Socceroos were at the heart of the action in a thrilling round of Europa League games on Friday morning AEDT, with Tom Rogic scoring for already-eliminated Celtic and James Holland playing the full match in a thrilling six-goal draw with Tottenham.
The Premier League leaders struggled to gain the draw they needed against Holland’s Austrian side LASK Linz, finishing 3-3 thanks to two penalties and securing a place in the knockout rounds of the Europa League.
Meanwhile an understrength Leicester lost to a minnow, and Arsenal cruised to a 4-1 win as fans returned for the first time in nine months.
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Spurs’ result in Austria ensured that Antwerp will also advance from Group J.
Elsewhere, Braga, AC Milan, Lille, Villarreal, Dinamo Zagreb, Red Star Belgrade, Slavia Prague, Bayer Leverkusen, Rangers, Benfica, Granada and Eindhoven ensured their places in the last 32 with one round of group games still to play.
They join Leicester, Arsenal, Hoffenheim and Roma who had already qualified.
In Linz, the home team dominated the first half but only scored once, through Peter Michorl. Spurs, who had not managed a shot on target, won a penalty for handball in added time. Gareth Bale converted for his 200th career goal.
Son Heung-min put Spurs ahead on the counter attack in the 56th minute. With Linz still threatening, manager Jose Mourinho made a series of defensive substitutions.
Tottenham had three centre backs, three full backs and two defensive midfielders on the field by the 84th minute when Johannes Eggestein still found a huge hole and lashed in a shot that Joe Hart reached but could not keep out.
Three minutes later, Spurs regained the lead. One of the two attacking players, Steven Bergwijn was tripped to earn a penalty and the other, Dele Alli, swept it home.
Spurs could not keep the lead. Young Frenchman Mamoudou Karamoko smashed in an equaliser from outside the box in added time.
Mourinho complained about the attitude of some of his team.
“The fact that the Europa League group phase doesn’t motivate some of the players, I knew it,” he said.
“When I saw the warm-up before the game I had a feeling and I told the players before the game that there was a huge difference in intensity, communication and enthusiasm in their warm-up and our warm-up because I was looking at both.” The draw was enough to put Tottenham through and next week they will host Antwerp, who beat Ludogorets 3-1, with first place at stake.
In Group H, AC Milan fell two goals behind at home to eliminated Celtic but rallied to win 4-2 and advance.
Australian Tom Rogic and Odsonne Edouard scored for the visitors in the first 14 minutes, with Rogic gifted possession on the edge of the box and making no mistake. It was the Socceroos midfielder’s first Celtic goal since March.
But Milan’s Hakan Calhanoglu and Samuel Castillejo responded with two quick goals midway through the half.
Jens Petter Hauger and Brahim Diaz, with a clever chip, struck in the second half.
Milan are second in the group, one point behind Lille who also came from behind to win at home.
Visitors Sparta Prague were reduced to 10 men in the 65th minute when Ondrej Celustka received two yellow cards in three minutes, yet the visitors took the lead through Ladislav Krejci in the 71st minute.
Lille sent on Burak Yilmaz in the 77th minute. The Turkish striker poked home the equaliser three minutes later and smashed home the winner four minutes after that.
GUNNERS GO OFF
For the first time in 270 days, fans were back inside a Premier League ground as Arsenal welcomed 2,000 supporters into the Emirates for Thursday’s routine 4-1 Europa League win over Rapid Vienna.
The sparse crowd in a 60,000 capacity stadium, were well distanced between two stands and in high spirits despite the Gunners’ poor form of late in the English top-flight.
Outside the ground fans held up a banner reading: “Home at last, Thank you NHS” in tribute to those working on the front line battling coronavirus in the health service.
Arsenal’s last home match with a crowd was back in March prior to a three-month stoppage of the sport due to the pandemic.
Alexandre Lacazette smashed in a stunning long-range strike top open the scoring on 10 minutes and ran to celebrate in front of the fans.
Pablo Mari quickly headed home a second on his first appearance since March. Eddie Nketiah added a third before half-time before Kohya Kitagawa’s consolation for the Austrians drew pantomime boos from the crowd.
Substitute Emile Smith Rowe rounded off the scoring on a night that will be best remembered for what happened off the field.
In Group G, Braga crushed AEK, 4-2, in Athens to join Leicester in the next round. The Foxes fielded a weakened side against Zorya in the Ukraine and lost 1-0.
Villarreal secured first place in Group I as Samuel Chukwueze scored the only goal away to Sivasspor in Turkey.
Sivasspor will travel to Tel Aviv next week needing a victory to wrest second place from Maccabi. Maccabi missed a chance to ensure qualification when they drew, 1-1, away to Qarabag in a match moved from Azerbaijan to Istanbul for security reasons.
Red Star qualified for the next round holding group winners Hoffenheim to a goalless draw in Belgrade. The visitors had 17 attempts on goal but could not score.
Dinamo Zagreb won 2-0 in Rotterdam to secure first place in Group K. Feyenoord travel to Austria next week needing to win at Wolfsberg to advance.