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Page last updated at 21:13 GMT, Thursday, 17 September 2009 22:13 UK

Europa League as it happened

GOALFLASHES AND MAJOR INCIDENTS (all times BST)

606: DEBATE

To get involved use 606 or text us your views & comments on 81111. (Not all contributions can be used)

By Chris Bevan

2210: So, the first night of the Europa League was very good if you're an Everton fan, decent enough if you support Fulham and fairly forgettable if you follow Celtic. I'm not sure what any of the extra officials thought of it all but, after seeing them tonight, I think Uefa should at least provide them with a chair to sit on for when the action is at the other end (and maybe a TV screen to watch the match on to see replays of controversial incidents?). Thanks for your company - I'll see you at the weekend.

From anon via text on 81111: "Juanfran kicked Saha, who gave him a slight push and he went down clutching his face! And people were excited about Eduardo!"

2205: Fulham boss Roy Hodgson on the new assistant referees behind the goal, who he feels missed a penalty for his side when Erik Nevland was fouled inside the box: "Erik is quite an honest player so for him to protest so vehemently that he was tripped up leads me to believe that he was. I didn't notice the additional officials but I thought the referee and linesmen had good games because it was a fast match."

2203: Euro Danny: "Still time for some dramatic late Euro goals. Jonathan Reis's last-minute penalty denies Sparta Prague and earns PSV a 2-2 draw. And Marc Janko scores in the 90th minute to earn SV Red Bull Salzburg a 2-1 win at Lazio. Elsewhere, in Everton's group, Benfica complete a 2-0 win over BATE, while Shakhtar Donetsk win 4-1 away at Club Brugge and Toulouse edge out Partizan Belgrade 3-2 in a thriller."

2201: Louis Saha's red card in injury time took a bit of the shine off Everton's night but it was still an stylish performance and impressive result. Victory rarely looked in doubt from the start and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov showed why David Moyes spent upwards of £10m on him.

2159: Euro Danny: "Fans of late potential winners might want to cast their eyes towards the Czech Republic, where Martin Zeman has put Sparta Prague 2-1 up against PSV. Simarly, have a gander at the Nacional v Werder Bremen match, where Claudio Pizarro's second has made it 3-2 to the visitors. Minutes to go in all the remaining games."

2158: FULL-TIME Everton 4-0 AEK Athens

Red card
You didn't need an extra official behind the goal to spot this one. Louis Saha tangles with Juanfran inside the AEK area and, stupidly, raises his hand towards the Spanish defender. It was more of a flick than an elbow but he did make contact and that is a red card. Juanfran went down like he had been punched by Mike Tyson but that's besides the point - at 4-0 up, Saha didn't have to get involved with any of that sort of stuff.

2155: RED CARD Everton

2153: Ismael Blanco is pretty prolific back in Greece, but he has clearly left his shooting boots in Athens. He has another pop on goal with a snap-shot from the edge of the area but it is straight at Tim Howard.

2150: Euro Danny: "(see 2136 and 2140) Steve McClaren - managerial genius. Blaise Nkufo wallops in from 12 yards and it's Fenerbahce 1-2 FC Twente. Two goals within minutes for Nkufo and the home fans are, frankly, furious."

2149: Just five minutes left at Goodison Park now but, let's be honest, this game was all over about an hour ago.

From Rafael & Fabio - Perfect Combination! on 606: "Jo was sniffing around for that goal for quite some time in this match - fully deserved."


Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Yakubu cuts in from the right before firing a shot goalwards. It is blocked inside the area but the ball falls nicely for Jo, who spins before slotting a low shot past Sebastian Saja and into the bottom corner of the net. A nice finish, and his first goal of the season.

2145: GOALFLASH Everton 4-0 AEK Athens

2144: That was a decent opening for Blanco but, at the other end, Louis Saha has just missed an absolute sitter for Everton. Leighton Baines squares the ball into the Frenchman's path, three yards out, but he balloons his shot over the bar.

2143: Those AEK fans almost had something to celebrate after all - Grigoris Makos crosses to Ismael Blanco but the Argentine striker cannot find the target. Chance gone.

From Jacks at Goodison Park via text on 81111: "The AEK fans are now more interesting than the game! Great fans, fair play to them!"

