v Bodo/Glimt (NOR)/Zalgiris Vilnius (LTU)

FC Rostov (RUS) v Maccabi Haifa (ISR)/FK Zeljeznicar (BIH)/Kairat Almaty (KAZ)

Besiktas (TUR) v Borac Banja Luka (BIH)/Rio Ave (POR)

TSC Backa Topola (SRB)/FCSB (ROM) v FK Riteriai (LTU)/Slovan Liberec (CZE)

Neftci PFK (AZE)/Galatasaray (TUR) v KF Renova (MKD)/Hajduk Split (CRO)

KF Laci (ALB)/Hapoel Beer-Sheva (ISR) v Coleraine (NIR)/Motherwell (SCO)

Viktoria Plzen (CZE) v Sonderjyske (DEN)

IFK Gothenburg (SWE)/FC Copenhagen (DEN) v Piast Gliwice (POL)/Prolactal Hartberg (AUT)

Kaysar Kyzylorda (KAZ)/APOEL (CYP) v Olimpija Ljubljana (SLO)/HSK Zrinjski (BIH)

NK Osijek (CRO)/FC Basel (SUI) v Anorthosis Famagusta (CYP)

CSKA Sofia (BUL)/BATE Borisov (BLR) v B36 Torshavn (FRO)/The New Saints (WAL)

FK Sarajevo (BIH) v FC Astana (KAZ)/FK Buducnost Podgorica (MNE)

Sheriff Tiraspol (MDA) v Inter Club d’Escaldes (AND)/Dundalk (IRL)

Ararat-Armenia (ARM)/CS Fola Esch (LUX) v NK Celje (SLO)

Riga FC (LAT)/SS Tre Fiori (SMR) v Celtic (SCO)

KuPS Kuopio (FIN)/Slovan Bratislava (SVK) v FK Suduva (LTU)

Legia Warsaw (POL) v FK Sileks (MKD)/KF Drita (KOS)

KI Klaksvik (FRO) v Connah’s Quay Nomads (WAL)/Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO)

Djurgardens (SWE)/Europa FC (GIB) v CFR Cluj (ROM)

Linfield (NIR)/Floriana (MLT) v Flora Tallinn (EST)/KR Reykjavik (ISL)

– KF Tirana of Albania and Ludogorets of Bulgaria have byes into the play-off round

– Ties to be played on September 24 behind closed doors as one-off straight knockout matches, rather than over two legs, because of the complications caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The first-named clubs are at home.

AFP

Sevilla Beat Inter To Win Sixth Europa League Trophy

Sevilla’s players celebrate with the trophy after winning the UEFA Europa League final football match against Inter Milan on August 21, 2020, in Cologne, western Germany. Lars Baron / POOL / AFP

 

Sevilla won the Europa League for a sixth time as Diego Carlos’s overhead kick deflected in off Romelu Lukaku 16 minutes from time to beat Inter Milan 3-2 in a thrilling final in Cologne.

Carlos and Lukaku’s evening had got off to a very different start as the defender hauled the Belgian striker down and he converted the resulting penalty to put Inter in front after just five minutes.

Two Luuk De Jong headers turned the game around for Sevilla, but Diego Godin quickly levelled in a four-goal first half.

However, Italy’s wait for a first European trophy in a decade, and Inter’s nine-year trophy drought, goes on after Lukaku could not stop Carlos’s spectacular strike on another famous Europa League night for Sevilla.

Antonio Conte’s men will have a case that the Sevilla defender should have been sent off after just three minutes as Lukaku accelerated past him with ease on the counter-attack and was hauled to the ground by the Brazilian, who conceded an early penalty for the third consecutive game.

Carlos was only shown a yellow card, but Lukaku ensured Inter were rewarded as he confidently slotted home his 34th goal of the season to equal his idol Ronaldo’s record in his first season at Inter, which ended in Inter’s last UEFA Cup win 1997/98.

Sevilla players throw Spanish coach Julen Lopetegui in the air to celebrate after the UEFA Europa League final football match against Inter Milan on August 21, 2020, in Cologne, western Germany. Friedemann Vogel / POOL / AFP

 

De Jong has been far from that prolific in his first season in Spain, but the Dutch international suddenly hit form at the right time as he was handed a start by Julen Lopetegui after coming off the bench to score the winner in the semi-final against Manchester United.

