Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar are three of the superstars who have been voted into UEFA's Men's Team of the Year by fans, with Virgil van Dijk also included despite missing a chunk of 2020 through injury.

Fans had from November 30 to January 6 to cast their votes, and a host of predictable names made the cut, though Champions League winners Bayern Munich dominate.

There are five players from Bayern's treble-winning 2019-20 in the team, including Robert Lewandowski – winner of The Best FIFA Men's Player of the Year award – and Thiago Alcantara, who has since joined Liverpool.

The other Reds player in the side is Van Dijk even though the Dutch centre-back has only played five Premier League games this season due to a serious knee injury.

However, earlier in the year he inspired Liverpool to their first league title since 1990.

Ronaldo was named in the side for a 15th time after helping Juventus to another Scudetto.

Messi earned his 12th inclusion despite failing to help Barcelona to LaLiga success in what was a largely difficult year for the Blaugrana and their captain.

UEFA confirmed the final selection for the women's team as well, with six players from Lyon's Women's Champions League-winning squad in the side.


Men's Team of the Year:

Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich and Germany); Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich and Germany), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid and Spain), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool and Netherlands), Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich and Canada); Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich/Liverpool and Spain), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City and Belgium); Lionel Messi (Barcelona and Argentina), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus and Portugal), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich and Poland), Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain and Brazil).

Women's Team of the Year:

Sarah Bouhaddi (Lyon and France); Lucy Bronze (Lyon/Manchester City and England), Kadeisha Buchanan (Lyon and Canada), Wendie Renard (Lyon and France), Magdalena Eriksson (Chelsea and Sweden); Kheira Hamraoui (Barcelona and France), Amandine Henry (Lyon and France), Delphine Cascarino (Lyon and France), Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir (Wolfsburg/Lyon and Iceland); Danielle van de Donk (Arsenal and Netherlands), Pernille Harder (Wolfsburg/Chelsea and Denmark).

Sevilla have announced Julen Lopetegui has signed a new three-and-a-half-year contract as the Europa League champions' head coach.

Lopetegui was appointed by Sevilla at the start of the 2019-20 campaign and led them to a fourth-place finish in LaLiga as well as the club's sixth Europa League/UEFA Cup crown.

The Basque coach had previously seen his reputation take a hit.

He was sacked by Spain just before their 2018 World Cup campaign was due to begin as a result of accepting an offer to take charge of Real Madrid after the tournament, and he only lasted until October with Los Blancos before being dismissed again.

His first season at Sevilla saw the Andalusians finish in the top four after two campaigns out, though Lopetegui's biggest achievement was presiding over their successful Europa League run.

Sevilla had to see off Roma, Wolves and Manchester United in a tricky knockout phase, before then recovering well from a shaky start in the final to beat Inter 3-2.

The former Porto boss has also taken charge of a positive – if stylistically unspectacular – start to the 2020-21 campaign, with Sevilla sixth on 30 points after 16 matches.

However, they have at least two games in hand on all but one of the five teams ahead of them, and beat fifth-placed Real Sociedad 3-2 on Saturday.

After Saturday's victory, Lopetegui has a 58.2 per cent win rate in LaLiga with Sevilla, the best record of any coach (with more than four games in charge) in the club's history.

Lopetegui also guided Sevilla through their Champions League group, with Borussia Dortmund awaiting in next month's last-16 clash.

Kai Havertz was dubbed the 'Crown Prince of German football' while at Bayer Leverkusen but the Bundesliga club have a new star now: Florian Wirtz.  

While his former club colleague has struggled so far to make an impact at Chelsea, Wirtz - the latest young gem to come through at Leverkusen - is dazzling for Peter Bosz's team, who remain ensconced in the top four despite defeats either side of the mid-season break in Germany's top flight. 

The 17-year-old did not wait long to suggest he could be the heir apparent, either. Having made his debut in May 2020, he became the youngest goalscorer in Bundesliga history the following month, finding the net in a 4-2 defeat to Bayern Munich after coming on as a substitute. Youssoufa Moukoko has since snatched that record away.

This season, Wirtz has gone from the periphery to centre stage, scoring twice and providing four assists in 13 appearances. His transition from promising talent to first-team regular has been swift, leading to comparisons to Havertz, the playmaker who swapped the BayArena for Stamford Bridge.

