Europa League: AC Milan, Arsenal register commanding victories; Tottenham lose to Antwerp

Benfica and Rangers earned their second straight victories while Hoffenheim and Wolfsberg cruised to big away wins.

The Associated Press October 30, 2020 09:16:05 IST
Europa League: AC Milan, Arsenal register commanding victories; Tottenham lose to Antwerp

AC Milan's Brahim Diaz, right, celebrates with teammate Zlatan Ibrahimovic after scoring against Sparta Praha. AP

AC Milan cruised past Sparta Prague 3-0 for their second straight win in the Europa League on Thursday, while Tottenham fell to a surprising 1-0 loss at newcomer Antwerp.

Milan easily overcame a missed penalty by Zlatan Ibrahimovic to remain unbeaten in 23 games in all competitions, dating back to least season.

Tottenham saw their 10-match unbeaten run end, despite having Gareth Bale in the starting lineup for a second straight time in the competition.

Fellow Premier League clubs captured their second straight win. Leicester beat AEK Athens 2-1 away while Arsenal scored three goals in a four-minute span either side of halftime in a 3-0 victory over Irish club Dundalk.

A minute of silence was held ahead of the game between Nice and Hapoel Beer Sheva to honor the three victims of a knife attack in the French city earlier Thursday. The players from both teams wore black armbands during the game, which the hosts won 1-0.

Benfica and Rangers earned their second straight victories while Hoffenheim and Wolfsberg cruised to big away wins.

Tottenham tamed

Antwerp took the lead in the 29th minute when Dieumerci Mbokani stole a sloppy pass from defender Ben Davis before passing to fellow forward Lior Refaelov to score the winning goal.

Manager José Mourinho retained only two players in the starting lineup from the squad that beat Burnley 1-0 in the Premier League on Monday. However, his lineup failed to impress and Mourinho made four substitutions at halftime in an attempt to turn things around. He didn't wait much longer before replacing Bale with striker Harry Kane in the 58th, but Spurs never created serious chances to score an equalizer.

Also in Group J, LASK defeated Ludogorets 4-3.

Milan marches on

Ibrahimovic didn’t score but made his presence felt in the first 45 minutes of the game in Group H. The 39-year-old veteran crossed for Brahim Díaz from the right to net the opening goal with a shot between the legs of Sparta goalkeeper Milan Heca in the 24th minute.

Ibrahimovic, who contracted the coronavirus last month but has scored four goals in three matches since his return, wasted a golden opportunity to add another later in the first half.

After he was fouled in the area, Ibrahimovic hit the crossbar from the penalty spot in the 36th.

He was replaced by Rafael Leão for the second half, and the substitute made it 2-0 from close range after he was set up by a precise cross from Diogo Dalot.

Dalot added the third after a solo run in the 67th.

Celtic wasted a 2-0 first half lead after a couple of goals from Mohamed Elyounouss to settle for a 2-2 draw at Lille for its first point.

Quick goals by Gunners

Pressing from the start, Arsenal looked frustrated as Dundalk’s defense held firm. Then, it fell apart late in the first half.

Eddie Nketiah netted the opening goal in the 42nd from close range following a corner after the ball hit a defender’s back and dropped in front of the striker.

Two minutes later, Joe Willock collected the ball after Nicolas Pépé’s shot was blocked by Andy Boyle to score high into the net to double the lead.

Just half a minute into the second half, Pépé curled in a strike from the edge of the area.

Norway’s Molde shares the lead of Group J with Arsenal after beating Rapid Vienna 1-0 for its second win.

Impact of infections

After AZ Alkmaar overcame a slew of coronavirus cases to upset Napoli 1-0 last week, the Dutch side earned a comprehensive 4-1 victory over Rijeka in Group F on Thursday.

Albert Guðmundsson scored two goals for Alkmaar.

Napoli recovered from the home loss with a 1-0 away win at Real Sociedad, ending a four-game winning streak for the hosts.

Piotr Zielinski and Elif Elmas were back in the Napoli squad for the first time in almost a month after the midfielders tested positive for the coronavirus .

Other groups

Jamie Vardy put Leicester ahead in Athens after earning and converting a penalty in the 18th minute. An unmarked Hamza Choudhury made it 2-0 for Brendan Rodgers’s team before substitute Muamer Tankovic pulled one back for AEK in the 49th. In the other Group G game, Braga won 2-1 away at Zorya Luhansk.

Villarreal went a goal down at Qarabag in the 78th minute before coming back for a 3-1 victory in Group I, where Maccabi Tel-Aviv also won 2-1 away at Sivasspor.

Wolfsberg has a perfect record in Group K after winning 4-1 at Feyenoord, with Michael Liendl scoring a hat trick. His first two goals came from penalties.

CSKA Moscow played to a 0-0 draw with Dinamo Zagreb.

Hoffenheim overcame a couple of coronavirus cases to beat Gent 4-1 away in Group L. Red Star Belgrade outplayed Czech club Liberec 5-1.

Roma was held 0-0 by CSKA Sofia in Group A while Cluj drew 1-1 with Young Boys Bern.

In Group C, Nice bounced back from a 6-2 loss to Leverkusen in the previous round with Amine Gouiri scoring the winner. Also Slavia Prague took its first three points by defeating Leverkusen 1-0.

Pizzi two goals for Benfica while Luca Waldschmidt also converted a penalty in the second half as the hosts beat Standard Liège 3-0 to earn their second win in Group D. Rangers defeated Lech 1-0, joining Benfica atop Group D.

PSV won 2-1 at Omonoia after Donyell Malen scored his second goal in injury time in Group E, where Granada was held 0-0 by PAOK.

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