Tag Archives: bilbao

AC Milan the only option for Mario Balotelli after Juventus cool interest in signing Man City striker

Milan the only option for Balotelli after Juventus cool their interest

By
John Edwards

PUBLISHED:

12:05 GMT, 29 January 2013

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UPDATED:

12:14 GMT, 29 January 2013

Mario Balotelli hopes of a return to
Serie A are resting with AC Milan after Juventus distanced themselves
from a move for the Manchester City striker.

Despite mounting speculation that
Juve had joined Milan in the race to sign him, Sportsmail understands
they have no interest in him and are happy to leave the way clear for
their Serie A rivals.

Transfer talks: Milan have made offer for Man City striker Mario Balotelli

Transfer talks: Milan have made offer for Man City striker Mario Balotelli

Manager Antonio Conte is content with his current striking options, particularly after wrapping up a deal for Athletic Bilbao marksman Fernando Llorente.

Additionally, they have taken former Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka on a five-month loan.

Baloteli is now anxiously waiting to see if Milan can come up with an acceptable offer. They are ready to pay up to 20million, City are holding out for 24m.

Martin Keown says that teams are taking the FA Cup seriously again

Martin Keown: New trend: taking the FA Cup seriously… apart from Cardiff

By
Martin Keown

PUBLISHED:

23:55 GMT, 6 January 2013

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UPDATED:

00:22 GMT, 7 January 2013

It was nice to see a lot of Premier League teams taking the FA Cup seriously, including the champions Manchester City.

Outside the Premier League, though, Malky Mackay made 11 changes to his Cardiff side and it backfired, with Macclesfield knocking them out. Yet Cardiff might not mind.

The Championship leaders have been top before, only to fade — they want promotion this time. So maybe the sacrifice of going out of the Cup is bearable.

Cardiff's chopping and changing caused their downfall

Knocked out: Cardiff's chopping and changing caused their downfall

Brighton are bright

A look at the quality in Brighton’s line-up means their win over Newcastle should not have been such a surprise. They have Wayne Bridge, Andrea Orlandi, who was at Swansea, and David Lopez, who has played more than 100 games for Athletic Bilbao.

They are talented. The Newcastle players wanted to come in and make a mark. Instead, they have just been part of a disastrous result.

Andrea Orlandi's finish stole the show against Newcastle

Spanish style: Andrea Orlandi's finish stole the show against Newcastle

Dickov kops good news

What a weekend for Paul Dickov. When his backroom staff were put on gardening leave it sent out the message that he would likely be next with the team struggling near the bottom of League One.

But his squad responded by posting one of the most impressive wins of the weekend away at Nottingham Forest. It went slightly unnoticed, but Dickov will now be relishing the visit of Liverpool.

Dickov's Oldham stunned Alex McLeish and his new club Nottingham Forest

what a peformance! Dickov's Oldham stunned Alex McLeish and his new club Nottingham Forest

Ryan passes ever test

Ryan Giggs has been excellent of late and his pass to set up the Manchester United equaliser for Robin van Persie was sublime.

It probably secured him another year at the club. Giggs has been playing back out wide again recently. He doesn’t try to beat people for fun like he used to, he just hits fantastic diagonal balls. He doesn’t expect too much of himself.

Giggs once again proved his worth setting up Robin Van Persie for United's equaliser

Old age no barrier: Giggs once again proved his worth setting up Robin Van Persie for United's equaliser

A right Royals booster

Reading’s win at Crawley could give them the confidence they need to kickstart their Premier League campaign. It could have all gone wrong for Brian McDermott after his side fell behind so early, but they have good spirit at that club and stayed calm.

Going out could have been a major embarrassment and impacted on their chances of survival but they just got on with it and will fancy their chances of reaching the fifth round.

