Europa League: Roma suffer setback; Napoli hammer Trabzonspor
Roma had to settle for a 1-1 draw at home to Feyenoord in Thursday’s Europa League last-32 first leg.
Gervinho put the hosts ahead in the 22nd minute before Colin Kazim-Richards pulled the Dutch level in the 55th minute and gave Feyenoord a vital away goal.
Both sides had chances to win the match at the Stadio Olimpico but neither team could find the winner. The contest was marred by unruly behaviour from visiting fans, who damaged monuments in Rome and clashed with local police prior to the encounter.
Roma went into the game looking to return to winning ways at home after failing to do so in their previous three games. The Giallorossi, who were eliminated from the Champions League in December, welcomed back Francesco Totti.
The Roma captain had missed last weekend’s goalless result at bottom-side Parma with flu. The visitors had the first chance of the match in the fifth minute when Lex Immers headed Karim El Ahmadi’s cross just wide of the far post.
At the other end, Daniele Verde fed Gervinho in the box but his right-footed shot was off target. Roma went in front shortly after.
Verde found Vasilis Torosidis on the right flank and his pass towards the area was met by Gervinho, who beat his marker Luke Wilkshire and then hit the ball from close range past Feyenoord goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer. Feyenoord made their first substitution in the 30th minute with Rick Karsdorp replacing injured Wilkshire.
Before half-time, Roma goalkeeper Lukasz Skorupski was called on to make a save to clear Kazim-Richards’ right footed attempt from 12 yards. The visitors looked more dangerous after the re-start and equalised before the hour mark.
Roma keeper Skorupski managed to deflect Immers’ header from Karsdorp’s cross but the ball rebounded off the crossbar and fell into the path of Kazim-Richards and he made no mistake from close range. Feyenoord pushed forward more aggressively and Roma were forced to pull back.
In the 65th minute, Roma coach Rudi Garcia made a double substitution with Keita and Doumbia replacing Totti and Daniele De Rossi. Not long after Lens Toornstra warmed the hands of Skorupski with a stinging drive from outside the area that the keeper saved.
Torosidis came closest to scoring Roma’s second with four minutes remaining. The Greek international got past his marker and struck a right-footed shot that forced Vermeer to fully stretch to clear.
Roma travel to Holland next week for the return leg, knowing they will need to win.
Trabzonspor 0, Napoli 4
Napoli have one foot in the last 16 of the Europa League after claiming an emphatic 4-0 win at Trabzonspor.
The Turkish club will need to somehow repeat or better this daunting scoreline at the San Paolo next week if they are to pull off the most unlikely of comebacks and progress from the round of 32.
Henrique’s early header got Rafael Benitez’s Azzurri motoring, with Gonzalo Higuain and Manolo Gabbiadini both plundering goals before half-time.
Trabzonspor were better after the restart but, despite the fact Dries Mertens missed a late penalty, Napoli would make it four thanks to Duvan Zapata and his stoppage-time strike.
It was one-way traffic in the first half and Napoli needed only five minutes to open the scoring.
Henrique was the man in the right place when Mertens drilled a cross into the Trabzonspor box, the Brazilian defender rising to nod the ball downwards and home.
Fifteen minutes later Napoli doubled their lead through Higuain.
A quick break allowed Gabbiadini to burst into the Turks’ area from the left wing and his perfectly-weighted ball across to Higuain just needed a cool touch from the former Real Madrid striker.
Trabzonspor’s heads were spinning and Napoli took full advantage to score their third in the 27th minute.
The impressive Gabbiadini turned from provider to goalscorer as he cleverly controlled Mertens’ pass from the left before turning on the spot and pinging the ball past Hakan Arikan from 20 yards.
Napoli might have even grabbed a fourth before the break, but Higuain clattered the crossbar from close range.
The hosts clearly resolved to put a brave face on for the second half and they were certainly brighter and better organised.
Erkan Zengin soon missed a chance to cut the deficit from six yards and Ishak Dogan blasted over the bar on the hour mark. Napoli were subdued and Mertens’ next attempt flew straight into Arikan’s gloves.
Oscar Cardozo was next to threaten for Trabzonspor and he warmed Mariano Andujar’s palms with a curler before, in the 77th minute, Jose Bosingwa shot wide from a Dogan corner.
In the final minutes Napoli would be gifted an opportunity to grab goal number four. When Fatih Atik fouled Mertens in the box the Belgian winger dusted himself down before taking the resulting spot-kick, yet he smashed his shot wide.
The Turks thought they had at least found a small glimmer of comfort on a night to forget.
But they had not counted on substitute Zapata, who effectively put their European adventure to bed with an unopposed goal from close range in the second minute of stoppage time.
Celtic 3, Inter Milan 3
Celtic earned a dramatic Europa League lifeline with an injury-time leveller from John Guidetti to draw 3-3 draw with Inter Milan at Parkhead.
The Scottish champions dramatically came back from two down in the first-half after early strikes by Xherdan Shaqiri and Rodrigo Palacio with goals from midfielder Stuart Armstrong and an own goal from Inter defender Hugo Campagnaro within the space of a minute.
Hoops keeper Craig Gordon, so often a saviour for the Parkhead side since signing on a free last summer, had looked at fault for Inter’s opener and another mistake a minute from the break gifted Palacio his second.
Both sides swapped attempts on goal in an open second-half but in the third minute of four added on, Guidetti, on loan from Manchester City but who had been out of favour recently, slammed the ball high into the net to send Parkhead into raptures and have everyone looking forward to the second-leg of the last-32 tie in the San Siro next Thursday night.
The fixture evoked memories of the Hoops’ historic European Cup final win over the Italian outfit in 1967 – as well as their European Cup semi-final clash five years later where Inter triumphed in a penalty shoot-out – and it produced drama all of its own.
There were also wins for Zenit St. Petersburg, Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk and Club Brugge.