However, for Bosz, while both players have huge potential, the duo differ in so many ways.

"I never compare players with each other because that is impossible. There is no player like the other," Bosz told Stats Perform News. "You can't compare them. That's not possible.

"I also won't do that with Florian Wirtz, because he has his own style. He is different from Kai Havertz, who is more of a striker. Florian Wirtz, as far as I am concerned, is a midfielder, so you can't compare them.

"Also, you can't compare them physically; Kai is 1.92metres (6ft 3in), Florian is shorter. One is left-footed, the other one right-footed. They both have their own style. But both of them are very good. Both are very talented. Both have a huge career ahead of them.

"And Florian is only 17 years old. What he has shown though in the Bundesliga already is something special."

Wirtz has been a part of a Leverkusen squad that has impressed so far in this campaign, both at home and abroad. 

Despite a first defeat to Bayern Munich before the mid-season pause in Germany, Leverkusen gathered 28 points from their opening 13 league games. Only three times have they managed to collect more points across the same period - and on each of those occasions they went on to finish in the top four.

In the Europa League, Die Werkself finished top of Group C to qualify for the last 32 in style, winning five of their six round-robin fixtures. Having reached the quarter-final stage of the competition last year, when they lost 2-1 to Inter, hopes are high they can go further this time around. 

But while there has been much to please Bosz and Leverkusen's supporters so far, the Dutch coach insists there is still plenty more to come from his squad.

"Everyone still has some space to improve," he said, insisting no player has reached a nine out of 10 yet. "The difference to last year is that we are very consistent now.

"We deliver stable performances. It means that we concede less goals. We stand more compact on the pitch.  

"But we have also lost important players. Kai Havertz went to Chelsea, Kevin Volland to Monaco. I think that our team spirit has improved. This is the biggest step ahead." 

Despite Havertz no longer being around, Leverkusen have been excellent going forward, with champions Bayern the only team to score more in the Bundesliga so far. Their attacking intent has not come at a considerable cost defensively either - only second-placed RB Leipzig have conceded fewer goals.

The emergence of Wirtz has been one of the factors in helping Leverkusen continue to progress as a club, even with those key departures in the previous transfer window.


"He's a very talented young player. He has a lot more to improve. But, you know, he's only 17," Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey told Stats Perform News about his talented young team-mate.

"He's still learning. But he has a lot of qualities that a lot of older players don't have yet. And that's something you can see clearly, and this is something that's special. 

"And I think, as the years go by, he will only get better. There is a lot more to come from him, as he understands more and get a lot more experience.  

"I would say he's very smart. He has a lot of quality when he's on the ball. And he has a great passing ability."

Bailey's assessment is backed up by Wirtz's output, with no Leverkusen player having created more chances from open play than his tally of 23. While his passing accuracy is perhaps lower than might be hoped for at 73 per cent, his touches in the opposing box (31) and passes into the final third (55) are examples of his forward thinking when in possession. 

Those risks have reaped their rewards this term too, considering his six goal contributions so far. Bosz clearly has faith in him, as only goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky and Moussa Diaby have played more minutes in the Bundesliga so far. 

Any suggestion of becoming the new Havertz may be wide of the mark, but the future looks bright for Wirtz, the latest jewel to emerge at Leverkusen. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is convinced Manchester United have developed significantly since suffering three semi-final defeats in 2019-20 as they prepare to host rivals Manchester City in the last four of the EFL Cup.

Had things gone a little differently last term, Man United might have ended the campaign with three trophy successes, breaking Solskjaer's duck as the club's boss.

But, United lost 3-1 to Chelsea in the FA Cup semis, suffered a late 2-1 defeat to Sevilla in the Europa League and fell at the same stage of the EFL Cup to City, losing 3-2 on aggregate.

The elimination by City was particularly chastening given the manner of the first-leg home loss, as United were swept aside and somewhat fortunate to only lose 3-1 – the 1-0 away win in the second meeting was insufficient to save their hopes.

But it could be argued there is a different aura to this United side. They are level on 33 points with pacesetters Liverpool in the Premier League but have played one game less, and they head into Wednesday's game unbeaten in seven across all competitions.