Reading went behind after just two minutes to Crawley but knuckled down to win

Keeping the faith: Reading went behind after just two minutes to Crawley but knuckled down to win

Gibbs proves his class

I hope Kieran Gibbs got home and watched a re-run of his performance against Swansea. If he did, Gibbs would see just how well he played. The left back is such a good player and can be even better if he continues to perform at this level.

He took the game to Swansea, got a deserved goal, and you can see there is so much more to come from him. In the past he has seemed a little apologetic to be in an Arsenal shirt. He shouldn’t feel like that.

Kieran Gibbs put himself back in the mind of Roy Hodgson

England ambitions: Kieran Gibbs put himself back in the mind of Roy Hodgson

Manchester City and Spurs face battle to sign Fernando Llorente in January

City and Spurs face battle to sign Llorente in January as club insist striker will not be sold

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UPDATED:

20:46 GMT, 18 December 2012

Athletic Bilbao president Josu Urrutia has reiterated the Primera Division club have no intention of selling wantaway star striker Fernando Llorente during the January transfer window.

The Spain international's future is uncertain after announcing this summer he would not be signing a new contract with Athletic once his current one runs out at the end of the season.

A host of clubs across Europe, including Manchester City and Tottenham, are interested in the 27-year-old but Athletic intend to make any interested parties wait until next summer to get their man.

Hot property: Fernando Llorente is wanted by a host of clubs across Europe

Hot property: Fernando Llorente is wanted by a host of clubs across Europe

Wants out: Llorente is hoping to quit Bilbao

Wants out: Llorente is hoping to quit Bilbao

Athletic are hoping Llorente can still have an impact on the field before he leaves as Marcelo Bielsa's side attempt to recover from a poor start to the season.

Urrutia told reporters today: 'I've a feeling these decisions will not please everyone, but I think they are the most beneficial for Athletic.

'We've taken our decision and at the moment we're sticking to it. He's an important player, he's shown that, and the team is more competitive with him. We hope that he continues to score important goals from now until the end of the season.'

Llorente was the joint-leading Spanish goalscorer in La Liga last season with 17 goals but has only played a bit-part role this term following his decision to leave the Basque outfit.

Athletic won just two of their opening nine Primera Division matches and were knocked out of the Europa League – a competition they finished runners-up in last season – at the group stage.

However, they have climbed up to 12th in the standings following back-to-back wins over Celta Vigo and Real Mallorca in the last fortnight.

NextGen series: Arsenal through to last 16

Arsenal progress through to NextGen last 16 after winning six goal thriller against Bilbao

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UPDATED:

00:30 GMT, 7 December 2012

Arsenal's youngsters put on a sublime display to win 4-2 against Athletic Bilbao on Thursday evening and advance through to the last 16 of the NextGen series.

In a must-win game for the hosts, the Gunners got off to the perfect start with Jon Toral heading home from close range to make it 1-0 after seven minutes. Athletic struck back almost immediately from the penalty spot through Ager Aqueche, who calmly slotted into the bottom corner.

Opener: Jon Toral (left) celebrates his first-half strike

Opener: Jon Toral (left) celebrates his first-half strike

NEXTGEN SERIES

Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham are also taking part in the competition. For a full review of the groups click here

Quickfire second-half goals from Zak
Ansah, Isaac Hayden and John Toral put Arsenal into a commanding lead
before Athletic grabbed a consolation goal late on.

Bilbao remain in second place in Group
6 with a game left to play against Olympiacos next week. Should they
avoid defeat against the Greeks they will advance through to the last 16
of the tournament as group winners.

FIFPro want end to player "blackmail" in wake of Wesley Sneijder and Fernando Llorente disputes

FIFPro wants to end 'blackmail behaviour' of clubs in wake of Sneijder and Llorente contract disputes

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UPDATED:

21:21 GMT, 28 November 2012

FIFPro has called for an end to what it claims is the 'blackmail behaviour' of some football clubs.

The worldwide trade union for professional footballers believes a growing number of players are being put under pressure to prolong their contracts and are being frozen out of first-team action if they refuse.

