Arsenal, Tottenham, AC Milan open Europa League with winsOctober 23, 2020
Gareth Bale had a quiet first start for Tottenham since returning to the London club, while Carlos Vinicius made a more impressive debut by setting up two goals in a 3-0 win over LASK in the Europa League on Thursday.
North London rival Arsenal opened its fourth straight Europa League campaign with a 2-1 come-from-behind win at Rapid Vienna in an opening round of games affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
On a good night for Premier League clubs, Leicester earned a comfortable 3-0 home win over Zorya Luhansk.
AC Milan earned a 3-1 away win at Celtic, while Roma came from a goal down to win 2-1 at Young Boys — as did Granada to upset PSV Eindhoven away.
Rangers’ Kemar Roofe scored the goal of the night in a 2-0 victory at Standard Liege, dribbling his way through three opponents inside his own half and then launching a shot from the halfway line that caught the goalkeeper off guard and looped into the net.
Dutch team AZ Alkmaar overcame a slew of coronavirus cases to upset Napoli 1-0.
BALE IS BACK
After coming on as a substitute against West Ham for his first appearance since returning to Tottenham, Bale played more than an hour against in the Group J match against Austria’s LASK, and had a hand in Tottenham’s second goal.
The forward, who is on loan from Real Madrid, collected a pass from Erik Lamela in the 27th and sent a low cross into the area from the right that defender Andrés Andrade deflected into his own. Earlier, Lucas Moura finished off another free-flowing move to open the scoring after being set up by Vinicius. The Brazilian, who is on loan from Benfica, created several other chances before teeing up substitute Son Heung-min to wrap up the win six minutes from time.
Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho is looking to win the competition for a third time with a third club, having won it with Porto and Manchester United.
In the other group game, Ludogorets lost 2-1 at home to Royal Antwerp.
SUBSTITUTES COMPLETE COMEBACK
Arsenal went behind when goalkeeper Bernd Leno played a poor pass that fell to Rapid forward Taxiarchis Fountas, who slotted in a low shot from a tough angle in the 51st minute.
Manager Mikel Arteta sent on Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and Héctor Bellerín in the 61st, and the substitutes helped spark the comeback.
After David Luiz headed in a free kick from Nicolas Pépé to level the score, Mohamed Elneny freed Bellerín down the right to cross for Aubameyang to complete the comeback from close range for Arsenal, which won its group in its previous three campaigns in the second-tier European competition.
In the other Group B game, Molde also came from behind to win 2-1 at Dundalk.
AGAINST ALL ODDS
AZ Alkmaar flew into Naples with 13 players sidelined with coronavirus infections. Napoli, meanwhile, was coming off a 4-1 win over high-scoring Atalanta 4-1 this past weekend. But the Dutch staved off the hosts’ pressure before Dani de Wit scored the winner in the 57th.
Real Sociedad won 1-0 at Rijeka the other Group F game.
With Roma resting striker Edin Džeko, Bruno Peres and Marash Kumbulla led the rally with the second-half goals for the Italian side.
Jean Pierre Nsame had given Young Boys the lead by converting a penalty kick in the 14th.
It was the first home loss for Young Boys to an Italian opponent in European competitions after beating Udinese, Napoli and Juventus.
Also in Group A, Romania’s Cluj won 2-0 at Bulgaria’s CSKA Sofia.
In Group C, Bayer Leverkusen produced the biggest win of the early games by beating Nice 6-2. Nadiem Amiri and Lucas Alario scored early first-half goals five minutes apart for Leverkusen, while substitute Karim Bellarabi netted two and 17-year-old forward Florian Wirtz came off the bench to complete the rout.
In a game between teams from two countries whose domestic leagues have been interrupted due to high levels of coronavirus infections, Israel’s Hapoel Beer-Sheva beat Czech Republic’s Slavia Prague 3-1.
James Tavernier gave Rangers the lead from the penalty spot in the 19th before Roofe added his spectacular second goal in injury time. Benfica won 4-2 at Lech Poznan in the other Group D game.
In Group E, German forward Mario Götze put PSV ahead in first-half injury time before Jorge Molina and Darwin Machis scored for Granada in the second half. Omonoia drew with PAOK 1-1.
James Maddison and Harvey Barnes scored first half-goals for Leicester and Kelechi Iheanacho added one more in the second in Group G as Brendan Rodgers’ team bounced back from two straight losses in the Premier League. Female referee Stephanie Frappart oversaw the game. Braga also earned a 3-0 win over AEK Athens.
Milan didn’t need Zlatan Ibraimovic to score this time, as Rade Krunić and Brahim Díaz netted in the first half at Celtic. Substitute Jens Petter Hauge added the third for Milan in injury time after Celtic pulled one back through Mohamed Elyounoussi.
Lille won 4-1 at Sparta Prague. Sports competitions in the Czech Republic have been banned due to a record surge in coronavirus infections but the three Czech teams in the competition — Sparta, Slavia Prague and Liberec — were allowed to train together and play Europa League games, but without spectators.
In Group I, Villarreal beat Sivasspor 5-3 while Maccabi Tel-Aviv beat Qarabag 1-0.
In Group K, Dinamo Zagreb drew 0-0 with Feyenoord and Wolfsberg drew 1-1 against CSKA Moscow.
Hoffenheim overcame the absence of forward Andrej Kramaric, who tested positive for the coronavirus, to beat Red Star Belgrade 2-0 in Group L. Czech club Liberec started with a 1-0 home win over Gent.