“The Rennes-Vitesse match deserves a mention,” emails Kári Tulinius. “Gaëtan Laborde has already scored a brace for Stade Rennais, but Daan Huisman pulled one back for the team from Arnhem. It sounds like an exciting game, and the result has all kinds of repercussions for Spurs, who are three behind the French club and one ahead of the Dutch.”
I had to watch the Vitesse-Spurs game for work, and I’m not sure I’ve ever resented a job more – and I’ve been a trainee solicitor. But yes, Spurs are in trouble if they lose here, because Spurs have to play Rennes last, while Vitesse are home to Mura.
Off we go again…
As Group G stands, Celtic are third, behind Leverkusen – who they won’t be able to catch unless they win tonight – and Betis, who’ll be three in front. If that happens, Celtic will need to beat them by two goals, or score more than four if it’s a one-goal win, to get second place.
Lokomotiv Moscow 0-0 Lazio
Galatasaray 2-0 Marseille
Crvena zvezda 0-0 Ludogorets
Midtjylland 1-1 Braga
Real Betis 1-0 Ferencvaros
Bayer Leverkusen 1-1 Celtic
Dinamo Zagreb 1-1 Genk
Rapid Wien 0-2 West Ham
Conference League Group G
Mura 1-0 Spurs
GOAL! Rapid Wien 0-2 West Ham (Noble pen 45+2)
West Ham are going into the last 16! Noble opens his body and plants a tremendous penalty into the right side-netting, above the keeper’s dive.
PENALTY WEST HAM!
Hoffman shoves Yarmolenko for no reason, and here comes Mark Noble, flat cap and all.
Oh my days! Juranovic, still wafting under the duvet, gives the ball away and Diaby drives into the box, unleashing a terrifying shot that crashes off the near angle, then someone else – I’m not sure who – wallops the rebound against the post! Somehow, Celtic survive.
Thanks to David Warren, who lets me know that the tables I’ve been looking at all day have turned into live ones. That should be illegal.
Oh my days this is a close thing, Juranovic chipping his pen, getting under it so it floats, and seeing it go in off the underside of the bar.
GOAL! Rapid Wien 0-1 West Ham (Yarmolenko 39)
A far post header and that’s Yarmolenko’s first of the season! West Ham go back top of the group!
PENALTY TO CELTIC!
And a car for Radetsky. Kyogo’s got some stones, putting his head in there.
Are Celtic getting a penalty?
They’ve improved in the last 10 and Radetsky comes for a cross, gets naewhere near the ball but absolutely annihilates Kyogo, and that’s surely going to be a penalty!
GOAL! Galatasaray 2-0 Marseille (Caleta-Car og 30)
This one looks done.
GOAL! Dinamo Zagreb 1-0 Genk (Menalo 35)
Dinamo will take second if both they and West Ham win.
“I see the Rapid Wien – West Ham United match as the Falco v. The Clash derby,” emails Peter Oh. “Vienna Calling! London Calling!”
My favourite Vienna song:
Back in Leverkusen, Palacios careers into Turnbull and is booked. That was a yellow and a half, these days.
Ryan Sessegnon gets his second yellow card and is sent off for Spurs!
I’d like to enjoy this, I really would, but I feel for Sessegnon – feted as a star, he’s struggled to realise his purported potential. I didn’t see the first yellow, but the second was what, nowadays, is considered a wild tackle. He didn’t get the ball, did get the legs, and though I didn’t think it was a red, I’ve seenumgivun.
Diaby screeches into the Celtic half on the counter, but down the right of the box, he should shoot, but opts to cut back and the pass is cut out.
Celtic are struggling to get anything going, but they’re only one down and have the firepower to cause plenty of aggro, if they can only get their attackers on the ball. And they’re progressing down the right as we speak, but when the cross comes over, Kossounou gets to it ahead of Kyogo. The eventuating corner comes to nowt, but it’s a start.
My whatsapp pings and it’s our London correspondent Jacob Steinberg, uniting two of our topics so far: he advises that Joe Cole said West Ham would need to deal with the fans.
Gosh, one of the Rapid defenders has just made a terrifying defensive header to stop Bowen’s corner reaching Dawson – the sort you might neglect to play in Sunday league, knowing you’ll stick it past your own keeper. It costs a further one, which Rapid clear, but they’re right under the pump here.
Talking of West Ham, what I’m finding so amazing about watching them at the moment isn’t even the results, it’s the manner of them. They play like a team that expects to win, but doesn’t think it’ll be handed to them. That combination of belief and being nails is rare.