FIFPro points to Inter Milan midfielder Wesley Sneijder and Athletic Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente as two recent examples of such practices, although in both cases the clubs in question maintain the players' non-selection is for purely tactical reasons.

Strongarmed: Wesley Sneijder has been told to accept a wage cut if he wants to play for Inter Milan again

Strongarmed: Wesley Sneijder has been told to accept a wage cut if he wants to play for Inter Milan again

FIFPro has nevertheless requested dialogue with FIFA, UEFA and the European Commission to share its concerns, which tonight were outlined in a statement entitled 'FIFPro wants to end blackmail behaviour of clubs'.

'For clubs, football seems to have become more like business. Football comes in second place,' the statement read.

'FIFPro signals a growing number of players who are put under pressure to prolong their contract. This is no new phenomenon.

'A club forces a player with a contract nearing expiry to sign a new contract. If the player refuses, the club puts him on the reserve bench or in the grandstand. This professional footballer doesn't get a chance to play any more.

'Only when he has signed a new contract he can resume playing.'

The statement continued: 'The two most striking examples at the moment are Wesley Sneijder and Fernando Llorente.

'Sneijder's contract runs until the middle of 2015. Inter has demanded that the Dutch international extend his contract until 2016, but then for exactly the same total salary. In other words, to work a year longer without receiving any salary for it.

Dispute: Fernando Llorente is rowing with Athletic Bilbao

Dispute: Fernando Llorente is rowing with Athletic Bilbao

Sneijder refused and since then, coach Andrea Stramaccioni has kept the playmaker outside the match selection.

'Llorente has a contract until the middle of 2013. Last summer, the Spanish international refused to sign a new contract. Since then, coach Marcelo Bielsa has kept the striker on the bench. He has only come into action as substitute.'

Speaking in Dutch newspaper Volkskrant, FIFPro secretary general Theo van Seggelen added: 'This type of practice used to be an exception. Unfortunately, we now see clubs in all countries in Europe using this type of measure.

'For us, the time has come to sound the bell.'

Barcelona field La Masia team for first time in La Liga game… but how does the Premier League compare

The La Masia Dream Team: Barcelona field a homegrown side for the first time… but how do the English leagues compare

By
Adam Shergold and Liv Lee

PUBLISHED:

12:50 GMT, 26 November 2012

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UPDATED:

13:48 GMT, 26 November 2012

Any 4-0 victory away from home is satisfying, but the Barcelona coaching staff would have been more glowing than usual last night.

For the first time, Barca fielded an entirely homegrown eleven for much of the match at Levante, so this was as much a triumph for the club’s fabled La Masia academy as anything else.

The historic moment came in the 14th minute when the only outsider, Dani Alves, went off injured and was replaced by Martin Montoya.

Production line: For the first time, Barcelona fielded a side entirely made up of players from their famous La Masia academy (pictured), which produced the likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta

Production line: For the first time, Barcelona fielded a side entirely made up of players from their famous La Masia academy (pictured), which produced the likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta

And so the La Masia XI read: Victor Valdes, Martin Montoya, Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Xavi, Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta, Pedro, Lionel Messi and Cesc Fabregas.

Not too bad, is it

Of course, not every one of those players was born in the shadow of Camp Nou – Messi was born 6,500 miles away in Rosario, Argentina and Iniesta’s home village is geographically closer to Madrid.

Prodigy: Cesc Fabregas in action for Barcelona's youth team against Athletic Bilbao in 2003. The La Masia product was sold to Arsenal in 2003 before returning to Barcelona eight years later

Prodigy: Cesc Fabregas in action for Barcelona's youth team against Athletic Bilbao in 2003. The La Masia product was sold to Arsenal in 2003 before returning to Barcelona eight years later

And, as we know, many of them flew the nest after their football education – Gerard Pique to Manchester United, Cesc Fabregas to Arsenal and Jordi Alba to Valencia – only to return to familiar and friendly surroundings.