Inter did not learn from that goal against the English giants.

Jesus Navas was again the provider and when De Jong got across Godin, his diving header had too much power for Samir Handanovic.

Tempers were also flaring in a pulsating first half with frequent confrontations between the benches as they tried to influence Dutch referee Danny Makkelie.

 

– Inter Chances –

Conte was booked as Inter appealed for a second penalty when Nicolo Barella chipped ball into the arm of Carlos.

Sevilla upset the odds when they came from behind to beat Liverpool for the fifth Europa League title four years ago and did the same to another European giant when De Jong rose highest to loop a brilliant header over Handanovic from Ever Banega’s free-kick.

However, the lead only lasted three minutes as Godin made amends with a bullet header of his own as the Uruguayan became the first defender to score in a Champions League and Europa League final.

Both sides had conceded just once in three games since arriving in Germany and after four goals inside 36 minutes, Conte and Lopetegui restored some semblance of order to their defences at the break.

Brazilian defender Diego Carlos (C) celebrates after Sevilla scored the 3-2 goal during the UEFA Europa League final football match against Inter Milan on August 21, 2020, in Cologne, western Germany. Martin Meissner / POOL / AFP

 

Inter were made to rue wasting the better opportunities in the second half as Navas and Carlos converged to block Roberto Galiardini’s effort.

Lukaku then had the chance to cap his excellent first season in Italy as he raced through on goal 25 minutes from time, but just as in the semi-final victory over United, Sevilla goalkeeper Bono produced a vital save when needed.

And like so many of their previous five Europa League final victories, Sevilla conjured up a moment of magic allied with a slice of fortune they needed to again take the trophy they call their own back to southern Spain.

Inter failed to clear another Banega free-kick into the box and Carlos more than made amends for some of his heavy-handed defending with an overhead kick that deflected in off the unfortunate Lukaku.

Conte threw on the former Premier League trio of Christian Eriksen, Alexis Sanchez and Victor Moses in response and it was Sanchez who had the chance to make himself a hero by taking the game to extra time.

But the Chilean failed to get enough purchase on his shot among a goalmouth scramble and Jules Kounde cleared off the line.

AFP

Lukaku On Song As Inter Spank Shakhtar To Reach Europa League Final


Inter Milan’s Argentinian forward Lautaro Martinez (hidden) score the 3-0 past Shakhtar Donetsk’s Ukrainian goalkeeper Andrey Pyatov during the UEFA Europa League semi-final football match Inter Milan v Shakhtar Donetsk on August 17, 2020 in Duesseldorf, western Germany. Lars Baron / POOL / AFP

 

 

Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez both scored twice as Inter Milan stormed into a first European final in 10 years with a 5-0 thrashing of Shakhtar Donetsk in Dusseldorf.

Danilo D’Ambrosio was also on target for Antonio Conte’s men, who will face Sevilla in Friday’s final in Cologne.

The Italian giants have endured a lean decade since winning the Champions League in 2010, but closed the gap on Juventus at the top of Serie A to just one point in Conte’s first season in charge and are now one win away from a first trophy in nine years.

Martinez and Lukaku’s prolific partnership has been the source of much of Inter’s success and they took their tally to a combined 54 for the season.

 


Inter Milan’s Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku celebrates scoring the 5-0 goal during the UEFA Europa League semi-final football match Inter Milan v Shakhtar Donetsk on August 17, 2020, in Duesseldorf, western Germany. Lars Baron / POOL / AFP

 

After a slow start, Martinez rose highest to power home Nicolo Barella’s cross to open the scoring on 19 minutes.

Shakhtar are one of European football’s great survivors as the Ukrainian champions continue to thrive despite not playing a match in their home city of Donetsk for six years due to a war in eastern Ukraine between government forces and Russian-backed separatists.

