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Page last updated at 16:32 GMT, Thursday, 18 August 2011 17:32 UK

Europa League as it happened


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By Chris Bevan
BBC Sport

2238: And that's a wrap. A night to forget for Scottish football, but a much happier one for the four English clubs in action. Thanks for keeping me company - I will be back for the second legs of these Europa League play-offs next Thursday but, before then, join me at the weekend for all the Premier League and Football League action. Cheerio for now.

From anonymous Hearts fan, via text: "Total cost of the Spurs line-up tonight - just under £60m. Total cost of the Hearts line-up - around £250,000. Give Hearts £60m and Spurs' wage budget, then we'll give you a rematch."

2233: Just before I go, there were some exciting developments in the women's Super League tonight, Arsenal earned a huge 1-0 victory over Everton thanks to Kim Little's goal. They now top the league for the first time this season with only one game left so if they win on Saturday against Liverpool, they will pip Birmingham to the title.

Full time
FULL-TIME Celtic 0-0 FC Sion
Annie McGuire reports: "An ineffective frontline meant Celtic endured a frustrating return to European action."

Full time
FULL-TIME NK Maribor 2-1 Rangers
Clive Lindsay reports: "The Slovenian champions just about deserved their win for a fine second-half fightback that leaves the Glasgow side with an uphill task in the second leg at Ibrox."

Full time
FULL-TIME Fulham 3-0 Dnipro
Marc Higginson reports: "Fulham will not enjoy an easier night in Europe than this. Dnipro were not the best opposition, but it seems Martin Jol is moulding the Cottagers into a decent team."

Full time
FULL-TIME Nacional 0-0 Birmingham City
Paul Plunkett reports: "Chris Hughton's side will go into the second leg as favourites after this confident display in Madeira. The home team were saved three times by the woodwork but they may not be so lucky at St Andrews."

Full time
FULL-TIME FC Thun 0-1 Stoke City
Saj Chowdhury reports: "Stoke will be happy with their performance. I can't see them losing this tie from here against a weak Swiss side."

Full time
FULL-TIME Hearts 0-5 Tottenham
Alistair Magowan reports: "Tottenham's rampant victory over Hearts was nothing more than a training game at times. Slick passing and good goals but the hosts failed to show any resistance and a tougher test awaits at Old Trafford next Monday."

2218: Almost time to call it a night but, first, a quick reminder of what happened in tonight's matches involving British teams...

Hearts boss Paulo Sergio after his side were hammered at home by Spurs: "In the first half we played like someone buying a ticket to watch the match. We didn't press the ball and if you give spaces like that to Tottenham it makes it difficult. There is a huge difference in quality between the two teams but we should have done better in the first half."

Kenny73 on Twitter: "Give us English TV money before you criticise our standards. It's easy to be smug with thirty times our revenues."

meganxpoison on Twitter: "Shocking night for Scottish football. The damage to our co-efficient if no-one makes the next round is scary."

Stoke boss Tony Pulis on the Potters' victory over FC Thun in Switzerland: "The players responded really, really well. These European matches throw up different problems and we have to think of different solutions."

Spurs boss Harry Redknapp after his side's 5-0 victory in the first leg of their Europa League play-off: "Hearts came out second half stronger but in that first half we could have been even further in front. I just enjoyed watching us play. Niko Kranjcar and Rafael van der Vaart, their link-up play was great. I expected a really tough game up here, the crowd were great before the kick off, and they deserve some success here."

From Kev, via text: "It's hugely unfair by many English football fans to claim Hearts would be a poor Championship side. Give us the TV revenue/parachute payments that English clubs get and then compare."

2206: Also worth a mention is Fulham's home record in this competition over the past three years. They trounced Ukrainian side Dnipro 3-0 tonight and, out of 20 ties at Craven Cottage, have won 16 and drawn four. I think we can call it a fortress on that form, can't we, even if it doesn't really sound like one... although that did not help Tynecastle much tonight, did it?

2202: English clubs in the Europa League tonight? P4 W3 D1 L0 F9 A0. Scottish clubs? P3 W0 D1 L2 F1 A7. Ouch.

AdrianDonohue1 on Twitter: "If it's true that Romanov picked the team for Hearts, he should fire himself after that display."

