The Europa League is the continent’s secondary UEFA competition but it still offers the winner a valuable pathway through to the Champions League.
Playing on Thursday nights still carries a needling stigma in the football fandom world but some of the game’s greatest players have enjoyed memorable campaigns in the Europa League – with some especially iconic goalscorers.
Stats updated as of 08/09/2022
Minutes per goal: 13
Minutes per goal: 7
Minutes per goal: 90
Minutes per goal: 89
Minutes per goal: 69
Minutes per goal: 69
Minutes per goal: 45
Minutes per goal: 13
Minutes per goal: 38
Minutes per goal: 35
James Tavernier was the top scorer in the Europa League last season as the right back netted seven times in Rangers’ run to the final.
He finished one goal ahead of Karl Toko Ekambi and Galeno, who both scored six times.
Henrik Larsson is the all-time leading goalscorer in the Europa League, having struck 40 times across spells with Feyenoord, Celtic and Helsingborg. His Celtic side came close to winning the competition in 2002/03, being defeated 3-2 by Porto.
- Henrik Larsson – 40 (Feyenoord, Celtic, Helsingborg)
- Klaas-Jan Huntelaar – 34 (Heerenveen, Ajax, Schalke)
- Alfredo Morelos – 32 (HJK, Rangers)
- Aritz Aduriz – 31 (Athletic Club)
- Radamel Falcao – 31 (Porto, Atletico Madrid)
- Dieter Muller – 29 (Koln, Stuttgart, Bordeaux)
Jadon Sancho explains unusual shinpad celebration
Manchester United winger Jadon Sancho has explained why he celebrated his Europa League goal on Thursday night with a shinpad featuring a picture of his own face.
Sancho gave United a 17th minute lead against Sheriff Tiraspol in Moldova, with Cristiano Ronaldo later going on to secure the 2-0 victory from the penalty spot.
But after smashing the ball home, Sancho whipped off one of his shinpads and held it to the crowd with a thumbs up. It seemed slightly odd at the time, but the 22-year-old later revealed that the special shinpads had been gifted to him by a young fan last week.
“A little kid gave me some shinpads and asked me to wear them,” Sancho explained after the match.
“I said ‘Yeah, no problem’ and that was a little gesture from me when I scored, showing him that I was wearing his shinpads that he gave me.”
Overall, it was an important win for United after defeat in controversial circumstances against Real Sociedad in their Europa League opener a week earlier.
For Sancho, it has been an impressive start to the campaign after a difficult first year at Old Trafford following his £73m transfer from Borussia Dortmund last summer. In addition to netting in Europe this week, he has scored twice in the Premier League to help United overcome a poor start.
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Europa League & Europa Conference League roundup: 15/9/22
Aspirational clubs around Europe were in action on Thursday night as the Europa League and Europa Conference League both returned to our screens.
Manchester United travelled over to Moldova to take on Sheriff Tiraspol, while West Ham made the journey to Scandinavia in Europe’s third tier.
Here are the results from both competitions of the second matchday of fixtures in the group stage.
Bodo/Glimt 2-1 Zurich
The other game supposed to take place on Thursday was between Arsenal and PSV Eindhoven, but that has been postponed until Thursday 20 October.
Dynamo Kyiv 0-1 AEK Larnaca
Rennes 2-2 Fenerbahce
Roma 3-0 HJK
Roma bounced back from last week’s defeat to Ludogorets Razgrad to comfortably beat Finnish outfit HJK 3-0.
Jose Mourinho’s side were given a boost in the 15th minute when Miro Tenho was sent off for bringing down Andrea Belotti as the last defender.
However, it took the arrival of Paulo Dybala to break the deadlock, the Argentine forward netting a minute after his introduction at half time. Lorenzo Pellegrini had Roma 2-0 up by the 49th minute before new signing Andrea Belotti scored his first goal for the club.
Real Betis 3-2 Ludogorets Razgrad
Union Saint-Gilloise 3-2 Malmo
Braga 1-0 Union Berlin
Sheriff Tiraspol 0-2 Manchester United
Manchester United earned their first points in the Europa League this season as Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo netted in a 2-0 win over Sheriff Tiraspol.
Sancho brilliantly controlled Christian Eriksen’s pass and fired in during the first half before Ronaldo added another from the penalty spot, his first goal of the season and his first ever in the Europa League.
Real Sociedad 2-1 Omonoia Nicosia
Midtjylland 5-1 Lazio
Feyenoord 6-0 Sturm Graz
Olympiacos 0-3 Freiburg
Qarabag 3-0 Nantes
Trabzonspor 2-1 Red Star Belgrade
Monaco 0-1 Ferencvaros
RFS 0-2 Hearts
Istanbul Basaksehir 3-0 Fiorentina
FCSB 0-0 Anderlecht
Silkeborg 2-3 West Ham
West Ham overcame an early scare to run out comfortable victors in their clash with Danish side Silkeborg.
Kasper Kusck had given the hosts a fifth-minute lead by converting Lukas Engel’s cross, but Manuel Lanzini equalised with a penalty after Maxwel Cornet fell under Tobias Salquist’s challenge.
The Hammers were ahead midway through the first half when Gianluca Scamacca struck from 20 yards and it was 3-1 soon after as Craig Dawson bundled in Aaron Cresswell’s corner.
Silkeborg did pull one back in the second half as Soren Tengstedt fired in after an Alphonse Areola save, but West Ham held on to make it two wins from two.
