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Talking points from Europa League ties

'Catenaccio' is being abandoned by Italian sides yet Roberto Soldado, Craig Gordon and FC Salzburg prove more durable – UEFA.com reporters discuss five things they noticed.

Napoli scored four at Trabzonspor
Napoli scored four at Trabzonspor ©AFP/Getty Images

The end of 'Catenaccio'?
Four of the five Italian teams in the competition find their UEFA Europa League round of 32 ties delicately poised after first-leg draws. While AS Roma and Torino FC were held at home by Feyenoord and Athletic Club respectively, the three Serie A sides playing away all claimed positive results. SSC Napoli won 4-0 at Trabzonspor AŞ, FC Internazionale Milano drew 3-3 at Celtic FC and ACF Fiorentina earned a 1-1 draw at Tottenham Hotspur.

Judging by the attacking intent displayed by Napoli, Internazionale and Fiorentina, it could be argued that the Italian art of defensive football is thing of the past. 'Catenaccio' may have been abandoned but 'prima non prenderle' – first of all don't concede – has been a mantra for Italian clubs in European away games for many years. However, the first-leg results may indicate a change of mentality. Certainly their compatriots have given hope to Roma and Torino who need to score on their return trips if they want to continue their European adventures. Paolo Menicucci

Roma 1-1 Feyenoord, Torino 2-2 Athletic, Trabzonspor 0-4 Napoli
Tale of two strikers: Iñaki Williams and Maxi López

©Getty Images

Soldado finds his range in Europe
The big question for Tottenham Hotspur FC supporters in recent weeks has switched from 'Is Harry Kane the real deal?' to 'what happens if Harry Kane gets injured?'. It took just six minutes for the answer at White Hart Lane. With one predatory swipe of his right boot, Roberto Soldado reminded everyone why Spurs splashed out a reported €30m to bring him from Valencia CF in August 2013. The Spain forward has cut a forlorn figure at times since that move, but he turned back the clock in an instant last night and could yet prove pivotal if cult-hero Kane loses his midas touch of recent months. Mark Pettit

©Getty Images

Tottenham 1-1 Fiorentina
A social visit to Spurs versus Fiorentina

Mixed emotions for Bhoys goalkeeper Gordon
From saint to sinner. Such has been the week of Celtic FC goalkeeper Craig Gordon. Lauded for a spectacular double save against Saint Johnstone FC on Saturday which helped secure a 2-1 win, the 32-year-old then made a couple of uncharacteristic errors in the 3-3 draw with Internazionale.

Xherdan Shaqiri's fourth-minute drive looked to be heading wide until Gordon parried it back into the path of the Swiss international for the opener, but it was the Nerazzurri's third just before half-time which really raised eyebrows among the 60,000 Celtic Park crowd. A long pass from Gary Medel appeared to be going straight out of play, only for the normally reliable keeper to misjudge the flight of the ball and palm it out to Rodrigo Palacio who gratefully accepted the gift for his second strike of a breathless first half. Less experienced campaigners might have folded. However, Gordon "pressed the reset button" and demonstrated the mental toughness which has helped him battle back from a two-year injury lay-off to produce a superb stop from Shaqiri's late free-kick after John Guidetti had levelled at 3-3.

"It's the life of a goalkeeper, I suppose," Gordon ruefully reflected afterwards. "One minute I am talking about a match-winning save against St Johnstone, the next I am talking about an error against Inter. The save at the end? That's just what I have to do." Alex O'Henley

©AFP/Getty Images

Celtic 1-1 Inter
Guidetti and Armstrong on Inter draw

Young Boys rue missed opportunity
The game in Berne was a reminder of how thin the line between success and failure can be, and how one or two seconds can change the face of the 90 minutes. Not that Everton FC were undeserved winners – Romelu Lukaku could have scored five, let alone a 35-minute hat-trick – but the scoreline was perhaps harsh on the Swiss hosts.

Having rallied from a goal down – and what a goal from Guillaume Hoarau – to take the lead in the space of five first-half minutes, Everton were indebted to Tim Howard for preserving the advantage with a full-length stop from a Hoarau volley before rebuffing Raphaël Nuzzolo's follow-up. And had James McCarthy's goal-line block from Sekou Sanogo Junior's shot ricocheted into the net rather than to safety (via the post) just before half-time, at 3-1 to the Blues, the second half might have been a different story. Instead, Lukaku completed his treble, Hoarau missed a penalty, and Young Boys looked a thoroughly well-beaten side – this against Everton's ten men. The Merseysiders have a foot in the last 16. It could, however, have been closer. Ian Holyman

©AFP/Getty Images

Young Boys 1-4 Everton
Time to thaw out in Berne

Salzburg must overcome exodus of attacking talent
Readjusting to the loss of key players is never easy, but the challenge becomes even greater when those aces leave mid-season. Austrian Bundesliga leaders FC Salzburg have been forced to rebuild their attack following the winter transfer window. Alan, the UEFA Europa League top scorer with eight group-stage goals, headed east to China's Guangzhou Evergrande FC while Slovenia playmaker Kevin Kampl made the shorter journey to Borussia Dortmund, also for a reported €12m.

Yet while Villarreal CF edged last night's contest, Jonatan Soriano's spot kick on his return to Spain ensured this round of 32 tie remains wide open, with the visitors posing a real threat on the break with their new-look front line.

Salzburg have recruited a couple of forwards to minimise the effects of Alan and Kampl's desertion. The 20-year-old Takumi Minamino, dubbed the 'Japanese Neymar', arrived from Cerezo Osaka; Marco Djuricin – on target 11 times in 18 top-flight games this term – was signed from SK Sturm Graz. Can these additions help Salzburg overcome their departures and prolong their continental campaign? Delfín Ramírez

Villarreal 2-1 Salzburg
Five lessons from clash at El Madrigal