EL & ECL round-up: Barcelona held by Napoli

Barcelona were held 1-1 at home by Napoli in the first leg of their Europa League knockout stage playoff tie on Thursday.

Barca dominated proceedings but found themselves a goal down to the Italians after Piotr Zielinski finished off a counter-attack in the 29th minute.

Barca forward Ferran Torres equalised shortly before the hour mark from the penalty spot after the video assistant referee had spotted a very subtle Juan Jesus’ handball from a Adama Traore cross inside the area.

Napoli's Piotr Zielinski celebrates his opener
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Napoli’s Piotr Zielinski celebrates his opener

Barca were on the front foot throughout with their brand new attacking trident formed by new signings Torres, Traore and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but missed several chances to take the lead.

Napoli held on as they were bombarded in the last ten minutes, with Torres and substitutes Luuk de Jong and Ousmane Dembele missing chance after chance in front of Alex Meret’s goal. The second leg will be played at Napoli next week.

Guido Rodriguez celebrates Betis' opening goal
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Guido Rodriguez celebrates Betis’ opening goal

Elsewhere, Real Betis defeated 3-2 Zenit St Petersburg after scoring twice in the first 20 minutes through Guido Rodriguez and Willian Jose. But the Russian side fought back to equalise with two goals in three minutes scored by Artem Dzyuba and Malcom.

But veteran midfielder Andres Guardado found the winner for Betis right before half-time, as the La Liga side held on to hand Zenit their first home loss since October 2021.

Sheriff Tiraspol beat Braga 2-0 at home in Moldova thanks to goals from Sebastien Thill and Adama Traore.

Rangers run riot in Dortmund

Alfredo Morelos celebrates one of his goals for Rangers vs Dortmund
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Alfredo Morelos celebrates one of his goals for Rangers

Rangers pulled off a stunning 4-2 win away to Borussia Dortmund to take command of their Europa League knockout stage playoff tie.

A penalty from James Tavernier put the Glasgow side ahead in the 38th minute before Colombian forward Alfredo Morelos doubled their advantage in the 41st.

John Lundstram added a third in the 49th minute to put Rangers in dreamland although England midfielder Jude Bellingham quickly pulled a goal back in the 51st, smashing into the net from outside the box to give the hosts a foothold in the game.

Rangers took no time to respond, restoring their three-goal advantage in the 54th with an own goal from defender Dan-Axel Zagadou.

Dortmund salvaged some hope for next week’s second leg at Ibrox with a piledriver from Raphael Guerreiro while defender Mats Hummels tried to pull another goal back deep in stoppage time but could only produce a wayward shot which flew over the bar.

Gakpo goal gives PSV advantage

PSV Eindhoven claimed a 1-0 win over Maccabi Tel-Aviv in the first leg of their Europa Conference League knockout stage playoff tie on Thursday thanks to an early goal from Cody Gakpo.

The young Dutch winger received a through ball by Mauro Junior in the 11th minute and cleared a defender on the edge of the box before drilling a perfectly-placed shot into the bottom left corner to give the hosts the lead.

Slavia Prague's Murphy Dorley celebrates scoring
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Slavia Prague’s Murphy Dorley celebrates scoring

The Eredivisie side dominated the match but were not able to increase their advantage and will travel to Israel next week with a slim lead.

Elsewhere, Slavia Prague won 3-2 away at Fenerbahce while Danish side Midtjylland beat PAOK 1-0 at home. Austrian club Rapid Vienna had a man sent off but still managed to scrape a 2-1 win over Vitesse Arnhem.

Europa League knockout play-offs second leg

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in action on Thursday
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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in action on Thursday

Thursday February 24

Europa Conference League knockout play-offs second leg

Rapid Vienna impressed during their first leg
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Rapid Vienna impressed during their first leg

Thursday February 24

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