The EFL Cup semi-finals this season are limited to one-game affairs rather than being split over two, and Solskjaer is adamant United are a different animal.

"When you get to a semi, you've done a lot of good work to get there and naturally you're playing against better and better opposition," Solskjaer told reporters.

"I think we've improved immensely in a year since the last semi [against City] and even when we were in Europe in August.

"For me, it's a step closer to get to the final, we've developed a lot, it's easy to say, 'have we learned?' But it's not about if we've learnt, it's about some fine margins in those semi-finals as well.

"When you win games of football, you don't think about it's a semi-final or a normal game or a league game or a quarter final, you just think about this game and want to win it."

United have faced City six times since Solskjaer was initially installed as Jose Mourinho's replacement in December 2018 and, perhaps rather surprisingly, has the edge over Pep Guardiola in their head-to-head with three wins to two.

Their most recent meeting, just under a month ago, was a rather cagier 0-0 draw that had few conclusions drawn from it by most, though Solskjaer still felt there were signs of United's progression.

They have every reason to be wary again, however – City have progressed from their previous five EFL Cup semis and lost only twice in 23 games in the competition under Guardiola.

"I've seen progress," Solskjaer continued. "Sometimes the results don't show the whole picture of the game, some of our counter-attacking goals in the wins we've had have been brilliant; in the league away when we won, we could have scored four or five in a 10- or 15-minute period.

"A few counter attacks there were out of this world but we had less control of the ball and defended fantastically. I think the last game was more or less 50-50 in possession, maybe a more cagey game from both teams but still I felt that was a progression having stayed more in the game.

"You never know what kind of system he [Guardiola] is going to come up with but you know you've got to defend really well against Man City.

"It's hard to keep the ball in their half, they find a way of overloading, so you've got to be brave, compact, trust your players.

"When we have the ball, we have to be able to keep it, play out of their press because they're one of the quickest to put the counter pressure on and win the ball high up.

"So, it's a balance. We've found that balance. We didn't have the 'X factor' last game, maybe because they were a little bit more cagey and set up to counter attack more as well.

"They've been some fascinating games and I feel we've got closer and closer and results sometimes you can't control."

Son Heung-min scored his 100th goal for Tottenham in all competitions as he netted against Leeds United, with Harry Kane the provider once again.

The South Korea forward, who moved to north London in 2015, has been in sensational form in 2020-21, and moved onto 99 Spurs goals with a cool finish on the break at Liverpool in December.

Son drew a blank in his next three outings, failing to find the target as Spurs went down 2-0 to Leicester City, before he had a goal disallowed in an EFL Cup win at Stoke City and then only managed one attempt at goal in a 1-1 draw with Wolves on December 27.

However, after Wednesday's scheduled game with Fulham was postponed, his landmark effort came against Leeds on Saturday.

Kane – who has now assisted nine of Son's 12 Premier League goals this term – whipped in a brilliant cross from the right, which his strike partner swept home first time.

Son's strike put Spurs 2-0 up just before half-time, with Kane's penalty having put Jose Mourinho's men ahead.

With 169 goals to his name, Kane is the only Spurs payer to have netted more goals than Son since September 2015.

It was also the 13th time Kane and Son have combined for a goal this season, which is a joint-record in a single Premier League campaign.

Son has scored 65 of his 100 Spurs goals in the Premier League – 35 coming from his right foot, 25 from his left, and the remainder with his head.

The former Bayer Leverkusen forward has also supplemented that tally with a further 33 assists, while he has scored 15 times in the FA Cup and EFL Cup.

Tottenham forward Gareth Bale is facing yet another spell on the sidelines after injuring his calf in last week's EFL Cup quarter-final win over Stoke City.

The Wales international did not return for the second half and subsequently missed the 1-1 draw with Wolves on Sunday.

Jose Mourinho expects to be without the Real Madrid loanee for "a few weeks", potentially seeing him miss up to six matches at an important time of the season.

It is the latest in a long line of injury setbacks for Bale, who was hoping to revive his career at Tottenham after joining on a season's loan from Madrid in September.

But how much of a miss will the 31-year-old actually be for Mourinho in his quest to win some rare silverware for Spurs?


