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Published: 20:33 | 3/11/16

Europa League round-up: Man United and Dundalk lose


Manchester United have gone down 2-1 to Fenerbahce at Sukru Saracoglu Stadi in Europa League Group A.

Goals either side of the break from Moussa Sow and Jeremain Lens did the damage for the Turkish side as they hit Jose Mourinho’s team with remarkable efficiency.

United got a lifeline through a Wayne Rooney goal on 89 minutes but it proved too little too late as they failed to conjure an equaliser.

Mourinho and Co drop to third in the group following the defeat with Feyenoord at home and Zorya away their remaining games as they look to secure passage to the last 32. Fenerbahce top the group, ahead of Feyenoord on goal difference.

United were behind in Turkey almost immediately after the first whistle. Mourinho’s side dominated early possession but the Turks scored with their first attack. Hasan Ali Kaldirim crossing for Sow to smash home an overhead volley which left David de Gea with no chance in the nets. 1-0 to the home side.

But the English side, as is a trademark of past Mourinho teams, worked their way back into the game and didn’t panic post-the early setback. The chance to level matters came on the 20-minute mark. Anthony Martial found Rooney in the box, unmarked and baring in on goal. He should have equalised but instead took a horrendous touch, allowing Martin Skrtel to sweep in and save the day.

Rooney was dropping deep trying to pick out long balls, with Matteo Darmian and Paul Pogba his targets, but Fenerbahce, happy with their lead, continued to sit deep and pick off any such attacks with relative calm.

Just before the 30-minute mark things got worse for United with Pogba limping off to be replaced by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Sweden striker moving into the centre of attack, with Rooney now assigned a midfield slot in Pogba’s absence.

And the Swede immediately changed the flow of the game picking out Marcus Rashford for a chance before lashing a volley at goal that Volkan Demirel pushed away in the nets.

The first half chance of the second half went to United with Martial brought down inside the Fenerbahce half and Luke Shaw scampering deep into opposition territory waiting for a through ball. But a great position came to nothing as the Yellow Canaries cut out the danger.

A pattern in the tie developed of United playing a patient passing game, looking for that chink of light to expose, with the Turks resolute and solid in repelling them.

With the English side chasing the game entering the second half, the Special One opted to call ashore Morgan Schneiderlin, brining in creator-in-chief Juan Mata.

But as is so often the case in sport, the team dominating were caught out at the back. United conceded a free-kick on the edge of their area, which Lens swung around the wall, leaving De Gea rooted to the spot as the ball hit the back of the onion sack.

Probably the most incredible aspect of the tie at this point was that the home team had scored twice from their only shots on goal thus far.

With their third shot on target Fernerbahce almost put the game beyond doubt. Substitute Emmanuel Emineke broke past the United back line to attempt to get on the end of a cross into the box; however, a poor first touch saw De Gea collect.

Five minutes later De Gea was on hand to stop from Emineke once more. This time the Spanish keeper stretching to his left to push away a long-distance strike.

United still probed as they looked for a lifeline, Martial firing from distance to test the keeper.

And the breakthrough did eventually come through old stalwart Rooney. With a minute on the clock Wazza got a hold of the ball with his back to goal, turned and lashed home his 247th goal for the club and 38th in European competition.

Four minutes of injury gave the visitors time for an equaliser but they couldn’t grind out a second goal, with an Anders Herrera cleared free-kick United’s only real late opportunity.

League of Ireland champions Dundalk lost 2-1 to Zenit St Petersburg at Petrovskiy Stadium in a match where they showed real fight and determination in Group D.

The Irish side went behind to a Giuliano strike just before half-time in Russia, before levelling matters shortly after the interval through Daryl Horgan. However, a second from Giuliano with 12 minutes remaining was enough to see Zenit home in the finish.

Despite the loss, Dundalk remain second in Group D on goal difference from Maccabi Tel Aviv and very much still in with a real chance of making the knock-out stages. They face AZ Alkmaar at home and Maccabi Tel Aviv away in their remaining group matches.

Dundalk almost took a shock lead after 19 minutes in Russia through John Mountney; his cross-cum-shot hit the woodwork and bounced out and back into play.

The Irish champions were well in the tie, but Zenit were probing and dangerous. Coming up to the half -hour mark Oleg Shatov fired off a fierce shot at Gary Rogers in the Dundalk goal; the keeper pushing the ball over the bar with both hands.

The pressure began to build on the Dundalk defence with Shatov unleashing an effort that richocheted off Dane Massey and Giuliano missing a clear-cut chance.

