Europa Conference League knockout round play-off first legs: Celtic stunned, Slavia joy, Leicester cruise
Thursday, February 17, 2022
Norway's Bodø/Glimt enjoyed a shock win in Glasgow as the UEFA Europa Conference League knockout round play-offs got under way.
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Norway's Bodø/Glimt secured a result to match their astounding 6-1 defeat of Roma in the group stage as they won 3-1 at Celtic on the opening night of the inaugural UEFA Europa Conference League knockout round play-offs.
Elsewhere, Leicester City and Marseille made a comfortable start to their ties at home and Slavia Praha triumphed away to Fenerbahçe, while neighbours Sparta Praha were undone by a late goal from Partizan. UEFA.com wraps up the action.
Leicester City 4-1 Randers
Leicester ended a five-game winless run, Wilfred Ndidi setting the tone with a finish after a smart one-two with Ademola Lookman. Patrik Carlgren then pulled off a series of saves to repel Leicester, before Vito Hammershøj-Mistrati pounced on a lapse to level moments before half-time.
Harvey Barnes quickly dashed the visitors' raised hopes after the break, and well-worked tap-ins from Patson Daka and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall sealed victory.
Key stat: Daka (six goals) added to his tally as Leicester's all-time top-scorer in Europe, while Barnes (five) moved above Riyad Mahrez (four) into second place on that list.
Celtic 1-3 Bodø/Glimt
The remarkable rise of Bodø/Glimt continued with a fine win in Glasgow. The visitors from the Arctic Circle went ahead with seven minutes gone through Runar Espejord and extended their lead shortly after the break when Amahl Pellegrino showed good composure from close range. Daizen Maeda's header gave Celtic hope, but Hugo Vetlesen struck almost immediately to leave the Norwegian side in control.
Key stat: This was Celtic's second home loss to a team from Norway – and only the second away win for Bodø/Glimt in European football this century.
Fenerbahçe 2-3 Slavia Praha
Ibrahim Traoré side-footed Slavia's opener just before the interval after Srdjan Plavšić had hit the upright. Dimitris Pelkas levelled coolly just before the hour, but Oscar Dorley's spectacular lofted strike and substitute Ondřej Lingr's low finish crowned a devastating three-minute spell for Slavia. Ferdi Kadıoğlu's late, deflected curler gave Fenerbahçe hope for the second leg.
Key stat: This was Slavia's first win in seven UEFA competition away fixtures.
Marseille 3-1 Qarabağ
In-form Arkadiusz Milik struck twice in quick succession during the first half, tidying one away after his header had been cleared off the line and then finishing calmly after Qarabağ were caught trying to play out from the back. The Azerbaijani side rallied in the second period: Filip Ozobić hit a post before Kady's goal rewarded a neat move. Dimitri Payet's added-time strike from fellow replacement Bamba Dieng's centre eased the tension.
Key stat: Milik has now scored 12 goals in his last 11 appearances in all competitions.
The second legs take place a week after the first, on 24 February. Winners of the ties earn a place in the round of 16 draw on 25 February, where they will be unseeded.
The seeded teams are AZ Alkmaar, Basel, Copenhagen, Feyenoord, Gent, LASK, Rennes and Roma.
PSV Eindhoven 1-0 Maccabi Tel-Aviv
Cody Gakpo's composed early finish was enough to earn victory for PSV, but the Dutch side failed to convert their dominance into chances and land a more decisive blow ahead of next week's return leg at Bloomfield Stadium. Dor Peretz kept out Noni Madueke's header brilliantly and PSV's Israeli forward Eran Zahavi sent a free-kick a whisker over as the visitors kept the tie alive.
Key stat: Gakpo, 22, has registered in each of PSV's last three games: one in the Dutch Cup, one in the Eredivisie and now one in the UEFA Europa Conference League.
Sparta Praha 0-1 Partizan
The hosts paid the price after failing to convert possession into meaningful pressure, Partizan making the breakthrough on 78 minutes in Prague. Saša Zdjelar launched a long ball forward and Queensy Menig chased it between two retreating defenders before flicking first-time over Dominik Holec. The goalkeeper saved from Miloš Jojić late on to keep Sparta in the tie, and they almost snared an equaliser following a last-gasp corner.
Key stat: No team has scored more than once in Partizan's last five European games: this 1-0 win, two 1-0 defeats and two 1-1 draws.
Midtjylland 1-0 PAOK
Joel Andersson's well-taken 20th-minute goal earned the Danish outfit a slender advantage to take into the second leg, the right-back played through by Evander before firing low past Alexandros Paschalakis. Midtjylland denied PAOK chances in Herning and nearly doubled their advantage, Brazilian midfielder Charles hitting the post from distance.
Key stat: Midtjylland remain unbeaten at home in Europe since the start of this season's UEFA Europa League group stage (W2 D2).
Rapid Wien 2-1 Vitesse
An all-action opening minute began with Vitesse forcing Paul Gartler into a save, before Robert Ljubičić set up Ferdy Druijf to head the earliest UEFA Europa Conference League goal to date. Marco Grüll's fast feet brought a superb solo goal 15 minutes later, but Vitesse rallied through Loïs Openda's powerful strike following Filip Stojković's dismissal for Rapid.
Key stat: Rapid were without a home win in four games in all competitions coming into tonight; Vitesse have now lost five in a row, conceding 18 in the process.
What are the knockout round play-offs?
The UEFA Europa Conference League knockout round play-offs have been introduced for the first time this season. There are 16 teams involved: the eight runners-up from the UEFA Europa Conference League group stage and the eight third-placed teams from the UEFA Europa League group stage.
Ties are played over two legs and will conclude on Thursday 24 February; the away goals rule has been abolished. The eight winners advance to the round of 16 draw on Friday 25 February (the eight group winners have already qualified for this); the eight play-off losers will no longer be involved in 2021/22 European competition.