Category: UEFA Competitions

UEFA Football Competitions News

Nice v Lazio background

Something has to give as Nice welcome Lazio in UEFA Europa League Group K, with both sides having won their opening two fixtures in the section.

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BATE Borisov v Köln background

BATE Borisov will look to avoid conceding for the first time in Europe this season as they welcome a Köln side who have yet to pick up a Group H point.

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Vardar v Real Sociedad background

Vardar have had some punishing results in Group L, but a late goal on matchday two has given them a small lift as they prepare to take on Real Sociedad.

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Hapoel Beer-Sheva v FCSB background

Hapoel Beer-Sheva are on a home winning streak in Europe this season, but are up against an FCSB side who have excelled so far in Group G.

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Zulte Waregem v Vitesse background

There is not much to separate Zulte Waregem and Vitesse as they come together in UEFA Europa League Group K, both having had a tough start in the section.

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Lugano v Plzeň background

Lugano will look to avoid another 2-1 defeat in UEFA Europa League Group G against a Plzeň team who have not won on the road in Europe for some time.

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Zenit v Rosenborg background

Standing up to Zenit in Group L looks like being a tough task for Rosenborg, the Russian club having hit eight goals already in the section.

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Astana v Maccabi Tel-Aviv background

Astana will strive to extend their impressive unbeaten home run to 17 European games as they welcome Maccabi Tel-Aviv in UEFA Europa League Group A.

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Sports quiz of the week: Champions League, Carlo Ancelotti and centurions

Who needs a trophy room? Who left early? And who struggled with winning?

Where did Bayern Munich finish in the Bundesliga in Carlo Ancelotti’s only full season as their manager?

They won the league by 15 points

They won the league on goal difference

They finished second

The finished third

Which footballer said: “I’m hoping to build a room for the match balls and trophies. It isn’t built yet but, hopefully, it will be soon”?


Mario Balotelli

Harry Kane

Carlton Cole

Why did RB Leipzig player Timo Werner ask to be substituted against Besiktas in the Champions League?

He couldn’t distinguish between the two teams’ shirts

He had missed a penalty and felt “devastated”

He thought the team needed a change of formation

He felt dizzy due to the loud atmosphere

Which athlete has honoured one of his rivals by installing an eight-foot portrait of him in his house?

Floyd Mayweather has put up a portrait of Conor McGregor

Roger Federer has put up a portrait of Rafa Nadal

Neymar has a put up a portrait of Lionel Messi

Stephen Curry has put up a portrait of Colin Kaepernick

Why was a football match between two Romanian clubs, Bistrita Brosteni and Vanatorul Dorna Can­drenilor, called off after 58 minutes?

The sun went down and the floodlights didn’t work

The referee sent off 10 players – five from each team – after a brawl

All of the available footballs had been kicked into a nearby river

The referee’s contact lenses fell out and he didn’t feel equipped to continue

What was the only downside for Valencia manager Marcelino after his team beat Real Sociedad with an 85th-minute winner on Sunday?

He had already been sacked at half-time, when his team were losing 2-0

His side won thanks to an own goal scored by his son

He tore his hamstring while celebrating the goal

All of his players ran and celebrated with his assistant, who he called a “traitor”

Which British club did not win their match in the Champions League this week?




Manchester City

Manchester United

Tottenham Hotspur

Essex played 14 games in the County Championship this season. How many did they lose?





In which contest are dragons from Catalonia playing centurions from Leigh on Saturday?

The Big Bash

The State of Origin

The Royal London One-Day Cup

The Million Pound Game

Barcelona won two matches this week: 3-0 in La Liga and 1-0 in the Champions League. How many of their four goals were scored by Barcelona players?





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Ronald Koeman says Everton are ‘scared to play’ after Apollon Limassol draw

• Apollon Limassol score late equaliser after going down to 10 men
• Graham Potter’s Ostersund stun Hertha Berlin in Sweden

Ronald Koeman delivered a scathing assessment of Everton’s Europa League draw against Apollon Limassol as he accused his team of being scared to play football and being “in a difficult situation”.

