Wins for Arsenal, Manchester United as Europa League kicks off
Arsenal and Sevilla preserved their 100% records in the Europa League with contrasting victories but PSV Eindhoven dropped their first points of the campaign as the group stage reached the halfway mark on Thursday.
Manchester United claimed their first away win in any competition since March as they beat Partizan Belgrade 1-0 but AS Roma were held to a 1-1 draw as Borussia Moenchengladbach equalised deep into stoppage time.
Arsenal twice trailed at home to Portuguese side Vitoria in an absorbing Group F clash but two sublime free kicks by substitute Nicolas Pepe, the second in the last minute of stoppage time, earned the Gunners a 3-2 victory.
Sevilla had no such dramas as they cruised to a 3-0 win against Dudelange to top Group A with nine points — Franco Vázquez scoring twice for the five-time champions.
PSV found no way past visiting Austrian side LASK, drawing 0-0, but remain top of Group D with seven points.
Arsenal had enjoyed 3-0 and 4-0 wins over Eintracht Frankfurt and Standard Liege respectively in their opening games but Vitoria, despite having no goals or points before kickoff, were surprisingly a far tougher proposition.
Roared on by a noisy following, the northern Portuguese side took the lead in the ninth minute when English youngster Marcus Edwards, formerly of Tottenham Hotspur, jinked inside two Arsenal defenders before beating goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.
Brazilian teenager Gabriel Martinelli headed Arsenal level in the 32nd minute but Vitoria were soon ahead again when Bruno Duarte thumped home a rebound from a tight angle.
Pepe, who came off the bench in the 75th minute, spared Arsenal’s blushes. In the 80th, after fellow substitute Matteo Guendouzi was fouled, he curled a stunning free kick past Miguel Silva and repeated the trick to break Vitoria hearts.
Arsenal have nine points with Eintracht Frankfurt on six after they beat visitors Standard Liege 2-1.
Manchester United claimed a first away win in 12 games thanks to Anthony Martial’s 43rd-minute penalty in Belgrade. They are top of Group L but it was not a performance to quicken the pulse as Martial’s penalty was their only shot on target.
Roma led through Nicolo Zaniolo but Moenchengladbach substitute Lars Stindl held his nerve to convert a 95th minute spot kick after Chris Smalling, on loan from Manchester United, conceded a penalty.
Roma lead Group J with five points from Istanbul Basaksehir who beat Wolfsberg 1-0 to join the Austrians on four points with Moenchengladbach bottom on two.
Lazio also conceded late as they lost 2-1 at Celtic in Group E. Christopher Jullien headed the winner two minutes from time after Ryan Christie cancelled out Manuel Lazzari’s opener.
Celtic lead the group with seven points with Romanians Cluj on six after a 1-0 win at Rennes.
Wolverhampton Wanderers came from a goal down to beat hosts Slovan Bratislava 2-1 in Group K — a game played in front of 20,000 children and a handful of away fans after UEFA ordered it to be played behind closed doors because of racist incidents.
Andraz Sporar’s deflected shot put the home side in front but Wolves hit back through Romain Saiss and a penalty by Raul Jimenez after the break to claim their second win and move into second spot a point behind Braga who won 2-1 at Besiktas.
Espanyol continued to put their dire La Liga form behind them as they won 1-0 in Bulgaria against Ludogorets, a result that keeps them unbeaten and top of Group H with seven points.
Rangers held on for a 1-1 draw in Porto in what is turning out to be a tight Group G. Luis Diaz’s piledriver put Porto ahead but Alfredo Morelos levelled before the interval.
The Scottish club held on and are level on four points with Porto behind leaders Young Boys on six after their 2-0 home victory over Dutch club Feyenoord who are bottom with three.
In Group I, pacesetters Gent and Wolfsburg have five points after a 2-2 draw in Belgium while Dynamo Kiev and FC Copenhagen drew 1-1 to stay level at the top of Group B on five points.