But the common thread is that their football skills were honed and their talent nurtured at La Masia.

For over 30 years, La Masia, which was an 18th-century country farmhouse, has been the heart of Barcelona’s legendary academy production line.

Aside from the current generation, previous graduates include Jordi Cruyff, Pepe Reina, Mikel Arteta and Thiago Motta.

Top class: former Manchester United defender Pique (back row, left), Arsenal's Fabregas (back right) and Messi (front right) during their time at La Masia

Top class: former Manchester United defender Pique (back row, left), Arsenal's Fabregas (back right) and Messi (front right) during their time at La Masia

Sing song: Bobby Robson, then Barcelona manage, next to young goalkeeper Pepe Reina and (second left) Andres Iniesta

Sing song: Bobby Robson, then Barcelona manager, next to young goalkeeper Pepe Reina and (second left) Andres Iniesta

While the operation has long since outgrown the dormitories of the farmhouse – there are 15 different squads beneath the B team and more than 300 talented hopefuls from all around the world – La Masia remains the spiritual home.

As Pep Guardiola, the manager who reaped the benefits most from La Masia’s magical conveyor belt of prodigies, said: ‘The player who has passed through La Masia has something different to the rest – it’s a plus that only comes from having competed in a Barcelona shirt from the time you were a child.’


THE PREMIER LEAGUE HOMEGROWN SHORTAGE

Sportsmail took at look at the homegrown talent on display in last weekend's Premier League clashes. Most teams had only one or two on the pitch.

Manchester United and Newcastle led the charge with four each, while six teams, including Chelsea and Manchester City, failed to turn out a single academy player.

None came close to rivalling the full house that Barca bred from its own esteemed training facility.

Still running: Paul Scholes was perhaps the most famous graduate of Manchester United's academy in the team that beat QPR on Saturday

Still running: Paul Scholes was perhaps the most famous graduate of Manchester United's academy in the team that beat QPR on Saturday

The full list:

Manchester United (4)

Jonny Evans, Paul Scholes, Darren Fletcher, Danny Welbeck

Newcastle United (4)

Tim Krul, Steven Taylor, Shane Ferguson, Sammy Ameobi

Aston Villa (3)

Ciaran Clark, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Marc Albrighton

Liverpool (2)

Steven Gerrard, Raheem Sterling*

Southampton (2)

Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana

Tottenham Hotspur (2)

Steven Caulker, Jake Livermore

West Ham United (2)

James Tomkins, Mark Noble

Arsenal (1)

Kieran Gibbs

Everton (1)

Leon Osman

Reading (1)

Hal Robson-Kanu

Stoke City (1)

Ryan Shotton

Sunderland (1)

Jack Colback

Swansea City (1)

Ben Davies

Chelsea, Fulham, Manchester City, Queens Park Rangers, West Bromwich Albion, Wigan Athletic (0)


Flying start: Liverpool have bright hopes for Raheem Sterling, one of two homegrown talents in the side that drew at Swansea

Flying start: Liverpool have bright hopes for Raheem Sterling, one of two homegrown talents in the side that drew at Swansea

*Sterling was on the books of Queens Park Rangers between 2003 and 2010, when he was signed by then Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez for 600,000. Sterling spent two years in Liverpool's youth teams.


Factory of football: The Nou Camp complex in Barcelona, comprising the main and B team stadiums and a number of training buildings and pitches

Factory of football: The Nou Camp complex in Barcelona, comprising the main and B team stadiums and a number of training buildings and pitches

Dwarfed: Despite being the oldest part of the Nou Camp site, La Masia is tiny compared to the high stands of the main stadium

Dwarfed: Despite being the oldest part of the Nou Camp site, La Masia is tiny compared to the high stands of the main stadium

THE CHAMPIONSHIP HOMEGROWN PLAYERS

In the Championship match-ups there was an even poorer show of youth academy players. Six teams fielded three, but not a single club managed any more than that.

