Football Features

Five things you might have missed in the Europa League this week

By James Amey

Published: 22:09, 30 November 2023

The Europa League group stages are coming to a close. 

With just one more gameweek left in the Europa League group stages, we are about to get down to the business end of the competition, but before that we must find out which teams will make it to the knockout rounds and which will drop down to the Europa Conference League.

A lot of things have happened in the competition this week, so it’s easy to miss important moments or milestones, but don’t worry, we’ve got your back.

Here’s five things you may have missed.

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1. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is coming for two Falcao records

There are just some competitions that players thrive in and the Europa League and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are a match made in heaven. The 34-year-old scored his third Europa League hat-trick of his career, including an incredible bicycle kick and a 93rd minute penalty to earn his side a crucial 4-3 win over against Ajax, to make it 29 goals in 53 Europa League appearances and send them into the knockout rounds. His three goals make him the second highest scorer in the competition since it’s re-brand in 2009 after Radamel Falcao (30), overtaking Aritz Aduriz.

It was his third, fourth and fifth goals in the competition in 2023/24, with all five strikes coming against Ajax after his brace against the Dutch giants earlier in the campaign. Even better than that, he became just the second player after Falcao to score three hat-tricks in the competition’s history in an night he won’t forget for a very long time.

2. Michael Gregoritsch ends goal drought with record breaking hat-trick

Going into this game Michael Gregoritsch had gone 13 games across all competitions without finding the back of the net for Freiburg, but put in an incredible first half performance to end the drought. 36 minutes into the game and the Austrian international had his hat-trick, before adding an assist just six minutes later in as Freiburg hit five for the second Europa League game in a row, a new record in the competition.

The 28-year old equalled his best ever tally in a UEL campaign in just one half (3 in 2022/23) as he saved all his goals for Olympiakos.

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3. Salah closes in on milestone as Liverpool continue 100% home run

In his time at the club, Mohamed Salah has broken countless records for the club and is now just one goal away from setting another one. His coolly taken penalty against LASK moved him onto 199 goals for Liverpool, meaning not only will a goal against Fulham at the weekend make him the first African player to score 150 Premier League goals, he will also become the first non-British player to score 200 goals for Liverpool.

He would join legends such as Ian Rush, Roger Hunt, Gordon Hodgson and Billy Liddell as the only players to reach that milestone for the club in their history. Ian Rush is the only player to ever score 300+ goals for the club (346 goals to be exact), but that be one record too far for the Egyptian King. 

Liverpool’s victory over LASK means that they have now won all 10 of their matches at Anfield so far this season, doing so for the first time since 1985/86.

4. Soucek scores third late winner in as many games

Tomas Soucek has done it again for the Hammers. Just as the game against Backa Topola looked set to finish 0-0, up popped Tomas Soucek to score his third winning goal in his last three games for West Ham, with all three goals coming in the 88th minute or later. It means the midfielder has now found the back of the net in each of his last five games for club and country, having scored the equaliser against Poland and another 90th minute goal against Moldova during the international break.

5. Another Joao Pedro penalty sends Brighton through

Just 13 years old from playing in League One, Brighton have made history in their first ever European campaign as they qualified for the knockout rounds of the Europa League. The Seagulls have Joao Pedro to thank as his fifth goal of the campaign secured all three points and a 1-0 away win over AEK Athens.

It was the fourth time that the Brighton man had scored a penalty in the Europa League in 2023/24, becoming just the third player to score 4+ penalties in a major European season for an English club, after John Wark in 1980/81 for Ipswich Town and Bruno Fernandes in 2020/21 for Manchester United.

His goal also means he is now the joint top goalscorer in the competition this season alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.