2140: Euro Danny: "Steve McClaren - look again. FC Twente have levelled. Turkey international Volkan Demirel makes a howler to let Blaise Nkufo's shot slip under him and it is Fenerbahce 1-1 FC Twente. Meanwhile, comeback fans will delight in Rafik Halliche's leveller for Nacional, who are 2-2 with Werder Bremen, having been 2-0 down."

2139: AEK have had a miserable time tonight but that is not stopping the Greek side's fans from enjoying themselves on Merseyside - they are jumping around again and out-singing the home fans at Goodison Park... if this is what they are like when they are 3-0 down, what do they do when they are winning?

2136: Euro Danny: "Villarreal are 1-0 up against Levski Sofia, Nacional have pulled a goal back and trail Werder Bremen 2-1 - and look away Steve McClaren. Mehmet Topuz has drilled in a free-kick and it's Fenerbahce 1-0 FC Twente."

From George, in Shantos via text on 81111: "Re 2121. Awful. Steps should be taken against that sort of joke..."

I see what you've done there...

2132: Another change for Everton - Louis Saha is on for Steven Pienaar, who is another player who has had a very productive night.

2130: Maybe Hammdigrassi, below, is right. Everton have just upped the ante and gone close twice in quick succession - first Jack Rodwell forces another good low save out of Sebastian Saja, then Leon Osman latches on to a loose ball in the area with a volley that flies just wide.

From Hammydigrassi on 606: "Everton to go and win this four, five or six nil now. MARK MY WORDS."

2127: Everton have not created a lot in the second half, but then again they did lead 3-0 at the break. Steven Pienaar has just had their best effort since the interval, forcing Sebastian Saja into a sprawling save with a low shot from the edge of the area after a neat build-up by the Toffees.

2126: AEK have got lots of South Americans in their squad - a gaggle of Argentines and a bundle of Brazilians. You would think that, techically, they would be sound but at the moment they cannot string a pass together. Everton have taken their foot off the pedal, but they can afford to.

2124: Even against 10 men, Everton seem to have lost a bit of interest in extending their lead. Yakubu has just tried to play Steven Pienaar in down the right but his pass was slightly underhit and the chance is gone.

2121: Euro Danny: "A small outbreak of goals across Europe. Cluj are 1-0 up over Copenhagen thanks to Juan Emanuel Culio, while Claudio Pizarro has made it Nacional 0-2 Werder Bremen. And in Spain, Athletic Bilbao are 3-0 up on Austria Vienna, Iker Muniain with the third."

Red card
Sylvain Distin wins the ball in the air from AEK defender Carlos Araujo, who seems to take exception to the challenge, kicking out at the Everton defender and catching him in, shall we say, a painful area in full view of referee Robert Malek. Araujo sees red, and a bad night for the Greeks has just got even worse. Tragedy.

2117: RED CARD AEK Athens

2116: Yep, here comes the Yak now - he will replace Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, who seems to have a slight groin strain... he was limping a bit as he went off the pitch anyhow.

2115: Looks like Everton boss David Moyes could be about to make another change - Yakubu is getting ready to come on.

2113: A bit of a scrappy start to the second half from both teams, plenty of misplaced passes so far. Tim Cahill isn't injured by the way, he's been taken off as a precaution because he picked up a yellow card in the first half.

2112: AEK have made a change too - my favourite Malawi-born Canada international with German residency Tamandani Nsaliwa has been taken off, having only come on as a substitute himself. Gustavo Manduca is on instead.

2109: Everton make a change before the start of the second half - Leon Osman is on for Tim Cahill. We are back under way at Goodison Park.

2107: Celtic boss Tony Mowbray on his side's 2-1 defeat by Hapoel Tel-Aviv: "They were a goal down and had to chase the game - it felt as if we were just waiting to concede a goal and that is ultimately what happened. It didn't look as if they could hurt us but they found a way of picking up the tempo when the heat meant we were feeling pretty drained. For 75 minutes we were very disciplined but the goal changed the game and the atmosphere in the stadium drove them on to get their winner."

2102: Fulham manager Roy Hodgson on his side's 1-1 draw with CSKA Sofia: "It was a difficult game as we knew it would be - we had a few injuries and also decided to rest a few players. But the fact we have come away from a real challenge with a 1-1 draw means I cannot be anything but delighted."