Like the Premier League there were six teams without a single homegrown player on show.

Hot shot! Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha is being courted by a number of top flight sides after a blistering start to the season

Hot shot! Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha is being courted by a number of top flight sides after a blistering start to the season

The full list:

Wolverhampton Wanderers (3)

Carl Ikeme, Anthony Forde, David Davis

Blackburn Rovers (3)

Martin Olsson, Adam Henley, Grant Hanley

Bristol City (3)

Louis Carey, Joe Bryan, James Wilson

Derby County (3)

Mark O’Brien, Will Hughes, Jeff Hendrick

Leeds United (3)

Tom Lees, Dominic Poleon, San Byram

Middlesbrough (3)

Jason Steele, Seb Hines, Stuart Parnaby

Huddersfield Town (2)

Alex Smithies, Jack Hunt

Charlton Athletic (2)

Chris Solly, Danny Green

Watford (2)

Tommie Hoban, Sean Murray

Brighton (2)

Lewis Dunk, Dean Hammond

Burnley (1)

Chris McCann

Birmingham City (1)

Jack Butland

Crystal Palace (1)

Wilfried Zaha

Ipswich Town (1)

Luke Hyam

Leicester City (1)

Jeffrey Schlupp

Barnsley (1)

Reuben Noble-Lazarus

Cardiff City (1)

Ben Nugent

Peterborough United (1)

Joe Newell

Millwall, Blackpool, Bolton, Hull City, Nottingham Forest and Sheffield Wednesday (0)

Real Betis 1 Real Madrid 0: Match report

Real Betis 1 Real Madrid 0: Mourinho's band of superstars suffer yet another title setback

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UPDATED:

00:06 GMT, 25 November 2012

Etxebarria Benat's first-half strike dealt a heavy blow to Real Madrid's defence of their Primera Division title as Real Betis claimed a famous win.

Jose Mourinho's men dominated throughout yet they could not find a way through Betis' defence and goalkeeper Adrian in particular after they had fallen behind to Benat's first-half strike from 25 yards.

The defeat was Madrid's first in nine league matches and they remain eight points adrift of leaders Barcelona, who could stretch their lead even further at sixth-placed Levante on Sunday.

Dejection: Sergio Ramos (left) and Cristiano Ronaldo (right) could not make a breakthrough for Real Madrid

Dejection: Sergio Ramos (left) and Cristiano Ronaldo (right) could not make a breakthrough for Real Madrid

Betis, meanwhile, made significant
amends for their 5-1 humiliation at the hands of local rivals Sevilla
last week and they moved up to fifth.

There were no signs of an upset in
the early stages as Madrid, who were on the right side of a 5-1 result
last week against Athletic Bilbao, settled nicely, with Cristiano
Ronaldo's left-foot strike palmed away by Betis goalkeeper Adrian.

Germany international Sami Khedira
fired wide from the edge of the area but the visitors were stunned when
Benat put Betis ahead against the run of play with their first foray on
goal.

The midfielder collected the ball 30 yards from goal and dribbled past Khedira before drilling low into the left corner.

Mobbed: Benat Etxebarria (right) scored the decisive goal

Mobbed: Benat Etxebarria (right) scored the decisive goal

Another one: Ronaldo did not score against Manchester City or Betis

Another one: Ronaldo did not score against Manchester City or Betis

And Mourinho's men could have been
two down had it not been for a superb save from Iker Casillas, who
tipped over Ruben Castro's strike from the left side of the penalty
area.

Yet it was Madrid who continued to
control the tempo of proceedings and Angel Di Maria spurned two decent
chances to level in quick succession.

First, the Argentinian's effort from
close range was tipped over by Adrian and the winger then latched onto
Karim Benzema's ball into the area before lifting the ball onto the roof
of the net.

