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The Pride & Passion of Europa League Matchday Six

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Is this your favourite league? Goal

The Pride & Passion of Europa League Matchday Six

BeSoccer by BeSoccer @besoccer_com - 0 396

Moussa Sow turned Group A on its head while Gent provided the drama of on a night that saw the continent pay tribute to Chapecoense

The UEFA Europa League group-stage came to an end on Thursday as 32 clubs sealed qualification for the knockout stage on an emotional evening for the continent that brought no shortage of drama as the night unfolded.

From Rio to Tokyo, the Chapecoense air disaster rocked the football family. The entire football family has felt the pain of the 71 lives lost. And on Thursday the Europa League clubs came together, standing arm-and-arm in a show of unity and expression of empathy and remembrance, sending strength to the families who mourn the loss of their loved ones.

Deep, deep into stoppage time it appeared Gent’s Europa League dream had come to an end. Locked in stalemate with already-eliminated Konyaspor at the Torku Arena, Portuguese club Braga were marching into the knockout stage despite being well beaten by Shakhtar. There were 94 minutes on the clock when a hopeful long ball dropped to Kalifa Coulibaly, who took it on his chest, swivelled and volleyed a magnificent and dramatic last-minute winner to see Gent through.

Moussa Sow is earning himself quite the reputation for the extravagant. His stunning overhead kick inspired Fenerbahce to a 2-1 victory over Manchester United on Matchday Four. And on Thursday he as at it again, acrobatically netting the only goal of the game to beat Feyenoord and secure qualification as group-winners. In between those strikes, Sow had scored a Turkish Super Lig overhead kick against Caykur Rizespor – three of his last five goals for the club have now been acrobatic volleys. Fener are even selling replica club shirts with the name and number upside down.

Europa League debutants Hapoel had won just one of their last seven on the road in UEFA competition, and only twice in eight games had an Israeli returned from England with anything other than defeat. They were ranked 47 out of the 48 group-stage clubs. So with a 3,700km journey to Southampton, you’d have forgiven the Hapoel faithful for skipping this one. But more than 1,500 of them turned up, buoyed by their stunning comeback victory over Inter on Matchday 5, and they were rewarded as they dumped the Premier League side out of Europe by securing their own path to the knockout stage with a famous 1-1 draw.

BeSoccer

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