Barren Night for Brits in Europa League

Barren Night for Brits in Europa League

It was a disappointing night for British clubs playing in the Europa League on Thursday with the three representative sides unable to muster an away goal between them.

Manchester City made the long journey to the Ukraine and were unable to cope with the bitterly cold conditions, going down 2-0 to Dynamo Kiev. Former Chelsea star, Andriy Shevchenko put the home side ahead on 25 minutes and Oleg Gusev provided a two goal cushion with his 77th minute volley.

City boss, Roberto Mancini took the decision to drop the club’s top scorer Carlos Tevez in favour of partnering Edin Dzeko with Mario Balotelli up top. The ploy didn’t work out as neither player was effective and with City unable to grab an away goal, they face an uphill battle in the second-leg at Eastlands next Thursday.

Liverpool traveled to Portugal for the game against Braga without the injured Steven Gerrard and ineligible Luis Suarez and both players were missed in a dour game with few scoring chances.

Brazilian striker Alan da Costa put Braga ahead from the penalty spot on 18 minutes after Sotiros Kyrgiakos had fouled Mossora. Raul Meireles was unable to inspire Liverpool on his return to Portugal and the Reds never looked likely to level things for the remainder of the first half. Andy Carroll replaced Christian Poulsen after 55 minutes as Kenny Dalglish reshaped his team into a more attacking formation. The tactic livened things up a little as Braga struggled to cope with Carroll’s aerial prowess, but a lack of quality service to the target man denied any decent scoring opportunities.

Braga didn’t appear too imposing and Liverpool will be confident they can overcome the 1-0 deficit with a more adventurous approach in front of the Anfield fans in the return leg.

Scottish Premier League champions Rangers will return the most satisfied of the British clubs on Friday. Walter Smith sent his side out with instructions to keep it tight and the players responded with a solid defensive performance to earn a 0-0 draw against PSV Eindhoven in Holland. Kyle Bartley and Madjid Bougherra were the outstanding players in the Gers defence and helped give their team an excellent chance of progressing when PSV go to Glasgow with the tie all-square.

Both Manchester City and Liverpool have seen their Europa League odds drift following their away defeats with Mancini’s men now best odds of 8/1 to win the tournament and the Reds at 7/1.

UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE
Round of 16 First-Leg Results
Ajax 0-1 Spartak Moscow
Bayer Leverkusen 2-3 Villarreal
Benfica 2-1 Paris SG
Braga 1-0 Liverpool
CSKA Moscow 0-1 FC Porto
Dynamo Kiev 2-0 Man City
FC Twente 3-0 Zenit St Petersburg
PSV Eindhoven 0-0 Rangers

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