Bale has played in 11 of Tottenham's 24 matches in all competitions since joining 14 weeks ago - four of those appearances coming in the Premier League - having arrived unfit.

He has started eight times in total and has yet to complete the full 90 minutes of a single match he has featured in during that time.

The Welshman has been on the field for a combined 599 minutes this term - less than seven whole matches - with 161 of those minutes coming in the English top flight.

Of the 22 players to have featured for Spurs in the league this term, only Joe Rodon (101), Dele Alli (74) and Carlos Vinicius (12) have played fewer combined minutes.


Bale has found the net three times in his second spell with Tottenham, the first of those coming in the 2-1 league win over Brighton and Hove Albion on November 1.

That goal, 200 seconds after he had entered the field, came seven years and 166 days after his previous strike for the club against another of his former sides in Southampton.

He also netted in a 3-3 draw with LASK in the Europa League earlier this month and in last week's 3-1 EFL Cup win over Stoke prior to sustaining his latest injury.

That gives him a return of one goal every 199.7 minutes in 2020-21, or one every 161 minutes in the Premier League.

Bale is one of seven players to have scored for Spurs in the league this term, with the likes of Vinicius, Alli, Erik Lamela (194 minutes) and Steven Bergwijn (592) yet to do so.


The Southampton academy product has created seven chances for team-mates but has yet to register a single assist this campaign.

However, the two big chances Bale has created in the league - defined by Opta as a situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score - ranks favourably.

Son Heung-min (12 big chances) and Harry Kane (10) are the only Tottenham players to have created more, despite Bale's lack of minutes.

Bale also ranks favourably in the dribbles metric, his 57.14 per cent success rate in the league bettered only by Moussa Sissoko (60 per cent), Tanguy Ndombele (68.75) and Lamela (85.71) among those to have attempted more than one dribble.

The versatile attacker has certainly shown signs that he can still offer a lot to Spurs in comparison to their other wide players, then, but keeping him fit is proving to be a big challenge for Mourinho.

Carlo Ancelotti is confident he can steer Everton to the Champions League after a promising first year in charge at Goodison Park – and is not ruling out a title challenge during his tenure. 

The Italian coach was appointed on December 21 in 2019, at which stage the club were stuck in the bottom half of the Premier League table. 

Everton ended up finishing 12th at the end of a campaign that included a lengthy pause due to the coronavirus pandemic, but there have been further signs of progress in the 2020-21 campaign so far. 

Four successive wins had them flying high in the early stages and while there was a dip in form following such a fast start, recent victories over Chelsea and Leicester City have the Toffees right in the top-four mix. 

For Ancelotti – who signed a four-and-a-half year deal – qualifying for European football's premier club competition has always been the target, albeit they could achieve that goal ahead of schedule. 

"We can be more competitive, I hope, this season but also next season. We need to have at least two years' time to improve and increase our level," Ancelotti told the Liverpool Echo ahead of Saturday's home match with Arsenal. 

"The target for next season will be to reach the top four in the Premier League. 

"And when you are in the top four and you are able to fight for the top four, it means, at least, you can fight for the title."

The additions of Abdoulaye Doucoure, Allan and James Rodriguez in the previous transfer window helped to strengthen the squad, while Dominic Calvert-Lewin's continued development - he has 11 goals in the league so far - is a further positive for Everton fans.

Ancelotti is determined to make sure Everton are playing in Europe next season, meaning he would be happy to compete in the Europa League or potentially the Europa Conference League, a new competition which UEFA plans to launch in 2021.

"This is the target," said the former Chelsea boss who won a domestic double during his two-year stint at Stamford Bridge.

"To be in Europe next season. If it is Champions League, that would be a dream for us but I think we can compete for a position in Europe, in general."

On this current season, he added: "It is true that we started really well, unbelievable, and then we lost some games but, in general, we are more stable as a team.

"We had some injuries, we lost a little bit of confidence, but we are quite stable in this moment. We can play good matches with more stability, compared to when I arrived."

Ancelotti's appointment was confirmed prior to a 0-0 draw with Arsenal last year - and the two teams meet again prior to Christmas in 2020.

Arsenal have won just 14 points from 13 Premier League games this season, their lowest tally at this stage of a top-flight campaign since 1974-75, but have won more games (34) and scored more goals (110) against Everton than any other opponents in the competition.