Related: Héctor Yuste earns 10-man Apollon Limassol draw with sluggish Everton

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Milan win in added time, Östersund continue to surprise

Milan surrendered a two-goal lead against Rijeka before claiming all three points in the 94th minute, while Everton were frustrated, Östersund surprised and Lokomotiv started like a train.

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Brendan Rodgers senses landmark in Celtic’s dominant win over Anderlecht

• Manager delighted with commanding Champions League win in Belgium
• ‘We will get better as the group goes on,’ Rodgers says

It is now 10 years since Scottish football thought it was on the verge of a great leap forward. The national team’s 1-0 success against France was still being celebrated by the time Rangers swaggered to a 3-0 win in Lyon. Closer inspection was as worthy then as it is now; on both occasions, notwithstanding the tactical nous of Alex McLeish and Walter Smith, victory was achieved against teams who dominated the ball.

There was a significance to Celtic’s 3-0 win at Anderlecht on Wednesday evening that moved beyond the reinvigoration of a Champions League campaign. Celtic, while actually well short of their best, dictated proceedings against the Belgian champions. In recent European and international history, Scottish teams have not been accustomed to such displays when away from home. In the aftermath, Brendan Rodgers was happy to highlight the value of only a second Celtic away Champions League win in 28 games.

Related: Champions League review and the importance of analytics – Football Weekly Extra

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Héctor Yuste earns 10-man Apollon Limassol draw with sluggish Everton

• Everton 2-2 Apollon Limassol
• Rooney 21, Vlasic 66; Sardinero 12, Yuste 88

Everton navigated an arduous route into the Europa League group stage but are heading towards a damaging early exit. An 88th minute header from Héctor Yuste gave 10-man Apollon Limassol a merited draw at Goodison Park and left Ronald Koeman’s team winless in Group E.

A gift for Wayne Rooney and a first Everton goal for Nikola Vlasic had appeared to give Koeman the win he desperately needed having been soundly beaten in the opening game at Atalanta. But Yuste’s header from a free-kick, moments after Valentin Roberge had been sent off for the visitors, rescued a point for the lowest-ranked side in Everton’s section. Slow, passive performances are becoming a feature of Everton’s season under Koeman and this was another.

Related: Everton v Apollon Limassol: Europa League – as it happened

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Everton v Apollon Limassol: Europa League – as it happened

Everton’s poor start to the season continued as they squandered a lead against 10 men at Goodison Park to remain bottom of their Europa League group

10.00pm BST

A draw means Everton remain bottom of Group E after picking up one point from their first two matches. They should have won after fighting back from a goal down to lead 2-1, especially after their moderate opponents were reduced to 10 men, but they dropped their guard after Valentin Roberge’s red card and were pegged back to 2-2 moments later. Ronald Koeman will be furious – for so many reasons. It was another unconvincing performance from Everton, who are too slow and predictable. Nikola Vlasic’s goal was a bright spot, but the boos at the end told the story of a frustrating night. A setback for Everton, but a great result for Apollon Limassol, who are level with Lyon after the French side’s 1-1 home draw with group frontrunners Atalanta. Thanks for reading and emailing. Night.

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Oh Ronald.

9.55pm BST

90 min+3: An Apollon defender boots a clearance against his own man. It loops over Vale, but it drops on to the roof of the net! Dearie me, that was almost the most farcical of own goals. Apollon still have to deal with a corner. Vale punches it away, Everton put it back in but they can’t break through.

9.53pm BST

90 min+1: There will be three added minutes. The home fans have woken up. Apollon are defending from their 18-yard line. Everton have them pinned back.

9.52pm BST

90 min: Vlasic crosses from the left and the unmarked Calvert-Lewin must score, only to plant his downward header in a central position, allowing Vale to make an unlikely stop! He claws the ball out and for a moment Calvert-Lewin looks certain to ram home the rebound, only for Apollon to hack it clear! What a miss! What a save! What a miss.

9.50pm BST

The 10 men are level! Pedro curls the free-kick into the middle and Yuste, whose blunder let to Rooney’s equaliser in the first half, sends a glancing header looping over Pickford and into the top left corner to spark wild celebrations in the away end!

