Brighton 2-3 AEK Athens, West Ham 3-1 Backa Topola: Europa League – as it happened

Last modified: 09: 20 PM GMT+0

Liverpool and West Ham came from behind to win, but Brighton’s European debut ended in disappointment

That’s all for tonight’s blog – thanks for your company, goodnight!

Match report: Brighton 2-3 AEK Athens

Ed Aarons was at the Amex Stadium to watch AEK Athens ruin Brighton’s big night.

Match report: West Ham 3-1 TSC Backa Topola

These are the final scores, including the early games. Sixteen games, 52 goals: the Europa League’s back!

Group A Olympiakos 2-3 Freiburg, West Ham 3-1 Backa Topola
Group B Ajax 3-3 Marseille, Brighton 2-3 AEK Athens
Group C Rangers 1-0 Real Betis, Sparta Prague 3-2 Aris Limassol
Group D Atalanta 2-0 Rakow Czestochowa, Sturm Graz 1-2 Sporting
Group E Lask 1-3 Liverpool, Union Saint-Gilloise 1-1 Toulouse
Group F Panathinaikos 2-0 Villarreal, Rennes 3-0 Maccabi Haifa
Group G Servette 0-2 Slavia Prague, Sheriff Tiraspol 1-2 Roma
Group H Bayer Leverkusen 4-0 Hacken, Qarabag 1-0 Molde

The AEK Athens players are dancing in front of the away support. They’re being assaulted by the rain, and they quite rightly could not care less.

Full time: Brighton 2-3 AEK Athens

Peep peep! Brighton’s big European night ends in frustration. They played well at times, nervously at others, and were picked off by a purposeful, determined if slightly lucky AEK Athens. Brighton will be better for the experience.


Brighton 2-3 AEK Athens Mohammadi, who should have been sent off earlier in the half for a shocking tackle on Tariq Lamptey, is now given a yellow card for a cynical foul. Given the referee’s performance, Roberto De Zerbi’s interview could be interesting.

Full time: Olympiacos 2-3 Freiburg The home side equalised twice but Maximilian Philipp’s late goal settled matters.

Full time: Ajax 3-3 Marseille

A humdinger in Amsterdam. Marseille came from 2-0 and 3-2 down to get a point, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang equalising twice.

Brighton 2-3 AEK Athens Still five minutes of added time remaining at Brighton. Simon Adingra has been superb since coming on as substitute.

Full time: West Ham 3-1 Backa Topola

Mohammad Kudus scored on his full debut as West Ham came from behind to win comfortably.

Full times: Atalanta 2-0 Rakow Czestochowa, Sparta Prague 3-2 Aris Limassol


Full time: Rangers 1-0 Real Betis

I’d be lying if I said I’d seen a kick, but that sounds like a terrific win for Rangers against good opposition. Abdallah Sima got the only goal after 68 minutes.

Brighton 2-3 AEK Athens It feels like it’s not going to happen for Brighton. Gross’s long-range stinger is punched away by Stankovic, and Welbeck can only head to rebound onto the roof of the net. He did well to get it anywhere near goal, in truth, as it flew towards him at an awkward height.

Full time: Sturm Graz 1-2 Sporting

Sporting come from behind to win in Austria. Coventry alumnus Viktor Gyokeres got their first goal.

Brighton 2-3 AEK Athens The substitute Simon Adingra, who looks full of intent – they’ve bloody found another one haven’t they – whips a lovely curling shot that is brilliantly tipped over by Stankovic.

Brighton 2-3 AEK Athens We’re into 13 minutes of added time at Brighton.

GOAL! Olympiakos 2-3 Freiburg (Philipp 86) Just the 30 goals in eight games so far. That’s all.

West Ham 3-1 Backa Topola West Ham had a scare at the start of the second half, but overall it’s been a handsome victory. They’ve had 74 per cent possession and 21 shots, which can’t have happened too often under … well, any manager.

Brighton 2-3 AEK Athens “You could just about see that coming, Rob,” writes Chris Paraskevas. “Game was just opening up a little bit, even though AEK can’t / don’t want to hold the ball. The commentator just mentioned AEK’s famous 3-2 win over Derby County and my old man - who watched that game - is watching this with me now, hoping for another historic result!”

The latest scores

Olympiacos and Sporting has just scored, hence the bold type. I NEED MORE FINGERS.

Group A Olympiakos 2-2 Freiburg, West Ham 3-1 Backa Topola
Group B Ajax 3-3 Marseille, Brighton 2-3 AEK Athens
Group C Rangers 1-0 Real Betis, Sparta Prague 3-1 Aris Limassol
Group D Atalanta 2-0 Rakow Czestochowa, Sturm Graz 1-2 Sporting

Brighton 2-3 AEK Athens The interesting thing about that goal – apart from the deflection, which I think is the second inadvertent goal for AEK tonight after Gacinovic in the first half – is that when Ponce won the first header, he knocked Lamptey over in his follow through. That meant the last man Van Hecke had to come across to challenge Eliasson, which left Ponce unmarked in the middle. It probably wasn’t a foul by Ponce, just a natural collision, but it certainly influenced the goal.

GOAL! West Ham 3-1 Backa Topola (Soucek 84)

West Ham should be safe now. Another left-wing corner, another header, another goal.

Soucek scores a header
West Ham get a third via Big Tom’s noggin. Photograph: Bradley Collyer/PA


GOAL! Brighton 2-3 AEK Athens (Ponce 84)

Brighton have been stung on the break! Amrabat’s crossfield ball was headed on Ponce to Eliasson. He crossed low, back to Ponce in the area. His first shot was well saved by Steele but the ball seemed to rebound off Ponce and into the net.

Ponce breaks the Seagulls hearts.
Ponce breaks the Seagulls hearts. Photograph: Ian Walton/Reuters


GOAL! Ajax 3-3 Marseille (Aubameyang 78)

Yeah, this group is going to be fun. We’ve already had 10 goals and the first two games haven’t even finished. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has equalised for Marseille for the second time tonight.