2100: Not sure why I gave AEK a goal at half-time (see 2052) - as some of you have said, they are lucky to have nil. Give your page a cheeky refresh and the correct scoreline (Everton 3-0 AEK) will appear.

From The Roge, via text on 81111: "Bily deserves a goal here, he's worked his new socks off!"

2056: Yep, Everton are in total control at the break and their £10m new-boy Diniyar Bilyaletdinov (Bily) is making quite an impression on his first start for the club. He's had a hand in all three goals and on this evidence is pretty tasty from dead-ball situations.

2053: Euro Danny: "It's looking easy for Everton - and looking pretty simple for Benfica in Group I as well. They're now 2-0 up against BATE with Oscar Cardozo scoring. Meanwhile, fans of the letter 'x' can rejoice as Pantxi Sirieix's quick double puts Toulouse 2-1 up at Partizan Belgrade."

Half time
2052: HALF-TIME Everton 3-0 AEK Athens

2051: I like the look of Leighton Baines' partnership with 'Bily' on the left - I don't think those two have given the ball away once tonight. AEK are just hanging on, it's a case of damage limitation for them already.

2049: Everton are still working hard despite being so far in front - they are chasing AEK down in every area of the pitch and the visitors look a bit shell-shocked at the moment... the Greeks need half-time to arrive, and quickly. they've only got a couple of minutes to go...

2046: Euro Danny: "There's a goal in the Benfica v BATE tie - the other game in Everton's group. Nuno Gomes has got it and the home side lead 1-0."

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
That's the points in the bag for Everton then. Steven Pienaar makes it 3-0 with a scorching 25-yard shot into the top corner - AEK goalkeeper Sebastian Saja has had a nightmare tonight but, to be fair, that was just unstoppable. Still, the visiting fans have had enough - they've turned their backs on the pitch and are jumping up and down waving their scarves in the air.

2042: GOALFLASH Everton 3-0 AEK Athens

2041: Bily comes close to marking his debut with a goal... he stretches but is unable to Steven Piennar's fizzing cross when any sort of touch would have caused Sebastian Saja problems. We've got about 10 minutes to go until half-time, and Everton are still looking extremely comfortable.

2038: Having said that, Everton are looking by far the most likely to score again. Sylvain Distin lobs a ball into the penalty area and Jo nods it goalwards. AEK goalkeeper Sebastian Saja is happy to stand and watch but the ball ends up bouncing a lot closer to his right-hand post than he might have thought.

2034: AEK come forward again, with Ismael Blanco bursting into the box and managing to send across a low cross that Joseph Yobo does well to clear. Seconds later, Tamandani Nsaliwa has a go from 25 yards and seed his shot whizz inches over the bar. A goal by the visitors would make this one interesting...

From anon, via text on 81111: "Re 2021. You can call our 'Billy' anything you want, so long as he keeps puting corners in like that! Come on you Blues!"

2029: Another dangerous set-piece by Diniyar Bilyaletdinov (Bily) almost extends Everton's lead. The ball comes back across goal for Jo, who sees his looping header drop just over the bar.

2028: Euro Danny: "Couple of early goals elsewhere in what I've already dubbed "tonight's late Europa League kick-offs". It's Club Brugge 0-1 Shakhtar Donetsk, while Fernando Llorente has notched from the penalty spot to put Athletic Bilbao 1-0 up at home against Austria Vienna."

2026: Everton shouldn't relax just yet though - AEK are looking a lot better when they attack than they do when they try to defend. Pantelis Kafes, who wears the number one on his shirt, lets fly with a rasping shot from outside the box and Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard is grateful to see it fly wide.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Thanks to the first contribution I've seen by one of the extra officials tonight, Everton are now 2-0 up. The man behind the goal signals for a corner when the referee was undecided and, when the ball comes over, Marouane Fellaini gets a touch before Sylvain Distin prods the ball home at the back post.

2022: GOALFLASH Everton 2-0 AEK Athens

2021: That was a wicked delivery by Diniyar Bilyaletdinov for Everton's goal but, as a text commentator, he is never going to be one of my favourite players. Can I call him Bily from now on?

