Europa League round-up

Natcho downs Spurs

November 3, 2011
By ESPN staff

Tottenham Hotspur failed to provide manager Harry Redknapp with anything to cheer on his release from hospital as they were beaten 1-0 by Rubin Kazan in the Europa League.

Rubin Kazan's Bebras Natcho curls home the only goal of the game
GettyImagesRubin Kazan's Bebras Natcho curls home the only goal of the game

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Redknapp was released from hospital having undergone a heart operation on Wednesday. But from the comfort of his own home, he saw - if he was allowed to watch - his side being well beaten in Russia. Rubin dominated the contest and the margin of their victory could have been far greater but for some excellent goalkeeping from Carlo Cudicini.

The Russian side looked slick throughout, with their forward three carrying a real threat - with Bebars Natcho pulling the strings in behind. It was Natcho who came close to opening the scoring with a fizzing, curling drive from 25 yards that Cudicini did well to tip over. The Italian keeper is one of the best understudies in the game and he proved the point with an even better save on 33 minutes, pushing a powerful drive from Alexander Ryazantsev over the bar.

For all the pressure, Rubin failed to make the early breakthrough and required a huge helping hand to beat Cudicini. Ten minutes after the break, Sebastien Bassong lost control of the ball under no pressure and committed a foul in attempting to atone. From 20 yards, Natcho needed no second invitation and curled the ball over the wall and into the corner.

Cudicini kept out Gokdeniz Karadeniz and Nelson Haedo with fine saves in the final ten minutes as Spurs failed to find the win that would have taken them through.

PAOK Salonika cruised to a comfortable 3-1 win over Shamrock Rovers in the other game in Group A. Dimitris Salpingidis' first-half double sandwiched Giorgos Fotakis' goal as the Greek side took a 3-0 lead at half-time. Billy Dennehy pulled one back for Shamrock in the 51st minute but it was scant consolation for the back-to-back Irish champions, who failed to secure their first points of the campaign.

Stoke City's unbeaten run in the completion continued, as Tony Pulis' men reinforced their position at the top of Group E with a 2-1 win at Maccabi Tel-Aviv.

Dean Whitehead opened the scoring on 51 minutes when Maccabi failed to clear their lines and he turned provider for substitute Peter Crouch to seal the three points just past the hour. Roberto Colautti nodded home in injury time to cause a few ripples in the Stoke camp, but they held on for the win. The win was a welcome one for Stoke, and the sight of Danny Higginbotham getting through 90 minutes will have cheered the Potters faithful.

Besiktas leapfrogged Dynamo Kiev into second place in Group E as Egeman Korkmaz's header midway through the second half gave them a 1-0 win. The Black Eagles, who have now won both their home games in the group phase to reach six points, were also indebted to some stunning late saves from Cenk Gonen to keep Dynamo at bay.

Atletico Madrid obliterated Udinese's unbeaten Europa League record with an emphatic 4-0 victory in Group I.

Udinese arrived at the Vincente Calderon in confident mood, knowing a win would have seen them reach the last 32. Yet they found themselves 3-0 down by half-time as Adrian Lopez struck twice and Diego added a third, before Radamel Falcao Garcia rounded off the scoring after the break.

In Group I's other game, Anthony Stokes' first-half double and a late strike from substitute Gary Hooper gave Celtic a 3-1 victory over Rennes at Parkhead to boost their hopes of progress.

Skipper Kader Mangane headed the French side into the lead from a Julien Feret corner with less than two minutes on the clock but on the half-hour mark James Forrest's drive was parried by Rennes goalkeeper Benoit Costil to the feet of Stokes, who knocked into the net from close range.

Two minutes before the break Stokes grabbed his second with a drive after racing onto a Georgios Samaras header and in the 81st minute the Greece striker set up Hooper, on for Forrest, to score number three as the visitors finished with ten men after star midfielder Yann M'Vila was sent off after picking up two yellow cards.

Andrew Johnson's brace helped Fulham beat Wisla Krakow 4-1 and edge closer to the knockout stages.

The Cottagers took an early lead through Damien Duff but were soon pegged back by Andraz Kirm, whose shot deflected in off John Arne Riise. Johnson helped Fulham regain their lead on the half-hour mark with a superb volley, before he extended the home side's advantage and substitute Steve Sidwell wrapped up the win.

Co Adriaanse's FC Twente guaranteed progression to the knockout stages from Group K after substitute Leroy Fer's 82nd-minute strike gave them a 3-2 win over Danish side Odense BK.