9.49pm BST

87 min: Klaassen somehow escapes without a booking after an agricultural swipe at Jander. A free-kick to Apollon, though, over on the left. And…

9.48pm BST

86 min: This is a shocker from the former Sunderland player, a stamp on Calvert-Lewin’s back that infuriates Everton, leads to a heated exchange between the teams and leaves the referee with no option but to show the defender a straight red card. That was disgusting.

9.45pm BST

84 min: Rooney tries to score from the halfway line. Nope.

9.45pm BST

83 min: Emilio Zelaya replaces Vasiliou.

9.44pm BST

82 min: Roberge blocks Kenny’s shot after the right-back was freed by Sigurdsson’s canny reverse pass. “I was rather concerned that JR from Illinois was being a tad disparaging towards his local woodpecker, calling it hairy and so forth, but then I checked on Wikipedia, and, by crikey, ‘hairy’ is not a reference to its hippy-like appearance, but the birdie’s real name,” says Kevin McKee. “Marvellous. Since it’s not a Magpie, given its strip I assume it’s a Notts County or WBA supporter. Now we know why it wasn’t up in its nest watching the Everton game.”

9.41pm BST

80 min: Rooney stings Vale’s palms with a shot from 25 yards.

9.39pm BST

77 min: When an Apollon move tamely breaks down, Rooney looks up and instantly lofts a 50-yard pass to Calvert-Lewin on the left. He drives inside and tries to curl the ball into the far corner, but the ball flies an inch wide. That would have been a great goal, but Apollon are still in contention and they bring on Jander for Sachetti.

9.37pm BST

75 min: Vlasic, who’s really in the mood, tests Vale with a low drive from 18 yards.

9.34pm BST

73 min: Everton deal with the corner, but Apollon are exerting some pressure. Allan’s piledriver from 25 yards takes a deflection and whooshes wide.

9.33pm BST

72 min: Vasiliou swings a cross into the Everton area. Pickford comes, but doesn’t get there. he’s grateful to see it headed out to the right, where Sachetti wins a corner.

9.29pm BST

68 min: Davy Klaassen comes on for Tom Davies, Dominic Calvert-Lewin replaces Sandro Ramirez.

9.28pm BST

This isn’t, though! Sigurdsson cleverly flicks a pass through to Vlasic, who’s been impressive since his introduction, and the young Croatian maintains his composure to slide a low finish inside the left post for his first Everton goal!

9.26pm BST

65 min: Sigurdsson floats a free-kick into the Apollon area from the right, but Williams can’t stretch far enough. This is fantastically dull.

9.24pm BST

63 min: Pickford races out of his area to beat Schembri to a long ball down the middle.

9.22pm BST

61 min: Andre Schembri replaces Antonio Jakolis.

9.20pm BST

59 min: Sideways, sideways.

9.17pm BST

56 min: Rooney wallops one well over from 20 yards.

9.15pm BST

54 min: Jakolis has a dig from 25 yards, forcing Pickford to dive down to his left to push the ball out. A reminder of Apollon’s threat. Everton respond with a shot from Vlasic that dribbles comfortably wide.

9.13pm BST

51 min: Everton are trying to play at a higher tempo and they’ve pushed Apollon back at the start of this half, but it’s all bit aimless at the moment.

9.10pm BST

48 min: Has any side ever spent this much to be this slow?

9.07pm BST

46 min: Everton get the second half underway and they’ve made a half-time change, Nikola Vlasic replacing Idrissa Gueye in midfield.

8.52pm BST

Everton are fortunate to be level. They conceded a sloppy early goal, have achieved little of note and were only let back into it when the visitors gifted Wayne Rooney an equaliser.

8.51pm BST

45 min: Everton are so slow.

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44 min: Everton make a mess clearing the ball and Baines has to block Jakolis’s shot out for a throw.

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43 min: It looks like a good position for the left foot of Baines, but instead it’s Sigurdsson who shoots with his right foot. It’s a decent effort, but Vale makes a comfortable enough save, diving to his left to punch the ball away. Apollon break and Jakolis wins a corner on the right.

8.46pm BST

41 min: The Apollon fans haven’t stopped singing all half. The Everton fans are so quiet, though they do wake up when Davies lets fly with a vicious effort from 25 yards. It’s swerving and heading for the top left corner until Vale pushes it out spectacularly. Moments later, Everton win a free-kick on the edge of the area, to the right of the D.