2018: AEK are forced into an early change, Geraldo tried to continue with a injury sustained before Everton's goal but has given up the ghost. Tamandani Nsaliwa, a Malawi-born Canadian international who has just taken up German residency, is on in his place.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
After making a whirlwind start, Everton get the goal they craved. Steven Pienaar's 30-yard shot is saved by Sebastian Saja but Diniyar Bilyaletdinov whips in a wicked cross from the resulting corner for Joseph Yobo to head home unmarked at the back post.

2015: GOALFLASH Everton 1-0 AEK Athens

From Liverpool fan, via text on 81111: "Here's hoping Kristian Nemeth comes off the bench to score the winner tonight."

Nemeth is on loan at AEK from Liverpool, hence the Reds' interest in his fortunes...

2011: Leighton Baines is seeing plenty of the ball down Everton's left flank and getting into some advanced positions too. The Toffees are still well on top - AEK chasing shadows right now.

2007: Everton are playing it around quite nicely so far, and using plenty of width when they come forward. All very encouraging but they haven't managed to break down the Greeks yet.

From JackHughesByZola on 606: "Good goal by Michel Platini against Fulham but I thought the defenders Cruyff, Pele and Maradona should have closed him down..."

2005: AEK Athens get us started and immediately surrender possession to Everton.

2001: We're about five minutes away from kick-off at Goodison Park. Some breaking news for Everton fans waiting for that one to start - the Toffees have signed Australian defender Lucas Neill, who was a free agent following his release by West Ham in the summer.

2000: I've just seen a few pictures of some very angry Celtic fans berating their players following that second-half display in Israel. Maybe they had planned to head for Preston at the final whistle too?

From Jenni in Preston, via text on 81111: "Oh well. Saved my blushes!"

1956: Euro Danny: "Some other scores from tonight's early matches which may be of some interest. In Celtic's group, Rapid Vienna have hammered Hamburg 3-0, while in Fulham's group Basel have pulled off a surprise 2-0 win over Claudio Ranieri's Roma. Elsewhere, Galatasaray beat Panathinaikos 3-1 away, and Sporting completed that 3-2 win away at Heerenveen."

1955: It all looked so promising for Celtic but two goals in the last 15 minutes by Hapoel Tel Aviv turned that game on its head. Still, they have got five more Europa League games to go so let's not write them off yet. Speaking of writing teams off too early, Fulham may have made nine changes tonight but they have picked up an impressive point against CSKA Sofia. Roy Hodgson will rightly be delighted with that.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
1952: FULL-TIME Hapoel Tel-Aviv 2-1 Celtic

1951: Celtic mount a late attack - we haven't seen many of them this half - and force a corner but, as soon as that is fired into the box, the referee awards a free-kick to the home side after spotting an infringement. Not long left in Israel now - we're in the fourth minute of injury time and we were only meant to have three.

Full time
1950: FULL-TIME CSKA Sofia 1-1 Fulham

1949: Fulham are keeping things nice and tidy in Sofia - looks like they are going to hold on for a debut Europa League point.

1948: Euro Danny: "Great game in the Netherlands. It's now Heerenveen 2-3 Sporting, with Da Silva Liedson notching in the 88th minute for the Portuguese side. It completes his hat-trick, and looks like the winner."

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Late heartache for Celtic who dominated the first half but have been under the cosh since the break. Gil Vermouth powers down the left flank and into the area - his low cross is turned in at the near post by Maaran Lala, who may share his name with a teletubby but provides a neat finish to put Hapoel Tel-Aviv in front.

1945: GOALFLASH Hapoel Tel-Aviv 2-1 Celtic

1944: TEAM NEWS Everton v AEK Athens
Russian midfielder Diniyar Bilyaletdinov makes his first start for Everton as boss David Moyes makes three changes from the side which lost to Fulham at the weekend. With Phil Neville injured and Tony Hibbert suspended, Marouane Fellaini and Dan Gosling are recalled, while Leon Osman had to settle for a place on the bench. Jo will play up front on his own, with Louis Saha among the subs.

1943: Oooh. Real pressure from Tel Aviv and Celtic are thankful to see Eran Zahavi's shot go just wide after a scramble inside the area.