Manchester United have been drawn against Real Sociedad in the Europa League, while Arsenal will face Benfica in the last 32 of the competition. 

United are one the Champions League teams to now be involved in the knockout rounds of the competition, though the draw was far from kind for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side despite being seeded. 

Sociedad sit top of LaLiga and have only lost twice so far this season in all competitions. 

The Spanish club – whose squad includes former United player Adnan Januzaj, as well as ex-Manchester City captain David Silva – will have home advantage in the first leg next February. 

Arsenal, meanwhile, will go on the road first in their tie with Benfica, who qualified from Group D behind Rangers. 

The Gunners have prospered in Europe this campaign but are struggling badly for form in the Premier League, Sunday's 1-0 defeat to Burnley their fourth in a row at home. 

As for their north London neighbours Tottenham, they will go up against Austrian club Wolfsberger when they resume their Europa League campaign in early 2021. 

Leicester City will be on the road for the first leg of their tie with Slavia Prague, while Milan will have to get past Red Star Belgrade if they want to remain on course to lift the only European trophy that has eluded the club so far. 

Steven Gerrard's Rangers go up against Royal Antwerp, Roma face Braga and Napoli will take on Granada.
As for Ajax, who finished third in a Champions League group that included Liverpool and Atalanta, the Dutch club have been drawn with Lille.

The first legs will be played on February 18, with the return fixtures to take place the following week.

Spurs will play their home game on Wednesday February 24, however, so to avoid a clash with Arsenal.


Europa League last-32 draw in full:

Wolfsberger v Tottenham
Dynamo Kiev v Club Brugge
Real Sociedad v Manchester United
Benfica v Arsenal
Red Star Belgrade v Milan
Royal Antwerp v Rangers
Slavia Prague v Leicester City
Salzburg v Villarreal
Braga v Roma
Krasnodar v Dinamo Zagreb
Young Boys v Bayer Leverkusen
Molde v Hoffenheim

Jose Mourinho believes Giovani Lo Celso has shown he is back to his best after Tottenham's 2-0 win over Royal Antwerp.

Lo Celso scored his fourth goal of the Europa League campaign as Spurs secured top spot in Group J on Thursday.

The Argentina international also had more key passes (four), shots (four), passes in the opposition half (34), touches (72), tackles (three) and possessions gained (12) than any of his team-mates.

Lo Celso has dealt with injuries to begin the season, but Spurs head coach Mourinho said the midfielder was back to his best.

"It is not about me, it is about them. Gio, last season he reached an incredible level. Then he had an injury and this season, the pre-season was non-existent for him," he told a news conference.

"I said a couple of times here that Gio needed a little bit more time. He's having that time. He's playing in the Europa League, he's coming from the bench normally in the Premier League. He played the last match well and he played tonight very well.

"It's like Gio back to normality because he's a very good player and when his physical condition is good he can express all of his quality.

"Tonight was the day when he showed that he's back and the intensity is there and the quality is there."

Premier League leaders Tottenham make the trip to Crystal Palace on Sunday.

Milan head coach Stefano Pioli lauded Jens Petter Hauge following his match-winning display against Sparta Prague in the Europa League.

Hauge's first-half strike saw Milan past hosts Sparta 1-0 on Thursday as the Rossoneri secured top spot in Group H.

The 21-year-old nutmegged Tomas Wiesner before placing a precise low finish beyond the reach of goalkeeper Milan Heca.

Hauge – the youngest Serie A player with four-plus goals across all competitions in 2020-21 – has scored four goals since arriving from Norwegian champions Bodo/Glimt at the start of the season, and Pioli praised the midfielder.

"When we met Hauge as an opponent, he already proved what he could do, so we hoped he'd continue that form with us," Pioli told Sky Sport Italia.

"He's not yet complete, so can improve even more, and we're very happy with his performances.

"I think his best skill is the one-on-one. He's quicker on the ball than off it, but I think he needs to alternate and do better at running beyond the defender to get the ball. He can't always just take men on.

"He has many areas in which to improve, such as his focus in defence throughout the 90 minutes, but we had seen his qualities and the club did very well to sign such an interesting prospect."