Europa League update from Shamoon Hafez: Lazio have trounced Rabotnicki 6-0. Strikes from Hernanes, Mauri and a double for Cisse topped off by efforts from Tomasso Rocchi and Miroslav Klose. Meanwhile, 1978 winners PSV Eindhoven have been held to a 0-0 draw against Austrian cup champions SV Ried and it's finished the same scoreline in the game between Athletic Bilbao and Trabzonspor.

Full time
2157: FULL-TIME Celtic 0-0 FC Sion

2155: Still no sign of this Celtic goal, I am afraid. Sion are not exactly under the cosh in injury time.

From anonymous Hearts fan, via text: "I was well impressed by Spurs tonight however you have got to keep some perspective - their team value could buy our team, wipe-out our debt and build a new ground!"

MikeAaronhall, continuing the cricketing theme on Twitter: "I hope Spurs declare early at White Hart Lane, to allow Hearts a chance to bat."

2150: Less than five minutes left for Celtic to put a smile back on the face of Scottish football. Georgios Samaras is coming off... to be replaced by Brad Pitt? Nope, it is Paddy McCourt coming on.

apathy2000 on Twitter: "So, who has offered more resistance today, Hearts or India?"

2147: I really wish I could bring good news from Celtic Park for Scottish football... but I can't. Scott Brown shoots well wide and the Bhoys are no nearer to making a breakthrough.

From Tom in Edinburgh, via text: "As a Hibs fan I should be delighted, but instead I'm just embarrassed for Scottish football."

2143: FULLTIME NK Maribor 2-1 Rangers

2143: Things almost get worse for Scotland in general, and Celtic in particular. Sion had the ball in the net at Celtic Park through Pascal Feinduono a few minutes ago, but he was judged to be offside.

JezMeyer on Twitter: "Spurs fans need to be careful not to get carried away, Hearts would struggle in the Championship on this form."

alexrobnewton on Twitter: "Tottenham have a serious chance of winning this whole thing."

OptaJoe on Twitter: "5 - In five meetings with Scottish opposition in Europe, Spurs have now notched up 18 goals. Heartless."

Maribor goal: Etien Velikonja backheels Maribor into a stoppage-time lead after late pressure on the Rangers goal.

2139: So, a good night for the English clubs in the Europa League, with all four of them keeping a clean sheet. Not such a happy one for the Scots, so far anyway.

2138: GOALFLASH NK Maribor 2-1 Rangers (Etien Velikonja)

Europa League update from Shamoon Hafez: All over in Hannover as the hosts take a slender 2-1 lead going into the second leg in Seville. That, perhaps, being a surprising result but not as much as Slovan Bratislava's 1-0 victory over Roma, or Gary McCabe's equaliser for Shamrock Rovers' creditable draw against Partizan Belgrade. Paris Saint-Germain eased to a 4-0 win at Differdang 03 and French compatriots Rennes gained a 2-1 advantage at Red Star Belgrade.

2135: FULL-TIME Nacional 0-0 Birmingham

2135: FULL-TIME Hearts 0-5 Tottenham

2134: A change up front by Celtic. Anthony Stokes is off, and Shaun Maloney is on. The home fans don't like it, because they wanted to see the back of Georgios Samaras. By the way, does anyone know whether Brad Pitt IS actually at Celtic Park? And would any of you Celtic fans prefer him to Samaras up front?

2131: Into the last minute of the 90 at Tynecastle and Hearts are trying to salvage some pride. Ryan Stevenson composes himself on the edge of the area and tries to curl the ball into the corner, but his shot flies a yard or so wide. Not sure the Jambos are even going to get a consolation now, to be honest.

From Dan, Southampton fan disappointed with the standards tonight, via text: "Re isaacwalmsley on Twitter. Surely the embarrassment for Hearts will be the return leg against Tottenham under 17's next week, although I suppose they might scrape a draw then?"

2126: Into the last 10 minutes in Portugal where Birmingham are looking very comfortable as the mist continues to descend. Sadly for Celtic, FC Sion are just as untroubled. Still half an hour left for Neil Lennon's men to try to change that, mind.

isaacwalmsley on Twitter: "Spurs have completely embarrassed Hearts."

Tottenham goal: Five goals tonight for Spurs, and five different goalscorers. It's a beauty of a breakaway goal too, with Ryan Stevenson looking to pounce for the Scottish side from a corner before the ball is whisked up the other end of the pitch and into the net in the space of three passes. The move ends when Jermain Defoe sends in an enticing low cross, which is perfectly placed and paced for Aaron Lennon to sweep the ball home from close range. That's Defoe's last contribution too, because he is off and Roman Pavlyuchenko is on instead.

