Rangers enjoyed a big European night at Ibrox on Thursday, as a 2-1 win over Sparta Prague boosted their hopes of qualification from UEFA Europa League Group C.
Real Betis’ comfortable 4-1 win over Aris Limassol means the Spanish side are well placed to advance as group winners, but Rangers moved into second.
The Gers went in front on 12 minutes, with Danilo crafting and scoring the goal. The forward did superbly to close down James Gomez and pinch the ball. He strode into the box, opened up his body and curled a shot into the far corner.
Todd Cantwell doubled Rangers’ lead on 20 minutes with a neat finish from just inside the box for his first goal of the season.
Sparta pressed hard in the second half and Lukas Haraslin gave them hope on 77 minutes when smashing home from inside the box.
Rangers were indebted to their goalkeeper Jack Butland on 86 minutes, as he plunged to his left to keep out a goal-bound effort from Haraslin
The win lifts Rangers to seven points, two behind Betis, but three in front of Sparta.
Slavia stun Roma
Slavia Prague put themselves in the hunt to claim top spot in UEFA Europa League Group G following a 2-0 win over Roma.
The Czech side were beaten 2-0 by Roma in the reverse fixture, but turned the form on its head in comprehensive fashion.
Slavia threatened to break through in the first half, and did exactly that five minutes after the restart. Roma goalkeeper Mile Svilar did well to keep out Lukas Masopust’s low header, but Mojmir Chytil kept the ball alive and Vaclav Jurecka turned the ball home from six yards.
The Czech side’s opening goal was scrappy, the second on 74 minutes was not. Masopust found space on the edge of the box, and he took one touch before arrowing a shot into the bottom corner.
The win lifted Slavia to nine points – the same as Roma – but above Jose Mourinho’s side on goal difference.
Both are primed to secure automatic qualification or a place in the play-off round, but Servette’s win over Sheriff means they have to wait.
Brave Aberdeen bow out with heads held high
Aberdeen’s slim hopes of qualification in the UEFA Europa Conference League came to an end, but they gave their travelling fans something to cheer with a brave performance at PAOK.
The Dons needed a win to stand any chance of qualifying, and Duk’s superb turn and finish from a Nicky Devlin cross gave them hope.
PAOK equalised on 23 minutes, with Taison finding space in the box to stroke home from 10 yards.
The Greek side’s pressure told on 64 minutes when Aberdeen failed to clear a corner and Mbwana Samatta rose high to glance the ball home.
Aberdeen had the final say, with Jamie McGrath scoring the goal of the night when he lashed home a superb free-kick from 25 yards that dipped and swerved before beating Dominik Kotarski in the PAOK goal to secure a 2-2 draw.
PAOK have 10 points from four games, one clear of Eintracht Frankfurt who beaten HJK 1-0. Aberdeen have two points.
Hammers win to boost qualification hopes
The victory lifted David Moyes’ side to the top of Europa League Group A, level on nine points with Freiburg who ran out 5-0 winners over TSC.
Olympiacos are third on four points with two games remaining.
Reds stunned by Toulouse
A defensive error allowed Aron Donnum to fire Toulouse in front, albeit aided by a wicked deflection.
With the bit between their teeth, Toulouse pressed and harried Liverpool and it was excellent recovery play that set up Thijs Dallinga to double Toulouse’s lead on 58 minutes.
An own goal on 74 minutes from Cristian Casseres gave Liverpool hope, but Frank Magri restored the two-goal cushion.
Diogo Jota scored on 89 minutes to set up a frantic finish, and Jarell Quansah thought he had levelled deep into time added on, but it was chalked off for a handball by Alexis Mac Allister.
Europa League results
- Freiburg 5-0 TSC
- West Ham 1-0 Olympiacos
- Ajax 0-2 Brighton
- AEK Athens 0-2 Marseille
- Rangers 2-1 Sparta Prague
- Real Betis 4-1 Aris Limassol
- Atalanta 1-0 Sturm Graz
- Sporting 2-1 Rakow Czestochowa
- LASK 3-0 Union Saint-Gilliose
- Toulouse 3-2 Liverpool
- Maccabi Haifa 1-2 Villarreal
- Rennes 3-1 Panathinaikos
- Servette 2-1 Sheriff
- Slavia Prague 2-0 Roma
- Qarabag 0-1 Bayer Leverkusen
- Haecken 1-3 Molde
Europa Conference League results
- Olimpija Ljubljana 2-0 Klaksvik
- Slovan Bratislava 1-1 Lille
- Breidablik 2-3 Gent
- Zorya 1-3 Maccabi Tel Aviv
- Astana 0-0 Ballkani
- Viktoria Plzen 1-0 Dinamo Zagreb
- Besiktas 1-2 Bodo/Glimt
- Brugge 2-0 Lugano
- Legia Warsaw 2-0 Zrinjski Mostar
- Aston Villa 2-1 AZ Alkmaar
- Cukaricki 0-1 Fiorentina
- Ferencvaros 1-1 Genk
- HJK 0-1 Eintracht Frankfurt
- PAOK 2-2 Aberdeen
- Nordsjaelland 1-1 Spartak Trnava
- Ludogorets 2-0 Fenerbahce
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