Europa League round-up: Bhoys beat Dinamo but Everton and Spurs stall
Early Europa League favourites Tottenham (14/1 with Coral to win the competition outright) and fellow tournament hopefuls Everton (20/1), both struggled to earn a point from their group games, whilst Celtic (outsiders at 100/1) flew the flag for Great Britain with a victory over Dinamo Zagreb.
Tottenham v Besiktas
Spurs striker Harry Kane put the hosts ahead in the first half, giving Roy Hodgson food for thought. The England Under-21 star is currently the object of Republic of Ireland boss Martin O’Neill’s attention, and certainly did his chances of an international call-up no harm with a swerving run and lovely left-footed low shot.
The opening goal was unfair on a bullish Besiktas side, led by former Croatia coach Slaven Bilic, but the Turkish giants continued to battle, securing a share of the spoils via a spot-kick in the 89th minute.
After Vlad Chiriches handled the ball in the area, former Newcastle United forward Demba Ba reminded Hugo Lloris of his skill, calmly converting a penalty past the France stopper.
Besiktas boss Bilic was not content with securing a point, though, stating after the game that: “I am frustrated. For every club it is always good when you get a point away at White Hart Lane but I think we played great football. We dominated, we passed the ball well and we definitely deserved more than this point.”
Spurs now have some hard work to do, as they currently sit third in Group C, and next face pool leaders Asteras Tripolis.
Krasnodar v Everton
Russian side Krasnador capitalised on the Toffees’ continued sloppy defending, threatening Tim Howard’s goal on numerous occasions in the opening stages. It proved to be a tricky away day test for Roberto Martinez’s men, who often failed to close down their opposition quickly enough.
Brazilian striker Ali pounced on an error from Phil Jagielka to fire the home team ahead, but veteran forward Samuel Eto’o struck late in the second half to save an ailing Everton side. The former Barcelona and Inter Milan attacker equalised with a simple tap-in from Leighton Baines’ curling cross to snatch a point for the Merseysiders.
Celtic v Dinamo Zagreb
The Hoops welcomed Croatian champions Dinamo to Celtic Park, and were out of the blocks quickly. Kris Commons, who has netted three times in six Scottish Premier League games this term, was on target again, after just six minutes.
Commons combined well with Emilio Izaguirre and Anthony Stokes before slotting a low shot into the bottom right hand corner. Dinamo responded well, peppering the home side’s goal until the end, but new keeper Craig Gordon stood firm, and ensured his team took all three points.
Bhoys boss Ronny Deila was confident about the Scottish champions’ Europa League prospects following the win. He said: “It was an important game. We wanted to get control of the group. In the second half we got tired. We couldn’t keep up the pressure. I’m very pleased with the team spirit but we need better passing. Craig was unbelievable. He made vital saves.”