Tottenham, Athletic advance in UEFA Europa League


Tottenham Hotspur got the better of Shamrock Rovers in their Europa League Group A encounter on Thursday, but only after the League of Ireland side had taken a shock second-half lead at White Hart Lane.
Stephen Rice sent the huge travelling support into raptures when he deflected a Gary Twigg shot past Spurs ‘keeper Carlo Cudicini five minutes into the second-half. The goal had come completely against the run of play, and the Premier League aristocrats were back level 10 minutes later when Roman Pavlyuchenko headed home from point-blank range. Within six minutes, Jermaine Defoe and Giovani Dos Santos had also netted to complete the turnaround as Spurs ran out 3-1 winners to go level with Rubin Kazan — who drew 2-2 with PAOK Salonika earlier in the day — on four points atop the group. It was an excellent night all round for England’s representatives, with Stoke City coming from behind to beat Turkish giants Besiktas 2-1 at the Britannia Stadium. Peter Crouch cancelled out Roberto Hilbert’s opener before a late Jonathan Walters penalty handed Stoke their first win in Group E. A 1-1 draw in the group’s other game between Maccabi Tel-Aviv and Dynamo Kiev allowed Stoke to go top. Paris Saint-Germain have been tipped as one of the favourites to win the competition, but they were beaten 2-0 away to Athletic Bilbao. First-half goals from Igor Gabilondo and Markel Susaeta gave the Spanish side a second win in Group F, while Mohamed Sissoko was sent-off to complete a miserable day for the French league leaders. There was no such luck for Celtic, however, with Neil Lennon’s side being denied a first win in Group I by Udinese in a tale of two penalties. Fulham had gone eight games without a win in all competitions before travelling to Denmark to face Odense. However, Andrew Johnson scored either side of half-time to secure a 2-0 win for the Cottagers, who move level on four points with Twente Enschede at the top of Group K. The Dutch club came from behind to win 4-1 at home to Wisla Krakow, with giant Austrian striker Marc Janko scoring twice.

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