 


Inter Milan’s Italian head coach Antonio Conte shakes hands with Shakhtar Donetsk’s Portuguese coach Luis Castro after the UEFA Europa League semi-final football match Inter Milan v Shakhtar Donetsk on August 17, 2020 in Duesseldorf, western Germany. Sascha Steinbach / POOL / AFP

 

Luis Castro’s men had scored 14 goals in five Europa League games since dropping into the competition form the Champions League, but their talented array of Brazilian forwards barely laid a glove on a characteristically well-organised Conte defence.

At the other end, Martinez was always lively and only a brilliant save from 36-year-old Andriy Pyatov denied him a classy second as he won the ball 30 yards from goal and immediately lobbed the ball goalwards early in the second half.

Shakhtar had one golden chance to level when Mykola Matviyenko’s cross picked out Junior Moraes, but the Brazilian-born Ukrainian international’s header was too close to Samir Handanovic.

Two minutes later, Inter landed the killer blow when D’Ambrosio met Marcelo Brozovic’s corner with a powerful header.

Lukaku extended his run of scoring in now 10 straight Europa League games, but the Belgian was made to wait as Pyatov got down well to save his first big sight of goal.

Martinez showed the way with by finding the bottom corner with a brilliant quick hit that gave Pyatov no time to set himself after Shakhtar were caught in possession inside their own half for his 21st goal of the season.


Shakhtar Donetsk’s Portuguese coach Luis Castro follows from the sidelines during the UEFA Europa League semi-final football match Inter Milan v Shakhtar Donetsk on August 17, 2020, in Duesseldorf, western Germany. Sascha Steinbach / POOL / AFP

 

Lukaku then got in on the act 12 minutes from time as this time Martinez played provider before his strike partner slotted low into the far corner.

Five minutes later the former Manchester United striker had his 33rd goal of the campaign by accelerating away from a slow Shakhtar backline before firing through Pyatov’s legs.

AFP

Sevilla, Shakhtar Reach Europa League Semi-Finals

The wolves wall jumps for a free kick during the UEFA Europa League quarter-final football match Wolverhampton Wanderers v Sevilla at the MSV Arena on August 11, 2020 in Duisburg, western Germany. Ina Fassbender / POOL / AFP
The wolves wall jumps for a free kick during the UEFA Europa League quarter-final football match Wolverhampton Wanderers v Sevilla at the MSV Arena on August 11, 2020 in Duisburg, western Germany. Ina Fassbender / POOL / AFP

 

Sevilla and Shakhtar Donetsk qualified for the semi-finals of the Europa League on Tuesday after respective wins over Wolverhampton Wanderers and Basel.

Five-time competition winners Sevilla face Manchester United on Sunday after snatching a last gasp 1-0 win over Wolves, while Shakhtar take on Inter Milan on Monday after easily seeing off Basel 4-1.

The La Liga side made it through to their last four clash with United thanks to Lucas Ocampos’ brilliant headed winner with less than two minutes left on the clock, which ended Wolves’ dreams of European glory.

Shakhtar Donetsk's Portuguese coach Luis Castro (L) congratulates his players during the UEFA Europa League quarter-final football match Shakhtar Donetsk v FC Basel at the Arena Aufschalke on August 11, 2020 in Gelsenkirchen, western Germany. WOLFGANG RATTAY / POOL / AFP
Shakhtar Donetsk’s Portuguese coach Luis Castro (L) congratulates his players during the UEFA Europa League quarter-final football match Shakhtar Donetsk v FC Basel at the Arena Aufschalke on August 11, 2020 in Gelsenkirchen, western Germany. WOLFGANG RATTAY / POOL / AFP

 

The Premier League outfit thought they were set to make the perfect start in the 11th minute when Adam Traore set off on a sensational surge towards goal from his own half and was chopped down in the area by Diego Carlos.

However Raul Jimenez, who had scored all of his previous eight penalties for Wolves, sent a weak spot-kick towards Yassine Bounou, who could hardly believe his luck as he batted the Mexican’s tame shot aside.

That was to be Wolves’ last shot on target of the match as chances became hard to come by, although Sevilla began to take a stranglehold on the play and force Wolves back into their own half.

Wolves, who were missing wing-back Jonny after the Spaniard damaged his cruciate knee ligament in the 1-0 win over Olympiakos that booked them a place in the last eight, struggled to get hold of the ball and keep it when they did.