8.43pm BST

38 min: Ramirez beats a man on the left, turns and shoots over. He needs an injection of confidence.

8.40pm BST

35 min: From Pedro’s outswinging corner, Yuste heads not too far over.

8.40pm BST

34 min: A neat Apollon move ends with Pedro winning a corner on the right.

8.39pm BST

33 min: “I just missed Everton’s goal because I had to go outside to see what was making a knocking noise on the side of my house,” says JR in Illinois. “It was a hairy woodpecker pecking on the window frame. It’s a handsome bird but I’m afraid I couldn’t allow it to continue its activity so I told it to eff off, which it then did.”

8.36pm BST

30 min: After a surging run from Ashley Beckenbauer, Rooney bends an effort just wide of the left post from 20 yards.

8.33pm BST

27 min: Dominic Calvert-Lewin has his tracksuit top off, but Rooney’s gone back on. He’s wincing, though.

8.32pm BST

26 min: Rooney has gone off for some treatment to his left wrist. An Apollon defender stamped on it when he tried that overhead kick.

8.31pm BST

25 min: Sandro Ramirez darts inside from the left and sprays a pass out to Kenny. His cross finds Davies at the far post. He heads the ball back across goal. Rooney fruitlessly tries an overhead kick before Sigurdsson’s hooked volley forces Vale to make a good save down to his left. This is more like it from Everton!

8.28pm BST

Feeling a bit sorry for Everton, Yuste offers them a path back into the match with a woeful piece of Williams-esque defending. The centre-back’s under mild pressure deep on the right, but he could just pump it up the line. Instead he decides to knock it back to his goalkeeper, only he doesn’t know where he is. The ball runs past Bruno Vale, who can’t believe it, and straight to Rooney, who isn’t about to miss from two yards out. Oh dear. Oumar Niasse would have been proud of that finish.

8.25pm BST

20 min: Sigurdsson tries to backheel the ball to Rooney. The ball does not reach Rooney. This is wretched. The natives are restless. Sandro Ramirez briefly livens things up, but he can’t find Rooney in space on the right with his first attempt at a pass. He eventually does, but Rooney proceeds to send his cross out for a goal-kick.

8.24pm BST

18 min: Maglica charges to the right byline and gets another cross into the area. It’s hastily hacked clear after a miskick from Holgate. Everton look painfully nervous. The silence inside Goodison Park doesn’t help. You fancy that might turn into rancour if this doesn’t change soon.

8.22pm BST

16 min: Apollon fancy this. A clearance from Holgate falls to Vasiliou, 25 yards out, and he meets the bouncing ball with a meaty drive that flies harmessly over in the end. It was travelling at some speed, though.

8.21pm BST

15 min: Everton are stunned. Tom Davies loses possession inside his own half, drawing howls from the home fans. He ends up conceding a free-kick 25 yards from goal. Alef sees his effort deflected wide for a corner.

8.20pm BST

Oh Ronald. Oh Ashley. Oh Everton. This is a poor goal to concede. A long ball down the right should be dealt with by Ashley Williams. He’d like to let it run back to Pickford, but instead, at the last moment, he changes his mind and tries to play it to Baines. Maglica seizes on the loose ball and with Baines out of position, he whips a lovely cross into the six-yard box for Sardinero. Six yards out, his first effort’s blocked by Pickford, but the ball runs loose for him for a tap-in!

8.17pm BST

12 min: A long punt from Pickford’s allowed to drift into the Apollon area. The flight of the ball’s read by Rooney, who gets in between the two centre-backs, but he just fails to control it.

8.16pm BST

11 min: The Limassol fans amuse themselves by booing Rooney. This is scrappy.

8.14pm BST

8 min: Everton win a free-kick on the right. Sigurdsson sends it straight to Bruno Vale.

8.13pm BST

7 min: Apollon have made a decent start here. Vasiliou, the captain, knocks in a cross from the left that Maglica heads well over.

8.12pm BST

6 min:

Everton are looking to their wingers at every opportunity.

8.10pm BST

5 min: Everton are playing a high line and the visitors have already tried to exploit that with swift breaks on two occasions. The final pass has been wasteful, though.