Benzema thought he had grabbed the
equaliser after converting Xabi Alonso's free-kick but was ruled offside
while Di Maria beat the offside to go clean through on goal but flashed
his effort wide from a narrow angle.

The visitors continued to lay siege
to Betis' goal after the break and Kaka's shot from distance forced a
spectacular save from Adrian and only Jose Antonio Dorado's last-gasp
clearance denied Benzema from converting Ronaldo's low cross into the
area.

Whack: Jose Maria Callejon and Ronaldo are wiped out by a challenge

Whack: Jose Maria Callejon and Ronaldo are wiped out by a challenge

Ronaldo, who had only scored once in
his last five appearances before tonight, set out to end his
mini-drought but his powerful free-kick was tipped over by Adrian, who
then pushed Benzema's close-range header wide.

Madrid continued to push numbers
forward as they sought to avoid their third league defeat on the road
this season but it was all in vain as the hosts valiantly held on to
secure a valuable three points.

Malaga earlier registered their first league win in five games as they hammered Valencia 4-0 at La Rosaleda to move back into the top four ahead of Levante's game on Sunday.

The margin of victory could have been even greater for the hosts, who controlled the game from the off and went ahead just eight minutes in when Francisco Portillo curled home from Eliseu's cut-back.

Javier Saviola made it 2-0 15 minutes from time – a goal that was quickly followed by a third from Roque Santa Cruz.

Valencia were then reduced to 10 men as Adil Rami saw a second yellow card and Isco rounded off a fantastic evening for Malaga with a fourth in stoppage time.

Middle man: Luka Modric could not penetrate for Real

Middle man: Luka Modric could not penetrate for Real

Not tonight: Barcelona could stretch their lead to 11 points at Levante

Not tonight: Barcelona could stretch their lead to 11 points at Levante

Elsewhere, Real Valladolid stretched their unbeaten home run to six games as Manucho's second-half strike secured a 1-0 victory over Granada.

The Angolan had come close to breaking the deadlock in the first half with an overhead kick but made no mistake just after the hour when he was played in by Oscar Gonzalez and sent a fierce shot beyond Tono into the top corner.

Finally, Rayo Vallecano left it late to see off out-of-form Real Mallorca 2-0 in an awful game this afternoon.

A match utterly devoid of excitement looked headed for a goalless draw until Leo Baptistao broke the deadlock with a goal totally out of keeping with what had gone beforehand, firing home low from 30 yards.

He then turned provider as substitute Andrija Delibasic got a second in the 90th minute to keep the hosts well placed in the top half and condemn the visitors to a seventh defeat in eight league games.

Elsewhere: Malaga hammered Valencia

Elsewhere: Malaga hammered Valencia

Elsewhere: Malaga hammered Valencia

Sir Alex Ferguson reveals smuggling history

Fergie: I was a smuggler! United boss brought back cheap goods during playing days

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UPDATED:

11:43 GMT, 19 November 2012

Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed he would smuggle goods back into Britain from Europe during his playing days as customs staff never checked his luggage.

The Manchester United boss has been travelling to and from all corners of the continent during his playing and managing days.

And he has admitted to packing his bags full of cheap goods on the return leg.

Fill yer boots! Sir Alex would bring back goods in his bags

Fill yer boots! Sir Alex would bring back goods in his bags

He told The Sun: 'I brought a lot of stuff back. In those days nobody checked. You got on the plane and there'd be boxes of this, boxes of that, your bag would be full of stuff. Nobody bothered.'

But it wasn't all plain sailing for Fergie, who experienced a different side to football when he travelled as a Dumfermline player in the 1960s.

Far from the 1st class travels today's players are used to, the trip was an arduous experience.

Recalling one visit to Bilbao in Spain, he said: 'We had to get a bus from a town on the border between France and Spain, seven hours along the Spanish coast, and the bus had wooden seats.

