Europa Conference League

Europa Conference League (119)

Celtic's Europa Conference League campaign came to an end at the first hurdle as they went down 2-0, and 5-1 on aggregate, to Norwegian champions Bodo/Glimt.

The damage had largely been done in last week's first leg, with Bodo/Glimt holding a 3-1 aggregate lead heading into Thursday's encounter in the Arctic Circle.

Yet an abject start from Celtic allowed Ola Solbakken to put the home side further ahead, with Joe Hart having to make some excellent saves to keep the scoreline down.

Despite improvements after the break, Celtic were 2-0 down when Hugo Vetlesen steered home to add gloss to a fine two-legged performance from Bodo/Glimt, who take their place in the last 16.

Solbakken played a pivotal part in one of Bodo/Glimt's goals in the first leg, and the 23-year-old needed just nine minutes to put the hosts ahead as he placed a crisp, low strike across Hart.

Celtic's goalkeeper kept the Hoops' swiftly diminishing hopes alive when he denied Amahl Pellegrino soon after, with Bodo/Glimt having five shots inside the opening 20 minutes.

Hart made a fantastic stop eight minutes before half-time, once again keeping Pellegrino at bay, with Solbakken's venomous follow-up deflecting just wide.

Liel Abada and Callum McGregor were tasked with infecting some resolved into Celtic after the break, and the visitors did improve, having a penalty appeal for handball turned down in the 51st minute.

Daizen Maeda lashed over but Ange Postecoglou's team never looked likely to have enough to turn the deficit around, and Celtic were down and out when Vetlesen finished calmly from Morten Agnes Konradsen's cross.

Leicester City eased into the last 16 of the Europa Conference League as a scarcely deserved 3-1 win at Randers secured a 7-2 aggregate victory. 

Despite a difficult season to this point, Leicester are considered to be among the favourites for a competition they had hoped not to be in when their Europa League campaign began. 

Moments of quality from Harvey Barnes and James Maddison ensured there would be no nerves for Brendan Rodgers' men in their knockout round play-off, although this was far from a convincing performance. 

On the balance of play, Randers – beaten 4-1 in England – could well have threatened a dramatic second-leg turnaround in Denmark, but they passed up a series of chances and allowed Leicester to emerge with a one-sided final score. 

Light snow and a poor pitch contributed to tricky conditions for flowing football – not that Barnes was slowed inside two minutes as he raced away and shaped a low finish around Patrik Carlgren into the bottom-right corner. 

Randers were far less clinical from a similar opportunity at the other end soon afterwards. Kasper Schmeichel saved from Stephen Odey and Jakob Ankersen in quick succession when both dallied in front of goal following a four-man breakaway. 

Chances continued to come and go for the home side, who had Bjorn Kopplin poke wide, Vito Hammershoy-Mistrati prod across the face of goal and Simon Piesinger blast over the crossbar before half-time. 

Odey drew an instinctive stop from Schmeichel following the restart and had a shot blocked on the line from the subsequent corner. 

The forward found time to miss the far post when well placed too, before further ruthless contributions from another of Leicester's key men saw Maddison pick out the top-left corner with a fine free-kick and then the top-right in open play four minutes later. 

Odey at least had the final say, pouncing on a Schmeichel error to deny the Denmark international a hard-earned clean sheet. 

Daizen Maeda handed Celtic a Europa Conference League lifeline after his goal gave the hosts something to cling to in a dismal 3-1 first-leg defeat against Bodo/Glimt in the play-offs.

Goals from Runar Espejord, Amahl Pellegrino and Hugo Vetlesen left the Scottish Premiership leaders reeling, as Kjetil Knutsen's side seized the advantage in Glasgow.

On the back of their Europa League exit last December, Ange Postecoglou's hosts headed into the inaugural edition of UEFA's newest competition looking to deliver a positive result.

Yet they were rattled early on by the Eliteserien champions, who struck inside the first six minutes when Espejord turned Joe Hart the wrong way with a low close-range strike.

Celtic's subsequent struggle to click in the final third left them labouring for a response before the break, and an arguably lenient booking for a Pellegrino foul further frustrated their players.

The winger wasted little time after the restart to make the most of a potential escape, too, when he latched onto Espejord's flick to tuck another close-range finish into the net.

The arrival of Reo Hatate just beyond the hour mark saw Postecoglou's side find a fresh burst of life, and when Maeda cut the gap with a fine header, it looked like they had a chance to rally.