However Sevilla couldn’t carve out many clear-cut opportunities, with Wolves’ defence managing to snuff out their opponents when they did manage to break free.

Ocampos snatches victory

The first good chance of the second half came when Jules Kounde met Suso’s beautifully flighted cross in the 66th minute, but the Frenchman had to stretch for the ball and sent it looping over the bar.

Eleven minutes later Rui Patrico did well to tip over Ever Banega’s dipping free-kick as Wolves began to rock, but the goalkeeper could do nothing to stop Sevilla’s winner with two minutes left.

Banega was again at the heart of the action, whipping in a fizzing cross that Lucas Ocampos did brilliantly to guide into the bottom corner and send his team into the semis.

In Gelsenkirchen Shakhtar booked their spot in the last four with a commanding win over Basel that will give Inter Milan something to think about ahead of their semi-final clash on Monday.

Sevilla's Argentinian midfielder Lucas Ocampos celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the UEFA Europa League quarter-final football match Wolverhampton Wanderers v Sevilla at the MSV Arena on August 11, 2020 in Duisburg, western Germany. Friedemann Vogel / POOL / AFP
Sevilla’s Argentinian midfielder Lucas Ocampos celebrates scoring his team’s first goal during the UEFA Europa League quarter-final football match Wolverhampton Wanderers v Sevilla at the MSV Arena on August 11, 2020 in Duisburg, western Germany. Friedemann Vogel / POOL / AFP

 

The Ukrainian side got off to a flyer thanks to Junior Moraes, who headed home Marlos’ corner with less than two minutes on the clock, and they never looked back from that point on.

Taison put Shakhtar two ahead 20 minutes later when his deflected shot flashed past Basel’s bamboozled goalkeeper Dorde Nikolic.

The match was over as a contest when Taison was brought down in the box, allowing Alan Patrick to make it three from the spot with 14 minutes left.

Shakhtar rounded off a fine display in the 88th minute when right-back Dodo combined with Tete before smashing home a superb finish.

Ricky van Wolfswinkel’s close-range strike for Basel a minute into stoppage time made no difference to a thumping defeat for the Swiss.

 

AFP

Europa League: Bruno Fernandes’ Late Penalty Sends Man United To Semi-Final

solskjaer-man-united
Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (C), FC Copenhagen’s Greek midfielder Zeca and Manchester United’s Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes react at the end of the UEFA Europa League quarter-final football match between Manchester United and FC Copenhagen at the RheinEnergieStadion, in Cologne, western Germany, on August 10, 2020.
WOLFGANG RATTAY / AFP / POOL

 

 

Bruno Fernandes scored a penalty in extra time as Manchester United scraped past FC Copenhagen 1-0 on Monday in the quarter-finals of the Europa League, reshaped into an eight-team straight knockout tournament in Germany due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Portugal international notched his competition-best seventh goal of the season as United set up a semi-final clash against Sevilla or Wolves, joining Inter Milan in the last four following the Italian side’s 2-1 victory over Bayer Leverkusen in Dusseldorf.

“Third time this season we’ve been to the semis, every competition we’ve been in. Delighted we’ve gone through, we deserved to win tonight,” United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told BT Sport.

“Their keeper was fantastic, unbelievable. We hit the post a few times, there were a couple of VAR decisions against us. It could have been one of those nights that you end up with penalty shoot outs. They made it hard for us.”

All games from the quarter-finals onwards in this season’s Europa League are being played behind closed doors as one-off ties across four venues — Cologne, Duisburg, Dusseldorf and Gelsenkirchen — in a unique format following a five-month interruption.

Solskjaer recalled Fernandes, Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial but the 2017 competition winners struggled early, and 18-year-old Copenhagen forward Mohamed Daramy was twice involved as the Danish underdogs threatened a creaking United backline.

Eric Bailly intervened just as Daramy attempted to stab home a bouncing cross, and the Ivorian defender was then played into trouble by Fred with Jens Stage’s subsequent effort blocked.

Rashford finally tested Karl-Johan Johnsson just before the interval with a long-range shot — the first of a multitude of saves for Copenhagen’s outstanding Swedish goalkeeper.

Greenwood looked to have put United ahead as he drilled in via the far post moments later only for the teenager to be ruled offside following a VAR review.

