Lukaku stays hot in Europa League to earn Roma a draw

Lukaku stays hot in Europa League to earn Roma a draw

© AFP 2022
February 15, 2024 at 10:38 PM
Romelu Lukaku (centre) celebrates after he met a cross with his shoulder to send the ball looping into the net
Romelu Lukaku (centre) celebrates after he met a cross with his shoulder to send the ball looping into the net. Photo: Olaf Kraak / ANP/AFP
Source: AFP

Romelu Lukaku shouldered in the equaliser to earn Roma a 1-1 draw away to Feyenoord in the first leg of their Europa League playoff on Thursday.

Elsewhere, a pair of Argentine veterans struck late to give their teams victories.

Mauro Icardi fired home a shot from the edge of the penalty area in added time to earn Galatasaray a 3-2 home win over Sparta Prague after the Czechs had twice fought back from a goal down.

In Lisbon, Angel di Maria, converted his second penalty of the game seven minutes into added time to give Benfica a 2-1 victory over Toulouse.

AC Milan beat Rennes 3-0 with England midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek scoring two headed goals and Rafael Leao rounding off a dominant home display after a neat exchange with Theo Hernandez.

"I've been working on this, getting to the right position to score and it's going well now," said Loftus-Cheek. "Tonight was incredible at home."

In Hamburg, Iliman Ndiaye thought he had bagged a last minute winner for Marseille but Eguinaldo's injury-time strike rescued a point for Ukrainian exiles Shakhtar Donetsk in a 2-2 draw.

In Rotterdam, Igor Paixao headed hosts Feyenoord in front in added time at the end of the first half.

But in the 67th minute, Lukaku met a cross with his shoulder to send the ball looping into the net.

"The defender was trying to hold me off but I knew I was much stronger than him so I got to the ball," Lukaku told UEFA.com.

"When the chance comes, you have to score – and that's what we did."

It was his 21st goal in his last 18 Europa League appearances.

"Both teams created a lot of chances and had a lot of shots," said Feyenoord coach Arne Slot. "Sometimes we were better, sometimes they were."

Marseille, whose only victory this year was against fifth-tier Thionville in the French Cup, twice seemed briefly poised to break that barren streak.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang put the visitors ahead after 64 minutes with a first-time half volley, but four minutes later Mykola Matviyenko fired home after Marseille failed to clear a free kick.

Aubameyang then crossed for Ndiaye to restore the lead with time running out. This time it lasted three minutes before Eguinaldo headed powerfully home.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek diving to head his second goal against Rennes
Ruben Loftus-Cheek diving to head his second goal against Rennes. Photo: GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP
Source: AFP

"We are disappointed as we led twice, but allowed victory to slip away," said Marseille defender Samuel Gigot.

"We are unhappy with the result as we wanted to win. I think we deserved to win with our display," said Shakhtar defender Yukhym Konoplia.

The 16 teams in action in the playoffs are battling for the right to join the eight seeds who have already qualified for the last 16.

In the Conference League, four-time European champions Ajax scored twice in added time to escape a humiliating home defeat to Bodo/Glimt.

The Norwegian club seemed poised to add to their growing list of famous scalps when Albert Groenbaek scored his second of the game after 64 minutes.

In the 90th minute, Odin Bjoertuft fouled Brian Brobbey in the box, was sent off and conceded a penalty. Branco van den Boomen smashed home the spot kick.

From a 98th minute Jordan Henderson corner, the ball fell to Steven Berghuis who fired home the equaliser with the last kick of the match.

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© AFP 2022 photo
© AFP 2022