But the visitors promptly responded through Vetlesen's deflected 20-yard strike to put any comeback to bed, taking a crucial upper hand into next week's return fixture as they look to push on to the last 16.

 

What does it mean? Celtic at risk of successive knockout blows

Having dropped into the third tier of European football after a third-place Europa League group-stage finish, the Bhoys welcomed their visitors with the hope of a statement result in response.

Yet with nothing to show for their lacklustre efforts on a cold February night in Glasgow, they now find themselves facing the prospect of back-to-back European eliminations.

Despite their domestic dominance this term, Postecoglou's side have failed to fully convince in two competitions now – and unless they muster a major response, they face another immediate exit.

Hosts pay for wasted opportunity

With 57 clocked up this term across 26 games in the Scottish Premiership, Celtic have not typically wanted for goals.

But with just six shots on target from 15 attempts and just 1.3 expected goals, they were made to suffer for their lack of clarity in front of the net against their Norwegian rivals.

Bodo/Glimt display ruthless edge

Having now gone 10 European games without defeat, Bodo continue to prove themselves among the neutral's favourites following another fine display.

If not as flamboyantly smash-and-grab as their 6-1 blowout against Roma, their three-goal haul nevertheless thrilled their supporters – and with just four shots on target all game, they showed a clear ruthless edge to seize the advantage.

What's next?

Celtic return to domestic action in the Scottish Premiership, welcoming Dundee to Celtic Park, while Bodo/Glimt will bide their time for the reverse last-16 clash back home in Norway next week.

Tottenham's postponed Europa Conference League group game with Rennes will not be rearranged, UEFA announced on Saturday.

European football's governing body indicated a new date for the game could not be agreed upon by the two clubs, after COVID-19 cases in the Spurs camp caused a call-off on Thursday's fixture.

It remains to be seen what UEFA rules, with Tottenham having needed a win from the Rennes game to reach the knockout stage. Rennes sit top of Group G, after three wins and two draws from their five games. All other group-stage games have been completed.

In a statement, UEFA said it had been in contact with Tottenham and Rennes in an effort "to find a viable solution in order to reschedule the match".

"Unfortunately, despite all efforts, a solution that could work for both clubs could not be found," said UEFA. "As a consequence, the match can no longer be played and the matter will, therefore, be referred to the UEFA control, ethics and disciplinary body for a decision to be taken in accordance with annex J of the above-mentioned competition regulations."

This section of regulations states that in the case of it being not possible to reschedule a game by a specific deadline – in this case, December 31 is the specified cut-off – UEFA may impose sanctions.

The UEFA guidelines state: "If it is not possible to reschedule the match within the final deadline... the club that cannot play the match will be held responsible for the match not taking place and the match will be declared by the UEFA control, ethics and disciplinary body to be forfeited by the club, which will be considered to have lost it by 3-0."

The same section of regulations states: "Moreover, the UEFA control, ethics and disciplinary body may take further disciplinary measures if the circumstances so justify."

Tottenham boss Antonio Conte said in midweek that eight players and five members of staff at Tottenham had contracted the virus in what he labelled a "serious problem".

Rennes released a statement claiming Tottenham had made a "unilateral" decision to postpone Thursday's clash without UEFA ratification, although the governing body later confirmed the postponement to the French club.

Rennes have two Ligue 1 matches and one Coupe de France game before they take a break over Christmas, resuming their season on January 8.

Spurs' Premier League game against Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday has also been postponed because of the outbreak. Unlike Rennes, they are due to play through the Christmas period.

The draw for the knockout round play-off draw is due to take place on Monday, featuring the eight runners-up from the Europa Conference League group stage and the eight third-placed teams from the Europa League group stage. One seeded place remains unresolved ahead of that draw.

Tottenham sit three points behind Dutch side Vitesse in Group G of the Conference League, as UEFA moves to bring finality to the situation.

Tottenham's Europa Conference League hopes hang in the balance after they suffered a humiliating 2-1 defeat against Mura.

Amadej Marosa scored a dramatic stoppage-time winner as 10-man Spurs were beaten for the first time under Antonio Conte.

Prior to Marosa's heroics, the Group G contest had appeared to be heading for a stalemate with Harry Kane cancelling out Tomi Horvat's first-half strike at Fazanerija.