He again went close early in the second half when he slammed against the upright, with Fernandes promptly smacking the opposite post with a dipping 20-yard drive.

The Portugal international, who scored five times in the group stage with Sporting, stung the palms of Johnsson with another hit from distance — shortly after Aaron Wan-Bissaka made a desperation block to thwart Bryan Oviedo after a mesmerising dribble from Rasmus Falk.

– Johnsson outstanding in goal –

Appearing in their first European quarter-final, and the first Danish club to reach this stage since 1997, Copenhagen continued to frustrate United as they sought a repeat of their 1-0 win when the clubs last met in the Champions League group stage in 2006.

Martial nearly won the game in normal time but again a sprawling Johnsson tipped away his curling attempt that appeared destined for the top corner.

The France striker was once more repelled by Johnsson at the start of extra time, but Martial won a penalty as United kept the attack alive and the striker was upended by Andreas Bjelland.

Fernandes blasted home from the spot on 95 minutes but Solskjaer’s team were left to sweat until the end as Johnsson pulled off sensational stops from the Portuguese and substitute Juan Mata, with Victor Lindelof the third United player to strike the post.

United though ultimately ensured their 2019-20 campaign will extend into a second year, having started the season 365 days ago with a 4-0 Premier League win over Chelsea. Awaiting them on Sunday will be Sevilla — who have won the Europa League and its precursor, the UEFA Cup, a record five times — or domestic rivals Wolves.

Former United striker Romelu Lukaku grabbed the decisive goal for Antonio Conte’s Inter against Leverkusen as the Serie A runners-up moved a step closer to adding to their titles from 1991, 1994 and 1998.

Inter struck first as Nicolo Barella guided in from the edge of the area on 15 minutes, with Lukaku bundling in a second six minutes later.

Kai Havertz reduced the deficit in possibly his final game for Leverkusen on 25 minutes after exchanging passes with fellow Germany international Kevin Volland, but Inter held on to seal their place against Shakhtar Donetsk or Basel in next week’s semi-final.

“The defence did a tremendous job again tonight. We are growing but we have to learn to kill games off when we have the chances to do it, and we didn’t tonight,” said Lukaku.

“Now we have time to recover physically and prepare for another great game. We will have to be ready.”

AFP

Lukaku Leads Inter Milan Into Europa League Semi-Finals

lukaku
Inter Milan’s Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku shoots on goal during the UEFA Europa League quarter-final football match Inter Milan v Bayer 04 Leverkusen at the Duesseldorf Arena on August 10, 2020 in Duesseldorf, western Germany. Dean Mouhtaropoulos / POOL / AFP

 

 

Romelu Lukaku scored as Inter Milan defeated Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 in Monday’s Europa League quarter-final in Dusseldorf, becoming the first team through to the last four of a mini-tournament behind closed doors in Germany.

Three-time former winners Inter struck first through Nicolo Barella as he guided in from the edge of the area on 15 minutes, with Lukaku bundling in a second six minutes later.

 

Leverkusen’s German midfielder Kai Havertz (C) and his teammates react after the UEFA Europa League quarter-final football match Inter Milan v Bayer 04 Leverkusen at the Duesseldorf Arena on August 10, 2020 in Duesseldorf, western Germany. Martin Meissner / POOL / AFP

 

Kai Havertz reduced the deficit in possibly his final game for Leverkusen with a well-worked goal on 25 minutes after exchanging passes with fellow Germany international Kevin Volland, but Inter held on to seal their place in the semi-finals.

Antonio Conte’s side will take on Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk or Swiss club Basel next Monday in Dusseldorf for a place in the final on August 21.

AFP

Winning Europa League Would Be My Proudest Moment In Life – Solskjaer

In this file photo taken on January 13, 2019 Manchester United’s Norwegian caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer applauds the fans following the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium in London.  Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would love Manchester United to round off the coronavirus-affected season by winning the Europa League which he says will be the proudest moment of his life.

United travel to Germany on Sunday for the climax to the competition with Monday’s quarter-final against Danish outfit FC Copenhagen a launch-pad Solskjaer hopes for lifting the trophy on August 21.