I think I wrote about something being classic West Ham earlier this week, but here’s some more, courtesy of Daniel Barnett: “Can I treat you like a Radio 2 DJ and ask for a shout-out for my dad, Ralph Barnett, long-suffering West Ham supporter, aged 77? After years of pain and false hope, we were both delighted at our team finally getting into Europe, and given that my dad’s last European night with the Hammers was the 1965 Cup Winners’ Final at Wembley, we decided not to wait for the next opportunity and to travel to a European away game. We booked flights from here in Israel where we both now live, sorted accommodation, and even secured match tickets. And then – lockdown, three days before the big night. We are forever blowing bubbles. Do any other readers have even more painful stories of missing out on a long awaited match experience, or waiting more than 56 years between games in the same competition? Yeyashar kochacha.”
Oh man, achi, that is painful even to read. I hope you go to the playoff or last-16 game.
GOAL! Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 Celtic (Andrich 16)
It’s been coming in general and they were warned specifically. Andrich hurtles onto a corner whole Welsh is static, so the defender doesn’t have a chance, and the eventuating header wallops down and in.
GOAL! Galatasaray 1-0 Marseille (Cicaldau 12)
Marseille go out if they lose tonight, while Gala would need to lose to Lazio, by more than one goal or not 1-0, to avoid finishing top if they can hang on.
GOAL! Mura 1-0 Spurs (Horvat 11)
This is a fine goal, Horvat dancing inside Sanchez, who slips like Charlie Chaplin, then unfurls a curler that swishes into the side-netting just inside the far post!
In Germany, Andrich has just thunked a header over the top from a corner. That was a decent opportunity.
GOAL! Real Betis 1-0 Ferencvaros (Tello 5)
This is not what Celtic wanted, but Ferencvaros are bottom of Group G with nil pwa. If Celtic win both their games, they should make the playoffs at least.
It’s been a quiet start in Vienna, but West Ham are in the ascendancy and almost take the lead as I type! Masuaku goes down the left, crosses low and hard – it’s a superb delivery – and on the slide, Bowen pokes just wide. That was very good from both – though I’m sure Bowen is disappointed to have missed, his run was terrific, a product of his bouncing determination.
GOAL! Midtjylland 1-0 Braga (Sviatchenko 2)
That’s a huge goal. Braga currently lead the group with 9 points, while Midtjylland have eight and so do Red Star – who are playing the already-eliminated Ludogorets.
And there’s the first flash of Frimpong, who bursts down the right but runs out of road.
When Leverkusen visited Parkhead, they administered a 4-0 hiding and looked a class apart – though it’s fair to say that before they scored their second, Celtic might well have equalised.
I’ve bitten the bullet and stuck Mura-Spurs on my phone, so will update you on any goals that ensue. As it goes, I’d not mind casting eyes over Bryan Gil, of whom I like the look; he starts tonight.
Off we go!
There are, I’m afraid, no fans in Rapid’s Allianz Stadion – Austria are back in lockdown. In Leverkusen, the Bay Arena is about two-thirds full.
Here come the teams!
Also playing early are Lokomotiv Moscow – they meet Lazio – who are poised to lose their head of sports and development to Manchester United.
Back to Tapsoba, I’ve heard really good things about him. I guess Liverpool will have looked at him before concluding Konaté was the best of the young centre-backs, but based on the little I’ve seen and more I’ve heard, I’d not be surprised if he proved them wrong. Though ultimately, it’s not a direct competition, both might go on to be brilliant.
On the other channel, I missed Joe Cole’s piece with Ben Johnson. But from the snatch I heard while listening to Postecoglu, he seemed a top bloke, and Cole confirmed that, saying you talk to anyone at the training ground, they’ll tell you he’s a great lad. I don’t know if it’s because I’m old, but seeing all these young lads having the times of their lives is such an affirming buzz.
Postecoglu sounds very confident in his players and says they’ve done well to work themselves back into position after a poor start. He doesn’t expect Forrester to last the 90, but is glad to have him back and glad to have Abadi on the bench.
BT are showing VT of Jeremie Frimpong, formerly of Celtic and now of Leverkusen. He’s looked great lately, and I’m really looking forward to seeing both him and Edmond Tapsoba in particular.
Asked about Rice Rice Baby, Davey Moyes says he’s hearing more about his social media than his football, and prefers to focus on the latter. He’ll be playing Bowen up front to begin with, but knows he can swap him with Yarmolenko, and though he’s obviously disappointed to have lost Angelo Ogbonna, but has other good defenders to replace him with.
He hopes to win tonight so he can rest players in the next game, and also wants to win the group, but if he’d been offered European football in the new year – as Ryan Giggs would say – he’d’ve took it.
