Category Archives: Europa League

Everton grabs late winner to ease into Europa League playoffs

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Everton scored late to book a place in the Europa League qualifying playoff round with a 1-0 win (2-0 on aggregate) away against Ruzomberok.

After taking a 1-0 lead in the first leg, Everton worked hard from the start for a goal but failed, with Morgan Schneiderlin going closest with a header from Sandro Ramirez’s corner, while Ruzomberok threatened with Dominik Kruzliak heading over.

However, aside from Kruzliak’s effort, a strike from Erik Daniel were the only attempts on goal that Ruzomberok that troubled Toffees keeper Jordan Pickford. Matus Macik also had a quiet evening, with Everton rarely troubling the Slovak defence.

The breakthrough then finally came for Everton 10 minutes from time as Davy Klaassen played in substitute Dominic Calvert-Lewin on the right, who then struck a low first-time effort past the reach of Macik from 12 yards.

With the win, Everton could look forward to learn who their next opponents are through the draw for the play-off round that takes place later today. The ties will be played on 17 and 24 August, with the 22 winners going into the Europa League group stage.

“Maybe Dominic feels a bit more comfortable as one of two strikers. He’s strong, he’s fast and he scored a great goal,” Everton manager Ronald Koeman said. “It was a physical game and 90 minutes that the players needed. We are through to the next round and I’m really happy.”

“This competition has always been important for me. I like to be in Europe — it’s important for our experience. It’s good for the club, the players and the fans. It’s not easy to reach the group stages but we will do everything to get there.”

Two Man Utd players sanctioned for breaching UEFA doping regulations

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Manchester United players Phil Jones and Daley Blind had been sanctioned after found guilty of breaching the UEFA’s doping regulations after the Europa League final in May.

It was understood that Jones was upset for missing out on a squad photograph taken after the match, which also pays tribute to victims of the Manchester terrorist attack earlier in the week. He expressed this disappointment to officials at the time.

On the other hand, Blind did feature on that photograph and join in some of the celebrations, albeit accompanied by a chaperone. However, although permitted in other competitions it was not the case in this instance.

Jones, 25, had been found to have been verbally abusive towards a doping control officer after he was requested to attend drug-testing after the final in Stockholm on 24 May.

UEFA has since handed a two-match ban for the Englishman, who will now miss the UEFA Super Cup match against Real Madrid next week, as well as United’s first Champions League group stage match in September, while also being fined for €5,000.

As for Blind, while it was understood that he did not realise he had done anything wrong until reaching doping control, Blind was fined €5,000 for his own breaching of regulations.

UEFA has also fined Manchester United for €10,000 over the rule breaches, despite no suggestions that either player was guilty of doping. Blind featured the full 90 minutes against his old club Ajax in the final, while Jones was an unused substitute.

Everton takes slim lead in Europa League qualifier

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Everton managed to take a slim 1-0 lead against MFK Ruzomberok in their Europa League third qualifying round match.

Toffees captain Leighton Baines scored the only goal of the night through a deflected shot at a half-cleared corner 20 minutes after the interval.

While Everton were dominant in possession throughout, the Merseyside team had struggled to register efforts in the first half and still needed Maarten Stekelenburg to make a crucial save and turn Jan Maslo’s header on to the crossbar.

Nonetheless, the reason that the Premier League club face such a struggle could be due to a reinvigorated team — with coach Ronald Koeman gave debuts to summer signings Cuco Martina, Michael Keane, Davy Klaassen and Sandro Ramirez.

In Klassen and Ramirez’s case, both played particularly well with Klassen almost coming close with a shot in the first half and with a header in the second.

Ramirez, on the other hand, plays with the zip, confidence and aggression that stretched the Ruzomberok defence well wide, boosting Wayne Rooney and Klaassen behind him.

This means that Everton have a challenge in finding the right formation that would bring the best of each of their players. However, they could hardly rest on their laurels in their attempt to do so, as Ruzomberok had been able to overcome a first-leg deficit against Brann Bergen in the last round.

“Nothing has been decided yet,” Ruzomberok coach Norbert Hrnca said. “We had two good opportunities tonight, maybe next week we can do the same and take them.”

“We know we are in for a tough game next week,” Baines said after the game. “It was tough tonight, but at least we will know a bit more about what to expect, and as a team we will know each other that bit better too.”

Manchester United: Europa League winners to limit summer signings

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Europa League winners Manchester United is set to limit their summer signings to a handful of key players.

Manchester United has secured a spot in the Champions League next season thanks to their 2-0 victory over Ajax Amsterdam at the Friends Arena in the Europa League final.

However, Red Devils boss Jose Mourinho wants to enrich his team in terms of their front and defensive options moving forward, and has provided club executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward with a list of transfer targets.

“Ed Woodward has my list,” Mourinho said after the final against Ajax. “Now it’s up to him and the owners.”

On the other hand, team captain Wayne Rooney says that he has came to a decision on his future with Manchester United, and has “lots of offers” to consider after spending most of his time on the sidelines at Old Trafford this season.

Rooney, who played the role of a late substitute in the final against Ajax, may have effectively made his last appearance in a Manchester United jersey should the striker decides to moves on to find a team where he can play more regularly.

“There are lots of offers on the table, both in England and abroad, and that’s what I have to decide on,” Rooney said. “I’ve got some decisions to make now over the next few weeks so I will talk with my family and then I’ll decide.”

“I think I have to make a decision in terms of a football decision, and that’s what I’ll do, I’ll do that the next few weeks with my family while I’m away and as soon as I know what’s going on I’m sure you will.”

When asked if he has made up his mind regarding his future, he said: “More or less, yes. I still believe I could (play every game). If you’re asking me if I’m a better player now than I was 10 years ago then obviously I’m not but I still feel I’ve got other qualities that can help the team.”