Arms in the air and yelps at LASK … as Liverpool vainly claim for a handball in the box. Tsimikas’ whipped cross is cleared by home keeper Tobias Lawal’s boot straight into the elbow of his own defender, situated about a handful of spans away from him. Suffice to say that would have been more than a little harsh. But oh boy have we seen them given. Sanity prevails in this instance.
More toots on the Conference League conch … Villa have gone 2-1 down at Legia Warsaw, Ernest Muci bringing the pain there. Aberdeen have got themselves on level terms at Eintracht Frankfurt, with Dante Polvara equalising after an Omar Marmoush penalty for the home side.
Mildly painful wordplay-based correspondence from Peter Oh …
I reckon that the Ligue 1 visitors to Union SG are fully aware that this match is theirs Toulouse.
I’m ashamed to say I did a little snort at that.
Granit Xhaka news … 16 minutes in and he’s key to Leverkusen’s second against Hacken. Amine Adli gets on the end of a floated cross from the former Arsenal player, and volleys emphatically into the roof of the net. 2-0 Leverkusen
A lasher at LASK! The home side work a corner to the edge of the box, where Florian Flecker takes a touch and then absolutely smashes past Caoimhin Kelleher in the Liverpool goal. Far from nestling in the corner, admittedly, but the Irish keeper still had absolutely no chance. Their first real sniff of an opportunity, and taken absolutely splendidly. LASK 1-0 Liverpool
Almost immediately, Doak shows his dribbling skills at the other end, but nobody is there to poke his ball across the box home.
Kick-off news … Royal Union SG v Toulouse was delayed for 10 mins due to gridlocked roads outside the Joseph Marien Stadium, but is now under way. Hope the delay allowed those fans banging their heads against steering wheels to make it in safely.
Goal news … a lovely dinked finish from Florian Wirtz gets Bayer Leverkusen off the mark at home to Hacken.
Over in Conference League corner, Aston Villa might be in for a lively night. They went 1-0 down to a Pawl Wszolek strike in the third minute but equalised in the sixth through a Jhon Durán header.
Liverpool, clad in their admittedly eye-messingly garish purple third kit, are predictably penning LASK back deep in their own half, but to little effect so far.
Rennes aren’t messing about. The Ligue 1 side are already 1-0 up against Maccabi Haifi as Ludovic Blas feasts on a rebound and slams it home.
Peeeeeeeeep … looks like Royale Union SG v Toulouse is starting a little tardily, but the other early Europa League games are off and running.
Bit of mouth-watering for one of the 8pm (BST) affairs. An extremely exciting Brighton join the European fray against AEK. I hope you’ll indulge me a quick wave to Guardian colleague Steph Fincham, who has been a little under the weather in recent times and I very much hope enjoys her club’s first continental adventure.
Joe P eyes up the team sheets and mails:
That Liverpool lineup. Wow. Does Jürgen think this is a Carabao Cup tie?
I’ll have to wag a finger in a “woah, woah, woah” fashion here. I’m actually extremely excited by Liverpool’s side tonight.
If the published formation is correct, Stefan Bajcetic – who looked a real find in midfield last season – is massively intriguing. Obviously seeing “the other two” of Klopp’s rebuild of central areas – Waturu Endo and Ryan Gravenberch – is at face value of most interest but many, many people will have eyes firmly fixed on the right wing tonight.
Ben Doak (who Andrew Bartlett correctly identified I’d misspelled in the original lineup – now fixed ta), is a player who looks capable of having tails bolt upright and wagging. Aged just 17 and despite being still to score a senior goal for the club, he lit up the pitch for Scotland U21s against Spain earlier this month in a way that didn’t just have his manager, Scot Gemmill, purring, but it also apparently put him firmly in the frame for a spot in the senior setup.