'There was no radio to keep us entertained. There was nothing, just wooden seats. We had to travel like that for seven hours and then play the next day.'

Sir Alex added: 'The romance of Europe looks good when you're sitting at home, but if you were actually out there doing it as a player in those days, it wasn't as good.

'European football is so different now. When I was a player you used to go out on a Sunday and come back on a Thursday. It was a long week away.'

No pampering: Fergie and his team-mates were on a coach for seven hours

No pampering: Fergie and his team-mates were on a coach for seven hours

Arsenal held by Bilbao in NextGen

Arsenal held in Bilbao as young Gunners fail to take advantage of extra man

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UPDATED:

23:05 GMT, 15 November 2012

Arsenal were held to a goalless draw by Athletic Bilbao in the NextGen Series at the San Mames on Thursday night.

The visitors conceded a penalty midway through the half but Reice Charles-Cook came to their rescue with a fine save.

Penalty taker Gulliermo Fernandez was then sent off for elbowing Sead Hajrovic but Arsenal were unable to take advantage.

Young Guns: Arsenal were held to a draw by Athletic Bilbao

Young Guns: Arsenal were held to a draw by Athletic Bilbao

The other game in the group, between Olympiakos and Marseille finished 1-1.

Arsenal lie third, three points behind Marseille and one behind Olympiakos, with one game to play.

Job to do: Arsenal lie third in their group after their latest draw

Job to do: Arsenal lie third in their group after their latest draw

Europa League round-up: Inter Milan and Lyon among winners

Europa League round-up: Night of few shocks with Inter and Lyon among the winners

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UPDATED:

21:28 GMT, 25 October 2012

Rodrigo Palacio headed home an 88th-minute winner as Inter Milan repelled the brave challenge of Partizan Belgrade at the San Siro and all but booked their place in the knockout stages of the Europa League.

Palacio nodded home from a Diego Milito cross less than a minute after Lazar Markovic had a shot saved by Samir Handanovic at the other end, sending Inter joint top of Group H on seven points.

Inter share their lead with Rubin Kazan, for whom Alan Kasaev's 16th-minute goal proved enough to see off Azerbaijan side Neftci in Russia. Inter and Kazan now hold a six-point advantage over their group rivals.

Head boy: Inter Milan's Rodrigo Palacio rose highest to smash home a winner in the 88th minute

Head boy: Inter Milan's Rodrigo Palacio rose highest to smash home a winner in the 88th minute

Head boy: Inter Milan's Rodrigo Palacio rose highest to smash home a winner in the 88th minute

Elyaniv Barda also headed a late winner as Genk stayed unbeaten at the top of Group G after coming from behind to see off Sporting Lisbon 2-1 in Belgium.

Stijn Schaars put Sporting ahead on eight minutes, but Benjamin De Ceulaer equalised after 25 and Barda struck with three minutes to go after Sporting's Khalid Boulahrouz was sent off for a second bookable offence.

And Hungarians Videoton also continued their excellent form in the group with a 2-1 win over Basle. A Fabien Schar own goal paved the way for the hosts, who extended their lead through Marco Caneira before Schar scored at the right end in injury time.

Lyon maintained their 100 per cent record in Group I with a 2-1 win over last year's beaten finalists Athletic Bilbao. A Lisandro Lopez opener was cancelled out by Ibai Gomez before Jimmy Briand struck the winner four minutes from time.

First-half goals from Ladislav Krejci, Vaclav Kadlec and Ondrej Svejdik helped Sparta Prague to a 3-1 win over Ironi Kiryat Shmona, for whom Shimon Abuhatzira replied late on.

French fancy: Lisandro Lopez helped maintain Lyon's 100 per cent start to the group stage

French fancy: Lisandro Lopez helped maintain Lyon's 100 per cent start to the group stage

Lyon lead the group on nine points with Sparta clear in second on six.