1942: Euro Danny: "Around 10 minutes to go in the early kick-offs, and a few potential winners have just gone in. Valencia, Dinamo Bucharest and Anderlecht have all taken the lead in the past few minutes."

1941: It's still Hapoel doing all the attacking in Tel Aviv. After seeing how Artur Borac dealt with the cross that led to their goal they are peppering his goal with long-range efforts. Celtic look like they would be happy with a point now.

1940: Diomansy Kamara has a pop from the edge of the box for Fulham, but unlike earlier, he is hopelessly off target.

1939: TEAMS Everton v AEK Athens
Everton: Howard, Gosling, Yobo, Distin, Baines, Pienaar, Cahill, Rodwell, Fellaini, Bilyaletdinov, Jo. Subs: Nash, Saha, Osman, Yakubu, Baxter, Wallace, Mustafi.
AEK Athens: Sebastian Saja, Jahic, Arce, Geraldo, Araujo, Juanfran, Makos, Kafes, Scocco, Leonardo, Blanco. Subs: Arampatzis, Hersi, Nsaliwa, Manduca, Yahaya, Nemeth, Georgeas.

1938: Those of you who have texted in saying you are on your way to Preston following Jenni's proclamation (see below) will not have welcomed that Nemanja Vucicivic equaliser against Celtic. Still, 10 minutes left for Tony Mowbray's side to find a winner...

1936: Great stuff from Fulham keeper David Stockdale - the Europa League debutant keeps the Cottagers on level terms with a very smart stop above his head, tipping the ball over the bar after Yordan Todorov powers Marquinhos's cross towards goal. Fulham hanging on for a draw at the moment.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Samuel Yeboah makes headway down the right and sends over a low cross. For some reason Artur Boruc tries to clear with his feet instead of his hands and the ball comes out to Nemanja Vucicivic to smash it into the roof of the net. Hapoel are level, and it had been coming.

1932: GOALFLASH Hapoel Tel-Aviv 1-1 Celtic

1931: Samuel Yeboah heads over from close range for Hapoel Tel-Aviv - he should have found the target from there - but his blushes are spared by the linesman's flag - it wouldn't have counted anyway.

1930: Mind you, Fulham are still creating openings themselves too - the ball comes back to Erik Nevland in the right-hand corner of the area but he slightly scuffs his shot and it rolls harmlessly wide.

1928: The game has opened up in Sofia, and the home side have just had a chance to retake the lead. The ball bounces through to Yordan Todorov inside the box - he tries a first-time shot but gets it horribly wrong and slices his shot a mile wide. Still a warning for Fulham though - just under 20 minutes to go but they cannot relax yet.

From Jenni in Preston, via text on 81111: "More in the second half please from Celtic. If we win away again I'm going to dance naked down the street!"

1923: Over in Tel-Aviv, Celtic have taken the sting out of Hapoel following the home side's strong start to the second half. The Israeli side are still enjoying most of the possession but Tony Mowbray's side are holding firm so far.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
Fulham are behind for just three minutes after a cool finish by Diomansy Kamara. He beats CSKA goalkeeper Zdravko Chavdarov to Erik Nevland's ball over the top and is able to steer the ball into an empty net from the left-hand edge of the area. A lovely finish for his first goal of the season.

1921: GOALFLASH CSKA Sofia 1-1 Fulham

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
It had to be him, didn't it? Kosta Yanev's ball is chested down by Marquinhos and Michel Platini takes a touch before sweeping home a half-volley from the edge of the area. CSKA lead 1-0 - work to do for Fulham now.

1918: GOALFLASH CSKA Sofia 1-0 Fulham

1916: Still wondering how these extra assistants actually work? Click here to see a natty graphic that explains just that. Not much happening at the moment in Sofia - Erik Nevland is down after an awkward fall and receiving treatment.

1914: Euro Danny: "More ex-Premier League stars in action in Greece. Milan Baros has scored to make it Panathinaikos 0-2 Galatasaray, following Elano's opener."

1912: A familar name has just come off the bench for CSKA Sofia - yep Michel Platini is on for the Bulgarians. There are some people who think the Uefa chief has it in for English clubs but this is taking things a bit far. Hang on, hang on - it's a different Michel Platini. This one is a Brazilian named Michel, who goes by the nickname of Platini. For some reason he has Platini on the back of his shirt too.