Hang on, make that 11 goals…

Brighton 2-2 AEK Athens There are nine minutes of normal time remaining, though we should get at least double that because of the injury to Hajsafi. Danny Welbeck has just come to replace Joao Pedro, which is a little surprising – he has been much better than Ansu Fati tonight. Roberto knows.

Ajax 3-2 Marseille “This game is a cracker,” writes Amar Breckenridge. “I remember watching this fixture in the now defunct Cup Winners’ Cup in 1988. Ajax ran riot 3-0 at the Velodrome, the third goal scored by a very young sub they’d just brought on, one Dennis Bergkamp.”

The memory on you! Some cracking players on both teams in that game: Papin, Pele, Giresse, Domergue, Allofs, Menzo, Blind, Wouters, Muhren, Bosman, Bergkamp.

Brighton 2-2 AEK Athens It’s all Brighton now. Joao Pedro, on a hat-trick, is put through on goal by an excellent pass from Jan-Paul Van Hecke and drives a low shot that is kicked behind by Stankovic. That’s a really good save.

There have been a few other goals in the Europa League. Frankly I don’t have enough fingers, but you can get all the details on our live scores page. And these are the latest scores.

Group A Olympiakos 1-2 Freiburg, West Ham 2-1 Backa Topola
Group B Ajax 3-2 Marseille, Brighton 2-2 AEK Athens
Group C Rangers 1-0 Real Betis, Sparta Prague 3-1 Aris Limassol
Group D Atalanta 2-0 Rakow Czestochowa, Sturm Graz 1-1 Sporting

GOAL! West Ham 2-1 Backa Topola (Kudus 70)

This is definitely Mohammad Kudus’s goal! He met James Ward-Prowse’s inswinging corner six yards out and guided a good header into the corner.

Mohammed Kudus celebrates
Mohammed Kudus celebrates his frst goal for the Hammers. Photograph: Andrew Couldridge/Action Images/Reuters


GOAL! Rangers 1-0 Real Betis (Sima 68)

While all that was going on, Abdallah Sima gave Rangers the lead at Ibrox!

Abdallah Sima scores
Abdallah Sima bundles home for ‘Gers. Photograph: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images


Brighton 2-2 AEK Athens This referee is having a stinker. Mohammadi has just committed an awful tackle on the substitute Tariq Lamptey, studs into the side of the leg at full speed, and the referee didn’t even give a free-kick. I’m surprised VAR didn’t get involved because that was a potential red card, never mind yellow.

The only person booked is Roberto De Zerbi for impolitely enquiring what the eff is going on. The more you see the tackle, the worse it gets.


GOAL! West Ham 1-1 Backa Topola (Petrovic og 66)

West Ham are level at last. I think it might be an own goal, though Kudus was involved as well. Benrahma sat a defender down and curled a glorious dipping cross to the far post. Kudus challenged Nemanja Petrovic, who inadvertently turned it into his own net. Yep, that’s definitely an own goal.

Brighton 2-2 AEK Athens “In a bar in Kefalonia - problem is the TV showing AEK v Brighton freezes but the West Ham fans are having to chat among themselves as Olympiakos on the other screen, haha,” writes my colleague Steph Fincham. “We are brilliant so will pull this back second half …”

GOAL! Brighton 2-2 AEK Athens (Joao Pedro 67 pen)

Beautifully done. Joao Pedro goes to the right this time, again sending Stankovic the wrong way, and Brighton are level. He’s doing this all on his own: he’s won two penalties, scored two penalties and now he’s whipping up the crowd as he runs back to the centre circle.

Joao Pedro scores from the penalty spot
Joao Pedro levels with his second penalty of the match. Photograph: Alex Pantling/Getty Images


Penalty to Brighton! Joao Pedro robbed Damian Szymanski, who tried to kick the ball and instead booted him in the shin. At least the referee didn’t book Joao Pedro for diving this time.

Brighton 1-2 AEK Athens Joao Pedro has another big penalty appeal turned down after nicking a loose ball in the area – and again I reckon this will be overturned. It’s a clear penalty, in fact.

Rangers 0-0 Real Betis This is now the only goalless Europa League game of the night. There aren’t enough screens in the MBM bunker but the stats suggest it’s pretty close.

West Ham 0-1 TSC Backa Topola West Ham continue to be outMoyesed at the London Stadium, where Michail Antonio is about to come on.

“If anyone wants an explainer of the weirdness (and to a large extent awfulness) of the team currently embarrassing West Ham,” writes our own Nick Ames, “it’s here.”

Brighton 1-2 AEK Athens After a delay of around eight minutes, Hajsafi is replaced by Milad Mohammadi.


GOAL! Sturm Graz 1-0 Sporting (Boving 58)

William Boving has put Sturm Graz ahead in Austria.

Brighton 1-2 AEK Athens There’s been a long delay at the Amex, where Ehsan Hajsafi is being stretchered off after a clash of heads with Jan-Paul Van Hecke. It’s clearly serious, though the body language of the players doesn’t suggest it is life-threatening. As I type, the AEK fans have started doing the Poznan.


The latest scores

Group A Olympiakos 1-2 Freiburg, West Ham 0-1 Backa Topola
Group B Ajax 3-2 Marseille, Brighton 1-2 AEK Athens
Group C Rangers 0-0 Real Betis, Sparta Prague 2-1 Aris Limassol
Group D Atalanta 1-0 Rakow Czestochowa, Sturm Graz 0-0 Sporting

GOAL! Ajax 3-2 Marseille (Taylor 52)

Kenneth Taylor has restored Ajax’s lead in Amsterdam, sliding a first-time shot through the keeper Pau Lopez from Carlos Borges’s low cross.