8.09pm BST

4 min: Trevor Francis agrees with me. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard a Goodison Park crowd as quiet as this,” the BT Sport co-commentator says.

8.08pm BST

3 min: Goodison Park is eerily quiet.

8.07pm BST

Peep! Apollon Limassol, in white shirts and black shorts, get the game underway. They’re kicking from left to right in the first half.

8.02pm BST

Here come the teams. Goodison Park applauds. 1,500 Cypriot fans have made the journey and they’re making sure they play their part.

7.49pm BST

“I’ve got to say with all the fake news around these days I am having a very hard time believing that Sandro has only just turned 22 years old,” says JR in Illinois. “Dude looks 40. Seriously. Take a good look at him. It’s absurd.”

Is this like refusing to believe Theo Walcott is 28?

7.20pm BST

Everton make three changes to the team that beat Bournemouth on the weekend. Jonjoe Kenny replaces Cuco Martina at right-back, Tom Davies takes Davy Klaassen’s place in midfield and Sandro Ramirez is in attack instead of Dominic Calvert-Lewin. But Oumar Niasse, sadly, is nowhere to be seen. Oh Ronald.

There are a couple of surprising exclusions in the Apollon Limassol line-up. Sofronis Avgoustis has caused a stir by dropping playmakers Alex and Nicolas Martinez. Alef and Allen start in midfield, while Jander is replaced by the veteran Cypriot, Georgios Vasiliou, at left-back. Vasiliou is likely to have his hands full dealing with Everton’s dashing right winger! Meanwhile it’s a surprise to see Anastasios Kissas on the bench. You’d think someone with that name would know how to get into his manager’s good books.

7.15pm BST

Everton: Kenny, Holgate, Williams, Baines; Gueye, Schneiderlin, Davies; Sandro, Rooney, Sigurdsson. Subs: Stekelenburg, Martina, Mirallas, Klaassen, Lookman, Calvert-Lewin, Vlasic.

Apollon Limassol: Vale; Pedro, Yuste, Roberge, Vasiliou; Allan, Sachetti, Alef; Jakolis, Maglica, Sardinero. Subs: Kissas, Martinez, Alex, Zelaya, Jander, Stylianou, Schembri.

11.40am BST

Hello. Is it just me or has anyone else noticed that questions that begin with the phrase “Is it just me…” are usually met with “No, it is not just you, most other people have noticed that”? You are not unique, you are not original, you are not the most insightful person walking the planet today. For example: was it just me or did anyone else notice that Everton’s transfer business got too much love in the summer? No, it wasn’t just me. That was a thing spotted by everyone who wasn’t a big, blond Dutchman who took a mean free-kick back in the day.

In all fairness it was quite the spending spree, the like of which had never been seen at Goodison Park before, and that level of expenditure made it inevitable there was talk of Everton busting into the top four this season. Early days, of course, but it isn’t quite working out as Ronald Koeman hoped – which isn’t to see that it was impossible to see this coming. All along, there was a sense of unease about what Everton were doing. They weren’t necessarily signing bad players, but were they signing the right ones? Spending big is all well and good, but you might not get where you want to go if a lot of the money goes on players from Burnley, Crystal Palace, Sunderland and Swansea, and Wayne Rooney.

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Theo Walcott double sets Arsenal on way to victory at Bate Borisov

To butcher a phrase Arsène Wenger coined many years ago, if you eat caviar every day, sometimes it is not so bad to return to sausages. After all those seasons of the Champions League, Arsenal have rather taken to life in the Europa League. It is not always easy to get the blend right with a reshuffled team, a mix of older pros who are perhaps not getting as much football as they want, and kids desperate for opportunities. Arsenal got stuck into their sausages and ended up having the better of a rollicking, bundles of chances, blast in Belarus.

Related: Bate Borisov 2-4 Arsenal: Europa League – as it happened

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Bate Borisov 2-4 Arsenal: Europa League – as it happened

Theo Walcott scored twice and Olivier Giroud netted his 100th Arsenal goal in a 4-2 win over Bate Borisov

7.49pm BST

An entertaining contest and a satisfying win for an experimental Arsenal side. Borisov started terribly but turned out to be decent opponents. Wilshere was outstanding in the first half but faded towards the end. All Arsenal’s youngsters impressed, and Holding and Giroud scored landmark goals. There was some defensive nonsense, of course, but generally this was hunky and dory for Wenger.