A potentially tougher semi-final looms with either AS Roma or Sevilla.

Having already fallen short in two semi-finals this term — losing to Manchester City in the League Cup and Chelsea in the FA Cup — the Norwegian wants to go the whole way.

“I am ambitious — and one of my dreams is to lift the trophy as a manager for this club,” said Solskjaer as cited in the British media. “That would be the proudest moment of my life.”

File photo: Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (C) substitutes Manchester United’s English midfielder Jesse Lingard during the UEFA Europa League last 16 second leg football match between Manchester United and Linzer ASK at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on August 5, 2020. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

 

The 47-year-old won six Premier League titles, two FA Cups and the Champions League as a player and scored the goal that clinched the 1999 Treble.

He is self-deprecatory about his contribution to that success but only re-enforces his desire to repay that with a trophy as their manager.

“I owe my football career to this club so, to lift a trophy as a manager, would be the biggest achievement in my career,” said the former Molde and Cardiff manager.

“I was part of a fantastic team. Sometimes you just ride a wave on the sea you are in.

“The team I was in carried me. Roy Keane (former United captain) would say his back was sore because he carried me! And he is probably right.

“I contributed as well as I could, I was always ready for the team and the club.

“But if I could lift a trophy as a manager, that would be the proudest moment of my career without a doubt.”

– ‘Another step forward’ –

Solskjaer — who guided United to a Champions League spot for next season with a third-place finish in the league — says he and United chief executive Ed Woodward had formed a long-term plan when he replaced Jose Mourinho in December 2018.

Initially he was appointed caretaker manager before being awarded the job on a permanent basis in March 2019.

“We put a plan together as a club 18 months ago when I sat down with Ed Woodward and it wasn’t going to be a quick fix,” he said.

“We want to build. We have been to the semi-finals of the League Cup and the FA Cup and the next step is to get past that.

“That (the Europa League) would be another step forward for this team.”

Solskjaer said he could sense the hunger in his players and that winning the Europa League would only increase their desire to win more silverware.

“Some players may rest on their laurels once they have won something, but looking at this group it would mean what we’re doing now is working,” he said.

“It’s all in their hands. They know they’re at Man United and know we have the resources to build.”

AFP

Wolves Reach First European QF In Nearly 50 Years As Sevilla Win Roma

Olympiakos’ Egyptian striker Ahmed Hassan headers the ball but fails to score during the UEFA Europa League round of 16 second leg football match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Olympiakos at the Molineux stadium in Wolverhampton, central England on August 6, 2020.
Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

 

 

Wolves battled into their first quarter-finals in Europe in 48 years on Thursday while Sevilla, Bayer Leverkusen and Basel enjoyed far more comfortable victories in the matches that brought the Europa League round of 16 to a belated close.

Raul Jimenez scored the only goal from the penalty spot in the ninth minute and Wolves survived a series of scares to edge Olympiakos 1-0 at Molineux for a 2-1 aggregate win in a tie that began in Athens on March 13.

Leverkusen beat visiting Rangers 1-0 to win 4-1 on aggregate while Basel beat Eintracht Frankfurt 1-0 for a 4-0 aggregate victory.

 

Glasgow Rangers’ Scottish forward Greg Stewart is persued by Leverkusen players during the UEFA Europa League round of 16 football match Bayer 04 Leverkusen v Glasgow Rangers at the Bay Arena stadium on August 6, 2020 in Leverkusen, western Germany. Sascha Schuermann / AFP / POOL

 

Sevilla cruised past Roma 2-0 in a one-off Europa League game played at neutral Duisburg, which will one of the host grounds when the Rhineland region of Germany hosts the last three rounds of the competition from August 10-21.

At Molineux, Bobby Allain, the visitors’ Franco-Scottish goalkeeper, failed to control a back pass in the seventh minute.

Daniel Podence, who scored for Olympiakos at Tottenham in September but moved to Wolves in January, darted in and stole the ball.

Allain clumsily bundled his former clubmate over and Jimenez converted the penalty.

The Greek champions, who had drawn at Tottenham in the Champions League and won at Arsenal in the Europa League this season, responded by dominating possession.

They created a string of chances but were thwarted by good saves by Rui Patricio, a tight offside decision and their own inaccurate finishing.