Atalanta 1-0 Rakow Czestochowa Atalanta’s goal, meanwhile, was a flicked near-post header by Charles De Ketelaere after a good cross from Davide Zappacosta.

GOAL! West Ham 0-1 Backa Topola (Stanic 48)

A nightmare for the West Ham captain Angelo Ogbonna. He mistook himself for Franz Beckenbauer and was robbed by Petar Stanic 45 yards from goal. Stanic ran through on goal, composed himself and finished emphatically.

The Backa Topola players celebrate the goal
The Backa Topola players and staff in raptures in Stratford. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images


GOAL! Atalanta 1-0 Rakow Czestochowa (De Ketelaere 49)

More of which anon, because…

Peep peep! The second halves are under way.

As you were “Can confirm Borja is sporting white nails tonight,” writes Mac S.

“I was at HJK tonight to see them lose to PAOK,” writes Kári Tulinius. “There was a VAR review about a handball that seemed really clear from where I was sitting. But because a fairly obvious decision took forever to make, it became ever harder to trust the process, especially given how many VAR howlers there have been. It’s hard to have faith in VAR, because the nature of it makes people doubt what they’ve seen. Also, it’s just boring to sit in the stands and watch a guy hold his hand to his ear and nod.”

This is a side effect of VAR that isn’t commented on enough: it has scrambled everyone’s brains like never before. We’ve become so obsessed with the small print that we can’t see the wood for the big picture.

Half time

Peep peep! A fair bit going on, as you’d expect. Marseille came from 2-0 down in Amsterdam, West Ham got a dose of their own low-block medicine and Brighton mixed sporadic attacking brilliance and first-night nerves against AEK. These are the scores (Vincenzo Grifo has just scored for Freiburg in the 52nd minute of the first half).

Group A Olympiakos 1-2 Freiburg, West Ham 0-0 Backa Topola
Group B Ajax 2-2 Marseille, Brighton 1-2 AEK Athens
Group C Rangers 0-0 Real Betis, Sparta Prague 2-1 Aris Limassol
Group D Atalanta 0-0 Rakow Czestochowa, Sturm Graz 0-0 Sporting

Rangers 0-0 Real Betis “I am at a work party following the fortunes of Liverpool by phone in between eating extremely tiny burgers, and now my thoughts turn to Real Betis and my favourite bearded jugador Borja Iglesias,” writes Gillian Kirby. “Any update on what nail colour he’s sporting tonight against Rangers for those of us who can’t see his delightful uñas live in colour?”

There aren’t enough screens to go round. I did find this picture which, er, doesn’t tell us anything.

Borja Iglesias and Ben Davies
Borja Iglesias and Ben Davies. Photograph: Jason Cairnduff/Action Images/Reuters

West Ham 0-0 Backa Topola West Ham now know what it’s like to play against themselves. They’ve had 78 per cent possession and 15 shots to Backa Topola’s one, and nobody cares because it’s still 0-0.

Brighton 1-2 AEK Athens Lewis Dunk is having a great game. Pineda spins away from Van Hecke, into the area, but Van Hecke recovers well to deflect his shot behind for a corner. That was a vital block.

The latest scores

Ayoub El Kaabi has equalised for Olympiakos against Freiburg.

Group A Olympiakos 1-1 Freiburg, West Ham 0-0 Backa Topola
Group B Ajax 2-2 Marseille, Brighton 1-2 AEK Athens
Group C Rangers 0-0 Real Betis, Sparta Prague 2-1 Aris Limassol
Group D Atalanta 0-0 Rakow Czestochowa, Sturm Graz 0-0 Sporting

GOAL! Brighton 1-2 AEK Athens (Gacinovic 40)

This group is already all sorts of fun. Ehsan Hajsafi’s terrific free-kick from the left is forced past Steele from 12 yards by the stretching Mijat Gacinovic, and AEK are back in front! That’s a nice moment from Hajsafi, who gave away the penalty with which Brighton equalised.

Mijat Gacinovic scores
Mijat Gacinovic gives AEK the lead once more. Photograph: Matthew Childs/Action Images/Reuters


GOAL! Ajax 2-2 Marseille (Aubameyang 38)

Well, well. This group could be all sorts of fun. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has equalised for Marseille with a low shot from 16 yards after an excellent counter-attack. Meanwhile…


Brighton 1-1 AEK Athens “I’m going to be an optimist about Joao Pedro,” begins Zach Neeley, “and assume at his young age he’s already wise enough to know it’s not worth your time trying to shout at someone to convince them they were wrong.”

In other news, here’s that immense header from Djibril Sidibe that put AEK in front.

What. A. Header! 🤯

AEK Athens have taken the lead over Brighton in an unbelievable fashion! #UEL

— Football on TNT Sports (@footballontnt) September 21, 2023


“I do hope,” begins Gary Naylor, “that Brighton’s fans have a song as good as this one for their new on loan winger.”

I had you down as more of a Morrissey man.

Brighton 1-1 AEK Athens The goal seems to have relaxed Brighton, who are having their best spell of the game. Ten minutes till half-time.

West Ham 0-0 Backa Topola It’s still a goalless thrashing at the London Stadium.

Brighton 1-1 AEK Athens “Brighton seem to be thought of mainly as plucky upstarts at the moment, and people are patting them on the back for every achievement. But should we be expecting more of them?” says David Wall. “True they’ve not spent very much money and have recouped loads in selling on players. But they’re clearly well run, well coached, with a brilliant recruitment system, and a clear plan that every part of the club works towards achieving.

“Those things should be the criteria by which we assess how good a team is rather than their transfer budget, which most people look at (which isn’t to say it’s irrelevant but rather that it’s not as important as those other things). Why shouldn’t we be expecting Brighton to make it into the Champions’ League places, for instance, and criticising them when they lose matches they should be winning (such as against West Ham this season, and conceding five at home to Everton last season)?”