Milan – who also top Serie A this season – remain unbeaten for at least 18 games played away from home in all competitions for the first time since March 1993.

The Rossoneri, meanwhile, had four players born after January 1, 2000, in their starting XI for the first time in their history.

"When I started the season, I had faith, because it's a quality group, a united group, but clearly it was unthinkable that we'd get these results," Pioli said.

"We are doing very well to play games to the full, forget them immediately and move on to the next challenge.

"That is our greatest strength and the players who haven't played as much are the ones who are most important, as they allowed us to keep up the tempo in training and in matches when we have a packed fixture list."

Jose Mourinho can understand why Dele Alli was unhappy at not being used in Tottenham's 2-0 win over Royal Antwerp and has defended Harry Winks for heading down the tunnel after being substituted.

Winks was one of nine new faces in Tottenham's starting line-up from last weekend's win over Arsenal but lasted just an hour before being replaced by Moussa Sissoko, two minutes after Carlos Vinicius had opened the scoring.

Whereas Vinicius and Gareth Bale headed for the bench, Winks made his way past Mourinho and straight to the dressing room area.

But Mourinho says he gave the 24-year-old, who has started 10 games in all competition this term, permission to go and get changed

"I told him to go, I told every player that left the pitch to go because when the weather is cold I prefer they go to the dressing room and have a shower," he said at his post-match news conference. 

"I told them to go, though some prefer to stay. Winks decided to go and I am happy with that because I am the one that told him to do it."

Mourinho made all five of his substitutions before the 70-minute mark, though Alli - surprisingly omitted from the much-changed XI - was not one of those introduced.

The midfielder was seen leaving the bench before coming back and Mourinho accepts it is not possible to keep every player in his squad pleased.

"Let's not run away from reality," he said. "A player on the bench who realises all five subs have been used of course is not a happy player and I would not expect him to be happy.

"But, again, every player that is on the bench or every player that leaves the pitch in cold weather, with me, they can go to the dressing room and I even prefer if that happens."

Tottenham and Antwerp had already sealed a place in the last 32 of the competition but top spot was on the line in Thursday's clash.

Mourinho turned to star attacking duo Son Heung-min and Harry Kane for the final half an hour, the latter playing in Giovani Lo Celso for the second goal.

Asked to explain why he felt the need to bring on Son and Kane, Mourinho said: "The thinking was to win the match, a match that we were always in control despite them not creating any chance that I remember.

"The game was still open and to play 30 minutes is not an accumulation of fatigue. To play 30 minutes is less than 90 minutes, 100 minutes training session so it was not a problem at all.

"I decided at 1-0 to bring fresh people and to bring people who could give a last kick in the story of the game and it was game over when Gio score the second goal."

Tottenham have now recorded six successive home wins in all competitions for the first time in two years and will be among the seeded teams for Monday's draw in Nyon.

And with his side also top of the Premier League with 11 matches played, perennial trophy winner Mourinho has another piece of major silverware in his sights.

"As I say every week we focus on the next match," he said. "If the next match is Europa League, Europa League is important, if the next match is cup, the cup is important, if the next match is Premier League, the Premier League is important.

"We play every match to win, sometimes we do, sometimes we don't do it. But the intention is always to be positive.

"Today we got an objective which is not a fundamental objective because the difference between finishing first and second in the draw is not a massive difference but it maybe helps and we did our job by winning the match."

Mikel Arteta is in no doubt over Arsenal's ability to bounce back from a dreadful run in the Premier League, starting off against Burnley on Sunday.

Arsenal have won just two of their past seven Premier League matches, losing three of the previous four.

Their most recent defeat came against north London rivals Tottenham, with Son Heung-min and Harry Kane sending Jose Mourinho's side back to the top of the table and condemning Arteta to his second derby loss as Arsenal boss.

The Gunners now start a run of six games in the space of 17 days across all competitions, including an EFL Cup quarter-final against Arteta's former club Manchester City just before Christmas.

Burnley visit Emirates Stadium on Sunday, but Arsenal at least head into that clash on the back of a 4-2 Europa League triumph over Dundalk.

Arsenal triumphed in all of their group matches and have won six consecutive major European games (excluding qualifiers) for the first time since November 2005, and are the only team with a 100 per cent record in either the Europa League or Champions League this season.