Hapoel Beer Sheva 1-2 Villarreal
Lech Poznan 4-1 Austria Wien
Partizan Belgrade 1-1 Nice
Koln 4-2 Slovacko
Apollon Limassol 1-3 SC Dnipro-1
AZ Alkmaar 4-1 Vaduz
Djurgaarden 3-2 Molde
Gent 3-0 Shamrock Rovers
Slavia Prague 3-2 Ballkani
CFR Cluj 0-1 Sivasspor
Zalgiris Vilnius 0-1 Basel
Pyunik 2-0 Slovan Bratislava
Player ratings as improved United return to winning ways
Manchester United registered their first Europa League win this season with a 2-0 victory away to Sheriff Tiraspol.
A cool finish from Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo’s 699th career club goal were enough to see the Red Devils bounce back after losing their opening group stage contest to Real Sociedad last week.
Sheriff had their tails up early on having won their opening game in the competition last week, and knowing they managed to beat Real Madrid in the Champions League last season. But they were unable to prove giant killers again, succumbing to a professional United performance in the two clubs’ first competitive meeting.
It took some time for United to truly work their way into the game despite spells of possession, with Sheriff not afraid to press high up early on.
Their wingers barely saw the ball as a result in the opening stages, but when Jadon Sancho did get involved for essentially the first time after 17 minutes, he tucked away a brilliant goal following sublime footwork and a smart pass from Christian Eriksen.
Sheriff did cause United problems when they got on the ball with Iyayi Atiemwen impressing, not being afraid to try and test David de Gea where possible. They had a clear plan to stifle United when the visitors tried to attack, though, committing fouls to stop them progressing the ball.
As the half grew on, those fouls became more common as United found a stride when in possession. Antony latched onto a poor pass from the goalkeeper and fed Sancho on the left, who was denied a brace by a brilliant clearance off the line from captain Stjepan Radeljic
Unfortunately, his brilliant clearance meant little as a minute later, Diogo Dalot was fouled inside the penalty area, allowing Cristiano Ronaldo to make it 2-0 from the spot after 39 minutes. His first goal of the season sent United into half-time in a strong position.
Erik ten Hag’s side remained firmly in the driver’s seat after the break, with Sheriff unable to win the ball back from United and break up their lengthy spells of possession.
Eriksen peeled off to the left flank after 56 minutes and floated a fine, low cross across the box, but more brilliant defending from Radeljic diverted the ball away from Ronaldo and denied him of his 700th career club goal.
Sheriff, while not doing enough to test De Gea, gave a solid account of themselves and did continue to try and burst forward in the latter stages of the game. United were well-drilled, though, and diffused any counter attacks confidently, while looking after possession to see out the result.
GK: David de Gea – 6/10 – Quiet night at the office for the Spaniard, who merely had to stand and look pretty for the most part.
RB: Diogo Dalot – 7/10 – Won the penalty that put United two up with the kind of positive run from deep that really hurts teams. A positive performance that showed again just how much Dalot has come on under Ten Hag.
CB: Raphael Varane – 6/10 – A composed performance from the Frenchman. Didn’t have much to do, but kept things neat and tidy.
CB: Lisandro Martinez – 6/10 – Having a central defender who is not only comfortable bringing the ball forward but is agile and can actively pick out line-splitting passes continues to prove a huge boost for United. Martinez’s work on the ball was the highlight tonight.
LB: Tyrell Malacia – 6/10 – Grew into the game as United enjoyed more of the ball and looked solid when able to get forward. Not as involved as he perhaps would’ve liked to have been, mind.
CM: Scott McTominay – 6/10 – Another impressive display from the Scotland international who continues to go full ‘McTerminator’ in an attempt to keep his place in the team. Only played the first half, though, so nothing major to report.
CM: Christian Eriksen – 8/10 – He’s good is that Eriksen fella, isn’t he? Like, really good. Always on for the pass, and always capable of picking out the perfect pass. What a lovely footballer.
CM: Bruno Fernandes – 7/10 – Showed off his brilliant passing range and a few sharp touches in tight areas. Not quite as gung-ho as usual; if there was ever a game to try your luck from long range with the space afforded, though, it was this one.
RW: Antony – 6/10 – Flashes of flair and excellence from the Brazilian, in a much improved display compared to last week’s affair vs Real Sociedad. Not at his scintillating, ankle-breaking best just yet, but the signs are there.
ST: Cristiano Ronaldo – 6/10 – Yes he scored from the spot and no he wasn’t horrific, but Ronaldo’s touch wasn’t sharp, his runs were slow and he looked sluggish. Concerning. Props to him for doing that celebration, though – shameless.
LW: Jadon Sancho – 8/10 – Took his goal brilliantly with his first proper touches of the game. Individual brilliance denied him of a brace. When he gets the ball inside, Sancho is endlessly composed. Brilliant footwork again.
SUB: Casemiro (45′ for McTominay) – 6/10 – Continued more of the solid work McTominay did at the base of midfield and broke up any rare counter attacks well.
SUB: Luke Shaw (70′ for Malacia) – N/A
SUB: Anthony Elanga (80′ for Ronaldo) – N/A
SUB: Harry Maguire (90′ for Martinez) – N/A
SUB: Alejandro Garnacho (90′ for Antony) – N/A
Manager: Erik ten Hag – 8/10 – Away victory, good performance and a clean sheet. The Dutchman clearly prepared the team well. Would’ve been nice to see United open the floodgates, but we can’t be too harsh. Job done.
Player of the Match: Christian Eriksen
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