Europa League wins for Chelsea, Milan, Arsenal, Sevilla
Chelsea maintained its perfect start to the season when Brazil forward Willian scored in a 1-0 Europa League victory at PAOK Thessaloniki on Thursday.
Two goals from Ever Banega and Wissam Ben Yedder led Sevilla, the most successful team in Europa League history, to a 5-1 thrashing of Standard Liege while Eintracht Frankfurt opened its campaign by upsetting Marseille 2-1.
Arsenal, with former Sevilla coach Unai Emery now in charge, defeated Ukraine’s Vorskla 4-2 thanks to a double from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and AC Milan edged past Dudelange of Luxembourg 1-0.
Sitting atop the Premier League with five wins from five games, Chelsea rested Eden Hazard after the Belgium playmaker registered a hat trick in a 4-1 win against Cardiff on Saturday.
Two Chelsea supporters were injured in an attack by suspected local fans shortly before dawn. Police said the two Englishmen were beaten by three assailants in central Thessaloniki.
An ambulance crew provided first aid but the men declined to be taken to hospital. The three assailants escaped and police said the fans of the London club did not wish to press charges.
Here’s a look at Thursday’s games:
WILLIAN LIFTS CHELSEA
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri made five changes to his starting line-up against PAOK and his dominant team should have scored a hatful of goals.
The out-of-form Alvaro Morata wasted several chances after captain Willian had finished off a speedy counter-attack in the seventh minute following good work from Ross Barkley.
“We played very well, were in control of the match, and it would have been difficult for anybody to play against us this evening,” Sarri said.
Also in Group L, BATE Borisov of Belarus won 2-0 at Hungary’s Vidi.
SEVILLA ON FIRE
Sevilla, Europa League winners in 2014, 2015 and 2016, went ahead in the eighth minute against Standard thanks to a curling free kick by Banega.
Standard leveled through Moussa Djenepo before Franco Vazquez made it 2-1 for the Spanish hosts in the 41st minute. Ben Yedder added two second-half goals and Banega completed the rout with a penalty.
Also in Group J, Russian club Krasnodar won 1-0 at Turkey’s Akhisar Belediyespor.
AUBAMEYANG’S ARSENAL JOY
Aubameyang opened the scoring for Arsenal against Vorskla in the 32nd minute when he converted an Alex Iwobi cross.
Danny Welbeck headed in a center from Henrikh Mkhitaryan before Aubameyang made it 3-0 with a precise shot from outside the area.
Substitute Mesut Ozil added the fourth goal from close range but Vorskla reduced the arrears thanks to captain Volodymyr Chesnakov and Vyacheslav Sharpar.
For Emery, the Europa League is familiar territory, after he guided Sevilla to its three straight titles earlier this decade.
Also in Group E, Sporting Lisbon scored twice in the second half to sink Qarabag 2-0.
DAVID VS GOLIATH
It was a case of David vs Goliath when seven-time European champion Milan took on Dudelange, the first team from Luxembourg to reach the Europa League group stage.
Dudelange did well to keep out Milan until Gonzalo Higuain struck the only goal of the game in the 59th minute.
Also in Group F, Olympiakos and Betis drew 0-0.
LATE EINTRACHT WINNER
Substitute Luka Jovic struck one minute from time as German Cup winner Eintracht Frankfurt came back from a goal down to defeat last year’s Europa League runner-up Marseille 2-1 in a game played behind closed doors in France.
Marseille went ahead in the third minute at the Stade Velodrome as Florian Thauvin crossed from the right for Lucas Ocampos to score.
Frankfurt equalized in the second half through Lucas Torro before Jovic’s late winner.
In the other Group H match, Lazio defeated Apollon 2-1.
Rangers, managed by former England midfielder Steven Gerrard, recovered from conceding a first-minute goal to draw 2-2 at Villarreal, while Rapid Vienna beat Spartak Moscow 2-0 in the other Group G game.
In Group I, Genk defeated Malmo 2-0 and Besiktas eased past newcomer Sarpsborg 3-1.
In Group A, Bayer Leverkusen rallied from two goals down to win 3-2 at Ludogorets Razgrad in Bulgaria.
In a matchup between the champions of Scotland and Norway, Celtic beat Rosenborg 1-0. Also in Group B, Fredrik Gulbrandsen scored a minute before the end to give last year’s semifinalist Salzburg a 3-2 victory at Leipzig.
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