The visitors, who were a man light for over an hour in Slovenia after Ryan Sessegnon was sent off for two bookable offences, now need to beat Rennes in two weeks' time to guarantee progress into the knockout stages.

Antonio Conte preached patience after his Tottenham tenure started with a "crazy game" against Vitesse in the Europa Conference League. 

Spurs emerged as 3-2 winners at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Thursday, but they made things difficult for themselves after racing into a three-goal lead through Son Heung-min, Lucas Moura and an own goal from Jacob Rasmussen inside the opening half hour. 

Son's opener meant the South Korea international has scored Tottenham's first goal under each of their three most recent permanent bosses. 

Rasmussen made amends for his error before Matus Bero reduced the deficit further seven minutes later, with Cristian Romero's dismissal putting the hosts under pressure with half an hour left to play.

Vitesse were unable to complete the comeback, though, with red cards for Danilho Doekhi and goalkeeper Markus Schubert in the closing stages bringing an end to their hopes. 

Conte picked a strong team for the game – he made just one change to the XI picked by his predecessor Nuno Espirito Santo against Manchester United at the weekend – handing Son and Harry Kane their first starts in the competition. 

But with Spurs back in action at Everton in the Premier League on Sunday and the international break coming immediately after, Conte warned it will take time for him to stamp his mark on the team.

"It was a crazy game. Usually I don't like this type of game – a crazy game means anything can happen. But at the same time, I think we should win and we won," Conte told BT Sport. 

"We were winning 3-0 then conceded two goals we can avoid. After the red card we were in trouble. To win while suffering is good for this team, these players. 

"They needed to improve their confidence. They needed to work a lot. The problem is we have to find the time to work. We have two days until the next game, then it's the international break. 

"For sure, we have to improve. It's not easy because in two days we prepared for this [Vitesse] game, now we have only one day. Tomorrow it's impossible to work with the players who played tonight. They used a lot of energy. Tomorrow they have to rest and we'll work with the players who didn't play. 

"We need to have a bit of patience because we need to work on many aspects – tactically and physically. I'm not afraid about the work. I know only through the work you can reach important targets." 

It was just the second time in a major European competition that a game has seen five goals and three red cards, after Braga's 4-1 success against Fenerbahce in the Europa League in 2016. 

Feyenoord have condemned a "totally reprehensible" attack on top officials from Europa Conference League rivals Union Berlin at a Rotterdam restaurant.

According to reports in the Netherlands, Union president Dirk Zingler and director Oskar Kosche were among those sitting outside when a group of men began hurling missiles, including glasses and chairs.

Feyenoord said "minor injuries" were sustained by those under assault, declaring those responsible had no right to consider themselves supporters of the Eredivisie club.

In a statement, Feyenoord confirmed the attack on Wednesday evening occurred in the city centre.

"It was a totally reprehensible event that should not happen to anyone who is a guest in the city for what should be a beautiful European football night," Feyenoord said.

"Feyenoord thinks it is terrible that this has happened to representatives of Union Berlin. The club therefore distances itself in every possible way from the people who have reduced themselves to this cowardly act and believes that no one who portrays Feyenoord and the city in such an insane way in a negative light can and should call themselves a supporter. The club cannot get over the fact that people think it is in any way acceptable to display such behaviour."

Feyenoord and Union go head to head on Thursday evening in Group E of the third-tier competition. The teams meet again in Berlin on October.

The Dutch club added: "Feyenoord is of the opinion that the [sporting] battle between two football clubs, in this case Feyenoord and Union Berlin, takes place on the field at all times for 90 minutes and never in any other way, especially not by threatening or injuring. For people who think otherwise, there is zero place at the club.

"Feyenoord also hopes that the perpetrators are found and punished for this shocking case of public violence and although outside its sphere of influence, Feyenoord apologise to Union Berlin for what has happened."

Union responded by quote-tweeting the statement, adding: "Thanks for the clear words Feyenoord."

Local police confirmed they were investigating the disturbance.

Rotterdam-based newspaper Algemeen Dagblad reported a woman needed hospital treatment for a head injury sustained in the attack.

The co-owner of De Huismeester restaurant, Pascal Dijkkamp, described the incident to the newspaper, saying: "They started throwing everything to hand: chairs, glasses, ashtrays. We've already collected a large garbage bag full of shards. A chair is completely written off."

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