Infostrada Sports on Twitter: "Tottenham's biggest away in win Europe is a 6-0 win at Drogheda United in September 1983."

2119: GOALFLASH Hearts 0-5 Tottenham (Lennon)

From anon, via text: "Clean sheets all round so far for English clubs... for now anyway!"

Full time
2118: FULL-TIME Fulham 3-0 Dnipro

From Bob in Dorset, via text: "Re Michael in Perth. And Spurs are not the best in England - hence being in this competition and not Champions League! Agree about the inevitabilty of it though - the gulf is huge."

2115: Still no goals to tell you about at Celtic Park, as Georgios Samaras fires over for the home side when well placed inside the area. Looks like that goal will have to wait. "Celtic just haven't done enough with the ball to hurt Sion," says BBC Sportsound commentator Rob Maclean.

2113: Apparently, Birmingham's game at Estadio da Madeira is in danger of being engulfed in the mist that is coming down from the Portuguese mountains. About 20 minutes left in that one, so surely time for the Blues to hit the woodwork again.

2111: Dramatic scenes at Craven Cottage, where Vitali Denisov has just managed Dnipro's first shot on target. It has only taken them 80 minutes. At Tynecastle, Gareth Bale goes off as Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp makes another change. Andros Townsend is on instead.

dpearce21 on Twitter: "You can't help but feel sorry for Hearts... having all this possession in the second half, and suddenly Spurs go 4-0 up!"

2109: Celtic and FC Sion have just got the second half started. Neil Lennon's side need to improve on what they produced in the first 45 minutes.

Europa League update from Shamoon Hafez: Besiktas, the last side to beat Manchester United at Old Trafford in a European tie, have beaten Russian side Alania 3-0. Contrasting fortunes for fellow Turkish team Bursaspor who have been defeated at home by Anderlecht, with former Liverpool forward Milan Jovanovic on target for the Belgians. Lazio are now 2-0 up against Rabotnicki with Stefano Mauri on target for the Serie A club.

Tottenham goal: Erm, so much for the Hearts revival. Tom Huddlestone clips a ball over the Hearts defence, Gareth Bale runs on to it, rounds the keeper and slots into the empty net. Simple, really. Tottenham are in the group stages of the Europa League, barring something ridiculous at White Hart Lane in the second leg next week.

2105: GOALFLASH Hearts 0-4 Tottenham (Bale)

BBC Radio 5 Live commentator Roddy Forsyth: "What a transformation from Hearts in this second-half. If you're a Spurs fan and all you're hearing is Hearts possession, you'll be amazed to know your side are 3-0 up!"

2102: Tom Huddlestone, who has just come on for Rafael van der Vaart, almost makes an instant impact for Tottenham. He plays a one-two with Jermaine Defoe before slamming a rasping shot just over the bar. Huddlestone wanted a corner but I don't think Hearts keeper Marian Kello got a touch.

meganxpoison on Twitter: "No goal would be Celtic's worst nightmare considering our European record away. A quick goal after the restart is a must."

Maribor goal: Macedonian international Agim Ibraimi fires Maribor level with a left-foot strike from 20 yards, beating Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor at his near post following a quick throw-in on the right flank.

2100: Tottenham are rattled at the moment, and most of the Hearts fans still in Tynecastle (a few were seen leaving before half-time) will be wondering why their side didn't start the game like this. The visitors are under increasing pressure and that pretty passing football we saw from Harry Redknapp's side before the break is just not happening any more.

2058: GOALFLASH NK Maribor 1-1 Rangers (Agim Ibraimi)

2057: The goals may have stopped flowing at Craven Cottage but Fulham are still well on top. Dnipro have still not registered a single shot on target yet, and that stat does not look like changing any time soon.

HALF-TIME Celtic 0-0 FC Sion
Annie McGuire's half-time snapshot "It has been a disjointed performance from Celtic. In particular, Georgios Samaras looks a little rusty up front alongside Anthony Stokes. FC Sion are adopting the 'hit and hope' approach and have only really threatened from set-pieces. There's an air of anxiety growing around Celtic Park though. All very quiet."

Someone has struck the woodwork
2054: This is getting silly. Birmingham hit the woodwork for a third time, again by the increasingly aptly named Chris Wood, who probably wishes he was called Chris Net. This time, Wood heads against a post from a Chris Burke cross. Still 0-0 in Portugal.