Baye Fall gave the visitors a shock lead after 11 minutes but Twente were ahead at half-time through two Denny Landzaat strikes. Fall hit his second after 62 minutes before Fer won it late on. Their win took Twente to 10 points after four games, three ahead of second-placed Fulham.

Braga displayed the sort of form that took them to last year's Europa Cup final as they put on a demonstration of attacking football to romp past Maribor 5-1.

The Portuguese enjoyed an ideal start as they went 2-0 up in the first seven minutes through Rodrigo Lima and Alan. Uwa Echiejile headed home a third before half-time with Paulo Vinicius and Fran Merida notching two late goals for the hosts.

Braga are one of three sides level on seven points at the top of Group H after Birmingham produced a stunning second-half comeback to rescue a 2-2 draw with Club Brugge.

Chris Hughton's side trailed 2-0 at the interval with Thomas Meunier and Joseph Akpala striking in a five-minute spell, but Jean Beausejour reduced the arrears and then won the penalty converted by substitute Marlon King which brought the Carling Cup holders level.

Kevin Strootman's late equaliser saw PSV Eindhoven claim a 3-3 draw that sent them into the Europa League knockout stages and denied ten-man Hapoel Tel-Aviv a famous Europa League upset.

Omer Damari gave Hapoel, bottom of Group C after three successive defeats, the lead and, though Georgino Wijnaldum quickly equalised for the unbeaten group leaders, Toto Tamuz restored the visitors' advantage before half-time. Tamuz struck again but Ola Toivonen pulled one back before Hapoel's Roei Gordana was sent off and Strootman struck in the 87th minute to break the Israelis' hearts.

Legia Warsaw joined PSV in the knockout stages thanks to a 3-1 win over Rapid Bucharest. Rapid were reduced to ten men after just 25 minutes, but it took the home side until the 53rd minute to open the scoring through Michal Zyro. The visitors refused to throw in the towel and were back on level terms 11 minutes later, but Legia quickly regained the lead and sealed the win in the final minute, despite having also been reduced to ten men.

A goal from Ander Herrera saw Athletic Bilbao edge past Salzburg 1-0 and strengthen their grip at the top of Group F. Herrera scored towards the end of the first half to move the Spanish club on to ten points, six ahead of Salzburg, and within touching distance of a place in the last 32 with just two group games remaining.

A solitary Javier Pastore goal saw Paris St Germain go three points clear in second place in Group F after an unconvincing 1-0 win over Slovan Bratislava. Pastore struck in the 63rd minute to settle a game where there was little creativity in front of goal, with the Slovakian visitors offering precious little in way of attack.

Sporting Lisbon's run of ten consecutive wins in all competitions came crashing to an end in Romania as Vaslui won 1-0 to stake their claim to second place in Group D. Having already qualified for the knockout stages after winning their first three group games, Sporting travelled without a number of key players and paid the price as Denis Zmeu's first-half strike gave Vaslui victory.

In Group D's other game, substitute Christian Brocchi scored in the 62nd minute as Lazio beat FC Zurich 1-0 to record their first win.

Group J leaders Schalke were brought back down to earth with a goalless stalemate at home to lowly AEK Larnaca, while ten-man Steaua Bucharest boosted their qualification hopes with a much-needed 4-2 win over Maccabi Haifa in an eventful clash.

Standard Liege strengthened their position at the top of Group B with a 3-1 win at Vorskla Poltava, a result which ended the Ukrainian side's chances of reaching the knockout stages.

Hannover, meanwhile, moved a step closer to a place in the last 32 with a 2-1 comeback victory over FC Copenhagen. Dame N'doye fired the home side in front but their lead lasted just five minutes before quick-fire goals from Jan Schlaudraff and Lars Stindl turned the match on its head.

Anderlecht progressed to the knockout stages after they maintained their 100% winning record in Group L by beating ten-man Sturm Graz 3-0 courtesy of goals from Guillaume Gillet, Matias Suarez and Tom De Sutter.

Lokomotiv Moscow also moved to the brink of qualification for the knockout stage with a 3-1 win over AEK Athens. Denis Glushakov's opener was cancelled out by Leonardo's penalty but Lokomotiv hit back, Maicon and Vladislav Ignatiev securing a deserved three points.

Metalist Kharkiv ran out 3-1 winners over Malmo to put themselves firmly in control of Group G. Taison scored two goals and set up a third for Fininho as the hosts opened up a four-point lead after Austria Vienna came from behind to salvage a 2-2 draw against AZ Alkmaar at the Franz Horr Stadium.