Wolves, who began their Europa League campaign on July 25 last year against Crusaders in the second qualifying round, will next face Sevilla at Duisburg on August 11.

“A long, long season,” Jimenez said. “Now we are in the quarter-finals and we want to keep going.”

Sevilla were also in Duisburg on Thursday where they took the lead against Roma after 22 minutes. Captain and right back Jesus Navas switched play with a cross-field pass to left back Sergio Reguilon that caught Roma flat-footed.

 

Players reacts after the UEFA Europa League round of 16 football match between Sevilla FC and AS Roma at the MSV Arena on August 6, 2020 in Duisburg. WOLFGANG RATTAY / POOL / AFP

 

Reguilon surged past two defenders and into the box before sliding a low shot past Spanish goalkeeper Pau Lopez’s foot.

Sevilla added a second on the counter-attack in the 43rd minute.

Lucas Ocampos burst down the right and after Lopez failed to cut out the low cross, Youssef En Neysri finished into an empty net from close range.

Sevilla, coached by former Spain boss Julen Lopetegui, dominated as they stretched their unbeaten run to 18 games in all competitions and kept on course to add to their record five Europa League titles.

“We are a team in every sense of the word. We want to win this tournament, we want to win everything we can,” said Reguilon.

It was a tame end to a dramatic day for Roma.

The club announced earlier Thursday that it had been bought by US billionaire Dan Friedkin for 591 million euros ($700 million).

“We’ve got to accept that Sevilla were superior,” said Roma coach Paulo Fonseca.

In Basel, defender Fabien Frei scored the only goal in the 88th minute as the home team won 1-0 to complete an aggregate 4-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt.

 

basel
FC Basel’s Swiss midfielder Fabian Frei (unseen) celebrates with his teammates after scoring his team’s first goal during the UEFA Europa League round of 16 second leg football match between FC Basel and Eintracht Frankfurt on August 6, 2020 at St Jakob-Park Stadium in Basel. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

 

In Leverkusen, Moussa Diaby scored the only goal after 51 minutes to complete a comfortable victory for Bayer, who won 3-1 in Glasgow in March.

“We had the chances to score one or two more times tonight and in the rounds to come we have to make sure that we’re more clinical,” said Leverkusen captain Lars Bender.

“But the most important thing about tonight was getting the ball rolling, avoiding injuries and re-establishing rhythm.”

In the quarter-finals, Bayer will make the short trip to Dusseldorf to face Inter Milan on August 10, Basel will play Shakhtar Donetsk in Gelsenkirchen the next night.

AFP

Europa League Draw Leaves Open Potential Man Utd-Wolves Semi-Final

File photo: Europa League
File photo: Europa League

 

Manchester United could find themselves facing English rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers in the semi-finals of the Europa League in Germany in August, after Friday’s draw for the latter stages of the tournament put the teams on a collision course.

While the UEFA Champions League is to be completed with a straight knockout mini-tournament in Lisbon in August, the Europa League will be played to a conclusion with an identical format in Germany. Both competitions were suspended in March as the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

The Europa League final will be played in Cologne on August 21. The quarter-finals and semi-finals will be played as one-off ties with Cologne, Duisburg, Duesseldorf and Gelsenkirchen all hosting games.

Before that, all last-16 ties must be completed. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United, who have been in fine form since the Premier League season resumed last month, are effectively already through to the last eight having won 5-0 away to Austrian side LASK in the first leg.

Assuming they progress, the 2017 Europa League winners will take on either Istanbul Basaksehir or FC Copenhagen in the quarter-finals on August 10 or 11. The Turkish side beat Copenhagen 1-0 at home in the first leg in March.

Meanwhile, Wolves drew 1-1 away to Olympiakos in the first leg of their last-16 tie. They are due to host the recently-crowned Greek champions in the return and would then need to beat Sevilla — who have won the Europa League and its precursor, the UEFA Cup, a record five times — or Roma in the quarter-finals.

Manchester United and Wolves are both chasing Champions League qualification through the Premier League, with the Old Trafford team fifth, six points ahead of sixth-placed Wolves with four games left.

