Football Features

Hungry Maddison and the iconic Filip Panak – 10 things you may have missed from tonight’s Europa League action

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 22:33, 25 November 2021

It was an exciting night of action across the Europa League and Europa Conference League.

Here’s what you might have missed.

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1. Leicester take control, for now

Due to the extremely competitive nature of Europa League Group C, Leicester came into tonight’s match against Legia bottom with 5 points. However they proceeded to obliterate Legia Warsaw 3-1 to take advantage of Napoli’s defeat on Wednesday and take total control of the group, going top with 8 points.

Of course the schedule has not been kind to them because on matchday six, they must now travel to Napoli, to the iconic Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, and get a result. A point could see them through, perhaps even as group winners should the Legia and Spartak match end in a draw. A win would guarantee their progression, but a defeat could plunge them out of Europe altogether!

2. Schmeichel chasing records

Tonight was Kasper Schmeichel’s 440th competitive appearance for Leicester, and he marked in style by saving a penalty. Of course the rebound was tucked away, but Schmeichel’s save was impressive and showed his enduring quality.

Schmeichel is now just 10 appearances behind Steve Walsh, and 20 behind Mark Wallington and Hugh Adcock. Meaning that by season’s end, as long as he avoids injury, Kasper Schmeichel will be third in all-time Leicester appearances. And while Adam Black (557) and Graham Cross (599) are probably out of reach, Schmeichel is really establishing himself as the greatest goalkeeper in the history of Leicester City.

3. Hungry Maddison

James Maddison bagged a goal and an assist against Legia (and his goal really was something as he pulled off a superb Cruyff Turn before rifling it home) and when asked after the match if he had a point to prove, Maddison was emphatic that he did not.

“I don’t think I had a point to prove but I wanna to get back to my best. And tonight I showed that, goal and assist as you said. Affecting the game going forward, that’s what I’m best at.”

There’s no doubt that Maddison did actually have a point to prove, even if he didn’t feel that way himself. Because of course he’s dropped out of being a guaranteed starter of late. But his attitude both in the game and in the interview afterwards shows why he will no doubt earn his regular starting spot back soon. This is a player determined to succeed.

As he said himself: “I’m hungry, y’know?

4. The Gio Era starts in style

In the last game before the international break, Rangers beat Ross County 4-2 with Steven Gerrard in charge. Then Gerrard left for Aston Villa and Rangers lost 1-3 to Hibs under caretaker charge. Now they’ve appointed club legend Gio van Bronckhorst as coach.

And, well, he started off in the best possible fashion with a quality home win against Sparta Prague. Alfredo Morelos did the damage with two goals to get The Gio Era off to the best possible start and keep Rangers’ hopes of making the round of 32 alive and well.

5. The Iconic Filip Panak

It’s not often Sparta Prague players can become household names but that just might happen to Filip Panak, albeit for the wrong reason given the centre-back’s “assist” for Alfredo Morelos’ second goal.

Receiving the ball from David Pavelka, and put under the slightest of pressure by Joe Aribo, Panak turned and tried to play the ball across his box to his centre-back partner. Except he didn’t check before he passed and looped a beautiful cross right onto Morelos’ head. Oh dear!

6. Leverkusen leave it late

In typically chaotic fashion, Bayer Leverkusen broke Celtic hearts to confirm their passage into the knockout rounds of the Europa League, relegating the Glasgow side to the UEFA Europa Conference League.

Leverkusen opened the scoring but two goals either side of half-time for Celtic looked to have put them in an incredible position to save themselves on matchday six, but then Leverkusen roared back with two late goals as Moussa Diaby bagged the winner in the 87th minute.

7. Not the Wirz

No one in the Europa League has more assists than Bayer Leverkusen’s teenage wonder Florian Wirz. He set-up two of Leverkusen’s goals against Celtic to make it three overall assists and go joint-top of the playmaker standings. He’s also got three goals for good measure (although none today) as he starts to really make his mark in Europe.

8. Muslera The Wall

Fernando Muslera is 35 years of age, but remains as dominant as ever. With Galatasaray facing Marseille in a top of the group clash, the Urugayan made a massive 8 saves to keep Marseille at bay (he conceded twice, it could have been so many more) and allow the Turkish side to pick up a massive win that puts them just one point away from reaching the round of 16. That was a record number of saves so far this season and his side absolutely needed it.

9. Cherki Chappy

Rayan Cherki is one of the world’s most hyped prospects. An absolute sensation at just 18 years of age. Well today away to Brondby, the young Cherki became the youngest player to score in the Europa League so far this season and he doubled up on that less than 10 minutes later. A second-half brace in a 1-3 away win, the sky is the limit.

10. Monaco put La Real in a blender

Coming into matchday five, Real Sociedad had a chance to overtake Monaco at the top of Group B. A win would have done the trick, but instead, even after Aleksander Isak’s wonderful equaliser, they fell to a 2-1 defeat that has ensured they cannot qualify for the round of 16 directly. They can still make the play-offs provided they beat PSV at home in two weeks, but PSV are two points ahead of them and know that a draw in San Sebastian would be enough to send them through.

La Real are right up against it to stay in the Europa League.

Meanwhile, in the UEFA Conference League…

“The level at Tottenham is not so high”

Spurs lost. Again.

Antonio Conte’s men fell to a stoppage time winner from Slovenian club Mura. A winner which puts Spurs in genuine risk of getting eliminated from Europe altogether. They are on seven points, level with Vitesse. But they have to play group leaders Rennes while Vitesse get to host Mura in a much more winnable match.

After the match, Antonio Conte dropped a classic quote: “after three weeks I am starting to understand the situation. It is not simple. At this moment the level at Tottenham is not so high.”

Of course, that won’t stop Conte trying to turn things around (and honestly, getting eliminated from Europe and ensuring free midweeks for the rest of the season would probably be the best thing to help the Italian coach do just that), which is why Spurs hired him.

Tammy bags a brace

Roma’s path through the Europa Conference League Group C hasn’t been straightforward, but they absolutely smashed Zorya Luhansk 4-0 to secure their progression to the knockout rounds. They are one point behind Bodo/Glimt and should they better the Norwegian’s result on matchday six, they will progress straight to the round of 16 and avoid the play-off.

The result itself was sealed by Tammy Abraham’s first-ever brace for Roma. Those goals move Tammy onto four goals making him the joint-top goalscorer in the competition so far.


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