Europa and Conference League results: Dimitri Payet stars, Barcelona claw out a draw and Rangers disappoint

Goals were hard to come by in the first legs of the Europa League quarterfinals, but red cards and drama were on display everywhere on a Thursday slate that was anything but boring. Eintracht Frankfurt at home against Barcelona was the headliner, as the hosts managed to rip off 16 shots despite losing the possession battle en route to a 1-1 draw. A goal right after halftime from Ansgar Knauff was canceled out by Ferran Torres scoring from a lovely build-up play. It was a match that could’ve been a landmark victory for Frankfurt, but Tutu’s dismissal in the 78th minute meant that they’d have to hold on for dear life in the latter stages.

Europa League scores

RB Leipzig 1, Atalanta 1
West Ham 1, Lyon 1
Eintracht Frankfurt 1, Barcelona 1
Braga 1, Rangers 0

Conference League scores

Feyenoord 3, Slavia Prague 3
Marseille 2, PAOK 1
Bodo/Glimt 2, AS Roma 1
Leicester City 0, PSV Eindhoven 0

Much like the round of 16 second leg with Galatasaray, Barcelona will have plenty of work to do but they’ll feel good about things heading to Camp Nou while still in the tie. Speaking of work to do, Bodo/Glimt has officially become Roma’s bogey team. After defeating Jose Mourinho’s side twice during the group stage of the Europa Conference League, Hugo Veltesen played the role of spoiler again by scoring in the 89th minute for the home victory.

It was an even match as Roma played a solid game with Lorenzo Pellegrini scoring right before the half before it was canceled out in the 56th minute by Ulrik Saltnes. You never know what you’ll get from Roma which adds to the beauty of their matches these days. And it’s hard to call this an upset when the plucky, upstart team doesn’t lose to you thrice. 

West Ham also struggled in their 1-1 draw to Lyon, but considering the circumstances, David Moyes will likely be happy with the result. Aaron Creswell was sent for an early shower with a straight red card for a reckless challenge where he was judged to have pulled down Moussa Dembele. While the contact was minimal and it was hard to prove that it was denial of a clear goal-scoring opportunity, these are decisions that you can’t leave up to the referees. 

Fortune would be on West Ham’s side as Jarrod Bowen scored the opener in the 52nd minute after Pablo Fornals intercepted Gusto’s pass. The deflection that followed was just enough to get the ball to Bowen who basically rolled the ball into the net.

West Ham wouldn’t be able to hold the lead as Tanguy Ndombele followed up Tete’s shot to score on his former London rivals. While Creswell won’t be available for the second leg in France, West Ham have shown before that they can’t be counted out of any match.

Match of the day: Feyenoord 3, Slavia Praha 3

This one game nearly produced as many goals as all four Europa League games combined. Slavia Prague will feel hard done with a draw despite winning the xG battle 2.70 to 1.30. The Dutch side opened the scoring via Luis Sinisterra only 10 minutes into the match. The signs were there that this would be a high-scoring affair as Orkun Kokcu rattled the post in the 18th minute before Peter Olayinka missed what was actually the best chance of the first half. He’d make up for it, however, scoring in the 41st minute to level things heading into the half. 

Slavia Prague thought they were gaining some distance as Yira Sor scored in the 67th minute before Marcos Baron leveled thing for Feyenoord only seven minutes later. Kokcu continued the redemption show for missed chances by scoring Feyenoord’s third in the 86th minute, but Ibrahim Traore leveled the tie deep into stoppage time to send it to make things interesting ahead of the second leg in Prague.

Player of the day: Dimitri Payet

Payet had a day for Marseille. Four chances created, a wonderful assist and an absolute stunner of a goal gave his side a one-goal advantage heading into the second leg at PAOK. Gerson’s suspension for that match (via stoppage-time red card) will hurt, but if Payet continues to produce world-class, jaw-dropping hits, anything is possible for the French side. While Payet isn’t tasked with much on the defensive end, because he’s at his best and most dangerous in the attacking third when he’s setting up crosses and creating chances for Marseille. 

Biggest disappointment: Rangers

Losing 1-0 to Braga isn’t great when you consider that Rangers’ most likely route to the Champions League is by winning the Europa League. Remember, this is the same Rangers side that put six goals past Borussia Dortmund in the last round, so to not even put a shot on target in a match where they had the possession advantage is a big disappointment. All of the shots were even in the box so it’s not like Braga packed the box to ensure Rangers didn’t have chances. Braga had a good plan and did what was needed after Abel Ruiz’s goal put them ahead in the 40th minute, but they’ll have to be careful in the second leg to ensure their lead is retained.

Goal of the day: Dimitri Payet

We’ve seen Payet do ridiculous things on the pitch before, but his first time hit on the stroke of halftime was something special. Marseille ended up winning the match 2-1 and Payet’s stunner needs to be on repeat. A walking highlight reel, it’s amazing that Payet can still produce in ways that blows our minds at 35, but here we are.  

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