My feeling is we should enjoy one of the most brilliant, charming stories in English football history, a joyous antidote to all the vulgarities of modern football, and accept that the occasional 5-1 defeat to an inferior team is a price worth paying for such intrepid, futuristic football. But I suppose I would say that.

The latest scores

Group A Olympiakos 0-1 Freiburg, West Ham 0-0 Backa Topola
Group B Ajax 2-1 Marseille, Brighton 1-1 AEK Athens
Group C Rangers 0-0 Real Betis, Sparta Prague 2-1 Aris Limassol
Group D Atalanta 0-0 Rakow Czestochowa, Sturm Graz 0-0 Sporting

GOAL! Brighton 1-1 AEK Athens (Joao Pedro 30 pen)

Joao Pedro had Brighton’s first kick in European football half an hour ago; now he’s scored their first goal. It was a good penalty, dragged into the bottom-left corner as Stankovic went the wrong way.

Joao Pedro scores a penalty
Joao Pedro on the mark from the spot. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images


PENALTY TO BRIGHTON! The odd thing is that Joao Pedro accepted his yellow card – which has now been overturned – without complaint. Maybe he’s one of the few people on the planet who trust VAR.

VAR check He’s going to the monitor! This should be given. Joao Pedro, who has been excellent, came back inside and was caught by Ehsan Hajsafi.

Brighton 0-1 AEK Athens Joao Pedro Cruyff-turns a defender in the area and goes down. It looked like a decent penalty appeal but the referee thinks he engineered the contact and shows him a yellow card. Replays suggest it was probably a foul, and definitely not a dive.

GOAL! Ajax 2-1 Marseille (Clauss 23)

Alexandre who? Jonathan Clauss has got one back for Marseille, and it was another excellent goal. He zig-zagged purposefully into the area and walloped the ball into the far corner from a tight angle.

Brighton 0-1 AEK Athens Joao Pedro has just forced a good save from Cican Stankovic with a fierce rising drive. That led to a corner, which eventually led to a wicked cross from Joao Pedro that was headed wide by Igor Julio. He should have scored.

GOAL! Ajax 2-0 Marseille (Berghuis 20)

I refer you to Alexandre’s email at 8.07pm. Steven Berghuis has put Ajax 2-0 up with a fine finish, watching the bounce to belt a left-footed shot into the net from 12 yards.

Brighton 0-1 AEK Athens The pattern of the game so far would suggest the AEK coach Matias Almeyda (yep, him) has seen the video of West Ham’s win here a few weeks ago. They are shredding Brighton on the break, and Levi Garcia has just missed another good chance after being put through on goal.

Ajax 1-0 Marseille Never mind Total Football, Carlos Borges’ opening goal was a Charlie Hughes fantasy: a long punt from the keeper bounced over the head of a Marseille defender in the centre circle, and Borges ran through to finish clinically.

West Ham 0-0 Backa Topola It’s all West Ham at the London Stadium, where Nikola Simic has already had to make a couple of decent saves.

Mavropanos and Nikola Simic go for a high ball
Mavropanos and Nikola Simic lock horns. Photograph: Andrew Couldridge/Action Images/Reuters


Brighton 0-1 AEK Athens AEK look dangerous on the counter-attack, with excellent movement and real precision in their passing.

“Beautiful, life-affirming Brighton and Total Football legends Ajax in the same group?” weeps Peter Oh. “Proof that the football gods exist!”

These are the latest scores. There has also been a goal in Rangers’ group, though not in their game.

Group A Olympiakos 0-1 Freiburg, West Ham 0-0 Backa Topola
Group B Ajax 1-0 Marseille, Brighton 0-1 AEK Athens
Group C Rangers 0-0 Real Betis, Sparta Prague 0-1 Aris Limassol
Group D Atalanta 0-0 Rakow Czestochowa, Sturm Graz 0-0 Sporting

Brighton 0-1 AEK Athens Erm, there are big-night nerves now. Levi Garcia runs behind Jan-Paul Van Hecke, onto an excellent through ball, and is denied by a very good save from Jason Steele.

GOAL! Brighton 0-1 AEK Athens (Sidibe 11)

Good lord, this is a belting goal from Djibiril Sidibe. He walked onto an outswinging corner, 16 yards out, and stooped to power a mighty header into the far corner. Pick that out!

Djibril Sidibe heads AEK into the lead.
Djibril Sidibe heads AEK into the lead. Photograph: Matthew Childs/Action Images/Reuters


GOALS! Ajax 1-0 Marseille (Borges 9); Olympiacos 0-1 Freiburg (Sallai 9)

I refer you to Alexandre’s email at 8.07pm.

Brighton 0-0 AEK Athens No early signs of big-night nerves from Brighton, who are probing with their usual patience and precision. Ansu Fati looks sharp. It’s also pelting down at the Amex.

Ajax 0-0 Marseille “I’m not a Marseille fan (I support their rivals Lyon), but I follow some pretty good OM fans who report on their team on Internet and their mood is pretty despondent these days,” writes Alexandre. “They just fired their coach, they drew away to a mediocre Nantes team who had 10 men for most of the game. I don’t think anybody in France expect Marseille to cause any kind of problems to Brighton, or to Ajax. So I don’t think you have to worry. Though we’ll see tonight how deeply the rot has reached (and Marseille fans can always take solace in the fact that Lyon are in a far worse situation and unlikely to compete with them for the foreseeable future).”

4 min: West Ham 0-0 Backa Topola A free-kick from James Ward-Prowse takes a deflection and spins onto the roof of the net.

Peep peep! Joao Pedro becomes the first Brighton player to kick a ball in European football. All the 8pm games are under way, and these are the latest scores.

