Europa League review: English side’s impress

It was a good night for English clubs as Spurs, Fulham, Stoke and Birmingham all put in impressive performance to put one foot in the Europa League group stages however Irish and Scottish side, Hearts aside, will have their work cut out if they are to join them.

In Tallaght, Gary McCabe’s 81st minute goal kept Shamrock Rovers Europa League aspirations alive as the Hoops fought back to salvage a home draw against FK Partizan.

Rovers were dominated for large parts of the game by the Serbian Champions and went a goal down after 14 minutes, an unmarked Nemanja Tomic slotting the ball home after good work by Vladimir Jovancic.

However McCabe’s moment of magic, the 23 year playing a one two with Gary Twigg before beating a man and slotting the ball home, keeps Michael O’Neill’s in the tie and means they travel to Serbia for the 2nd leg level.

Elsewhere the first competitive meeting between Hearts and Spurs turned into a one sided affair as the Londoners ran home five unanswered goals leaving the Scottish side with an uphill task to reach the group stages.

Two goals in the opening 15 minutes from Rafael van der Vaart and Jermaine Defoe put Harry Redknapp’s side in the driving side with Jake Livermore putting the visitors three up before half time.

Second half efforts from Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon all but sealing Spurs place in the group stages.

Glasgow Rangers also slipped to defeat however Juan Ortiz 31st minute goal means Ally McCoist will be relatively confident for the second leg, a 90th minute goal from sub Etien Velikonja giving Maribor a slender 2-1 win.

A miserable evening for Scottish continued as Celtic endured a tough draw at home to FC Sion who will be pleased to have come away from Parkhead with a 0-0 draw.

Meanwhile Danny Pugh 19th minute goal was enough to give Stoke an away day win over another Swiss side FC Thun.

Elsewhere a brace from Clint Dempsey either side of half time following Aaron Hughes’ opener gave Martin Jol’s Fulham a 3-0 win over Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk while Chris Hughton will be quietly confident his side can finish the job after they drew 0-0 away to Clube Desportivo Nacional.


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