Bayer Leverkusen v Hacken
Bayer Leverkusen: Kovar; Stanisic, Tah, Tapsoba, Grimaldo; Tella, Xhaka, Palacios, Wirtz; Boniface, Adli
Hacken: Abrahamsson; Sandberg, Ousou, Hovland, Laursen; Rygaard, Sam. Gustafson, Amane; Chilufya, Sim. Gustafson, Layouni
Qarabag v Molde
Qarabag: Lunev; Silva, Medvedev, Medina, Jafarguliyev; Romão, Jankovic; Andrade, Benzia, Zoubir; Juninho
Molde: Karlstrøm; Øyvann, Bjørnbak, Hagelskjær; Løvik, Breivik, Ellingsen, Kaasa, Haugen; Eikrem, Berisha
Servette v Slavia Prague
Servette: Frick; Bolla, Rouiller, Severin, Mazikou; Stevanovic, Cognat, Douline, Kutesa; Antunes, Bedia
Slavia Prague: Mandous; Masopust, Holes, Ogbu; Tomic, Sevcik, Dorley, Dumitrescu; Doudera, Wallem; Van Buren
Sheriff Tiraspol v Roma
Sheriff: Koval; Tovar, Kiki, Garananga, Artunduaga; Zohouri, Ademo, Fernandes; Ankeye, Talal, Ngom Mbekeli
Roma: Svilar; Llorente, N’Dicka, Mancini; Karsdorp, Sanches, Cristante, Aouar; El Shaarawy, Lukaku, Zalewski
Panathinaikos v Villarreal
Panathinaikos: Brignoli; Kotsiras, Schenkeveld, H Magnusson, Mladenovic; Perez, Bernard, Cerin; Palacios, Ioannidis, Mancini
Villarreal: Reina; Kiko Femenia, Mandi, Gabbia, Pedraza; D Suárez, Capoue, Comesaña, Trigueros; Morales, Brereton Diaz
Rennes v Maccabi Haifa
Rennes: Mandanda; Assignon, Omari, Theate, Truffert; Matic; D Doué, Bourigeaud, Blas, Salah; Yildirim
Maccabi Haifa: Nitzan; Khalaili, Sundgren, Seck, Goldberg, Cornud; Jaber, Chery, Cafumana, David; Pierrot
Lask v Liverpool
Lask: Lawal; Ziereis, Andrade, Lucheneder; Flecker, Horvath, Jovicic, Renner; Havel, Zulj, Ljubicic
Liverpool: Kelleher; Bajcetic, Konaté, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Elliott, Gravenberch, Endo; Doak, Núñez, Diaz
Union SG v Toulouse
Union SG: Moris; Mac Allister, Burgess, Leysen; Castro-Montes, Vanhoutte, Sadiki, Lapoussin; Amani, Nilsson, Puertas
Toulouse: Restes; Desler, Costa, Nicolaisen, Suazo; Cásseres, Sierro; Aboukhlal, Schmidt, Dønnum; Dallinga
Gremlins report from Nick Goldspink …
Um, so I followed the link to Guardian Europe just to see, and I was startled to discover that the default weather setting was for Bootle? Is there something we need to know? Will I need my passport ready coming off the M62? I don’t live in Bootle.
Unfortunately he didn’t include the weather forecast for Bootle, so for anyone in and around the Sefton area currently reading from a room without windows, outside is currently a gentle breeze with sunny intervals.
Greetings, and welcome to this season’s full-throated return of Thursday Europa League footy. Today’s fun and frolics pan out thusly …
Group E: Lask v Liverpool, Union Saint-Gilloise v Toulouse
Group F: Panathinaikos v Villarreal, Rennes v Maccabi Haifa
Group G: Servette v Slavia Prague, Sheriff Tiraspol v Roma
Group H: Bayer Leverkusen v Hacken, Qarabag v Molde
After I’ve pigeon-flapped through the early (BST) games, calm old pro Rob Smyth will be smoothly accompanying you with his Europa euphonium for the following later (BST) entertainments. The Conference League conch is also on hand if any unexpectedly exciting updates catch the eye.
Group A: Olympiakos v Freiburg, West Ham v Backa Topola
Group B: Ajax v Marseille, Brighton v AEK Athens
Group C: Rangers v Real Betis, Sparta Prague v Aris Limassol
Group D: Atalanta v Rakow Czestochowa, Sturm Graz v Sporting
In case you missed it, the Guardian had quite the announcement on the European front yesterday. Those not already being auto-pointed in that direction (hello VPN users!) can find the new, dedicated Europe website homepage here.