2053: HALF-TIME Celtic 0-0 FC Sion

2052: Everytime I look up, Hearts are whipping the ball into the Spurs box. Heurelho Gomes makes a decent stop from a free-kick from the left, just before Andy Webster crashes into him. This is good pressure by the Scottish side. Meanwhile, Rangers have kicked off the second half in Slovenia.

2049: What's this? A Hearts attack. Yep, a ball comes in from the right and Spurs cannot clear, before the ball is nicked off the head of Andy Webster as he prepares to meet it in front of goal. The Jambos actually force goalmouth scrambles from the two ensuing corners and they go close again when Andrew Driver cuts into the right and almost finds Ryan Stevenson with a low cross. It is all Hearts at the moment, but they have probably left it a bit late.

2047: They probably didn't want to, but the Hearts players have emerged for the second half at Tynecastle... where they are back under way. Nacional versus Birmingham has also restarted.

2045: Celtic keep attacking, but their latest move ends badly when Anthony Stokes is booked for diving in the area, after it appeared at first that the referee had given a penalty. Sion have threatened too, though, and Andris Vanins has had to tip a Charlie Mulgrew free-kick over the bar.

HALF-TIME: Hearts 0-3 Tottenham
Alistair Magowan's HT snapshot:
"Rafael van der Vaart had a hand in all three Spurs goals, but the visitors are all over Hearts and the Scottish team may be happy to keep the score as it is now."

2043: At last some news from Celtic that doesn't involve Brad Pitt. Ki Sung-Yueng goes close for the home side, bending in a free kick from 20 yards out. "A touch on that and it is in," according to Murdo MacLeod on BBC Radio Scotland. As it is, the ball flies centimetres wide, and the deadlock continues.

HALF-TIME: Nacional 0-0 Birmingham
Paul Plunkett's half-time snapshot:
"Birmingham looked shell-shocked at the start and had keeper Boaz Myhill to thank for keeping then in the game. But they rode the early pressure and should have gone into the break with a lead, both Steven Caldwell and lone striker Chris Wood hitting the woodwork."

OptaJoe on Twitter: "2 - Tottenham conceded 2 or more goals in 5 of their 6 away Euro games last term, but scored 2 or more in 4 of them. Expectations."

From Michael in Perth, via text: "Re Mr_MichaelSmith on Twitter. Hearts are far from the best in Scotland, they are miles behind the Old Firm and on the basis of this season probably not even the third best team in the SPL. Make no mistake about it, this sort of outcome in this game was always inevitable."

Tiirshak on Twitter: "As a Hearts fan, my worst fears are being realised. Shockingly bad from us."

Fulham goal: It gets better and better for Fulham. The Dnipro defence goes AWOL again and Pajtim Kasami's cross is converted at the far post by Clint Dempsey.

Europa League update from Shamoon Hafez: Panathinaikos have been thumped 3-0 away at Maccabi Tel Aviv, leaving them with an uphill struggle to overturn the deficit in the second leg. Jan Schlaudraff has now bagged a brace as Hannover regain the lead against Sevilla and Lazio's Brazilian midfielder Hernanes has put his side 1-0 up against Macedonian outfit FC Rabotnicki.

2035: HALF-TIME Nacional 0-0 Birmingham

2034: GOALFLASH Fulham 3-0 Dnipro (Dempsey)

Someone has struck the woodwork
2032: Birmingham go close again. From a Jean Beausejour free-kick, Chris Wood thumps a volley against the crossbar. They are the team looking most likely to score at the moment.

2031: HALF-TIME Hearts 0-3 Tottenham

2030: The second half has just started at Craven Cottage.

2029: Rangers are not having things all their own way in Slovenia. Dejan Mezga curls a well-struck free-kick just wide and Maribor are putting a bit of pressure on the visitors as we approach the break.

kenrobric on Twitter: "Hearts are making Tottenham look like Barcelona!!."

Rangers goal: Kirk Broadfoot is the architect when he finds space down the Maribor left and, after turning his marker, the right-back's low cross is turned into the net by Juan Manuel Ortiz from six yards out.

2024: FULL-TIME FC Thun 0-2 Stoke City

Red card
FC Thun red card: David Da Costa is sent off for bringing down Jon Walters with the Stoke man clean through. With no keeper on the bench, that means defender Nicolas Schindelholz goes in goal... and minutes later he denies Walters in another one-on-one situation. Seems like quite an eventful finish in Switzerland.