Related: Theo Walcott double sets Arsenal on way to victory at Bate Borisov

7.46pm BST

90 min: There will be at least two more minutes.

7.45pm BST

89 min: After a neat backheeled tee-up, Rios wallops a shot over from 20 yards.

7.45pm BST

Arsenal substitution: Nketiah (another 18-year-old) on, Willock off.

7.44pm BST

88 min: Stashevic cause yet more bother down the left. But after getting himself into a good position, he blasts high and wide from the corner of the box.

7.41pm BST

85 min: Willock has a shot charged down at the edge of the area. Borisov break. They worked it out to Stashevich wide on the left again. He drills in a low cross. Mustafi does well to clear it at the near post, at the expensive of a corner.

7.40pm BST

Borisov substitution: Baga on, A Volodko off.

7.39pm BST

83 min: Maitland-Niles gambols down the left. Then he curls a lovely pass across field to McGuane, who slips a canny ball through to Walcott. Accomplished play by the two youngsters. All of which is undone by Walcott, who bogs a weak shot way wide. A bad option badly executed.

7.37pm BST

81 min: Giroud tries a cheeky lob from 20 yards. It’s a good effort but floats a yard over the bar.

7.35pm BST

Arsenal substitution: McGuane on, Nelson off. McGuane is 18, a year older than Nelson, who performed well but most of Borisov’s attacks in the second half came down his side. He didn’t get much help from Walcott, either.

7.33pm BST

77 min: Nelson makes good ground down the right and then shows composure to pick out a pass, shifting the ball to Giroud on the other side of the box. Giroud, by contrast, smacks a rash shot way of target.

7.32pm BST

76 min: Dragun slices open the Arsenal defence a little too easily, pinging a pass from just inside the Arsenal half into the path of Stashevich, who had charged in from the right. Only bad control spares Arsenal. Hats off to Borisov, they could have given up but they’re seriously making Arsenal fret now. And Arsenal have become sloppy.

7.30pm BST

75 min: Scherbitski punches Walcot’s corner away Second later, Borisov are bearing down on Arsenal’s goal. And they get a freekick for a foul on Ivanic. It’s wide on the left. The delivery is poor, allowing Ospina to gather.

7.29pm BST

73 min: Corner to Arsenal after a cross by Giroud is deflected behind…

7.27pm BST

71 min: Gordeichuk bulldozes his way into the box from the left, barging past Nelson and Mustafi. Then he pulls it back to A Volodko, who tries to sidefoot it into the top corner from the edge of the box. But he blazes it wide!

7.26pm BST

68 min: Stasevich flies down the left wing and hoists over a dangerous cross. Ospina charges off his line and punches it away. Forget petering out, this game is up for grabs again. Arsenal are wobbling in defence.

7.24pm BST

A tidy move down the left, followed bya weak sliding tackle by Mertesacker, which allows a cross to come in from the left-hand byline. Holding slips as he goes to intercept, and Gordeichuk is left with a simple chance from three yards. And he hammers it into the net.

7.21pm BST

63 min: Walcot is pulled back near the right-hand corner of the Borisov box. Milunovic gets a well-deserved booking. But Wilshere’s freekick fails to beat the one-man wall. Can one-man be a wall? Maybe he’s just a brick. Or a bollard. “Man, I feel old,” confides Robert Lowery. “First I’m sitting here seeing The Boy Wilshere is balding and grizzled next to his even younger teammates. Then Arsenal’s record European score comes up and I can’t believe that not everyone remembers Liege 0-7 Arsenal. Next I realise it was 24 years ago and the scorers were Selly, Merson, Adams, Campbell and McGoldrick ( I didn’t even have to google that…..) and that I had double maths and hurling training the next day. And now I’ve realised that I’m just like the Arsenal fans of my youth who would discuss the merits of Brady or his contemporaries……The world turns full circle, generation replaces generation and Arsenal are back on TV playing European football on a Thursday night….looking forward to Danny Wellbeck cracking one in on the volley to win the final this year. Gareth Bale scoring from half way in last minute of next year’s Champions League final, not so much.”

