Rangers shock Real Betis to progress to Europa League knockouts

Liverpool lose to Union Saint-Gilloise; Brighton top group after late victory over Marseille

Europa League: Real Betis 2 Rangers 3

Kemar Roofe targeted another Europa League final after his late winner against Real Betis sent Rangers into the knockout stages.

The Light Blues were heading for the Conference League before Roofe turned the ball home from close range in the 78th minute in Seville to earn a 3-2 victory and top spot in Group C.

Roofe, who played a key role in Rangers’ run to the 2022 final, told TNT: “It’s special [the Europa League]. My time here has been full of special moments, getting to the final, and hopefully we can do the same now.


“It was chaos. Full of emotions, hard work. We came here to get three points and managed to do it.”

Europa League: Brighton 1 Marseille 0

Joao Pedro made sure Brighton avoided the inconvenience of a Europa League play-off as his superb strike made sure the Seagulls edged Marseille to the top of Group B with a 1-0 victory.

Brazilian Joao Pedro crashed in an 89th-minute winner to continue Brighton’s dream first European campaign.

Marseille, struck the post and the bar through Jonathan Clauss and Amine Harit – and they will now face one of the Champions League third-placed finishers – Galatasaray, Lens, Braga, Benfica, Feyenoord, AC Milan, Young Boys or Shakhtar Donetsk – while Brighton skip straight to the last 16.

Simon Adingra was offered the match’s first chance in the seventh minute when he skipped in from the right to curl powerlessly towards Pau Lopez.

One of the storylines of the game was Joao Pedro versus Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with the pair the joint-top-scorers of the Europa League group stage with five strikes each.

Joao Pedro always looked likelier to bolster his numbers as he had three half-decent first-half opportunities.

Firstly, the Brazilian could not control the pace of Jack Hinshelwood’s drilled cross and blazed over. Then he had an overhead kick blocked at point-blank range, before the frontman twisted onto his left foot and scuffed towards Lopez.

At the other end, former Arsenal and Chelsea hitman Aubameyang was kept anonymous by Lewis Dunk – who impressed in front of England manager Gareth Southgate.

Kaoru Mitoma also muddied Lopez’s gloves but caused little worry for the Spaniard.

In fact, the closest either side came to a first-half opener was when Clauss found a pocket of space on the edge of the Brighton box in the 15th minute.

The full-back’s shot looped up off Pascal Gross and over a stranded Jason Steele but fortunately for the hosts onto the underside of the bar.

Marseille stuck the frame of the goal again after the break as midfielder Harit fashioned himself space in a crowded box to smash against the base of the post.

Billy Gilmour tried his luck from range and Adingra’s knack of slipping at inopportune moments had him strike over twice.

The final 20 minutes saw any pretence Marseille were attempting to attack ended as they parked 11 players behind the ball and it came back to haunt them.

Substitute Evan Ferguson found a pocket of space in the box but the Irishman could not keep his shot down.

And moments later Joao Pedro notched his sixth goal of the competition with an emphatic finish from just inside the box into the top corner after collecting the ball from Gross.

Roberto De Zerbi, desperate to avoid an extra round, jumped into a section of the home fans to the side of his technical areas as the Amex erupted.

Europa League: Union Saint-Gilloise 2 Liverpool 1

Liverpool’s youngest European team in their history found the Europa League just too tough for them in Brussels as Jurgen Klopp’s experimental side lost the dead rubber 2-1 at Union Saint Gilloise.

A first senior goal for the ever-improving 20-year-old centre-back Jarell Quansah, their 14th different scorer this season, was the only highlight on a testing evening for Klopp’s young guns.

Quansah’s 40th-minute leveller equalled a club record 34th-successive goalscoring match, with Manchester United on Sunday standing in the way of a new landmark and Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker all to return after being left at home.

Liverpool’s top spot was already secure despite a second defeat but the win took Union into the Europa Conference League play-offs.

The team’s average age was just 21.9 years old – Wataru Endo, 30, five years older than the next senior player – with only Ibrahima Konate and Cody Gakpo considered regular starters.

No surprise then the early threat came from the hosts, defeated only once on home soil this season, with Noah Sidiki and Koki Machida both off target.

A rare attack saw Gakpo’s balance fail him at the vital moment after chesting down Conor Bradley’s crossfield pass inside the area but Liverpool, with six players 20 or under, understandably struggled for rhythm and control.

Ireland’s Caoimhin Kelleher saved well from Mohammed Amoura and Gustaf Nilsson, who outpaced Quansah to a ball played into the right channel – an avenue from which the opener came.

Both Curtis Jones and Endo looked like they may have been fouled before Amoura burst free to score after Kelleher half-saved his initial effort but VAR ruled there was not enough in those challenges or an offside.

Quansah’s goal was perfectly executed; the defender killing dead Jones’ corner to blast home as compensation for the last-gasp equaliser VAR denied him in the 4-3 defeat to Toulouse last month.

However, Kelleher’s positioning was questionable when Cameron Puertas beat him too easily at his right-hand post just before the break as Union retook the lead.

Joe Gomez replaced Konate – both are competing to start against Manchester United on Sunday but Quansah was the best centre-back on show – and Ryan Gravenberch came on for Endo to reduce the average age even further but it did little to change the flow.

When Puertas beat Kelleher again softly, this time down to his left, Klopp had already sent on Darwin Nunez and 18-year-old left-back Calum Scanlon before VAR ruled out the goal for Lazare Amani’s handball.

Nilsson heading wide and Puertas forcing another save maintained the pressure, however, and the fact Liverpool’s second shot of the game – Anthony Moris saving from Gravenberch and later from Harvey Elliott – in the 78th minute showed how little impact the visitors had.

Conference League: Zrinjski Mostar 1 Aston Villa 1

Nicolo Zaniolo’s first goal for Aston Villa helped them seal their place in the Europa Conference League’s last 16 after a 1-1 draw against Zrinjski Mostar.

Zaniolo gave a much-changed Villa the lead in Bosnia and Herzegovina just after the hour-mark before Matija Malekinusic fired a spectacular equaliser for the hosts in the closing stages.

The point was enough to ensure Villa finished top of Group E ahead of Legia Warsaw to avoid two play-off matches and progress straight into the knockout stages, but it was far from convincing by Unai Emery’s side.

Goalkeeper Filip Marschall was handed his Villa debut and Jacob Ramsey made his first start in five months as Emery made eight changes from Saturday’s win against Arsenal.

Matty Cash, Alex Moreno, Leander Dendoncker, Moussa Diaby, Jhon Duran and Zaniolo also started.