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Europa unfortunate in Djurgarden defeat

Europa were knocked out of Europe tonight after a narrow 2-1 away loss to Djurgarden of Sweden, with a saved penalty, a red card and the woodwork coming back to hurt the visitors.

Photo (C) C Correa Photography

Europa were not well fancied in the betting going into the game, but proved to be a match for the Swedish champions, and Rafael Escobar’s side had a great chance to go ahead from the spot just before half time – however Liam Walker’s penalty was saved well, and Djurgarden went up the other end to score through Curtis Edwards.

The setback did not deter the visitors though, and they got their reward in the 57th minute. A defensive mix up at the back by Djurgarden left Adrian Gallardo with an empty net to finish into and get his side back into it. Europa were to fall down to 10 men soon after though with Alex Quillo picking up two bookings in four minutes.

Europa kept on fighting, but would go behind to a penalty from former Burnley midfielder Fredrik Ulvestad. The woodwork would then go on to deny Europa a second equaliser, and later chances for Walker, Gallardo, and 18-year-old Gibraltarian Mitch Gibson, a surprise inclusion onto the field of play near the end, could not be converted as Europa lost in the narrowest of circumstances.

The final statistics, of 9 shots each team told the story of a tight match, which on another day, Europa may have been able to win – they will likely take confidence from the performance though going into the domestic season.

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Djurgardens v Europa: Match Preview

The second part of today’s Europa League double-header involving local sides sees Europa in Sweden, as they take on Djurgardens at the Tele2 Arena in Stockholm.

Photo © C Correa Photography

Europa, who moved into the Europa League after defeat to Red Star Belgrade, take on the Swedish champions, who lost at the same stage to Hungarian champions Ferencvaros, in what should be another tough encounter for Rafael Escobar’s side, who haven’t had the luck of the draw so to speak with the teams they have drawn out – the winner of this has to play CFR Cluj in the next round.

Europa’s most recent visit to Sweden saw them lose 1-0 to AIK back in 2016, and they will be hoping that this time out may be more joyful – they won’t be aided by the fact the hosts, who have two Head Coaches in Kim Bergstrand and Thomas Lagerlof, are 19 games into the Allsvenskan season, which started in June – they sit fifth in the league though which for last season’s champions is not ideal.

Before the game, Bergstrand spoke about the ball-skill and good organisation of Europa, noting they only went behind to Red Star initially due to an offside goal. He also noted that while his team should be able to hurt Europa, they also have to respect them. Liam Walker, Europa’s captain, spoke to FG yesterday ahead of the game, which you can read here.

Squad News:

Europa’s squad has been bolstered by the return of Ethan Jolley, as well as the arrival of new signing Kwadwo Poku – the pair would be expected to start at the Tele2 Arena this evening. They will be without Ibrahim Ayew and Blas Alvarez though, who have not travelled with the team to Stockholm.

For the hosts, they are confirmed to be without Erik Berg, Jesper Nyholm, Emmanuel Banda, Nicklas Bärkroth and Alexander Abrahamsson, according to their official website. One player that may catch the eye is English midfielder Curtis Edwards, who played both legs for fellow Swedish side Ostersund against Arsenal in their historic Europa League run of 2017/18. The Swedish side also have midfielder Kevin Walker – the Swedish/Irish 31-year-old won the 2013 Swedish Pop Idol, singing alongside Robbie Williams in the final.

Betting:

The hosts understandably go into this game as massive favourites, with 1/20 the best price you can get on them winning in 90 minutes. Europa are 45/1 to cause a big shock, while the draw in 90 minutes is 14/1. The handicap line is set at 3, with Europa 13/10 on +3. Meanwhile, if you do fancy Djurgardens to win but Europa to score, that is currently 11/4.

FG’s Predicted XI’s:

Djurgardens – Bratvelt; Witry, Une Larsson, Kack, Augustinsson; Ulvestad, Karlstrom; Eriksson, Edwards, Ring; Chilufya

Europa – Munoz;Jolley, Olmo, Carrascal, Olivero; Walker, Rosa, Badr, Becerra; Juampe, Gallardo

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Lincoln v Rangers: Match Preview

Lincoln take on Rangers this afternoon in the first of two Europa League Second Qualifying Round matches involving Gibraltarian sides today.

Photo © Neil Wilson/Lincoln

Lincoln, who earned this tie by beating Union Titus Petange 2-0 in the last round, come up against a Rangers side going very well in the Scottish Premiership; Steven Gerrard’s side have won six of their seven games so far, without conceding a single goal, and are currently top of the league.

Lincoln, who famously beat Celtic at the Victoria Stadium in 2016, will be hoping to complete an ‘Old Firm Double’ by beating Rangers, and at the press conference yesterday, Lee Casciaro, who scored the winner that night, spoke about his sides chances and noted that unlike against then Brendan Rodgers side, this is a one-legged tie which adds a different dimension to the match.

Meanwhile, Gerrard, whose Rangers side of course played here last year against St Joseph’s, stated that he didn’t believe the artificial surface would pose any problem to his side – some teams in Scotland such as Hamilton, Kilmarnock and Livingston have used them in the Scottish top flight.

Squad News:

Lincoln are believed to have no new injury concerns ahead of the game, with Joseph Chipolina remaining out from his injury last year. Therefore, it will be expected that they pick a similar team to that which beat Union Titus Petange, and were set to face Prishtina in the round before that. Tjay De Barr has joined the team, but didn’t feature for the national side against San Marino, therefore is still short on match fitness since his injury in November, and may have to settle for a spot on the bench.

For Rangers, the good news is that striker Alfredo Morelos is available, despite suffering a knock on the weekend against Dundee United. Meanwhile, former Liverpool winger Ryan Kent is expected to be involved and will be a key threat, having scored four in seven so far this term. They will be missing a few players though, including Ryan Jack and Joe Aribo – the pair scored across both legs of the tie vs Saints last summer.

Betting:

It will come as no surprise to anyone that Rangers, who reached the Last 16 of this tournament last season, are big favourites to win today – the best you can get on them winning is 1/12, while Lincoln are as big as 60/1 in places to recreate the shock win vs Celtic against the other member of the Old Firm.

Ryan Kent, who is in good goalscoring form, is 6/5 to notch a goal today, while for Lincoln, Lee Casciaro is 10/1. Graeme Torrilla, who scored the winner for Gib vs San Marino, is 40/1 to repeat his goalscoring touch for his club side anytime.

FG’s Predicted Lineups:

Lincoln XI – Soler; Wiseman, Lopes, R. Chipolina, Sergeant, Britto; Hernandez, Torrilla, Yahaya, L. Casciaro; Kike

Rangers XI – McLaughlin; Tavernier, Goldson, Helander, Arfield; Davis, Kamara; Kent, Hagi, Roofe, Morelos

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Roy Chipolina: “I thought I loved football but Julio takes the love of the game to a whole new level”

Ahead of Lincoln’s Europa League Second Qualifying Round match vs The New Saints, we caught up with Roy Chipolina to get his thoughts on the game, as well as a number of other topics including the appointment of Julio Ribas as national manager, and the increased Home Grown Player (HGP) rules.

Photo (C) William Gracia

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