With the round of 32 in this season’s Europa League underway, the ties fell favourably for the English clubs with Arsenal pitted against Belarusian BATE Borisov (who they beat in last year’s group stages 10-2 on aggregate) and Chelsea facing Swedish side Malmö for the first time in the club’s history; however Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic have a tricky test against Valencia, who currently find themselves out of the European places for next season. You can find the Europa League winner odds on Betfair. But while there are bound to be shocks during the knockout stages, let’s take a look back at some of the British sides who’ve caused an upset in the Europa League.
FULHAM v Juventus – March 2010
Fulham sparked an unbelievable comeback at Craven Cottage on March 18, 2010 overturning their 3-1 defeat to Juventus at the Stadio Olimpico, to win the tie 5-4 on aggregate and secure their place in the quarter-finals. It didn’t look good for the English side when David Trezeguet scored in the opening minutes, but a quick equaliser from Bobby Zamora offered a glimmer of hope. Two goals either side of half time for Zoltan Gera levelled the score on aggregate and a late winner from Clint Dempsey prevented extra time, securing the win. Juventus were hampered with disciplinary issues with Fabio Cannavaro and Jonathan Zebina both receiving straight red cards; but the Cottagers marched on to the final, eventually losing out to Atlético Madrid in extra time.
BOLTON v Atlético Madrid – February 2008
Bolton Wanderers made it out of the group stages after three draws (notably one against table-toppers Bayern Munich) and a win out of their four games. A tough test against unbeaten Atlético Madrid followed in the round of 32. A solitary goal in the first leg by El Hadji Diouf separated the sides at The Reebok Stadium, before the Trotters held on to a goalless draw in the return leg in Spain for a memorable victory and a place in the last 16. The next round proved difficult with the English side going out to Sporting Lisbon 2-1 on aggregate, but manager Gary Megson’s main priority by that point was cementing their place in the Premier League – six defeats in eight matches during February and March saw them slump down the table.
MIDDLESBROUGH v Steaua Bucharest – April 2006
Middlesbrough provided shock after shock in the 2005-06 UEFA Cup, topping their group with 10 points and without losing. The knockout stages proved challenging with the away goal rule seeing them victorious against Stuttgart in the round of 32 and Roma in the round of 16. After going down 2-0 to Basel in the first leg of the quarter-finals, Steve Maclaren’s side were victorious in the second leg, winning 4-1. But the biggest shock came in the semi-finals. Boro found themselves 3-0 down on aggregate after 25 minutes of the second leg and an inspired substitution saw Massimo Maccarone score within eight minutes of coming on. With under an hour left to play and thee goals to find, Stewart Downing became provider for Mark Viduka and Chris Riggott – and a last-minute header from Maccarone sent the Riverside into raptures! The final saw Sevilla lift the trophy, running out 4-0 winners in what was Steve Maclaren’s last game in charge, before becoming England boss.
Bayern Munich v NORWICH – October 1993
Norwich City made history on October 20, 1993 when they became the first English team ever to beat Bayern Munich at their own ground in a European competition. The Canaries were two goals to the good after half an hour, with strikes from Jeremy Goss and Mark Bowen proving decisive. Although Bayern pulled one back before the end of the first half, the first leg stayed at 1-2 and the return leg finished in a score draw (despite Bayern going ahead). Despite making history, Norwich were knocked out in the third round, losing to Inter Milan by the odd goal in both legs. The goal scorer both times? A certain Dennis Bergkamp.