Group A Olympiakos 0-0 Freiburg, West Ham 0-0 Backa Topola
Group B Ajax 0-0 Marseille, Brighton 0-0 AEK Athens
Group C Rangers 0-0 Real Betis, Sparta Prague 0-0 Aris Limassol
Group D Atalanta 0-0 Rakow Czestochowa, Sturm Graz 0-0 Sporting

“Afternoon Rob!” writes Joe Pearson. “Welcome to the fun! I hope you realize that Stuart promised you would play a euphonium (essentially a tenor tuba) while you posted. I can’t wait to see that TikTok video!”


West Ham v Backa Topola It’s two and a half months since West Ham’s glorious win over Fiorentina. Only two of the players who started that game will start tonight – Lucas Paqueta and Said Benrahma – but we’ll be seeing the others as the campaign develops. Maybe not Declan Rice I guess, unless something entirely weird happens.

Brighton are in a really tough group, with Ajax and Marseille. But sod all those tedious fears: Brighton are playing in Europe FFS. And, as we have seen in the past 18 months, they can beat anyone.

Full time: Union SG 1-1 Toulouse While he was being bundled out of the MBM bunker by a frankly overzealous security staff, Stu asked me to point out that Toulouse’s Logan Costa was sent off in injury time.

Thanks Stu, evening everyone. Oh to be in Brighton tonight, where this adorable team will play in Europe for the first time. The atmosphere sounds spectacular.

Incidentally, Roberto De Zerbi has confirmed that Lewis Dunk and Evan Ferguson have minor injuries but will be fit to play Bournemouth on Sunday.

"It's a historic day for us but we are ready to play, we are ready to compete, we wanna win."

The expectations are clear for Roberto De Zerbi. 🎯#UEL

— Football on TNT Sports (@footballontnt) September 21, 2023


Europa Conference League full-time scores

Group E: Legia Warsaw 3-2 Aston Villa
Zrinjski Mostar 4-3 AZ Alkmaar (was 0-3 at half-time!)
Group F: Ferencvaros 3-1 Cukaricki
Genk 2-2 Fiorentina
Group G: Eintracht Frankfurt 2-1 Aberdeen
HJK Helsinki 2-3 PAOK
Group H: Fenerbahce 3-1 Nordsjælland
Ludogorets 4-0 Spartak Trnava

Many thanks for reading. Rob Smyth now slides in for the 8pm BST action. Thanks for your correspondence and enjoy the show from here!

Europa League full-time scores

Group E: Lask 1-3 Liverpool
Union SG 1-1 Toulouse
Group F: Panathinaikos 2-0 Villarreal
Rennes 3-0 Maccabi Haifa
Group G: Servette 0-2 Slavia Prague
Sheriff 1-2 Roma
Group H: Bayer Leverkusen 4-0 Hacken
Qarabag 1-0 Molde


FT whistles are emerging. Liverpool’s points are safe, as are those of Leverkusen, Rennes and Qarabag. Any late drama elsewhere?

New chant potential from Paul Griffin …

Three at Lask.
Three at Lask.
God Almighty, three at Lask.


A late punctuation-related contribution from Julian Menz …

First off, Häcken has a doubly dotty ä, with what is called an omljud (similar to the German Umlaut) which has been neglected by the sire’s editors. (Some teams and names get their umlauts, some don’t. I recall it took Özil over a year to earn his dots, and Schuerrle (Swedisk keyboard, no Umlaut U), had to content himself with being named after a Billy Bragg song.

I can only apologise for any missed punctuation and other marks on your teams and players of choice. Not for the faint of heart, this liveblogging business. You’re there flapping trying to get your digits to find the tilde on Núñez’s middle N, and meanwhile four goals are flying in. Our Swedish football special projects guru (as in he’s from Sweden, not that all his special projects are on Swedish football), Marcus, will doubtless give me grief over missing Häcken’s at some point in the near future.


GOAL! LASK 1-3 Liverpool (Salah 88)

Lovely goal. Fine work from Núñez and Szoboszlai leads to Salah getting a one-on-one in the box. He beats his tired man with ease and pokes a slightly rude (and admittedly rude-sounding) finish through the legs of the home goalkeeper.

Salah scores
Salah wraps it up in Linz. Photograph: Leonhard Föger/Reuters


In the Conference League … Villa are 3-2 down at Legia Warsaw after Ernest Muci’s second goal of the game early in the second half. Aberdeen are 2-1 down at Frankfurt after a Robin Koch effort. A full round-up of FT scores in ECL games will follow shortly.


Panathinaikos double their lead at home to Villarreal. Pepe Reina can’t keep the ball out as Andraz Sporar aims his shot from just outside the box into the right corner. A combination of palm and post leads to it creeping in.

Union SG are level at home to Toulouse. Algerian forward Mohamed Amoura makes it 1-1 there. A quick reminder: that match is around 10 mins behind everything else due to a traffic congestion-related delay to kick-off. As things stand Liverpool will top Group E after the first round of games.


Pre-match reading: Brighton v AEK Athens

Salah is on for Liverpool and is already terrifying the LASK backline. There’s an air of desperation to the defending now and 1-0 to the home side feels a long, long time ago.

GOAL! Sheriff 1-2 Roma (Lukaku 65)

Blushes potentially spared, and a fine goal. Serial loanee Romelu Lukaku works himself into space brilliantly despite the attentions of four defenders, and sidefoots in with the home keeper wrongfooted at his near post.

GOAL! Bayer Leverkusen 4-0 Hacken (Hofman 70)

OK, fairly safe now. Winger Jonas Hofmann joins the fun with his side’s fourth, put clear on the break and finishing gorgeously while one-on-one with the keeper. Let’s just say he just about won that particular duel.

West Ham v Backa Topola team news

Nine changes for West Ham, with James Ward-Prowse and Lucas Paqueta the only survivors from Saturday’s defeat to Manchester City.

