Category Archives: Europa League

Arsenal ends losing streak with victory over Milan in Europa League

Published by:

Arsenal put an end to their unwanted 4-game losing streak with a polished 2-0 victory over AC Milan in the first-leg of their last-16 encounter.

Arsene Wenger’s squad were leading after just 15 minutes through Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s first goal for the club, with the Armenian cutting in from the left to fire in with the aid of a deflection off Milan skipper Leonardo Bonucci.

Aaron Ramsey then deservedly doubled their lead before half-time as the Welshman collected Mesut Ozil’s inch-perfect pass through the centre of Milan’s defence to round keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma and tap in.

While Gennaro Gattuso’s Milan tried to raise their tempo after the break — with Giacomo Bonaventura spooning an effort over the bar — Arsenal were largely unbothered as they limited the home side to half chances with a solid defensive effort.

With clear a two-away goal advantage, Arsenal will be heavy favourites ahead of the second leg that will be played at the Emirates next week.

This also comes as a brief respite for Wenger, who saw 88% of the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust’s (AST) 1,000 members voting this week in favour of the 68-year-old Frenchman’s contract being terminated at the end of the season.

“Overall it is important to win, but it is not qualification. We have to finish the job at home. I am happy with the spirit and response we gave,” he said. “We were not in a position to take risks, but we could not be too cautious as you lose fluidity. We defended with resilience until the end.”

“We made too many mistakes,” said Gattuso. “We never played as a compact team and they deserved the win. Every time they attacked, they could have scored. Playing at this level is something new for our lads but there were too many mistakes.”

“In football, you never say never. We’ll go to London to try and win, we’re not going on an excursion.”

Gattuso continues wait for first win after Milan lose away to Rijeka

Published by:

AC Milan boss Gennaro Gattuso says the club’s “shirt deserves respect” after a “burning defeat” by Rijeka as his team concluded their Europa League group stage fixtures with a loss.

Gattuso, 39, has previously managed Sion, Palermo, OFI Crete, Pisa and Milan’s youth team, but was especially unhappy with £33m summer signing Andre Silva, who has yet to score in Serie A.

“He struggled. He looked like a foreign object in the team,” said the former Italian national. “When you have the opportunity to play for 90 minutes wearing AC Milan’s shirt you have to do more.”

Already assured of top spot in Group D, Gattuso made changes, for only his second game in charge, with their Europa League last-32 slot already guaranteed — but he was not impressed.

AC Milan failed to put a single shot on target, with midfielder Manuel Locatelli set to miss the first leg of the round of 32 after picking up a booking.

“I was expecting more, this was a pretty poor show,” he said. “We need to turn things around and a change in mentality. We need more intensity and desire and all these things weren’t there.”

“We needed a win as a morale booster. Sunday’s (Serie A) match against Bologna is now even more important and we can’t make any mistakes.”

Croatian side Rijeka, who were already eliminated, won 2-0 thanks to goals from Jakov Puljic and Mario Gavranovic.

Puljic gave the hosts the lead in the seventh minute by curling in a free kick out of the reach of goalkeeper Marco Storari, while Gavranovic bundled the ball over the line from six yards early in the second half.

“I take full responsibility for the choices I made,” said Gattuso. “I would make them again as we have to play important games every three days. We tried to give some playing time to those who needed it.

“This is how things have been going lately, unfortunately, we concede at the first opportunity. The boys gave it all, trying to play differently, but it wasn’t enough.”

Marseille’s Patrice Evra sent off for kicking out at supporter

Published by:

Patrice Evra conjured memories of Eric Cantona after being sent off for aiming a kick at a Marseille supporter before his side’s Europa League game at Vitoria de Guimaraes.

The Frenchman was ushered away by a team-mate but not before creating history as the first player to be sent off in a Europa League match before kick-off.

Marseille, who then also had Boubacar Kamara dismissed during the match proper, went down 1-0 in what would be their second defeat in the Group I.

The incident occurred as tempers flared during the pre-match warm-up for the Europa League game between Vitoria Guimaraes and Marseille, which saw supporters and players clashing.

Pictures and video footage appeared to show the Evra, 36, kicking a fan in the head at the side of the pitch in Portugal with the former French International appearing to lash out at one of his own club’s fans as supporters reached the advertising hoardings at the Estadio D Afonso Henriques in Guimaraes.

The ugly incident was reminiscent of Evra’s French compatriot Eric Cantona, whose infamous kung-fu kick at Selhurst Park in 1995 when the Manchester United player was sent off for attacking the Crystal Palace supporter Matthew Simmons.

Cantona was banned for nine months by the Football Association for the incident, after leaving the pitch following a red card.

Likewise, Evra would now face a lengthy UEFA ban while his future at Marseille will come under fierce scrutiny in the coming days, with club coach Rudi Garcia disclaiming his actions.

“Pat has experience and he must not react, it’s obvious” he said.

“Patrice is a more than experienced player and we cannot respond to insults so low and so incredible because they come from one of our supporters. He must learn to keep his cool.”

Koeman sacked after Everton falls to Premier League drop zone

Published by:

Ronald Koeman was sacked on Monday after a dismal run of form with Everton left the Toffees third from bottom of the Premier League and with just two wins in 13 games.

The manager was sacked after just 16 months in charge and spending £140 million on new players this summer. He had also been vocally criticised by many for making decisions unhelpful towards the club.

The Dutchman’s tenure as Everton manager culminated with a 5-2 defeat by Arsenal on Sunday. His dismissal was a decision taken by the Everton major shareholder, Farhad Moshiri, who three weeks ago, insisted that Koeman retained his total support despite a home defeat against Burnley.

However, Everton made no improvements since then, first needing a 90th‑minute penalty to draw at Brighton & Hove Albion before losing at home against Lyon in the Europa League and subsequently being routed at home by Arsenal.

An Everton club statement read: “Everton football club can confirm that Ronald Koeman has left the club. Chairman Bill Kenwright, the board of directors and major shareholder Farhad Moshiri would all like to express their gratitude to Ronald for the service he has given to the club over the past 16 months and for guiding the club to seventh place in last season’s Premier League campaign.”

In the meantime, David Unsworth, Everton’s academy and under-23s manager, was given temporary charge of the Merseyside club after also taking charge in one Premier League game after Roberto Martínez’s sacking in 2016.

While Unsworth has requested a run of games to show he can be the winning manager Everton need to replace Ronald Koeman, he is expected until the international break to demonstrate his mettle in order to impress the Goodison hierarchy, a spell of four games that includes visits to potentially difficult opponents in Chelsea, Leicester and Lyon.

Everton will also be the third Premier League club to lose part ways with their manager this season, after Craig Shakespeare who was fired as Leicester City manager after the Foxes lost six Premier League games in a row, and Frank de Boer who left after only 77 days as manager of Crystal Palace.