1909: A chance for one of these extra officials behind the goal to get involved in Sofia. A cross from the left bounces up and hits Stephen Kelly at the near post - might have been on his arm, might not. I don't know if the extra official spotted it, but he certainly didn't give it.

1908: Hapoel are certainly pushing forward at the start of this second half. Gil Vermouth lets fly with a decent effort and forces a good save from Artur Boruc. Celtic still lead 1-0.

1906: A shout for a penalty from Hapoel Tel-Aviv, when Stephen McManus tries to clear Gil Vermouth's cross but sees the ball bobble off his hand and towards goalkeeper Artur Boruc. Referee Paul Allaerts is having none of it though.

Yellow card
1903: Chris Smalling has just been booked for an innocuous looking challenge on Ivan Stoyanov. Looked like a clash of heads to me - both of them went up for a header. Oh, and Celtic have just kicked off the second half against Hapoel Tel-Aviv.

1901: We are back under way in Sofia.

1900: A few of you are texting in about Chris Smalling, who has made his first start for Fulham tonight, just 13 months after playing in the Ryman League for Maidstone United. He's had a decent game so far.

From Dan Clarke in Littlehampton, via text on 81111: "Please wait until full-time to judge Fulham - they could win with this XI and are hardly embarrassing themselves are they?"

1850: Could Fulham have the last laugh in Sofia? Roy Hodgson may have made nine changes but they weathered an early storm from CSKA and were looking more dangerous as the first half finished. A similar story in Tel Aviv, where Celtic made a slow start before stepping things up and taking the lead through a fantastic Georgios Samaras goal. They might need another one to make sure of victory but maybe not - the home side are looking a bit toothless to me.

Half time
HALF-TIME Hapoel Tel-Aviv 0-1 Celtic

HALF-TIME CSKA Sofia 0-0 Fulham

1846: Fulham's turn to threaten, when Jonathan Greening's cross is only half cleared and Simon Davies' deflected shot flies into Zdravko Chavdarov's hands.

1843: Anyone remember that Tony Yeboah goal for Leeds from about 15 years ago that nearly broke the Liverpool crossbar on its way in? Me too. His nephew Samuel is playing for Hapoel Tel-Aviv tonight, so Celtic fans should probably keep an eye out for scorching volleys that smash the woodwork into a million pieces.

From David Howell on Twitter: "It's not just me cheering CSKA Sofia over a team who are mocking the Europa League, is it? Please say it isn't..."

1840: Euro Danny: "Elsewhere in Celtic's group, Stefan Hoffmann has scored to give Rapid Vienna a 1-0 lead against Hamburg."

1839: A good spell of pressure by Celtic ends when Landry N'Guemo wastefully fires over from the left-hand edge of the penalty area. He should have done more with that.

1838: A first save of the night for Fulham goalkeeper David Stockdale who gets down at his right-hand post to stop a low effort by Ivan Stoyanov, who had cut in from the right.

From AreaCloud on 606: "Re 1815. The extra officials should be given chairs and a mug of tea."

1834: More encouraging stuff from Fulham, with John Pantsil battling into the box from the right and eventually getting a cross in before the ball is cleared.

1830: Fulham are awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position on the left when Zoltan Gera is fouled - Simon Davies bends the ball in and Chris Smalling is waiting for it at the back post but it doesn't reach him. Roy Hodgson's side are definitely in this game now though.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaal
A brilliant piece of finishing by Georgios Samaras puts Celtic ahead - not sure that sentence has been written too many times down the years. The Greek striker beats the offside trap to perfectly chest down Shaun Maloney's lobbed pass and drills a left-foot shot into the bottom corner of the net.

1825: GOALFLASH Hapoel Tel-Aviv 0-1 Celtic

1825: Here's a moment that sums up the first 25 minutes in Sofia. CSKA have a corner, which Yordan Todorov smashes about 40 yards back down the pitch to Viktors Morozs, who takes a touch and fires a shot goalwards. Suffice to say, it does not cause David Stockdale any problems.

1823: It's all gone a bit scrappy at the Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv. Both teams getting bogged down in midfield - the crowd are still making enough noise though.