"I have zero doubts about how the boys are going to respond, how hard we're going to try and how involved everybody is going to be in trying to support the team," said Arteta in his post-match news conference.

"We have to prove it and get the three points."

Arteta's side have struggled for goals in the Premier League, scoring just 10 in total, though his squad rotation in Europe has yielded much better results.

Arsenal scored 20 times in total in Group B, conceding just five at the other end, and Arteta suggested his fringe players would now be handed a chance to impress on the domestic stage.

"Now we have to forget about the Europa League until February and focus on the Premier League, EFL Cup and FA Cup when it starts," he added.

"We have a larger squad, we have players back from injury, so we will have the opportunity to pick who is better in the moment.

"It gives us more options in the Premier League to focus and get the results we need. We need to start winning football matches immediately. We cannot sustain the results we’ve had in the last six or eight weeks, that has to start on Sunday."

Eddie Nketiah opened the scoring in Ireland on Thursday, becoming Arsenal's leading goalscorer in all competitions this season in the process, with five.

Arsenal have won all 11 games in which Nketiah has found the back of the net, with the young forward scoring 12 times in total, and Arteta confirmed the youngster will get his chance in the Premier League.

"He has the possibility to start," Arteta said. "He is a goal threat and he is always very close in his actions around the box.

"He's got the hunger, he's only satisfied when he scores and he's what we need now so he is an option for sure."

Nketiah made way for Folarin Balogun just after the hour, with the youngster, who is out of contract next year, providing an assist for Joe Willock before helping himself to a goal late on.

Asked for an update on Balogun's contract talks, Arteta said: "We're having some discussions with the player. He knows that we want to retain him at the club.

"The length of his contract at the moment is an issue but he knows that we want him to stay. He said to me that he wants to stay at the club so hopefully we can reach an agreement."

David Turnbull scored his first Celtic goal as the Hoops overcame Lille 3-2 to end their Europa League campaign on a high note and ease some of the pressure on Neil Lennon.

A dismal run of form has piled the pressure on Celtic boss Lennon and, despite a spirited display from his youthful side, it looked as though they would be extending their winless run to six matches.

Timothy Weah's maiden Lille goal – a fantastic volley from just inside the area – had made it 2-2, cancelling out Callum McGregor's first-half penalty, which came at the end of a frenetic seven-minute flurry in which Christopher Jullien and Jonathan Ikone also netted.

Lille looked well placed to push on and seal a win which would have seen them top Group H when Weah, son of Liberia legend George, struck against his former club, yet Turnbull's neat finish in his first European appearance secured a hard-fought Celtic triumph.

Celtic had the lead after 21 minutes – Julien heading in from Turnbull's fantastic left-wing corner.

Yet their advantage lasted under three minutes, with Yusuf Yazici taking advantage of McGregor's mistake by squaring for Ikone to tuck in.

Domagoj Bradaric's clumsy tackle on birthday boy Jeremie Frimpong gifted Celtic the opportunity to restore their lead, though, as McGregor atoned for his error with a composed finish.

McGregor got lucky when he diverted Cheikh Niasse's cross off Conor Hazard's left-hand post, before Turnbull saw a close-range shot deflected wide at the other end.

But Lille had a second equaliser when Celtic failed to clear a free-kick and Weah lashed in on the volley.

Celtic did not let their heads drop, though, and Turnbull was on hand to sweep home from Kristoffer Ajer's cross with 15 minutes remaining – Isaac Lihadji subsequently squandering a golden chance to snatch a point for Lille.


What does it mean? Lille miss out on top spot, Hoops avoid club-low

Celtic, who avoided losing a fourth straight home match in continental competition for the first time, finish bottom of Group H, but with four points – one more than their lowest tally in a European group.

Lille, meanwhile, have to settle for second place, with Milan having overcome Sparta Prague 1-0 to clinch top spot, and potentially an easier draw in the knockout stage.

Turnbull turns on the style

Former Motherwell midfielder Turnbull had stayed on the bench for all five of Celtic’s Europa League matches before Thursday’s clash, but he gave Lennon plenty of food for thought with a superb performance.

Playing in a free role off the striker, Turnbull had four attempts in total and created a joint team-high three chances.

