Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Diogo Jota and Eintracht Frankfurt’s Daichi Kamada scored hat-tricks, but the man at the heart of the most remarkable UEFA Europa League display on Thursday night had a familiar name: Ianis Hagi, who inspired an unlikely Rangers come-from-behind victory.
In the first leg of the round-of-32, Wolverhampton Wanderers thrashed RCD Espanyol 4-0, Eintracht crushed Salzburg 4-1 and Rangers beat SC Braga 3-2 at Ibrox.
Arsenal won 1-0 at Olympiakos and, in early games, Manchester United drew 1-1 away to Club Brugge KV and Celtic’s visit to Copenhagen finished with the same score.
Photo: DPA via AP
In a battle between two European heavyweights, Bayer 04 Leverkusen held off Porto 2-1.
Jota, who hit three in the final pool game in November last year and had not scored since, struck the first from close range, the second from a narrow angle and the third from outside the area.
Ruben Neves hit a typically spectacular volley as Wolves crushed Espanyol, who are struggling at the bottom of La Liga.
“We competed well and we were clinical,” Wolves coach Nuno Espirito Santo asid. “For me, the organization and another clean sheet is important. You know my view that everything starts from there.”
In Frankfurt, Germany, 23-year-old Japanese midfielder Kamada hit the first after 12 minutes. Two minutes before the break, he broke from the halfway line to score a second. He added a third with a header in the 53rd minute.
He then turned provider, starting a move that ended with Filip Kostic netting Frankfurt’s fourth.
Kamada has not scored in 17 Bundesliga games this season, but Thursday’s hat-trick gave him six in the Europa League, all in his past three games and scored over a span of 178 minutes.
He became the third-highest Japanese scorer in European club competition behind Shinji Kagawa, who scored 11 for Borussia Dortmund and Manchester United, and Liverpool’s Takumi Minamino, who has also scored 11, all for Salzburg.
In Glasgow, Braga dominated the first hour and led with goals by captain Fransergio and Abel Ruiz.
Hagi started the fightback in the 67th minute, cutting in from the right and shooting in off the post.
Midfielder Joe Aribo then scored a remarkable second, weaving and barging through the massed Braga defense, and, when he finally burst clear, the Nigeria international finished with composure.
With eight minutes left, Rangers won a free-kick. Hagi stepped up. His shot hit the wall and then arced slowly into the corner of the Braga net just out of reach of goalkeeper Matheus.
Rangers had saved themselves with three goals in 15 minutes.
“I think we’ve rediscovered ourselves, certainly from the second-half performance,” Rangers manager Steven Gerrard told BT Sport. “We showed unbelievable character, we ran hard for each other, we were more compact, more organized, we had a better shape and we were on the front foot more in the second half.”
Arsenal also struck late in Greece. In the 81st minute, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang chased a long ball and kept it in play before passing inside to Bukayo Saka. The youngster hit a hard, low cross, which Alexandre Lacazette turned in from close range.
Olympiakos had seven strikes on target to six by the Gunners, but Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno stopped everything.
“It’s my job to make saves,” the German said. “At the end, when you have a clean sheet, I’m happy. We won this game and we have the away goal so we’re happy.”
Anthony Martial struck a crucial away goal as Manchester United came from behind against Belgian league leaders Brugge.
Nigerian forward Emmanuel Dennis lobbed a stranded Sergio Romero to give Brugge the lead on 15 minutes at a chilly, rain-swept Jan Breydelstadion.
However, Martial hauled United level before halftime with an excellent run and finish after pouncing on a defensive lapse by Brandon Mechele.
“It was a difficult game against a well-organized team, under difficult conditions. I don’t think it was one of the best games anyone has seen,” United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said.
“It was a bit sloppy in terms of concentration, but conditions with the pitch and ball makes it hard,” he said. “We got an away goal, we got a draw and we’re at home next week. Hopefully we can finish the job.”
Elsewhere, Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster saved a late Jens Stage penalty in a 1-1 draw away to Copenhagen after Odsonne Edouard’s opener was negated by an effort from Senegalese striker Dame N’Doye.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday said that he had called in the “third umpire” as he announced that recreational cricket would be allowed to resume next weekend. In a radio interview earlier on Friday, Johnson angered thousands of club cricketers by saying that the amateur game was still not safe to play amid the COVID-19 pandemic because of issues surrounding communal teas and dressing rooms. “It’s the teas, it’s the changing rooms and so on and so forth. There are other factors involved that generate proximity which you might not get in a game of tennis,” he said. Johnson had already
Hong Kong media reported that police briefly detained a man in a Liverpool team jersey who shouted “long live Liverpool” during anti-government protests on Wednesday, over suspicion that he was inciting independence. In-Media reported that the man was across the street from police officers who were conducting stop-and-searches on a group of protesters, when he shouted: “Long live Liverpool.” Others reportedly cheered and joined in the chant, before officers detained him. The man told In-Media that police had accused him of inciting Hong Kong independence, which now is a punishable crime. He said that he has been a fan of the English soccer
WOLFSBURG BEATEN: Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski scored from a penalty, his 34th league goal this season, finishing as the top Bundesliga scorer for the fifth time Werder Bremen gave themselves hope of avoiding relegation from the Bundesliga by thrashing Cologne 6-1 to grab a playoff place on the last day of the season, while champions Bayern Munich routed VfL Wolfsburg before lifting the trophy on Saturday. Japan striker Yuya Osako scored twice as Bremen stole the lifeline of the relegation/promotion playoff place from Fortuna Duesseldorf, who lost 3-0 against Union Berlin and were relegated with SC Paderborn, finishing one point behind Bremen. “We put in a great performance under pressure, but we are aware that we haven’t achieved anything — in the relegation playoff, the emotions will be
Raptors guard Fred VanVleet is already in Florida with the rest of his Toronto teammates, and he knows the time to take a stand and counter the NBA plan to restart the season has passed, but his opinion on the matter has not changed. “It sucks,” VanVleet said on Monday in a videoconference of his choice to return to the court during the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter campaign. “It’s terrible timing, but that’s been 2020 for us. We all know the right thing to do is to not play, to take a stand. Morally, yes, that makes sense, but