While the Italian sides soared in Europe’s greatest competition, those in the Europa League stumbled as only Lazio managed a win last night despite their numerical disadvantage. Drama was certainly the common theme of a night that saw missed penalties, red cards and last gasp goals.
Lazio 2 – 1 Villarreal
Starting our night off were the Biancocelesti who were looking for their second consecutive win and faced a wasteful Giuseppe Rossi side that squandered two glorious opportunities to take the lead within the first five minutes. Those wasted chances proved to be the theme of the game as both teams seemed inept at finishing considering the amount of noteworthy chances they each had to score. But it was Lazio that found the net first as a beautiful assist from Julio Cruz allowed Mauro Zarate to calmly strike and score. After so many chances, the Spaniards finally equalised. The second half began and the controversy followed as Francelino Matuzalem who had already received a yellow earlier, was sent off for diving. Replays show the decision was too severe and that there was actual contact. Yet despite being a man down, Lazio finally converted one of their numerous chances in the last seconds of the game to collect a vital win.
Fulham 1 – 1 Roma
Meanwhile back in Craven Cottage, we witnessed a Roman side with two faces. Taking to the field minus their icon Francesco Totti in addition to what seemed like a never ending list of casualties, it was Fulham who seem more determined at the start. Claudio Ranieri’s side barely touched the ball and spent much of the first 45 minutes pinned back in their half, furiously defending. But Fulham, relentless in their hunt for goal finally broke the deadlock in the 24th minute. However, cue half time and a completely different Giallorossi side took to the field with a hunger to score that bordered on desperation. Ranieri introduced a boost of creativity in the form of David Pizarro and Simone Perrotta and the substitutions seemed to work as the Italians were set alight, yet an equaliser remained elusive. Finally they were handed a lifeline in the form of a penalty as John Arne Riise was fouled in the box and commotion ensued. As the referee finally red carded the right culprit Roma took the penalty and were left devastated as they missed. Injury time loomed and 15 seconds before it was up, Marco Andreolli finally found the equaliser to rescue a point for his team.
Lille 3 – 0 Genoa
Genoa seem to be going through a dark period of their campaign as Lille served them their second humiliation of the week. Gian Piero Gasperini was eager to dismiss any problems between him and the President with regards to their summer transfer campaign after the match on Saturday but perhaps selling off too many of their brightest starts has begun to take its toll on the team. Nonetheless, as the whistle blew, both sides went for attack and Marco Amelia did a splendid job between the sticks for the Rossoblu. Despite his efforts, Ludovic Obraniak broke the deadlock and Genoa tried to reply but wasted all their ensuing chances. As the second half began, it appeared il Grifone had given up and Lille were left to run the show. Despite moments of good play, Genoa were not enough and are now desperate for a win to restore some pride.
FC Timisoara 0 – 0 Anderlecht
Ajax 2 – 1 Dinamo Zagreb
Valencia 1 – 1 Slavia Prague
Celtic 0 – 1 Hamburg
Hapoel Tel-Aviv 5 – 1 Rapid Wien
FK Ventspils 1 -2 Sporting
Hertha Berlin 0-1 SC Heerenveen
CSKA Sofia 0 – 2 Basel
Galatasaray 4 – 1 Dinamo Bucarest
Panathinaikos 1 -0 Sturm Graz
Salzburg 1 – 0 Levski Sofia
Sheriff 2 -0 FC Twente
Steaua 0 – 1 Fenerbahce
BATE 2 – 1 AEK Athens
Benfica 5 – 0 Everton
Shakhtar Donetsk 4 – 0 Toulouse
Bruges 2 – 0 Partizan
PSV Eindhoven 1 – 0 Copenhagen
Sparta Praha 2 – 0 CFR Cluj
Austria Wien 2 – 2 Werder Bremen
Athletic Bilbao 2 – 1 CD Nacional