Review of Thursday’s action in the Europa League

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Press Association · Columnist

A review of Thursday’s action in the Europa League where Chelsea and Celtic won but Danny Welbeck’s injury overshadowed Arsenal’s draw with Sporting Lisbon.

Welbeck injury overshadows Arsenal progress

Arsenal qualified for the knockout stages of the Europa League with a goalless draw at home to 10-man Sporting Lisbon in a game overshadowed by a potentially serious ankle injury to England forward Danny Welbeck.

A victory for Qarabag against Vorskla Poltava meant this 0-0 draw was enough to secure the Gunners’ progress from Group E as Sporting had Jeremy Mathieu sent off late on for scything down Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as he burst through on goal.

But it was Welbeck’s injury just before the half hour mark that was the main talking point from a largely forgettable Emirates Stadium encounter.

The 27-year-old has overcome serious issues in the past, missing large chunks of his career with knee problems. This latest setback comes on the day he was named in Gareth Southgate’s latest England squad for the forthcoming games against the United States and Croatia.

He was carried off the pitch following an awkward landing after he had beaten Sporting defender Bruno Gaspar to a header and it was clear he was in need of help.

The incident knocked the wind out of Arsenal’s sails but Welbeck’s replacement Aubameyang hit the crossbar as the visitors offered very little in terms of an attacking threat.

But a 15th game unbeaten for Unai Emery’s side at least assured them of European football after the turn of the year with two group matches left to seal top spot.

Late drama gives Celtic vital win

Odsonne Edouard gave Celtic a massive Europa League boost with a dramatic winning goal in the 2-1 victory over RB Leipzig at Parkhead.

Brendan Rodgers’ side went into the game with three points from three Group B games, including a 2-0 defeat to the German outfit at the Red Bull Arena last month, but Kieran Tierney’s early strike gave them a deserved interval lead.

The visitors levelled in the 78th minute through striker Jean-Kevin Augustin but only a minute later French forward Edouard, playing his 50th game in green and white, restored the Hoops’ lead.

Edouard’s winner took the Scottish champions on to six points, the same as Ralf Rangnick’s side, who have a better goal difference and head-to-head.

Celtic travel to Trondheim to play Rosenborg, already eliminated, on November 29 before hosting Salzburg, who have maximum points, in the last game.

 

Giroud goal drought over

Olivier Giroud scored his first Chelsea goal in 794 minutes as the Blues progressed to the Europa League knockout stages with a 1-0 win at BATE Borisov.

Chelsea’s fourth win from as many Group L games – three of them now 1-0 – was played out in freezing fog and memorable only for France World Cup winner Giroud’s first Blues goal since May’s win over Liverpool.

BATE, comfortably beaten last month in London, struck the woodwork three times and Eden Hazard’s services were required for longer than anticipated in Belarus.

Moscow agony for Rangers

Rangers let a lead slip three times in Russia as two goals in the space of a minute consigned Steven Gerrard’s side to a 4-3 defeat by Spartak Moscow.

An early own goal and strikes from Daniel Candeias and Glenn Middleton each put Rangers ahead and Alfredo Morelos had a goal controversially ruled out for offside with the visitors 3-2 in front near the end of a breathless first half.

But Luiz Adriano headed another equaliser in the 58th minute and Connor Goldson – who scored a first-half own goal – inadvertently diverted Sofiane Hanni’s strike into the net seconds later.

Nikola Katic hit a post for Rangers in time added on to an extraordinary game.

The result blew open Group G as Rangers, pre-match leaders, slipped to third, one point behind Villarreal and one ahead of Rapid Vienna.

 

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