Football Features

“A wild, wild night in Glasgow” – 10 things you might have missed as Europa League group stage concludes

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 22:31, 9 December 2021

It was an incredible night of football in the UEFA Europa League as matchday six brought a very dramatic end to the group stages.

What did you miss?

1. Orsic stunner spoils West Ham’s party

West Ham came into matchday six knowing they had already won the group and as a result David Moyes rotated heavily for the visit of Dinamo Zagreb. The Hammers would have wanted to celebrate their spot in the Europa League round of 16, but a stunning strike from Miroslav Orsic stole their thunder.

Orsic dumped José Mourinho’s Spurs out of the Europa League last season with a stunning hat-trick and this year he’s done it again to West Ham. His strike was an absolute miracle, thundering it in from an acute angle and some distance out. If Orsic can keep shooting like that in the round of 32 then whichever Champions League side draws Dinamo could be in for a very rude awakening.

2. A wild, wild night in Glasgow

When Celtic made the trip to Andalucia to face Betis, it ended up being a seven goal thriller that Betis won 4-3. Tonight in the reverse fixture we only got five goals but mountains of action as Celtic won a brilliantly breathless back-and-forth 3-2.

The result didn’t change anything for either side, which is probably why both sides went hell for leather. Celtic rode out injury woes to constantly find a way to pick apart the Betis defence.

A great example of the drama was when Kyogo Furuhashi came on in the first-half to replace an injured Albian Ajeti but then had to go off injured himself in the second-half. His replacement was 21-year-old Ewan Henderson, who then scored with his first-touch to record his first-ever goal for Celtic!

And that wasn’t the end of the madness either as Real Betis equalised and then fell behind for one last time as Celtic won and scored a penalty. The Bhoys even scored another goal that was ruled out for offside and Celtic quite absurdly hit the bar and had a shot cleared off the line in the last few seconds. It was a truly amazing night in Glasgow.

3. Group C for CHAOS

Group G provided some hype but Group C was sheer chaos as well. Napoli put out what can only be described as a b-team but still beat what was basically Leicester’s strongest team. They took a two-goal lead, got pegged back 2-2, then took the lead again late only for Jamie Vardy to miss a sitter at the death. The result sent Leicester out of the Europa League.

Except in the other game of the group, Spartak Moscow who had been leading 1-0 conceded a penalty deep into stoppage time. Legia Warsaw had the chance to score and send Leicester through, except when Tomas Pekhart stepped up, he slapped a meek penalty into the arms of Aleksandr Selikhov, and just as soon as Leicester were back in it, they were back out.

4. Elmas gets Elmore

When Luciano Spalletti sent out his team to face Leicester, he did so with a squad devastated by illness and injury. 22-year-old Macedonian Eljif Elmas was one of the forwards and when Napoli needed someone to step up and replace the goals of Victor Osimhen, it was Elmas who did the business, scoring twice including a really clinical game-winner to dump Leicester out of the Europa League. That took him to four goals, making him Napoli’s joint-top goalscorer in Europe alongside the mighty Osimhen.

5. La Real finally get clinical

Coming into matchday six, Real Sociedad were third in their group with six points having just scored 6 times . This was despite having an xG of 10.13. Only 7 teams had a higher xG, but a whopping 16 teams had more than La Real’s 6 goals.

Well, La Real opened up a can of whoop-ass on PSV, pulverizing the Dutch side 3-0 and leapfrogging them to stay in the Europa League. That rose their xG to 12.42, a total only bettered by five sides. And now only 10 sides had scored more than their 9 goals.

If Real Sociedad can keep up this level of clinical play, then they will be a match for anyone in the knockout rounds of the Europa League.

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6. Rangers can hold their heads high

Rangers headed into matchday six knowing they couldn’t catch Lyon at the summit of Group A but they knew they needed a result to ensure they finished above Sparta Prague. And they did get that result, drawing 1-1 with Lyon to prevent the French side from winning all of their games in the group stage but also getting the point that saw them edge ahead of Sparta who beat Brondby 2-0. They’ll head to the round of 32 now with confidence that they can go further.

7. Lazio miss their chance

Lazio knew that if they could beat Galatasaray in Rome then they would sieze top spot in Group E from the Turkish side. Only a win would do as it would draw them level on points, with a one-goal margin of victory giving them a goal difference win while any greater margin would have seen them win the head-to-head. As it is, they drew 0-0 and will head to the round of 32.

8. More like GOALeno

While Sporting Braga couldn’t quite pick up the win they wanted that would have allowed them to leapfrog Red Star Belgrade into first place in Group F, with the Serbian side holding them to a draw, they did make a bit of history when Galeno tucked home his 52nd minute penalty. That goal moved the Brazilian on to 6 goals in the competition so far this season, and no one else has scored more than him this season.

9. Tammy makes it a century

In the Europa Conference League, a Tammy Abraham brace helped Roma secure top spot in Group C and ensure passage into the knockout rounds for José Mourinho’s men. The goals also leave Abraham as the top scorer in the competition with 6 goals (more than he’s managed in Serie A, amusingly) and, with that second strike, the young Englishman moved onto 100 goals at club level.

10. Villarreal survive Atalanta

Over in the Champions League, Villarreal beat Atlanta 2-3 in Bergamo to qualify for the Champions League round of 16. Many would have feared for the Spanish side, especially after the game was delayed 24 hours because of heavy snowfall.

Still, powered by a superb performance from Arnaut Danjuma, Villarreal raced into a three goal lead before the hour mark. It was sensational but Atalanta roared back late on and pulled it back to 2-3 before supersub Luis Muriel struck the woodwork late on.

However there would be no late comeback from the Italian side as Villarreal held their nerve and Unai Emery now gets a chance to coach in the Champions League knockout rounds. How far can Villarreal go? Time will tell.


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