HALF-TIME: Fulham 2-0 Dnipro
Marc Higginson's HT snapshot:
"Fulham are dominating against a lacklustre Dnipro and 20-year-old Matthew Briggs is the star of the show on the flanks - a future England star perhaps?"

2022: GOALFLASH NK Maribor 0-1 Rangers (Palazon Juanma Ortiz)

BBC Radio 5 live
Craig Levein on Radio 5 live: "Does Harry Redknapp need to bring any more players in? I know managers like to sign players to give the squad a lift, but with the players Spurs have on the bench you would question whether they need to."

Tottenham goal: The same old story for the Spurs attack and, sadly for Hearts, their defence too. The ball is played in from the left, Jake Livermore plays a one-two with Jermain Defoe on the edge of the box and the 21-year-old slots in easily. Game and tie over before half-time, you would suspect.

2018 RED CARD: FC Thun goalkeeper David Da Costa

2017: Tottenham continue to pour forward and it is almost 4-0. Aaron Lennon whips in a delicious cross from the right and Jermain Defoe, stretching, slides in to fire against the bar. Defoe was offside anyway, but he should have scored there.

2016: HALF-TIME Fulham 2-0 Dnipro

Fulham goal: Steve Sidwell finds Clint Dempsey unmarked in the Dnipro area and he has time and space to beat Jan Lastuvka and double the Cottagers' lead.

Someone has struck the woodwork
2014: Well, Celtic have kicked off against FC Sion and I haven't even been able to confirm whether Brad Pitt is at Celtic Park. This is just not good enough. Better news for Birmingham by the way, because they have had an attack... and very nearly scored. Steven Caldwell heads against the post from a Jean Beausejour corner. Close, but no cigar.

2013: GOALFLASH Hearts 0-3 Tottenham (Livermore)

2012: GOALFLASH Fulham 2-0 Dnipro (Dempsey)

Europa League update from Shamoon Hafez: Former Bayern Munich frontman Jan Schlaudraff puts Hannover 1-0 up against Sevilla, but Freddie Kanoute replies for the Spanish side. Free-spending French side Paris St Germain take the lead at Luxembourg minnows Differdang03, through summer recruit Kevin Gameiro and Ireland's Shamrock Rovers are behind against Partizan Belgrade.

Fulham goal: Seven minutes before the break, Matthew Briggs does well to get down the left and, after a slip by a Dnipro defender, fires in a cross that Aaron Hughes is just able to get a touch on and divert home. I was just about to call it a bore-fest too. Not anymore.

2008: GOALFLASH Fulham 1-0 Dnipro (Hughes)

2007: Birmingham are still under the cosh in Portugal, and have not created a single chance yet. As for Fulham...

2006: Spurs still look dangerous every time they are on the ball. Which is all the time. Hearts are simply being outclassed at the moment. By the way, although our stats have Andy Wilkinson in goal for Stoke at the moment, I can assure you it is still Thomas Sorenson between the sticks for the Potters.

craigalbert20 on Twitter: "So should I get my application ready for the Hearts job now or wait until half-time?"

Mr_MichaelSmith on Twitter: "Tonight illustrates the gulf between the best of England & the best of Scotland. Hearts would struggle in the Championship."

2001: In Thun, Thomas Sorensen makes a good save to block a shot from Benjamin Luthi. Stoke have brought on midfielder Glenn Whelan for forward Kenwyne Jones to try to contain the Swiss side, who are growing in confidence.

Tottenham goal: Too easy. Aaron Lennon cuts in from the left, exchanges passes with Rafael van der Vaart and slides Jermain Defoe clear. Defoe's first touch is heavy but he reaches the ball before the ponderous Hearts defenders or goalkeeper Marian Kello, and finds the perfect finish. The Spurs fans are singing "are you West Ham in disguise".

1958: GOALFLASH Hearts 0-2 Tottenham (Defoe)

1957: To say that Tottenham have bossed the first 10 minutes of their tie with Hearts would be something of an understatement. Spurs are well on top, although John Sutton, brother of Chris, has just had the Jambos first shot. It flew well wide.

Europa League update from Shamoon Hafez: Oh how the mighty have fallen! Italian heavyweights Lazio and Roma, once regular competitors in the Champions League, are tonight beginning their quest to qualify for the group stages of the Europa League. Djibril Cisse makes his debut for Lazio after signing from Panathinaikos while Roma give a first start to Bojan, signed from Barcelona during the summer.