And eventually the breakthrough came for Zenit. Giuliano firing home a right-footed effort past Rogers four minutes before the break. Brian Gartland got done in possession in the build-up and Zenit made no mistake on the counter, to give the home team a deserved half-time lead.

But Dundalk were doggedly back in the tie eight minutes into the second period. Zenit committed a defensive error of their own just inside the Dundalk half and the Irish side countered swiftly with Horgan – in the same week he was called up to Martin O’Neill’s Ireland squad - smashing home past keeper Mikhail Kerzhakov.

Rogers was again the hero with 20 minutes to go as he pulled off a fine save from Mauricio to keep things level in Russia.

But Zenit kept coming and got their reward. Alexander Kerszhakov lofted a ball into the area where it reached Giuliano to shoot at goal, an effort which deflected off the defence and into the path of Mauricio to play back to Giuliano for a second bite of the cherry, which he ate with relish, hammering in from five yards out to restore their lead.

The game was still there for Dundalk and they came within inches of an equaliser when Patrick McEleney’s long lob smashed the crossbar and rebounded away.

But try as they might the equaliser just wouldn’t come for the Irish champions as they went down fighting in Eastern Europe.

Southampton claimed a famous victory over European giants Inter Milan with a stunning and hugely deserved 2-1 win at St Mary’s in Group K.

Claude Puel’s side dominated the game from start to finish but fell behind to a goal from Mauro Icardi on the break.

The Saints should have been level before the break only to see Dusan Tadic’s penalty saved by Samir Handanovic.

But the goals the hosts so deserved came with a Virgil van Dijk strike and Yuto Nagatomo own goal after the break delivering three points to a raucous St Mary’s crowd.

The victory leaves Southampton second in the group behind Sparta Prague and ahead of Hapoel Beer Sheva, with Inter propping up the rest.

The Saints very nearly took the lead just two minutes into the tie as they worked to the edge of the area where Tadic crossed to the back post for Jay Rodriguez to rise to head towards goal, his effort whistling wide.

A minute later Inter had an early chance of their own as Icardi picked out Ever Banega in the box only for the latter to have his shot blocked by a packed defence after getting the ball stuck under his feet.

Southampton had a further chance to break the deadlock ten minutes into the tie as Rodriguez was played into space on the edge of the box by James Ward-Prose, but the former hooked his effort just over the bar.

The English side continued to press with Sam McQueen crossing deep into the Inter box only for keeper Handanovic to come out and claim.

Despite the Saints dominating play, it was Inter who were first on the scoresheet. Antonio Candreva broke down the right wing, firing across the face of goal, where Ivan Perisic got on the end to shoot at goal. Cuco Martina bundled away where Icardi was waiting to stab home his ninth goal of the season.

On the stroke of half-time Southampton should have been level. Perisic was caught for handball in the box and the referee pointed to the spot. The decision sparked a mass brawl in the at which point Candreva lifted an elbow into McQueen’s face, the Inter man incredibly escaping the incident with just a yellow card.

To add insult to injury, when play resumed following the high jinks, Tadic placed his spot kick too close to Handanovic for the keeper to save and give the Italians a narrow advantage at the break.

Ward-Prowse continued to prowl post half time and unleashed a fine shot at goal, which Handanovic was again a match to. Pierre Hojbjerg followed suit with another Saints chance only to balloon over the bar.

Inter had a chance of their own to score again with Icardi getting in for an effort at the back post only for McQueen to clear.

Another penalty shout for Southampton was waved away by the ref just before the hour as Van Dijk was manhandled to the ground by Andrea Ranocchia in what looked a clear cut spot kick. Puel’s side continued to push for the leveller with Charlie Adam brought into the fray for Rodriguez.

Southampton were so deserving of a goal and got it on 65 minutes. Oriol Romeu lofted a corner into the box where it struck the bar and fell to Van Dijk to finish home.

And the fans at St Mary’s were in dreamland three minutes later as Nagatomo put the ball into his own net to hand the home team the lead. Tadic whipped into the area where Nagatomo should easily have dealt with a deflected ball only to make a hash of it as he lets the ball hit his thigh and bounce past his keeper.

Inter had one final chance to take something from the game when Icardi forced Fraser Forster into a fine save as he palmed away a ferocious shot from distance with 11 remaining as the Saints went marching on.

Ireland V The All Blacks is exclusively live on the eir Sport 2 channel on Saturday 5th November at 8pm. The eir Sport pack is free to all eir broadband customers. To learn more about setting sport free visit www.eir.ie/sport.

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