From Saskia in Bolton, via text on 81111: "I think that the Europa League is the only thing Fulham might win. So why send out a reserve squad?!"

1820: Euro Danny: "Former Man City man Elano is in on the Europa League goal bonanza. He's put Galatasaray 1-0 up in their tasty looking encounter at Panathinaikos. Elsewhere in Fulham's group it's Basel 1-0 Roma after Carlos Alberto Carlitos' strike."

1819: Fulham's best hope of a goal at the moment looks like being on the break - and they do just that from a corner thanks to some fancy footwork by Diomansy Kamara. The move ends when Bjorn Helge Riise is tackled out on the left, but it looked quite promising for a minute there.

1815: Hmmm. Not much for these two extra officials to do in Israel or Bulgaria, so far anyway. Fulham seem to have settled down a bit and are packing out the midfield, without looking that dangerous themselves.

From big_boz, via text on 81111: "Again Tony Mowbray has chosen Georgios Samaras as a lone striker. Must frustrate Scott McDonald who has a great scoring record in Europe."

1813: First chance for Celtic, and it's Georgios Samaras who goes close. Shaun Maloney whips the ball in from a corner and the Greek striker sees his header tipped against the bar by Vincent Enyeama.

1810: Fulham haven't had much time on the ball so far, or out of their own half for that matter, and it's still CSKA doing all the attacking.

From Keith in Enniskillen, via text on 81111: "Re: 1752 what does CSKA as in Sofia and Moscow stand for then Chris?"

That would be Central Sport Club of the Army - hence their nickname, the Army Men.

1807: Euro Danny: "Here's one for you trivia buffs. Who scored the first goal in the group stage proper of the Europa League? Why, that'll be Alberto Zapater, who has put Genoa 1-0 up against Slavia Prague after four minutes."

1806: In Israel, Hapoel Tel-Aviv have made the brighter start, with Bebars Natcho in particular looking lively early on. The crowd are up for this and Celtic will want to quell the enthusiasm from the home side as soon as they can.

1805: Another CSKA shot, but this one is a lot less dangerous. Viktors Morozs lets fly from about 40 yards and sees the ball fly harmlessly high and wide.

1803: CSKA are enjoying most of the early possession and have just had the first effort on goal. Ivan Stoyanov cuts in from the left and sees his shot skid past David Stockdale's far post.

1801: We're under way in Bulgaria and Israel.

From littlejklc on 606: "Disappointing to see Fulham field a reserve team. Why did those clubs fight so hard to get the place but are not taking it seriously? Should the place given to clubs that would take it more seriously?"

1757: It looks quite lively in Sofia at the Vasil Levski National Stadium. Well, sort of. The stand opposite the camera is hopping, full of streamers and red and white flags. But, behind the goals, fans are few and far between. Still, they are making enough noise.

1756: Just a reminder for you lot to get involved tonight on 606, text via 81111 or even Twitter. I'm waiting...

1754: Fulham boss Roy Hodgson on making nine changes for his side's trip to CSKA Sofia: The priority is undoubtedly the Premier League. The Europa League is a bonus - and a very nice bonus - but the Premier League is our bread and butter. No-one would thank us for reaching the Europa League quarter-finals but getting relegated. That said, I think it's fantastic to sample European competition, tasting different atmospheres and different types of opponents, and we will undoubtedly grow and learn from this. This game also comes perfectly because I have players who are absolutely chomping at the bit to get a start, and this is their opportunity to show what they're made of.

1752: It's a 2005 BST kick off for Everton against AEK Athens at Goodison Park. I'm sure you already knew that AEK stands for Athlitiki Enosis Konstantinoupoleos, which is probably why they are known as AEK.

From super_hype on 606: "Re 1735. Surely it wouldn't be the officials causing the 'raft of penalties' but the players' fouls?"

1750: TEAMS Hapoel Tel-Aviv v Celtic
Hapoel Tel-Aviv: Enyeama, Kende, Badir, Douglas, Ben Dayan, Yadin, Natcho, Vucicevic, Vermouth, Yeboah, Menteshashvili. Subs: Abharbanel, Merey, Zahavi, Lala, Gordana, Huta, Doani.
Celtic: Boruc, Hinkel, McManus, Loovens, Daniel Fox, N'Guemo, Caldwell, Brown, Maloney, Samaras, McGeady. Subs: Zaluska, Naylor, McDonald, McGinn, Crosas, McCourt, Killen.