1955: News of Birmingham, or their opponents to be precise. There have been two early chances for Nacional, both of them falling to Danielson and both of them saved by Boaz Myhill. Not much happening at Craven Cottage, though. Steve Sidwell has put a free header straight at the Dnipro keeper from a corner but that is as exciting as it has got so far.

Tottenham goal: Ouch. Not the start the Jambos wanted, and down to some poor defending too. Jermain Defoe runs at the Hearts defence on the edge of the box and the loose ball falls for Rafael van der Vaart. Marius Zaliukas tries to clear but the ball cannons off the Dutchman, possibly hitting his hand, leaving him with the space to coolly slot past Hearts keeper Marian Kello.

1949: GOALFLASH Hearts 0-1 Tottenham (Van der Vaart)

1948: Apologies, I've been neglecting events in Thun, where it has also been raining, making that plastic pitch a nightmare I would have thought. Christian Schneuwly has just had a shot for for the Swiss side, firing in from 30 yards after Andy Wilkinson lost possession, but it was well wide.

1947: Oooh. Spurs had half an opening there, when Gareth Bale escaped down the left... but his touch was too heavy and Andy Webster got across to cover. By the way, Rangers and Birmingham are also under way in Slovenia and Portugal.

1945: Here we go. Hearts and Tottenham has just started. It is fast and frantic already...

From RT in Edinburgh, via text: "Spurs: first game of the season, understrength and a big game on Sunday. There's a strange optimism among the Hearts fans."

Spurs actually go to Old Trafford on Monday, but I know what RT is getting at.

Annie McGuire reports: "Jose Goncalves - one of the five players that Uefa say are banned - starts for Sion tonight. For Celtic, Anthony Stokes and Georgios Samaras start up front. Goalkeeper Fraser Forster, signed last night on a season-long loan deal from Newcastle, goes straight into the starting line up - replacing Lukasz Zaluska, while Samaras replaces the injured Gary Hooper."

1941: Fulham are on top early on, but have managed only one shot on goal so far. That came from Matthew Briggs, and it was pushed around the post by Jan Lastuvka.

Europa League update from Shamoon Hafez: The last team to win this competition (in any of its guises) back-to-back Sevilla, are up against Hannover 96. Another former Spurs man Frederic Kanoute, who scored in the 2006 final victory over Middlesbrough, plays for the Spanish side tonight. Boro's former tough-tackling defender Emanuel Pogatetz will be hoping to keep the Frenchman in check for the Germans. Elsewhere, it's been a cracking tie in Georgia, where the wonderfully-named home side Zestafoni hold 1976 runners-up Club Brugge to a 3-3 draw.

Nacional v Birmingham line-ups
Nacional: Elisson, Joao Aurelio, Felipe Lopes, Danielson, Nuno Pinto, Luis Alberto, Mihelic, Skolnik, Mateus, Rondon, Edgar Costa. Subs: Valverde, Todorovic, Diego Barcelos, Candeias, Oliver, Luis Neto, Elizeu.
Birmingham: Myhill, Carr, Davies, Caldwell, Ridgewell, Burke, Murphy, Redmond, Beausejour, Wood, Spector. Subs: Doyle, Rooney, Fahey, Valles, Asante, Jervis, Hubbins.
Referee: Milorad Mazic (Serbia)

1937: Breaking Birmingham team news: With strikers Cameron Jerome, Nikola Zigic and Marlon King all injured, manager Chris Hughton goes with on-loan Chris Wood up front.

Celtic boss Neil Lennon on FC Sion fielding an ineligible player (Jose Goncalves): "It's not a concern for me. It is up to the powers that be. They've taken a chance. You can't flout the laws of the game. That's why they're there in the first place."

Annie McGuire reports: "We'll be paying more attention than usual to the opposition team sheet at Celtic Park tonight. FC Sion have listed five players in their squad who Uefa have warned are ineligible because of a Fifa transfer embargo. That provides an interesting side-show to what is already a fascinating tie: Celtic are hoping to bounce back from double European disappointment last season while ambitious FC Sion qualified by winning the Swiss Cup and are a club on the up."

1933: And the second half has just started in Thun.

Rangers manager Ally McCoist has gambled on the fitness of three players in Slovenia. United States defender Marcos Bocanegra comes straight into an injury-hit defence after signing from St Etienne last night and making an exhausting overnight journey from France to make his debut. Veteran Scotland midfielder Lee McCulloch is included in the starting line-up despite being doubtful even to make the journey from Scotland through injury. Meanwhile, Kyle Lafferty is a surprise late addition on the bench after making a faster than expected recovery from long-term injury problems.