BT have got Joe Cole in the studio, which I’m glad to see – he really is an excellent pundit. Tells you stuff you don’t know or haven’t noticed, doesn’t take it or himself too seriously, calls Rio Ferdinand “Ri”. What more can you ask?
Good effort getting Postecoglou into a tune as well.
Tell you what, I’m really enjoying what Ange Postecoglou is doing with Celtic. Kyogo and Jota both look serious players, but more than that, it looks like he’s enveloped the club in his personality, which means people – players and fans – are buying into his ideas.
West Ham, meanwhile, make eight changes. Areola, Masuaku, Diop, Coufal, Noble, Lanzini, Vlasic and Yarmolenko come in; Fabianski, Johnson, Zouma, Cresswell, Rice, Benrahma, Fornals and Antonio drop out, but Rice, Fornals and Benrahma are on the bench.
Celtic make one change from the weekend win over St Johnstone: James Forrest replaces Liel Abada. Leverkusen, meanwhile, leave out Tapsoba, Sinkgraven, Demirbay and Amiri – all bar Demirbay are on the bench. In come Hincapie, Kossounou, Palacios and Paulinho.
I’m going to be watching Bayer Leverkusen v Celtic and Rapid Wien v West Ham, so here are the line-ups (I’m kind of thinking that should actually be lines-up – someone who knows about grammar feel free to upbraid me):
Good morrow one and all and welcome to
the real football factories another fascinating night of Europa League behaviour. I’m afraid, though, that our opening task must be to deal with some housekeeping, so please bear with me.
This season, there is no
round of last 32. Rather, the eight group winners proceed to the
round of last 16, while the eight runners-up meet one of the eight third-placed Champions League rejects in a two-legged playoff, the winners of each to move on. I don’t suppose it’s very fair, but then it wasn’t already, and this should give us greater DRAMA, NARRATIVE and MONEYMONEYMONEYMONEYMONEYMONEY, so here we are.
Lyon are currently the only side in the competition certain to top their section. In order to take second, Rangers – under new manager Giovani van Bronckhorst – must better Sparta Prague’s performance – they lost the first encounter between the teams 1-0 – and finish above Brondby, who, they currently lead by two points.
Tonight’s fixtures, 8pm (all times GMT): Brondby v Lyon, Rangers v Sparta Prague
Monaco, Sociedad and PSV, on 8, 6 and 5 points respectively, are all in contention for the top two spots. Sturm Graz are out.
Tonight’s fixtures: 8pm: PSV v Sturm Graz, Monaco v Real Sociedad
All four teams can still move on. Spartak beat Napoli last night and with both teams on 7 points, top the group on head to head.
Tonight’s fixture, 8pm: Leicester v Legia Warsaw
Frankfurt, on 10 points, are guaranteed a playoff spot and will win the group of they beat Antwerp, who are out. Olympiakos and Fenerbahce, on 6 and 5 respectively, are both still in contention.
Tonight’s fixtures, 8pm: Olympiakos v Fenerbahce, Eintracht Frankfurt v Antwerp
All four teams can still qualify. Galatasaray top the group on 8 points and can eliminate Marseille, on 4 points, by beating them. Lokomotiv, on 2 points, must beat Lazio, on 5 points, to retain the chance of making the playoffs.
Tonight’s fixtures, 5.45pm: Lokomotiv Moscow v Lazio, Galatasaray v Marseille
Braga, top on 9 points, can guarantee a playoff place by beating Midtjylland, on 5 points, and if Crvena zvezda, on 7 points, fail match their result, they’ll secure top spot. If both win, Midtjylland are out; Ludogorets are already out.
Tonight’s fixtures, 5.45pm: Crvena zvezda v Ludogorets, Midtjylland v Braga
Leverkusen, on 10 points, will secure top spot with a win over Celtic, on 6 points, and if Betis, on 7 points, win and and Celtic don’t, Celtic are out. Ferencvaros, on 0 points, are gone.
Tonight’s fixtures, 5.45pm: Real Betis v Ferencvaros, Bayer Leverkusen v Celtic
West Ham, on 10 points, are guaranteed a playoff spot, and one win from their final two games will see them finish top. Zagreb, on 6 points, Genk, on 4 points, and Rapid, on 3 points, all remain in contention.
Tonight’s fixture, 5.45pm: Rapid Wien v West Ham, Dinamo Zagreb v Genk
Oh yeah, and the Conference League is also happening. Spurs, on 7 points, are second in their group behind Rennes, on 10 points, and are away to Mura, on 0 points, at 5.45pm; behind them sit Vitesse, on 6 points.