Marcos Reus scored a hat-trick as Borussia Dortmund cruised into the Europa League group stage on Thursday, with Athletic Bilbao and Ajax also advancing alongside Azerbaijani clubs Qarabag and Gabala, but England’s Southampton crashed at the first hurdle.
Dortmund went on a goal spree in Germany to continue their dream start to the season under new coach Thomas Tuchel in a 7-2 rout — 11-5 on aggregate — over Norwegian side Odds BK.
Ole Jorgen Halvorsen had put the Norwegians ahead after 19 minutes, but six minutes later Henrikh Mikhiaryan leveled, with Reus scoring two goals in five minutes and a third after the break.
Ilkay Gundogan and a Shinji Kagawa double gave the German side a seventh win in all competitions under Tuchel.
Southampton failed in their bid to join Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool in the group stage, falling behind following a 28th-minute goal from former Celtic striker Morten Rasmussen, which send Danish champions Midtjylland through 2-1 on aggregate. Ronald Koeman’s side were unable to break through in heavy rain at the CH Arena with a sloppy Jay Rodriguez pass allowing Rasmussen to slot in the decider.
Athletic Bilbao turned around a 3-2 loss to Slovak side MSK Zilina with a first-half goal from Gorka Elustondo giving the beaten 2012 finalists a 1-0 win, 3-3 on aggregate and victory on away goals. The win was a boost for Ernesto Valverde’s side following a loss in their opening match of La Liga, falling 1-0 at home to Barcelona last weekend.
In Istanbul, Fenerbahce earned a 3-0 win over Greek side Atromitos with a double from Brazilian Fernandao. It gave the 2013 semi-finalists a 4-0 aggregate win having an away-goal advantage after Robin van Persie scored his first goal for the club since joining the Turkish club from Manchester United last month.
Dutch giants Ajax advanced 1-0 on aggregate following a goalless draw against Czech minnows Jablonec. Dutch goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen saved a penalty and Frank de Boer’s side played the last half an hour with 10 men after Dutch teenage midfielder Riechedly Bazoer was sent off for a second yellow card. Ajax go through thanks to Arkadiusz Milik’s second-half penalty in Amsterdam a week ago.
French clubs Girondins de Bordeaux and AS Saint-Etienne joined Olympique de Marseille and AS Monaco in the group stage. An Enzo Crivelli backheeled goal secured Bordeaux’s passage on away goals despite a 2-1 loss against Kairat Almaty.
A first-half Benjamin Corgnet header saw Saint-Etienne through with a 1-0 win at home over Moldova’s Milsami Orhei and a 2-1 aggregate score following a 1-1 draw.
Azerbaijan have two teams through with Qarabag and Gabala both advancing at the expense of Swiss club Young Boys (1-0, 3-0) and Greek club Panathinaokos (0-0, 2-2) respectively.
In other aggregate second-leg results after playoff games on Thursday, Belenenses beat Altach 1-0; Legia Warsaw beat Zarya Luhansk 4-2; Athletic Club advanced on away goals against Zilina 3-3; Dinamo Minsk beat Salzburg 3-2; Molde beat Standard Liege on away goals 3-3; Viktoria Plzen beat Vojvodina Novi Sad 5-0; AZ Alkmaar defeated Astra 4-3; and PAOK Salonika beat Brondby 6-1.
Elsewhere, Fenerbahce beat Atromitos Athinon 4-0; Slovan Liberec beat Hajduk Split 2-0; Rosenborg Trondheim defeated Steaua Bucharest 3-1; Sparta Prague beat Thun 6-4; Krasnodar downed HJK Helsinki 5-1; Lech Poznan beat Videoton 4-0; and Rubin Kazan defeated Rabotnicki Skopje 2-1.
‘GREAT EVENING‘: In the women’s singles in Rome, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova advanced, while Rafael Nadal swept into the quarters in the men’s singles Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Friday had to dig deep to advance to the semi-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. The top seeds, who did not drop a game in their opening match on the clay courts at the Foro Italico, battled to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 victory over sixth seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Katerina Siniakova in 1 hour, 39 minutes. The reigning Wimbledon champions saved nine of 11 break points and converted three of eight, winning 56 percent of points on their second serve and sending down two aces
’SO CONSISTENT’: The victory gave the world No. 1 and world No. 2 a 21-1 win-loss record and their fourth title of the season after successes in Brisbane, Dubai and Doha Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Sunday cruised to their fourth women’s doubles title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in their first tournament back since the suspension of the WTA Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top seeds took just 63 minutes to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded German-Romanian duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru at the Foro Italico. It was the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s first outing since they won the Qatar Open in February. “After five months, you don’t know what to expect,” Strycova told the WTA Web site.
‘FUN TIME’: Denver’s Nikola Jokic said that his team would not accept that anyone else is better than them and the opposition need to play much better than they do Just about everyone had LA versus LA written in for the NBA’s Western Conference finals, but the resilient Denver Nuggets have crashed the party. Behind Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets advanced to the conference finals for the first time since 2009 to face LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. Game 1 is scheduled to be played tomorrow. This was no ordinary road. The Nuggets fell behind 3-1 in their first-round series against the Utah Jazz before bouncing back with three straight victories. Then they went down 3-1 to the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round before winning in Game 7
‘GREAT COMPETITOR’: Former French Open champion Garbine Muguruza was tested by American teenager Coco Gauff, before the Spaniard advanced in three sets Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Thursday cruised into the quarter-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia by handing their Japanese opponents a rare “double bagel,” a feat matched by US Open losing finalist Victoria Azarenka in the women’s singles. Top seeds Hsieh and Strycova took just 49 minutes to see off the challenge of Japanese duo Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya 6-0, 6-0 on the clay courts at the Foro Italico in Rome. The Taiwanese-Czech duo saved both break points they faced and converted six of 14, winning 62 percent of their first