1930: We are under way at the Cottage.

booneyscfc on Twitter: "The mighty Potters putting in a great performance so far, 1-0 through a brilliant strike by Danny Pugh, more of the same please."

1927: The teams are out at Craven Cottage, where it is absolutely hammering it down. One other piece of interesting team news - Dnipro goalkeeper Jan Lastuvka spent a short time on loan at Fulham in the 2006-07 season, making a handful of appearances. Not exactly Last choice, but close...

1925: Ah. Apologies for any coding issues that might have cropped up since I announced it was half-time in Thun... if you are seeing rather more of my by-line than you would like, then give this page another manual refresh and all should be normal. Hopefully.

Alistair Magowan reports: "Hearts
make three changes to the side which beat Aberdeen on Saturday. Andy Webster, Ian Black and Andy Driver replace Eggert Jonsson, Arvydas Novikovas and Scott Robinson. Tottenham, meanwhile, name 21-year-old Jake Livermore in their midfield alongside Niko Kranjcar. Heurelho Gomes is preferred to Brad Friedel in goal."

Paul Plunkett reports: "Manager Chris Hughton was still in nappies the last time Birmingham competed in a major European competition. The Blues are here on merit after winning the Carling Cup final, but much has changed since that victory over Arsenal. Relegation has seen the departures of Sebastian Larsson, Ben Foster, Roger Johnson and Craig Gardner, as well as manager Alex McLeish. Hughton is the man with the rebuilding job but Portugeuse side Nacional boast no fewer than 10 Brazilians in their squad."

Alistair Magowan reports:
"Hearts may look upon a draw as a good result given the recent European opposition Tottenham have faced but boss Paulo Sergio believes his players should make the most of the opportunity. "Every professional in football wants to live big moments and I'm no different," he said. Spurs boss Harry Redknapp has different priorities and says that reaching the Europa League group stages "will give the chance to play some of the younger lads and give them some experience."

Saj Chowdhury's half-time snapshot
"The Arena Thun astroturf has posed few problems for Stoke who took an early lead and have rarely been troubled by the team at the top of the Swiss league."

1919: On 5 live, John Southall is in Thun and says Stoke boss Tony Pulis will be delighted with how his side have done so far. The Potters' only real scare from the first 45 minutes came when Benjamin Luthi ran through, but was denied by a perfectly-timed tackle by Matthew Upson.

Half time
1917: HALF-TIME FC Thun 0-1 Stoke City

Alistair Magowan reports:
"New Hearts boss Paulo Sergio faces a huge task in his fourth game in charge against a Tottenham side which has something of midfield injury crisis. Sergio seems well briefed already, joking that owner Vladimir Romanov had picked the team, but he will hope his side can threaten their English opponents, who are playing their first competitive game of the season."

IainFordyce17 on Twitter: "With the pressure of 46 games in Championship for Birmingham, FA Cup and League Cup, will the Europa League stretch the squad too far?"

Paul Plunkett reports: "Don't expect any do-or-die tactics by Birmingham tonight. City manager Chris Hughton will be making sure the tie is still alive for the return leg at St Andrews: "We are looking to try and get a positive result in Portugal but in these type of fixtures it's not just about one game." With several injury worries and four games in a week, Hughton says he "will certainly be making some changes, but not wholesale ones".

Hearts v Tottenham line-ups:
Hearts: Kello, Hamill, Zaliukas, Webster, Grainger, Templeton, Stevenson, Mrowiec, Black, Driver, Sutton. Subs: MacDonald, Jonsson, Elliott, Obua, McGowan, Novikovas, Skacel. Tottenham: Gomes, Walker, Dawson, Kaboul, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Livermore, Kranjcar, Bale, Van der Vaart, Defoe. Subs: Friedel, Huddlestone, Pavlyuchenko, Bassong, Corluka, Townsend, Cudicini.
Referee: Paolo Tagliavento (Italy)

1912: It sounds like 5 live's John Southall is enjoying his view of the Alps from his seat in Arena Thun more than the match: "Thun have disappointed so far," says Southall "They beat Palermo in the last round so we know they do pose a threat, especially at home, but we are yet to see it. So far Matthew Upson looks assured on his Potters debut."