Birthday blues for injured Frimpong

It was a 20th birthday spent in the wars for the versatile Frimpong. After clattering into the hoardings early on and taking a nasty blow to the head, he had to be withdrawn after sustaining an injury while drawing the foul which led to Celtic's penalty.

In his 30 minutes on the pitch, Frimpong had 12 touches, attempted five passes and lost possession six times.

What's next?

Celtic take on Kilmarnock as they aim to get their domestic form back on track, while Lille host Bordeaux in Ligue 1.

Milan secured top spot in Europa League Group H with a 1-0 victory at Sparta Prague on Thursday.

A first-half strike from Jens Petter Hauge sealed all three points for a much-altered Rossoneri, who fielded four players born after January 1, 2000 for the first time.

Despite making seven changes to the team that beat Celtic on matchday five, Stefano Pioli's men still made fairly light work of Sparta, who have now gone eight games without a win over Milan in European competition.

A red card for Dominik Plechaty left Sparta with too much to do, with Milan progressing as group winners after Lille's surprise defeat at Celtic.

Hauge opened the scoring in fine fashion 23 minutes in, nutmegging Tomas Wiesner before placing a precise low finish beyond the reach of goalkeeper Milan Heca.

Samu Castillejo was denied a second Milan goal by Heca shortly before the break as the Rossoneri sought to take control.

Sparta threatened little until David Moberg Karlsson's arrival 65 minutes in, the Swede producing a tantalising cross that just evaded the men in red shirts after a bamboozling run.

Once Plecharty was sent off with 13 minutes of normal time left for a poor challenge on Rafael Leao, the contest was effectively over, although Ciprian Tatarusanu had to make a fine one-handed stop to deny Karlsson an injury-time equaliser.


What does it mean? Milan season goes from strength to strength

Despite resting many of his first-team regulars, Pioli was still able to enjoy a victory that sends Milan through as group winners.

The fact they are seeded means a more favourable draw for the last 32 becomes probable and that would boost their hopes of maintaining a domestic challenge for a Champions League return or, perhaps, the Serie A title.

As for Sparta, their European adventure is over for another season.

Young guns impress

This was a positive outing for Milan's up-and-coming stars such as Daniel Maldini, Lorenzo Colombo and Pierre Kalulu.

Defender Kalulu looked particularly composed on his full debut, completing more passes (47) and interceptions (four) than any other Milan player.

Mindless from Plecharty

Plecharty had been leading the way for Sparta in tackles (three), clearances (two), interceptions (two) and possession gained (nine), but spoiled his efforts with a needless and dangerous tackle on the counter-attacking Leao.

What's next?

Milan host Parma in Serie A on Sunday, when Sparta are also in domestic action against Slovacko.

Leicester City sealed top spot in Europa League Group G as goals from Cengiz Under and Harvey Barnes led Brendan Rodgers' side to a routine 2-0 win over AEK Athens on Thursday. 

Leicester missed the chance to confirm first place when they lost to Zorya Luhansk last week, but the Foxes never looked in danger of squandering a second opportunity as they opened up an unassailable two-goal lead after 14 minutes at the King Power Stadium. 

Under put Leicester ahead with his first goal following a loan move from Serie A outfit Roma before Barnes' sixth goal of the season doubled the hosts' advantage soon after.

The result meant Leicester finished level on 13 points with Braga, but won the group courtesy of their better head-to-head record against the Portuguese side, while AEK ended bottom with just three points.

Despite making seven changes from the weekend win over Sheffield United, Leicester wasted little time stamping their authority on the game.

Under set the tone for Leicester in the 12th with a sumptuous volley from 15 yards after Stratos Svarnas had horribly sliced Youri Tielemans' cross into his path. 

Barnes added a second just two minutes later – the winger cutting in from the left and beating Panagiotis Tsintotas with a strike that took a significant deflection off Ionut Nedelcearu.

Barnes flashed wide after another impressive run, while Dennis Praet prodded wide from a corner as Leicester continued their domination in the second period. 

Leicester substitute Ayoze Perez was denied a third by Tsintotas, but it mattered little as the hosts wrapped up their Europa League group campaign with minimal fuss. 


Page 1 of 30
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.