West Ham (possible 4-3-3) Fabianski; Kehrer, Mavropanos, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Fornals, Ward-Prowse, Lucas Paqueta; Kudus, Ings, Benrahma.
Substitutes: Areola, Anang, Johnson, Zouma, Coufal, Antonio, Cornet, Aguerd, Soucek, Coventry, Emerson, Mubama.

Backa Topola (possible 4-4-2) Simic; Cvetkovic, Antonic, Dordevic, Petrovic; Radin, Dakovac, Stokic, Kuveljic; Stanic, Jovanovic.
Substitutes: Ilic, Jorgic, Milovanovic, Mirchevski, Pantovic, Cirkovic, Vulic, Krstic, Vlalukin, Sos, Rakonjac.

Referee Filip Glova (Slovakia).


GOAL! Bayer Leverkusen 3-0 Hacken (Boniface 66)

The Nigerian keeps up his stunning run of form! It’s now five in five games this season for Victor Boniface, as the Bundesliga side look like making the points safe.


Rangers v Real Betis team news

Rangers (possible 4-2-3-1) Butland; Tavernier, Goldson, Davies, Barisic; Lundstram, Cifuentes; Matondo, Roofe, Lawrence; Sima.
Substitutes: McCrorie, K Wright, Souttar, Jack, Dessers, Lammers, Sterling, S Wright, King, Devine, Lyall, McKinnon.

Real Betis (possible 4-2-3-1) Bravo; Bellerin, Pezzella, Bartra, Abner Vinicius; Rodriguez, Marc Roca; Luiz Henrique, Isco, Ezzalzouli; Borja Iglesias.
Substitutes: Fran Vieties, German Garcia, Miranda, Perez, Willian Jose, Rodri, Guardado, Aitor Rubial, Diao, Fernandez.

Referee Lawrence Visser (Belgium).

GOAL! LASK 1-2 Liverpool (Diaz 63)

Klopp’s side have, perhaps predictably, turned it around. But this came after jitters when Kelleher was forced into a fine save (albeit from a situation subsequently deemed offside).

In an instant, the ball is at the other end and the Colombian finishes deliciously from Gravenberch’s best moment in a stripy purple shirt so far, his whipped cross being met perfectly to leave Lawal helpless in the home goal.

Luis Diaz scores
Luis Diaz turns to celebrate as the Purples get a grip on the game. Photograph: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC/Getty Images


Brighton v AEK Athens team news: Dunk absent

The Brighton captain Lewis Dunk misses the first European game in the club’s history through injury. Evan Ferguson is also out, but Ansu Fati, Igor Julio, Solly March, Pervis Estupinan, Joao Pedro and Billy Gilmour all come into the team.

Brighton (possible 4-2-4) Steele; Milner, Van Hecke, Igor Julio, Estupinan; Gross, Gilmour; March, Ansu Fati, Joao Pedro, Mitoma.
Substitutes: Verbruggen, McGill, Lamptey, Webster, Dahoud, Lallana, Welbeck, Baleba, Adingra, Veltman, Buonanotte, Hinshelwood.

AEK Athens (possible 4-D-2) Stankovic; Sidibe, Mitoglou, D Szymanski, Hajsafi; Jonsson; Pineda, Amrabat; Gacinovic; Araujo, Garcia.
Substitutes: Athanasiadis, Theocharis, Mohammadi, Zuber, Rota, Ponce, Eliasson, Mantalos, Galanopoulos, Pizarro.

Referee Kristo Tohver (Estonia).

TEAM NEWS! 🚨 Here's our starting XI to face AEK Athens in the @EuropaLeague. 📝

📲 // #BHAFC 🔵⚪️

— Brighton & Hove Albion (@OfficialBHAFC) September 21, 2023


GOAL! Sheriff 1-1 Roma (Tovar 57)

The Italian side are pegged back! Cristian Tovar levels for the Moldovan side.

Mac Allister, Szoboszlai and Gomez are being readied on the Liverpool bench. Endo, Doak (who has quietly impressed with his dribbling, alas generally to no effect) and Bajcetic make way.

Elsewhere, GOALS GOALS GOALS. Rennes are 3-0 up (Yildirim 56), Qarabag are 1-0 up at Molde (Andrade 56) and Slavia Prague are 2-0 up at Servette (Ogbu 59).

GOAL! LASK 1-1 Liverpool (Núñez 56pen)

Brilliantly put away into the left corner by the Uruguayan.

Bajcetic’s best contribution of the game led to the foul in the box, which still whiffs of a little cheap, crossing in a passage of play that resulting in Diaz attempting to get a shot away but sending it well wide. But Ziereis’ swinging leg was a bit too wild for the referees’ liking.

Núñez celebrates
Núñez celebrates after finally equalising for the Purples. Photograph: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC/Getty Images



A tiny bit fortuitous as Ziereis follows through in challenging Diaz in the box. Núñez to take.

With movement on the bench … an air of desperation by Liverpool’s players hoping to make an impression tonight. Núñez tries to trick his way around half the LASK players in about three square yards around the penalty spot. To be fair he befuddles a few before quietly realising that his cause is somewhat daft, and he gets predictably crowded out.

You’ll note not a huge amount has been said about Gravenberch, Endo, Bajcetic and others tonight. There hasn’t been much to say, in truth. Bajcetic and Gravenberch do contribute superbly in a promising passage of play which frees Doak on the right. He cuts inside gloriously but it’s all for nought.

However …

A first-half goal I missed … Toulouse popped one in just before half-time in that late-starting game. Have updated the scores post below as a result. It was a Thijs Dallinga spot-kick following a shirt-yank by Union SG’s Christian Burgess.


Be honest, who did a quick search after seeing a Mac Allister in the Union SG lineup? Yep, Kevin Mac Allister (not that similarly spelled one) is indeed the older brother of Liverpool’s Alexis.

Alexis remains on the bench at LASK, alongside a fairly eye-popping array of talent, as Europa League match gets off and running again. Mohamed Salah looks like he’s being prepped for a warm-up, at the very, very least.

