Europa League: Napoli, Tottenham Hotspur win; Liverpool held

Napoli begin their group stage campaign in convincing fashion as they thrashed Club Bruges 5-0.

By: Reuters | London | Published: September 18, 2015 12:40:52 pm
Europa League, Tottenham Hotspur, Tottenham Hotspur Europa League, Napoli, Liverpool Europa League, Europa League Liverpool, Sports News, Sports Napoli’s Dries Mertens, right, scores past Brugge goalie Sinan Bolat. (Source: AP)

Napoli began their Europa League group stage campaign in scintillating fashion as two goals apiece from Jose Callejon and Dries Mertens helped them thrash Club Bruges 5-0 on Thursday to match their biggest European win.

Borussia Dortmund’s Park Joo-ho scored three minutes into stoppage time on his debut to secure a 2-1 win over FK Krasnodar while Ajax Amsterdam also left it late to snatch a 2-2 home draw with Celtic in a battle between two former European champions.

Five times continental champions Liverpool’s stuttering start to the season continued as they were pegged back to draw 1-1 at French side Bordeaux.

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There were also wins for Tottenham Hotspur, who beat Azerbaijan champions Qarabag 3-1, and Basel, who downed Fiorentina 2-1 away, as 48 teams in 12 groups began their bids for Europa League success amid a flurry of goals.

Napoli have failed to win in their opening three Serie A games but crushed Belgian side Bruges with a scoring spree that began after five minutes when Callejon’s cross caught out keeper Sinan Bolat and curled inside the far post.

The Italians were 3-0 up by halftime in their Group D opener after Mertens showed his scoring instincts with two sharp finishes in a six-minute spell while Marek Hamsik added another and Callejon rounded off the rout with a low finish.

Dortmund had trailed Kuban Krasnodar, who appointed Sergei Tashuev as manager earlier on Thursday, to Pavel Mamaev’s 12th-minute opener in Group C, but Matthias Ginter headed home to level a minute into first-half stoppage time.

After another 45 minutes of dogged resistance by Krasnodar, the Russians’ rearguard was pierced at the death when Park dived to head home, extending Dortmund’s winning start to the season under new coach Thomas Tuchel to 10 games in all competitions.

INEXPERIENCED PLAYERS

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers could only dream of such a consistent start to the campaign as his struggling side again showed their vulnerability by conceding a late goal to draw with Girondins Bordeaux in Group B.

The English team, who have lost their last two Premier League games, conceding three goals in each, went ahead when Adam Lallana nutmegged a defender to cut inside the penalty area and place a delicate sidefoot finish into the far corner after 65 minutes.

With a number of inexperienced players in the side, however, Liverpool were pegged back when Brazilian Jussie slammed the ball into the net with nine minutes to play.

Celtic twice took the lead against Ajax in Group A with goals from Nir Bitton and Mikael Lustig either side of an equaliser from Viktor Fischer.

The second half turned sour for the Scottish side, however, as Emilio Izaguirre was sent off for a second booking with 16 minutes left and Lasse Schoene levelled after 84 with a whipped cross that eluded everyone and found the corner of the net.

Fiorentina’s Paulo Sousa guided Basel to the Swiss title last term and his old team gave the Portuguese coach a reminder of the talent he left behind as they won 2-1 in Italy with goals late in the game after the hosts were reduced to 10 men.

Nikola Kalinic put the Italians ahead after four minutes but Gonzalo Rodriguez saw red midway through the second half and Basel claimed a Group I victory with goals from Birkir Bjarnason (71st minute) and Mohamed Elneny (79).

Tottenham also fell a goal behind early in Group J against Qarabag but Richard Almeida’s seventh-minute penalty was cancelled out by two goals from close-season signing Son Heung-min, his first for the club, and a late effort from Erik Lamela.

Austria’s Rapid Vienna beat La Liga side Villarreal 2-1 at home in Group E, Olympique de Marseille won 3-0 at Groningen in Group F, and Norwegian side Molde made a good start in Group A by winning 3-1 against Fenerbahce in Turkey.

Sporting Lisbon lost 3-1 to visitors Lokomotiv Moscow in Group H, their second home defeat in 22 European games, while last season’s runners-up Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk were held 1-1 at home by Lazio in Group G and Anderlecht drew 1-1 with Monaco in Group J.

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