Fifth in England’s top flight will be enough to qualify for the Champions League if Manchester City’s two-year ban from Europe is upheld. But winning the Europa League also offers a route into next season’s Champions League.

There are three German teams left in the Europa League, including Bayer Leverkusen. They won 3-1 away to Rangers in the first leg of their last-16 tie and will be confident of advancing to the last eight.

Leverkusen is barely 40 kilometres from Cologne, where the final will be played. They would play either Inter Milan or Getafe in the quarter-finals.

Only six of the eight last 16 first-leg matches were played in March. The other two ties — Inter v Getafe and Sevilla v Roma — will be decided as one-off matches on neutral ground in Germany.

As in the Champions League, all games are set to be played behind closed doors. This year’s Europa League final was initially due to be played in the Polish city of Gdansk in late May before the health crisis forced a change of plans.

Gdansk will host next year’s final instead.

Draw for Europa League Final Eight

The draw for the latter stages of this season’s Europa League made at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland on Friday:

Quarter-finals

Wolfsburg (GER) or Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR) v Eintracht Frankfurt (GER) or Basel (SUI)

LASK (AUT) or Manchester United (ENG) v Istanbul Basaksehir (TUR) or FC Copenhagen (DEN)

Inter Milan (ITA) or Getafe (ESP) v Rangers (SCO) or Bayer Leverkusen (GER)

Olympiakos (GRE) or Wolverhampton Wanderers (ENG) v Sevilla (ESP) or Roma (ITA)

Ties to be played on August 10 and 11

Semi-finals

Olympiakos/Wolves/Sevilla/Roma v LASK/Man Utd/Basaksehir/Copenhagen

Inter/Getafe/Rangers/Leverkusen v Wolfsburg/Shakhtar/Eintracht Frankfurt/Basel

Ties to be played on August 16 and 17

– Final on August 21 in Cologne

– Remaining last-16 matches to be played on August 5 and 6

– All matches from quarter-finals onwards to be played in Germany, with matches in Cologne, Duisburg, Duesseldorf and Gelsenkirchen

Manchester United Thrash LASK Behind Closed Doors In Europa League

Manchester United’s Scottish midfielder Scott McTominay attempts to score during the UEFA Europa League last 16, first leg football match Linzer ASK (LASK) v Manchester United in Linz, Austria, on March 12, 2020.   JOE KLAMAR / AFP

 

Manchester United won 5-0 at LASK Linz behind closed doors in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie, in a competition thrown into chaos as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Odion Ighalo slammed home the opener via the underside of the bar from 20 yards just before the half-hour, and Daniel James added a second with a sharp run and finish just before the hour mark.

Juan Mata bagged a third eight minutes from the end and Mason Greenwood and Andreas Pereira struck in injury time, as United extended their unbeaten run to 11 matches, with nine clean sheets in that time.

The game was played without fans in line with the guidance of the Austrian government — one of four matches to be held behind closed doors on Thursday.

UEFA on Wednesday confirmed that the first legs between Inter Milan and Getafe in Italy, and between Sevilla and Roma in Spain, would not go ahead as planned.

The announcement came after Spanish authorities suspended flights until March 25 to the country from Italy, which has been the worst hit European nation by the spread of the virus.

With the second legs due to be played next week, it is unclear how the ties will be resolved.

Istanbul Basaksehir won 1-0 at home to FC Copenhagen in Turkey courtesy of a late Edin Visca penalty, in one of just two first-leg matches allowed to take place before a crowd. Rangers against Bayer Leverkusen at Ibrox will also be open to fans.

Basel secured a surprise 3-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt with Samuele Campo, Kevin Bua and Fabian Frei all on target for the visitors. Germany’s financial capital will also host next week’s return leg, due to coronavirus-related restrictions imposed by Swiss authorities.

Wolfsburg’s game against Shakhtar Donetsk will be played behind closed doors, as will the match between Olympiakos and Wolverhampton Wanderers in Greece.

On Tuesday it was announced that Olympiakos owner Vangelis Marinakis — also the owner of English club Nottingham Forest — had tested positive for coronavirus. He said he was taking “all necessary measures” and “feeling well”.

Wolves asked that the match be postponed, but said that UEFA had rejected that request.

AFP