If you haven’t already, why not sign up to Football Daily?

Today’s is headed by Barry Glendenning on Brighton’s European adventure. But you can only see the abridged version if you haven’t signed up to Football Daily. The cool cats get the full-fat version, y’see, and get to see posts like this and think: “Christ, I read that hours ago.” Why not be one of the eye-rolling cool cats, people?

Europa Conference League half-time scores

Group E: Legia Warsaw 2-2 Aston Villa
Zrinjski Mostar 0-3 AZ Alkmaar
Group F: Ferencvaros 2-1 Cukaricki
Genk 1-2 Fiorentina
Group G: Eintracht Frankfurt 1-1 Aberdeen
HJK Helsinki 1-0 PAOK
Group H: Fenerbahce 2-0 Nordsjælland
Ludogorets 0-0 Spartak Trnava

Europa League half-time scores

Group E: Lask 1-0 Liverpool
Union SG 0-1 Toulouse
Group F: Panathinaikos 1-0 Villarreal
Rennes 2-0 Maccabi Haifa
Group G: Servette 0-1 Slavia Prague
Sheriff 0-1 Roma
Group H: Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 Hacken
Qarabag 0-0 Molde


GOAL! Sheriff 0-1 Roma (Paredes 45)

Just as it seems all the HT scores are in … Roma find time to sneak an opener in. Leandro Paredes gets his side off the mark deep into first-half stoppage time.

Villa have equalised in Warsaw through Lucas Digne. A round-up of all the scores in the Conference League games will come shortly.

At LASK, Liverpool are more than a little ragged at times, but are also taking a kicking or two. Zulj finds himself in the book after cheekily curtailing an attempted Tsimikas break through the middle.

A bad miss at LASK or a stunning stop? Darwin Núñez gets a snappy enough header goalbound from a few yards out, but absolutely all of Lawal has made his ground across the line to meet it, and he manages to paw it away. It’s still 1-0 to the home side there.

Darwin Núñez goes close for Liverpool
Darwin Núñez’ goal-bound header is saved by the LASK ‘keeper. Photograph: Kieran McManus/Shutterstock


Goals goals goals … Slavia Prague are off the mark through Lukas Masopust. They’re 1-0 up at Servette.

Meanwhile Rennes have doubled their lead, and this is one well worth hunting down yourselves – a floated free-kick 35 yards out is kind of dealt with, but after a couple of flailing headers, it breaks just outside the box, where Adrien Truffert pops a beautiful volley tight by the right post. Rennes 2-0 Maccabi Haifa


Arms in the air and yelps at LASK … as Liverpool vainly claim for a handball in the box. Tsimikas’ whipped cross is cleared by home keeper Tobias Lawal’s boot straight into the elbow of his own defender, situated about a handful of spans away from him. Suffice to say that would have been more than a little harsh. But oh boy have we seen them given. Sanity prevails in this instance.

More toots on the Conference League conch … Villa have gone 2-1 down at Legia Warsaw, Ernest Muci bringing the pain there. Aberdeen have got themselves on level terms at Eintracht Frankfurt, with Dante Polvara equalising after an Omar Marmoush penalty for the home side.

Legia Warsaw celebrate a goal.
Villa are under the kosh at the Bescott…sorry… Stadion Miejski Legii Warszawa. Photograph: Czarek Sokołowski/AP


Mildly painful wordplay-based correspondence from Peter Oh …

I reckon that the Ligue 1 visitors to Union SG are fully aware that this match is theirs Toulouse.

I’m ashamed to say I did a little snort at that.

GOAL! Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 Hacken (Adli 16)

Granit Xhaka news … 16 minutes in and he’s key to Leverkusen’s second against Hacken. Amine Adli gets on the end of a floated cross from the former Arsenal player, and volleys emphatically into the roof of the net. 2-0 Leverkusen


GOAL! Lask 1-0 Liverpool (Flecker 14)

A lasher at LASK! The home side work a corner to the edge of the box, where Florian Flecker takes a touch and then absolutely smashes past Caoimhin Kelleher in the Liverpool goal. Far from nestling in the corner, admittedly, but the Irish keeper still had absolutely no chance. Their first real sniff of an opportunity, and taken absolutely splendidly. LASK 1-0 Liverpool

Almost immediately, Doak shows his dribbling skills at the other end, but nobody is there to poke his ball across the box home.

Florian Flecker scores for LASK
Florian Flecker wallops LASK into an early lead! Photograph: Kieran McManus/Shutterstock


GOAL! Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 Hacken (Wirtz 10)

Kick-off news … Royal Union SG v Toulouse was delayed for 10 mins due to gridlocked roads outside the Joseph Marien Stadium, but is now under way. Hope the delay allowed those fans banging their heads against steering wheels to make it in safely.

Goal news … a lovely dinked finish from Florian Wirtz gets Bayer Leverkusen off the mark at home to Hacken.


Over in Conference League corner, Aston Villa might be in for a lively night. They went 1-0 down to a Pawl Wszolek strike in the third minute but equalised in the sixth through a Jhon Durán header.

Liverpool, clad in their admittedly eye-messingly garish purple third kit, are predictably penning LASK back deep in their own half, but to little effect so far.

Rennes aren’t messing about. The Ligue 1 side are already 1-0 up against Maccabi Haifi as Ludovic Blas feasts on a rebound and slams it home.

Ludovic Blas celebrates his goal for Rennes
Ludovic Blas leads the Rennes formation celebration. Photograph: Jeremías González/AP


Peeeeeeeeep … looks like Royale Union SG v Toulouse is starting a little tardily, but the other early Europa League games are off and running.

Bit of mouth-watering for one of the 8pm (BST) affairs. An extremely exciting Brighton join the European fray against AEK. I hope you’ll indulge me a quick wave to Guardian colleague Steph Fincham, who has been a little under the weather in recent times and I very much hope enjoys her club’s first continental adventure.

