The attractive soccer preached by Swansea City manager Michael Laudrup was displayed to great effect when the Welsh side stunned 10-man Valencia with a 3-0 away victory in the Europa League on Thursday.
In their first season in European competition for 22 years, English League Cup holders Swansea took advantage of defender Adil Rami’s 10th-minute dismissal to run riot in the Group A clash at the Mestalla, with goals from Wilfried Bony, Michu and Jonathan De Guzman.
The opening group stage matches produced another shock in Eindhoven where PSV, one of five teams in action who have previously won the UEFA Cup or Europa League, were beaten 2-0 by Bulgarian champions Ludogorets Razgrad in Group B.
England striker Jermain Defoe struck twice in Tottenham Hotspur’s 3-0 home Group K win over Tromso, his 19th and 20th goals in Europe for the London club.
Substitute Kevin Gameiro’s goal lifted twice UEFA Cup winners Sevilla to a 2-1 win at Estoril in Group H and a second-half goal from Brazilian Hernanes secured SS Lazio three points with a 1-0 home victory over Legia Warsaw in Group J.
Swansea’s record signing Bony continued his prolific start after joining from Vitesse Arnhem in July for ￡12 million (US$19.27 million) with a powerful first-time finish from Michu’s center, just minutes after Valencia had been reduced to 10 men.
Ivorian international Bony, with four goals in Europe this season, was set to race clean through before last man Rami impeded his progress and was shown a straight red card.
Spaniard Michu, whose first campaign in English soccer yielded 18 Premier League goals last season, again displayed his clinical finishing by doubling Swansea’s lead after 58 minutes from Alejandro Pozuelo’s pass.
A woeful night for Valencia, who won the 2004 UEFA Cup and were beaten finalists in successive Champions League finals at the turn of the century, was capped when De Guzman curled in a delightful free kick from 30m just past the hour.
Laudrup, who fielded six Spaniards in his starting lineup — Valencia only had four — said Swansea had “dominated from start to finish.”
“It could have been more than three and I’m very pleased to beat a club like Valencia,” the Dane said.
PSV goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet’s misplaced clearance on the hour handed Ludogorets the opening goal in Eindhoven.
Phillip Cocu’s side conceded a second goal after 74 minutes when Virgil Misidjan put away the rebound after his shot struck a post.
Former Netherlands midfielder Cocu told reporters he had not underestimated the Bulgarians.
“We knew that Ludogorets could play well and would aggressively defend. They are also a team who can create opportunities,” he said.
Ludogorets, who won their maiden league title last year and then retained their crown, were competing in the domestic third division only three years ago.
Coach Stoicho Stoev hailed a victory he described as “a historic moment for us.”
“We came to Eindhoven with a lot to offer, but we did not expect to win,” he said.
Tottenham’s Defoe, yet to start a Premier League match this season with their Spain striker Roberto Soldado preferred up front, gave manager Andre Villas-Boas a timely reminder of his finishing abilities.
His dinked goal broke the deadlock after 21 minutes and he struck again just before the half-hour mark to end a slick passing move.
“His record speaks for itself, he has been keeping himself sharp and fit and he has been excellent again tonight,” Villas-Boas told ITV.
Substitute Christian Eriksen fired in a third four minutes from time, the Denmark playmaker’s first for Tottenham following his transfer from Ajax.
Victory came at a cost for the Londoners, however, with Danny Rose limping off with an ankle problem, Mousa Dembele carried off on a stretcher after a heavy challenge and Younes Kaboul leaving the field injured in the closing minutes.
In other matches, Spaniard Jonatan Soriano hit a hat-trick for FC Salzburg as the Austrian league leaders thumped Sweden’s Elfsborg 4-0 in Group C.
ACF Fiorentina also eased to a 3-0 win at home to Pacos Ferreira in Group E and Rubin Kazan romped to a 5-2 Group D victory over Maribor in Slovenia.
‘CRIMINAL ACT’: The UCI said it ‘strongly condemns’ Dylan Groenewegen’s ‘dangerous behavior,’ which left Jakobsen in critical condition and injured other cyclists Dutch cyclist Fabio Jakobsen was in a coma on Wednesday, in “serious” condition, after he was thrown into and over a barrier at 80kph in the conclusion to the opening stage of the Tour de Pologne. Footage showed 23-year-old Jakobsen, of the Deceuninck-Quick-Step, racing elbow-to-elbow with fellow Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen of Jumbo-Visma as both men frantically tussled in a tight sprint to the line in Katowice. However, Jakobsen came off worst, somersaulting over the barriers before colliding with a photographer after Groenewegen had veered suddenly to the right, squeezing his rival into the security wall. “His condition is very serious. His life is
WEEKEND MATCHES: While Tatung FC made good on their chances early on, Taiwan Steel rallied to win the game 2-3 and move to the top with Taichung Futuro Sunday’s action saw Taichung Futuro, Taipower FC and Taiwan Steel tied for first place on 30 points in the Taiwan Football Premier League, while Hang Yuan FC picked up a point to take the No. 4 spot on 25 points after holding Taipower to a scoreless draw. In Taoyuan, Tatung FC hosted Taiwan Steel. It was an exciting matchup, as the visitors rallied from 2-0 down to take the game with three goals. Tatung made good on their chances early on. Honduran midfielder Elias Argueta opened the account 15 minutes into the game with a low shot from the right. Three minutes
Ronnie O’Sullivan delivered a scathing attack on the next generation of snooker players after he made the quarter-finals of the World Snooker Championship on Sunday, ending Chinese star Ding Junhui’s world championship dream. The mercurial 44-year-old Englishman won an enthralling high-quality second-round encounter 13-10 to set up a quarter-final clash with three-time champion Mark Williams. When asked by the BBC whether he thought he would remain at the top of the game for this long, the Briton, who turned professional in 1992, said the poor quality of younger players had secured his position and that something drastic would have to happen
Max Verstappen informed his Red Bull team that he would not be driving “like a grandma” in Formula One’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix on Sunday — and he was as good as his word. The Dutch 22-year-old seized his opportunity at Silverstone, ending dominant Mercedes’ run of four successive wins this season and moving up to second place overall, 30 points behind leader Lewis Hamilton. Verstappen’s confidence shone through early on, after slotting into third place behind the two Mercedes, when he was told by race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase to take care of his tires. “Mate, this is the only chance of being