In Tottenham's group, substitute Jose Toche grabbed an injury time equaliser as Panathinaikos drew 1-1 with Lazio in Group J. An own goal from Giourkas Seitaridis looked set to give the Italians the points before the late drama.

Lazio remain unbeaten on five points with Maribor in second, but all four sides are still in the running.

Late goals from Bonfim Marlos and Cleiton Xavier gave Ukrainians Metalist a 2-1 win at Rosenborg in Group K, after the Norwegians had led through Tarik Elyounoussi's 46th-minute strike.

But Metalist still conceded top spot in the group to Bayer Leverkusen, whose crushing 4-0 win at Rapid Vienna took them first on goal difference. Philipp Wollscheid, Karim Bellarabi and two from Gonzalo Castro did the damage.

Leaving it late: Panathinaikos' Jose Manuel Velazquez grabbed a last-gasp equaliser against Lazio

Leaving it late: Panathinaikos' Jose Manuel Velazquez grabbed a last-gasp equaliser against Lazio

Leaving it late: Panathinaikos' Jose Manuel Velazquez grabbed a last-gasp equaliser against Lazio

In Group L, Hannover stayed top after a dramatic 2-1 win at Helsingborg, Mame Biram Diouf opening the scoring for the Germans with Alvaro Santos equalising in injury time, only for Didier Ya Konan to restore Hannover's advantage in the third minute of added time.

Levante moved clear in second place with a 3-0 win over Twente, a Michel penalty setting them on their way and Pedro Rios adding a late double.

Reigning champions Atletico Madrid maintained their 100 per cent record in Group B with a 2-1 win over Academica, Diego Costa and Emre Belozoglu netting before Salim Cisse hit a late consolation for the Portuguese side.

Also in Group B, Viktoria Plzen moved clear in second place with a 2-1 win at Hapoel Tel Aviv.

Hanan Maman put the Israelis in front after 19 minutes, but Pavel Horvath equalised in first-half injury time and Frantisek Rajtoral hit the winner before home defender I'yad Hutba was sent off.

In Group A, a shock 3-1 defeat for Udinese away to bottom side Young Boys in Switzerland means things are very much to play for.

Raul Bobadilla grabbed a stunning hat-trick for Young Boys, who had gone into the game without a point, putting them 2-0 up with goals in the fourth and 72nd minutes and then wrapping up victory with a penalty after Andrea Coda briefly reduced the deficit.

Shock at last: In Liverpool's group, Young Boys produced an excellent performance to down Udinese

Shock at last: In Liverpool's group, Young Boys produced an excellent performance to down Udinese

Shock at last: In Liverpool's group, Young Boys produced an excellent performance to down Udinese

It was also all-change in Group C, where Egeman Korkmaz scored in the 72nd minute to give Fenerbahce a 1-0 win at AEL Limassol and move them to top the top of the group.

Marseille, who started the night on top, lost 2-0 at Borussia Monchengladbach, a Filip Daems penalty and a second-half strike from Peniel Mlapa moving the Germans level with their opponents on four points, with the Turkish side now out in front on seven.

Elsewhere in Newcastle's group, Bordeaux were held 1-1 at Maritimo. Yoan Gouffran's opener for the visitors was cancelled out by Roberge Valentin six minutes later.

Steaua Bucharest extended their lead at the top of Group E as goals from Vlad Chiriches and Raul Rusescu gave them a 2-0 win over Molde, while group rivals Stuttgart and FC Copenhagen played out a goalless draw in Germany.

Dnipro went five points clear at the top of Group F with an excellent 3-1 win over Napoli in Ukraine, Artem Fedetskiy, Matheus and Giuliano scoring before Edinson Cavani replied with a late consolation.

PSV Eindhoven and AIK drew 1-1 in Holland, Kwame Karikari putting the previously pointless Swedes in front on the hour before Jeremain Lens equalised with 10 minutes to go.