Joe P eyes up the team sheets and mails:

That Liverpool lineup. Wow. Does Jürgen think this is a Carabao Cup tie?

I’ll have to wag a finger in a “woah, woah, woah” fashion here. I’m actually extremely excited by Liverpool’s side tonight.

If the published formation is correct, Stefan Bajcetic – who looked a real find in midfield last season – is massively intriguing. Obviously seeing “the other two” of Klopp’s rebuild of central areas – Waturu Endo and Ryan Gravenberch – is at face value of most interest but many, many people will have eyes firmly fixed on the right wing tonight.

Ben Doak (who Andrew Bartlett correctly identified I’d misspelled in the original lineup – now fixed ta), is a player who looks capable of having tails bolt upright and wagging. Aged just 17 and despite being still to score a senior goal for the club, he lit up the pitch for Scotland U21s against Spain earlier this month in a way that didn’t just have his manager, Scot Gemmill, purring, but it also apparently put him firmly in the frame for a spot in the senior setup.

Team lineups: Group H

Bayer Leverkusen v Hacken
Bayer Leverkusen:
Kovar; Stanisic, Tah, Tapsoba, Grimaldo; Tella, Xhaka, Palacios, Wirtz; Boniface, Adli
Hacken: Abrahamsson; Sandberg, Ousou, Hovland, Laursen; Rygaard, Sam. Gustafson, Amane; Chilufya, Sim. Gustafson, Layouni

Qarabag v Molde
Lunev; Silva, Medvedev, Medina, Jafarguliyev; Romão, Jankovic; Andrade, Benzia, Zoubir; Juninho
Molde: Karlstrøm; Øyvann, Bjørnbak, Hagelskjær; Løvik, Breivik, Ellingsen, Kaasa, Haugen; Eikrem, Berisha


Team lineups: Group G

Servette v Slavia Prague
Frick; Bolla, Rouiller, Severin, Mazikou; Stevanovic, Cognat, Douline, Kutesa; Antunes, Bedia
Slavia Prague: Mandous; Masopust, Holes, Ogbu; Tomic, Sevcik, Dorley, Dumitrescu; Doudera, Wallem; Van Buren

Sheriff Tiraspol v Roma
Koval; Tovar, Kiki, Garananga, Artunduaga; Zohouri, Ademo, Fernandes; Ankeye, Talal, Ngom Mbekeli
Roma: Svilar; Llorente, N’Dicka, Mancini; Karsdorp, Sanches, Cristante, Aouar; El Shaarawy, Lukaku, Zalewski

Team lineups: Group F

Panathinaikos v Villarreal
Panathinaikos: Brignoli; Kotsiras, Schenkeveld, H Magnusson, Mladenovic; Perez, Bernard, Cerin; Palacios, Ioannidis, Mancini
Villarreal: Reina; Kiko Femenia, Mandi, Gabbia, Pedraza; D Suárez, Capoue, Comesaña, Trigueros; Morales, Brereton Diaz

Rennes v Maccabi Haifa
Rennes: Mandanda; Assignon, Omari, Theate, Truffert; Matic; D Doué, Bourigeaud, Blas, Salah; Yildirim
Maccabi Haifa: Nitzan; Khalaili, Sundgren, Seck, Goldberg, Cornud; Jaber, Chery, Cafumana, David; Pierrot

Team lineups: Group E

Lask v Liverpool
Lask: Lawal; Ziereis, Andrade, Lucheneder; Flecker, Horvath, Jovicic, Renner; Havel, Zulj, Ljubicic
Liverpool: Kelleher; Bajcetic, Konaté, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Elliott, Gravenberch, Endo; Doak, Núñez, Diaz

Union SG v Toulouse
Union SG: Moris; Mac Allister, Burgess, Leysen; Castro-Montes, Vanhoutte, Sadiki, Lapoussin; Amani, Nilsson, Puertas
Toulouse: Restes; Desler, Costa, Nicolaisen, Suazo; Cásseres, Sierro; Aboukhlal, Schmidt, Dønnum; Dallinga


Gremlins report from Nick Goldspink …

Um, so I followed the link to Guardian Europe just to see, and I was startled to discover that the default weather setting was for Bootle? Is there something we need to know? Will I need my passport ready coming off the M62? I don’t live in Bootle.

Unfortunately he didn’t include the weather forecast for Bootle, so for anyone in and around the Sefton area currently reading from a room without windows, outside is currently a gentle breeze with sunny intervals.


Greetings, and welcome to this season’s full-throated return of Thursday Europa League footy. Today’s fun and frolics pan out thusly …

5.45pm BST

Group E: Lask v Liverpool, Union Saint-Gilloise v Toulouse
Group F: Panathinaikos v Villarreal, Rennes v Maccabi Haifa
Group G: Servette v Slavia Prague, Sheriff Tiraspol v Roma
Group H: Bayer Leverkusen v Hacken, Qarabag v Molde

After I’ve pigeon-flapped through the early (BST) games, calm old pro Rob Smyth will be smoothly accompanying you with his Europa euphonium for the following later (BST) entertainments. The Conference League conch is also on hand if any unexpectedly exciting updates catch the eye.

8pm BST

Group A: Olympiakos v Freiburg, West Ham v Backa Topola
Group B: Ajax v Marseille, Brighton v AEK Athens
Group C: Rangers v Real Betis, Sparta Prague v Aris Limassol
Group D: Atalanta v Rakow Czestochowa, Sturm Graz v Sporting

In case you missed it, the Guardian had quite the announcement on the European front yesterday. Those not already being auto-pointed in that direction (hello VPN users!) can find the new, dedicated Europe website homepage here.


Stuart Goodwin (early games) and Rob Smyth (late games)

The GuardianTramp

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