Arsenal, Leicester, Hoffenheim advance in Europa League
Arsenal's academy products helped the team cruise into to the knockout stage of the Europa League while Leicester needed a late equalizer from Jamie Vardy to advance.
Arsenal's record signing Nicolas P p showed his better side after he was sent off in a 0-0 draw at Leeds in the Premier League on Sunday, scoring the opening goal in a 3-0 away victory at Norway's Molde.
The homegrown talents did the rest as Reiss Nelson doubled the lead and Folarin Balogun less than a minute after coming on as a substitute netted the third with his first goal for the club.
Hoffenheim and Leicester also progressed into the round of 32 with two matches to spare. The Premier League club equalized three times in a 3-3 draw at Braga, with Vardy grabbing the final goal in injury time.
Carlos Vin cius scored his first two goals for Tottenham while Harry Winks netted a spectacular one from 56 yards as a dominant Spurs side beat Bulgarian team Ludogorets 4-0.
AC Milan failed to win for the second straight game as the Italian powerhouse was held to a 1-1 draw at Lille, while Rangers was held 2-2 by Benfica after giving up a two-goal lead against the Portuguese side for the second game in a row.
A minute of silence was observed before all the matches to honor Diego Maradona, who died on Wednesday at the age of 60.
Maradona's former club Napoli paid special tribute to the Argentine before a 2-0 win over Rijeka.
Arsenal used a second-half scoring burst to maintain a perfect record with four wins from four.
Just a minute after hitting the crossbar, P p curled a ball into a top corner of the net five minutes into the second half.
P p has struggled to establish himself in the team for Premier League games after moving to Arsenal from French club Lille last summer in a deal worth a reported 80 million euros ( 89 million) but he's leading the charge in the Europa League.
He has scored three goals in the competition this season and set up another two for Arsenal.
Five minutes later, Joe Willock another academy product provided a fine cross for Nelson to tap in the second. Balogun finished it off from close range seven minutes from time.
Arsenal tops Group B with 12 points, six more than Molde. Rapid Vienna faced Dundalk later Thursday.
VARDY'S LAST-GASP EQUALIZER
Vardy equalized five minutes into stoppage time to put Europa League newcomer Leicester into the next stage.
Frans rgio had put the hosts 3-2 up four minutes earlier.
In the previous round, Leicester beat Braga 4-0 at home. This time, it was 1-0 down after Al Musrati scored four minutes into the game.
Harvey Barnes canceled that out five minutes later with an angled shot high into the net, but Paulinho restored the host's one-goal advantage in the 24th from close range.
Luke Thomas netted Leicester's second equalizer in the 79th.
Leicester leads Group G with 10 points, with Braga on seven. Zorya Luhansk won 3-0 at AEK Athens, putting both teams on three points.
WINKS LET'S FLY
Vin cius gave Tottenham the lead 16 minutes into the game after he met a deflected pass from Dele Alli to beat Ludogorets goalkeeper Plamen Iliev on-on-one.
The Brazilian added his second in the 34th. Tanguy Ndomb l started the move with a run up the field before unleashing a low shot that was parried by Iliev, with Dele crossing for the forward to net again.
Harry Winks made it 3-0 in the second half from near the halfway line on the left, lobbying a spectacular shot over the keeper and into the net. It was his third goal for Spurs.
Vin cius set up Lucas Moura in the box to finish the rout with his third goal in four Europa League games.
With nine points, Tottenham is tied atop Group J with Royal Antwerp, which won 2-0 at LASK.
Matteo Politano and Hirving Lozano scored for Napoli against Rijeka as the hosts paid tribute to Maradona, who led them to its only two Serie A titles in 1987 and 1990.
Hoffenheim took the lead through Christoph Baumgartner in the 77th and substitute Andrej Kramaric added a penalty in the 89th as the German team advanced from Group L.
The Bundesliga club has 12 points, three more than Red Star Belgrade, which won 2-0 at Gent.
After Lille stunned AC Milan 3-0 at the San Siro in the previous round, it drew 1-1 with the Italian powerhouse at home to stay top of Group H with eight points. Milan is second, a point behind. Sparta Prague is another point back after beating
Celtic 4-1 at home. Celtic has just one point.
In Group I, Villarreal leads with 10 points after a 1-1 away draw at 10-man Maccabi Tel-Aviv, which is second with seven. Sivasspor is on six after winning 3-2 against Qarabag.