Europa Conference League knockout round play-off second legs: Game-by-game preview
Thursday, 23 February 2023
Get the lowdown on all eight matches as the 2022/23 UEFA Europa Conference League knockout round play-offs conclude.
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Fiorentina are sitting pretty after a 4-0 first-leg triumph but six of the eight UEFA Europa Conference League knockout round play-off openers finished 1-0 to leave the ties still up for grabs. Get the lowdown on every game.
What are the knockout round play-offs?
There are 16 teams involved in the Europa Conference League knockout round play-offs: the eight runners-up from the 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 conclude on Thursday 23 February; the away goals rule has been abolished. The eight play-off winners join the eight group winners in the round of 16 draw on Friday 24 February; the eight play-off losers will no longer be involved in 2022/23 European competition.
Gent vs Qarabağ (first leg: 0-1)
Gent reached the round of 16 last season but will have to come from behind if they are to repeat that feat. Aside from Leandro Andrade's well-taken winner in Baku last week, history may be against the Belgian hopefuls too. They lost 1-0 away from home in the first leg of that last-16 tie at PAOK last term and went down again in the home return.
Gent have won seven of their last ten home games (L1) and kept seven clean sheets in that spell.
Basel vs Trabzonspor (first leg: 0-1)
"Trabzonspor won all their home games in the Europa League," said Basel coach Heiko Vogel after the first meeting. "This is a very strong team, but everything is still possible in the second leg." Indeed, the Turkish side's struggles on their travels will doubtless be reason for optimism in the Swiss club's ranks along with the form of Zeki Amdouni, who has six goals in his last six starts.
Trabzonspor have lost ten times on the road this season and conceded at least twice in all those defeats.
Lech vs Bodø/Glimt (first leg: 0-0)
The Norwegian side may have been rusty in the first leg – understandable given it was their first competitive game for three months – but you have to go back to May for the last time they failed to score in back-to-back games. "We were convinced that their defence would play a little lower, but it was set high," said Lech coach John van den Brom after the stalemate. Expect a tight, tactical return as well.
Lech have scored one goal or less in seven of their last nine home games.
CFR Cluj vs Lazio (first leg: 0-1)
CFR coach Dan Petrescu was a little downbeat after the first leg: "The best team won. I have nothing to blame my players for. I played with three strikers; if you play like that, it means there is courage, but courage is not enough." That positivity has tended to be rewarded at home, though – the Romanian outfit have won 14 of their last 19 there – and Lazio have not been as impressive on the road of late.
Lazio have only scored seven goals across their last eight away games.
Fiorentina vs Braga (first leg: 4-0)
It is a near-impossible task for Braga to turn this deficit around and Riccardo Saponara summed up how dominant Fiorentina were in that first leg. "We knew we had a difficult match against a very good opponent, but tonight we were almost perfect," said the winger, who is also guarding against complacency here. "Even before they went down to ten men, we were the better team. We can't get carried away with this result, and we need to keep working very hard."
The Viola's 4-0 first-leg success equalled the biggest win in the knockout stage of this competition's history.
Winners of the ties earn a place in Friday's round of 16 draw, where they will be unseeded.
The seeded teams are AZ Alkmaar, Djurgården, İstanbul Başakşehir, Nice, Sivasspor, Slovan Bratislava, Villarreal, West Ham.
Dnipro-1 vs AEK Larnaca (first leg: 0-1)
Ángel García's late goal condemned Dnipro-1 to a third defeat against AEK this season and Domingo Felipe, who returned from injury in the first leg, knows the Ukrainian side must improve in several areas if they are to break that losing strike in Košice. "There are always moments that need to be improved: standards, creativity and taking chances," said the Argentinian midfielder. "We must focus and not lose the ball in basic situations. I am sure we can win."
Dnipro-1 have suffered back-to-back losses for the first time since August, when they were beaten twice by AEK in UEFA Europa League qualifying.
Partizan vs Sheriff (first leg: 1-0)
"We were not good enough in the first half – we lacked calmness on the ball," said Partizan coach Gordan Petrić after the first meeting. "We created more with ten men on the field. Sheriff's players showed they can be quite dangerous. It will be hard at home." His charges can count themselves duly warned, although their Moldovan rivals have failed to register in five of their seven away games in Europe this term, leaving them in dire need of a return to goalscoring form.
Partizan have lost two of their last three home matches, having only lost one of their previous 32 at home.
Anderlecht vs Ludogorets (first leg: 0-1)
Thiago's guided header was enough to give Ludogorets a lead to take to Belgium and stretch their unbeaten streak to nine matches, including seven victories. However, they will not underestimate the task they face in Brussels as Anderlecht had over twice as many attacks and shots in that first meeting, and close to three times as many completed passes. Decisiveness is front of goal is all that matters, though, and that has been the Achilles heel for Les Mauves in front of their own fans of late.
Anderlecht have lost six of their last ten home games (W2) and failed to find the net five times across all those matches.