The EUROPA League, formerly known as the UEFA Cup, took place around Europe on Thursday. Some matches were played in the afternoon, some in the evening whereas others even started during the night. From early kick offs in Russia to late kick offs in Portugal, Thursday saw plenty of European football played and a number of high profile clubs were involved, including Liverpool, AEK Athens, Bayer Leverkusen, Stuttgart, Juventus, Sampdoria, Sevilla, Paris SG and even reigning champions Atletico Madrid.
There were some surprises in the round as plenty of matches did not turn out the way the majority of fans would have expected. In Holland Utrecht played Liverpool, who started the match with the likes of Dirk Kuyt, Fernando Torres and Joe Cole in their line up, yet the match still finished goalless. Somewhat controversially Utrecht had a goal disallowed whilst at the other hand Torres was guilty of missing one of the best chances in the match, leading to more personal criticism immediately after the game. Roy Hodgson will be pleased his side avoided defeat but in all probability he will probably have anticipated recording a morale boosting victory in Holland, but it was not to be.
Juventus played Manchester City at the Eastlands stadium. Iaquinta put the Italians ahead but Manchester City were the better side for the majority of the match and were duly rewarded for their performance with an equaliser from Adam Johnson. The match finished 1-1 and Manchester City coach Roberto Mancini will be pleased his side has again displayed its credentials against a big club, even if this Juventus side are currently a long way short of the standard expected of the club. Sporting Lisbon defeated Levski Sofia of Bulgaria 5-0 with five different goalscorers in the match. Atletico Madrid drew 1-1 at the Vicente Calderon stadium with Bayer Leverkusen, a result that will please the Germans more than the Spaniards.
Lille drew 1-1 with AA Gent whilst Villareal defeated Club Brugge 2-1. Guiseppe Rossi scored one of Villareal’s goals. Palermo defeated Lausanne Sports 1-0 and Hadjuk Split defeated Anderlecht 1-0. Zenit St. Petersburg, of Russia, defeated AEK Athens 4-2 in a lively encounter. Lazovic scored two goals for Zenit St. Petersburg. Sampdoria defeated Debrecen 1-0, which will go someway to appeasing the fans who are obviously disappointed that the club failed in the Champions League qualifiers and are therefore, consequently, playing in the EUROPA League instead. PSV Eindhoven, one of the biggest clubs in Holland, won 2-0 in the Ukraine against Metalist Kharkiv. Sevilla defeated Borrusia Dortmund in Germany 1-0, a good result against the former European Champions League winners. FC Porto won 1-0 in Bulgaria against CSKA Sofia whilst Paris SG won 2-0 at home against Karpaty Lviv of the Ukraine.