1747: Celtic's Group C game with Hapoel Tel-Aviv in Israel also starts at 1800 BST. These two have met only once before, by the way, in the first round of the 1999/2000 Uefa Cup. Celtic, managed by current Tranmere boss John Barnes, won 2-0 at home and 1-0 with all their goals scored by Henrik Larsson. Happy days? Erm, no. The Swedish superstar broke his leg against Lyon in the next round and, without him, Barnes was out of a job by the start of the new year.

1745: To use Roy Hodgson's terminology, I remember Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill giving his squad an 'adventure' against CSKA Moscow in this competition last year. He made eight changes, Villa lost 2-0 and were knocked out...

1743: TEAM NEWS Hapoel Tel-Aviv v Celtic
Celtic captain Stephen McManus makes his first Celtic start of the season following his recent knee injury as they travel to the Bloomfield Stadium to face Hapoel Tel Aviv in the Europa League. He partners Glenn Loovens in defence, with Gary Caldwell moving into midfield, with Georgios Samaras surprisingly picked to lead the line with Scott McDonald on the bench.

1739: TEAM NEWS CSKA Sofia v Fulham
Fulham boss Roy Hodgson makes nine changes for his side's trip to CSKA Sofia, with keeper David Stockdale and defender John Pantsil the only survivors from the team that beat Everton in the Premier League on Sunday.

1738: Speaking of taking this competition seriously, Fulham boss Roy Hodgson has made nine changes from the side that beat Everton at the weekend for the opening match of his side's Group E campaign, which is against CSKA Sofia in Bulgaria (KO 1800 BST). "We're not neglecting the tournament," Hodgson says. "We're looking forward to it and think it's a great adventure but it's an adventure for the squad, not just the 11."

1737: As well as changing its name from the Uefa Cup, the Europa League has smartened up its act considerably for this season too. Previously, the group stages were a hotch-potch of fixtures, with teams only playing each other once. Not any more - we've now got 12 four-team groups who all play each other home and away, which is a lot more sensible. The fixtures all start at either 1800 BST or 2005 BST too, which is nice. Now all Uefa need to do is stop parachuting failed Champions League sides into the next round and they might have a competition that people take seriously.

1735: TEAMS CSKA Sofia v Fulham
CSKA Sofia: Karadzhov, Kostadin Stoyanov, Minev, Kotev, Ivanov, Todorov, Yanev, Morozs, Yanchev, Ivan Stoyanov, Delev. Subs: Ivaylo Petrov, Vidanov, Vladimir Manchev, Timonov, Branekov, Michel, Marquinhos.
Fulham: Stockdale, Kelly, Pantsil, Baird, Smalling, Gera, Riise, Greening, Davies, Kamara, Nevland. Subs: Zuberbuhler, Watts, Saunders, Anderson, Uwezu, Marsh-Brown, Smith.

Graham Poll

Graham Poll's view on extra officials (UK users only)

1735: So, extra officials - good or bad? Former referee Graham Poll thinks they are just an attempt by Uefa to avoid bringing in video technology, and he's not the only one unconvinced. Everton boss David Moyes believes they could cause a "raft of penalties", while Celtic manager Tony Mowbray is also worried they might be over-enthusiastic and feel the need to get involved when it's not necessary.

1732: Yep, not only do we have the opening round of group matches in the brand spanking new Europa League, with Fulham, Celtic and Everton all in action, we've got a new innovation to get our heads round too. In this competition, referees have two extra assistants - one behind each goal, operating as a sort of "human camera". That's what Uefa are calling them anyway - and this is their little experiment.

1730: Lots and lots of reasons to be excited about tonight folks. Well, at least two anyway...



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see also
Everton 4-0 AEK Athens
17 Sep 09 |  Europe
Hapoel Tel-Aviv 2-1 Celtic
17 Sep 09 |  Europe
CSKA Sofia 1-1 Fulham
17 Sep 09 |  Europe
Football on the BBC
11 Aug 10 |  Football


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