Written by Lawrence Prince-Wright
This last Thursday (25-02-10), despite pessimism, proved to be a spectacular day for Europa League showdowns. Upsets, joys, anger, anxiety and all sorts of emotions where mixed into Thursday‘s cauldron of football mayhem! Personally the performance of the teams which battled it out on Thursday evening conveyed the high level of prestige and competition that the Europa League has to offer; keep in mind that it is the Champions League little brother making it the second biggest European league worldwide. The number of goals scored that evening averaged out to be at around 3 per game, most definitely illustrating the level of excitement that kept fans anxiously on the edge of their seats. Liverpool while showing a rather lousy performance domestically, managed to secure a 4-1 aggregate score against Romanian rivals Unirea Urziceni. Similarly underdogs Fulham managed to proceed onto the next round by defeating former European champion giants Shakhtar Donetsk 3-2 on aggregate. Despite the splendid news it is to hear that two English sides are advancing on to the next stages of the league, I am also thrilled to mention that Panathiniakos have knocked out the Italian stallions A.S. Roma after a fascinating 3-2 victory at Stadio Olimpico.
Although it was not a day for the ‘sensational substitutes’, it was however a day where Cisse proved to spectators that he’s still got that Liverpool form, and 19 year-old Sotiris Ninis left his mark on awe-struck spectators by scoring his first (and definitely not last) international goal of his career. The two teams met in Athens last week, and their meeting this Thursday was very similar, if not identical. The scores were the same, and the order in which they were scored was similar, the only difference was the stage that the games were played out at.