Europa League: Barca, Real Sociedad have work to do; good outings for Sevilla, Betis

FC Barcelona have plenty of work to do if they want to reach the last-16 of the Europa League after being held to a 1-1 draw at home to Napoli.

Barca were without Sergio Busquets, who began the game on the bench, and with Dani Alves’ absence for European competitions, Oscar Mingueza played at right-back, while Eric Garcia partnered Gerard Pique in central defense.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang started in an attack made up of Barca’s three January signings, with Adama Traore and Ferran Torres, but apart from a shot from Pedri over the bar and a poor control from Torres when set through by Aubameyang, nothing worthwhile came out.

Napoli opened the scoring in the 28th minute when Piotr Zielinski beat Marc Andre Ter Stegen after the Barca keeper had saved his original shot.

The rest of the half saw Barca control the ball, but fail to create clear chances, partly thanks to the excellent defensive work of Koulibaly.

Barca equalised in the 57th minute after the VAR saw a hand blocking a cross by Traore and Torres made no mistake from the spot.

Barca coach Xavi Hernandez made a triple change soon afterward with Traore, Nico and the ineffective Frenkie de Jong replaced by Busquets, Gavi and Ousmane Dembele, who was greeted by a chorus of boos after his failure to sign a new contract.

Torres had another chance to win the game three minutes from the end but sent the ball over the bar as his side’s Europa League debut ended in disappointment.

In the second early kick-off, Betis won a thrilling game 3-2 away to Zenit St. Petersburg thanks to goals from Guido Rodriguez, Willian Jose and Andres Guardado.

Sevilla defeated Dinamo Zagreb 3-1 with an Ivan Rakitic penalty and strikes from Lucas Ocampos and Anthony Martial, with the last two coming rapidly after Mislav Orsic had briefly levelled for the visitors.

Real Sociedad drew 2-2 away to RB Leipzig with Robin le Normand and Mikel Oyarzabal (from the penalty spot) scoring for the Basque side, while Leipzig twice pulled level with goals from Christopher Nkunku and Emil Forsberg.




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