Both Qarabag and Tottenham Hotspur progressed to the next phase of the UEFA Europa League on Thursday, but they had to work hard, and those wins didn’t come easy as expected.
Qarabag vs. Tottenham 0-1
Tottenham travelled to Azerbaijan to face Qarabag, who are seriously tough opponents at home and have already defeated Anderlecht aside from drawing against Monaco. The Spurs had a lot of work to do, but eventually succeeded in their intentions to progress before the last game at White Hart Lane.
The Premier League side dominated throughout the game but failed to stamp their authority on the opposition. At least not until the last twelve minutes. Harry Kane (who else?) scored a typical poacher’s goal from Eriksen’s corner after Heung-Min Son slightly touched the ball that finished on Kane’s head and the home team goalkeeper was helpless. This was Kane’s 9th goal in last six games, and the striker is in an extraordinary form at the moment after rather a slow start of the season.
Qarabag needed at least one point to stay in a contention for the next round, but Tottenham let them know from the beginning who is the better team. The first big chance occurred in the 16th minute when Kieran Trippier penetrated on the right flank and distributed a useful ball to Dele Alli, but the youngster failed to give an early lead to his team. He sent the ball wide of the keeper’s left post. The home team mainly tried to beat Lloris from a distance, but without success. The visitors looked like a much better team after the interval, and the Korean Son rattled the crossbar with a powerful left-footed strike from the edge of the box in the 64th minute. Alli was unlucky in the 76th minute when he stroked the left post after a nice taken half-volley. However, two minutes later, Kane settled the final result and sent the Spurs to the next phase. It was a deserved win for the Londoners.
Everybody expected an easy Liverpool’s win over Bordeaux, especially after a massive victory at Man City last weekend, but it wasn’t like that at all. The first chance of the game came after only five minutes when Firmino beaten the offside trap and almost took the advantage of Mignolet’s kick deep into Bordeaux’s territory. However, the Brazilian’s left-footed half-volley was easily held by Carrasso. Benteke had a good chance after receiving a ball on his chest, but didn’t kick it cleanly, so the attempt ended wide of the right post. The visitors took the advantage of the foolish Mignolet’s mistake and changed the scoreboard 0:1 after 33 minutes. It was inexplicably horrifying decision from Mignolet to hold the ball for more than 20 seconds before kicked it. It is known that the goalkeeper can keep it for six or seven seconds; even 10 seconds can be tolerated. His terrible error led to the visitors’ lead from the indirect free-kick. Henri Saivet was the scorer with an excellent right top corner finish. Only five minutes later, Bordeaux’s defender Sane made a silly contact with Benteke in the box with the ball was already in Carrasso’s hands, and the referee pointed to the spot. Milner gladly took the gift and leveled the game 1:1. In injury time of the first half, Nathaniel Clyne sent a useful low cross to Benteke and the Belgian scored a nice right-footed goal after a sublime first touch that left his marker, Sane, behind. The shot from just inside the box was too strong for the keeper to parry it.
Liverpool’s domination continued in the second half; Benteke had a goal disallowed after a foul over Sane. Jordon Ibe was selfish in the 55th minute and wanted to finish himself rather than pass to Benteke in the six-yard box. Bordeaux had a couple of half-chances but nothing serious except for the free-kick try in the last minute. However, Mignolet punched away the attempt from Saivet. The score remained 2:1 for the Reds.
Tottenham and Liverpool will feature in the next phase of the competition, but still have to secure the first place in their respective groups. The Reds will travel to Switzerland to face Sion while the Spurs will host Monaco in London.