7.17pm BST

61 min: The game is petering out. Shame.

7.14pm BST

59 min: Willock commits a heavy touch and almost loses possession. but he then shows tremendous determination and strength to win it back outside his own box, and then strides forward and sets an Arsenal attack in motion Fine play by the young man.

7.13pm BST

57 min: A freekick is whipped in from the right. Signevich gets a glancing header to it, and Ospina’s reflexes allow him to make a smart parry.

7.11pm BST

Borisov substitution: Sihnevich on, Rodionov off.

7.10pm BST

53 min: Corner to Borisov after Mustafi cuts out a cross.

7.08pm BST

51 min: Wilshere is fouled on the edge of the area but the ref doesn’t award a freekick. No point compensating now.

7.06pm BST

Giroud claims his 100th goal for Arsenal by stroking a low spotkick into the net as the keeper flopped the other way.

7.05pm BST

48 min: Nelson intercepts on the right wing, then drives forward and is brought down by Volodko. That’s a freekick to Arsenal in a useful position for a cross into the area. Walcott’s makes a mess of it. But no matter, because the ref has awarded a penalty! No one is sure why! Dragun gets a booking and the replay shows he touched Mustafi, maybe even took a little tug of his shirt. That was about the extent of it. Either that’s a lamentable decision or something happened that hasn’t been picked up by the camera.

7.01pm BST

46 min: We’re back. Brave yourselves!

6.56pm BST

“I think we must ask ourselves, what’s the most Arsenal thing that can happen from this point on?” parps John Cashman. “Do they switch off at the back and give up two in rapid succession, only to win in at the death via a Giroud header? Is there a Wilshere season-ending injury? What else?” As Bruce Springsteen once sang, SHOW A LITTLE FAITH, there’s magic in, um, Wenger’s history. But no European trophy. This is the season all that will change. Maybe.

6.47pm BST

What an entertaining knockabout half that was! There could have been double the number of goals, at least. Borisov showed themselves to be pretty handy going forward as the half wore on, but they’re in tatters at the back, partly because Arsenal have attacked well, with Wilshere exceptional. The youngsters have done well, too, especially Nelson.

6.44pm BST

44 min: Wilshere tries to slip a pass through to Giroud but his pass is intercepted. But a deflection takes it into the path of Walcott, who stabs the ball towards the far corner from eight yards. Great finger-tip save by the keeper! And from the ensuing corner Borisov are all ove the place again. Holding slashes a close-range shot off the outside of the post!

6.42pm BST

43 min: Willock is down holding his head after catching a swinging arm from Milunovic. That didn’t look accidental. Milunovic should be on his way to the shower.

6.40pm BST

41 min: Arsenal have devoted the last fe minutes to puncturing Borisov’s resurgence. Sensible, but not so much fun.

6.38pm BST

39 min: Wilshere is taken down from behind and for a moment it looks like he may stay in a heap on the ground. But soon he jumps to his feet, ready to carry on orchestrating Arsenal’s play. He really has been excellent so far.

6.35pm BST

37 min: Maitland-Niles does well to win a corner down the left. The last one produced a goal. This one is punched clear by the keeper.

6.33pm BST

35 min: Moments after another sharp break led by Wilshere, Borisov threaten at the other end, forcing a good save from Ospina. What an open game this is! It’s hard to keep up.

6.32pm BST

33 min: A freekick from the left is curled in towards the penalty spot. Dragun gets a nice glancing header to it. Ospina flings himself to his left to make a tremendous one-handed save. But he needn’t have bothered, because Dragun was offside.

6.30pm BST

30 min: In answer to my previous question, Arsenal’s biggest win in Europe is 7-0, which they’ve mustered twice, once against Standard Liege and once against Slavia Prague. They obviously can’t shut out Borisov now, but we shouldn’t discount them hitting eight. If they decide to just shut up shop, I may stop this MBM in protest.

6.28pm BST

The swill strike back! And it was a very fine goal. A good cross from the right by Rios flies a little too easily past Elneny and is met by Ivanic, whose header is so powerful it whizzes past Ospina from 10 yards.

6.27pm BST

From a corner won following a good mvoe involving Nelson, Wilshere and Maitland-Niles, Mertesacker gets off a header, and Holding shins it past the keeper from two yards! That’s his first goal for Arsenal! And you wouldn’t rule out a hat-trick for him today. Borisov are absolute swill. What’s Arsenal’s record win in Europe?

6.24pm BST

Dear oh dear, that is abysmal goalkeeping! Scherbitski collects a humdrum pass back and controls with his right foot … before passing it straight to Walcott 16 yards out. The forward suppresses the urge to laugh, ignores Giroud, who wants a pass, and slots a low shot into the corner past the keeper. Now Walcott can laugh.

6.21pm BST

21 min: Giroud gives the ball away, allowing Borisov to counter. A cross from the let is cleared to just outside the box, giving Ivanic a chance to try another shot. It’s a good effort on the half-volley, but whizzes a couple of yards wide.

6.20pm BST

20 min: Ivanic tries to launch one into the top corner from 30 yards. That’s testament to how rarely Borisov have got sight of Arsenal’s goal. The shot is way off target.

6.18pm BST

17 min: Wilshere, pulling strings again, nips a pass in to Giroud at the edge of the area, then darts forward to collect the return. He then pops the ball wide to Walcott and darts forward again to receive the next return pass, which he deviates into the net from close range. But it won’t count because the offside flag had been raised. I’m not sure that as the correct decision; but it was definitely a dainty move. Wilshere’s having a ball.

6.15pm BST

14 min: Arsenal are in total charge at the moment, monopolising possession.

6.13pm BST

11 min: Nelson, aged 17, is looking very accomplished. And that goal can only help him and the other youngsters to gain confidence to perform even better. Not that they’ve looked short of confidence so far. They’re rising to Wenger’s challenge so far. But it’s an ex-prodigy, Wilshere, who’s running the show.

6.10pm BST

A close-range finish – followed by a bow-and-arrow celebration for some reason – after a gorgeous little cross from the left by Wilshere, concluding a move in which he was instrumental.

6.09pm BST

8 min: Nelson leads a an attack before passing to Wilshere a few yards outside the Borisov D. Wilshere flips a dinky pass through to Walcott, who dabs it past the keeper on the run from 12 yards … but it bounces back of the post! Walcott tries to turn in the rebound from an acute angle, but a defender read that danger and blocks.

6.07pm BST

6 min: It’s been a steady opening by Arsenal. And by Borisov. Lots of neat passing in midfield but moves break down as soon as they get beyond that point. Borisov, at least, are committing lots of players to attack when they get the chance.

6.03pm BST

3 min: Ivanic fires off the game’s first host, a wobbly effort from 25 yards that comes to a halt near a photographer.

6.02pm BST

2 min: The early indications suggest this is a ref that likes to blow his whistle regularly. All very bitty so far.

6.00pm BST

1 min: We have go. Does anyone know which font Borisov have used for the names on the back of their jerseys? It’s choice.

5.58pm BST

Here come the teams. Borisov, winners of the Belarussian title for each of the last 11 years, are in an all yellow kit, except with a blue V across their chests. Arsenal, meanwhile, are decked out entirely in blue, their shirt combing dark- and sky-blue, like a half-in-half Man City-Chelsea number.

5.51pm BST

Speaking on the BT sports channel, Martin Keown says Borisov’s weakness is their left-back, Pyatov, who continually gets caught out of position. Keown expects Walcott to go on a spree.

5.42pm BST

Asked about how tough an assignment he expects this to be for his youngsters, Wenger coddles no mollies: “It’s a good test. In life and in our jobs you don’t get 50 opportunities. When you look back at all the players who’ve made it, usually they took their first opportunities … Borisov are well organised, they’ve played in the Champions League, they’ve beaten Bayern at home [five years ago], so it’s a good test for us and we want to see how well they cope.”

11.11am BST

As expected, Arsene Wenger has plumped for a youthful lineup. Big things are expected from the lad Mertesacker.

Bate Borisov: Scherbitski; Rios, Gaiduchik, Milunovic, Polakov, Volodko, Dragun; Gordeichuk, Ivanic, Stasevich; Rodionov.

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