Alistair Magowan reports:
"New Hearts boss Paulo Sergio faces a huge task in his fourth game in charge against a Tottenham side which has something of midfield injury crisis. Sergio seems well briefed already, joking that owner Vladimir Romanov had picked the team, but he will hope his side can threaten their English opponents, who are playing their first competitive game of the season."

1909: Stoke are under a little bit of pressure in Thun as half-time approaches but Potters keeper Thomas Sorenson has not exactly had a lot to do so far, apart from tipping a mis-hit free-kick over his bar a bit earlier on. About five minutes to go until the break in Switzerland.

From Kyle in Stoke, via text: "Sat in traffic in Stoke. Heard every car horn beeping around me and people just shouting in the cars!!!! GET IN! And from a fringe player!

1905: There is live coverage of Hearts versus Tottenham on BBC Radio 5 live tonight, so give this page a refresh and you will be able to listen to all the team news from Tynecastle. I will bring you both line-ups in just a tick.

Europa League update from Shamoon Hafez: With a mini-Arsenal exodus currently taking place, news of another former Gunner Nacer Barazite (who came through the London club's academy). He has scored the second goal for Austria Vienna who hold a 2-1 lead over Gaz Metan of Romania. And German giants Schalke look in deep trouble against HJK Helsinki, as they are now 2-0 down. Teemu Pukki has scored twice for the Finns.

1901: It's not ALL about the Europa League tonight you know? This evening is a crucial one as the inaugural Women's Super League nears its conclusion. A win for Arsenal over one of their biggest rivals, Everton, will mean the Gunners leapfrog Birmingham at the top of the table with one game to go. Anything other than a win and the title is out of their hands. I will keep you posted.

mannysanny on Twitter: "Admit it, we all wanna see Barca vs Stoke now don't we?"

Central defender Kelvin Wilson misses out for Celtic against Sion. Shaun Maloney is a surprise choice up front. I'm not sure what Brad Pitt will make of this, to be honest.

From Steve D in Hednesford, via text: "As a Blues fan for over 35 years through thin & thinner, I can't belive Birmingham City are involved in a European night."

Marc Higginson reports: "Bobby Zamora is defying the pain of a broken hand to spearhead Fulham's attack against Dnipro. Clint Dempsey is the man to partner him up front with Andy Johnson on the bench. The familiar face in the Dnipro line-up is Nikola Kalinic, who is making his debut after signing from Blackburn Rovers. Apparently he was too tired to make his debut last weekend because of 'exhausting' negotiations."

1852: That was "a really good finish" by Danny Pugh says 5 live's John Southall at the Arena Thun, adding that the ball skidded off the plastic pitch and shot into the bottom corner of the net. As things stand, Stoke versus Barcelona is going to happen, I think.

Stoke goal: I haven't seen it, but it sounds a cracker. Matty Etherington makes it, teeing up Danny Pugh to slam home a low shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.

1848: GOALFLASH FC Thun 0-1 Stoke (Danny Pugh)

Fulham v Dnipro line-ups:
Fulham: Schwarzer, Kelly, Hangeland, Hughes, Briggs, Duff, Murphy, Sidwell, Kasami, Dempsey, Zamora. Subs: Etheridge, Riise, Johnson, Senderos, Gecov, Etuhu, Dembele.
Dnipro: Lastuvka, Kravchenko, Mandziuk, Kulakov, Giuliano, Konoplyanka, Cheberyachko, Denisov, Boateng, Rotan, Kalinic. Subs: Kanibolotskiy, Inkoom, Oliynyk, Strinic, Zozulya, Shakov, Antonov.
Referee: Pavel Kralovec (Czech Republic)

1845: By the way, Dnipro's full name is Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk. So let's keep calling them Dnipro from now on.

Europa League update from Shamoon Hafez: As well as Litmanen, I'll keep a look out for other former Premier League players who are now gracing pitches in other parts of Europe. Much-maligned (ex?)England goalkeeper Scott Carson starts for Turkish side Bursaspor tonight, and on a Spurs-related theme, Erik Edman is at left back for Helsingborgs and Sporting Lisbon have Helder Postiga in attack.

Marc Higginson reports: "It's the clash of two former Tottenham managers at Craven Cottage tonight when Martin Jol's Fulham will take on Dnipro and Juande Ramos. Fulham have certainly earned their spurs to get to this stage - this being their seventh game in the competition, although the Ukrainians will be a sterner test than teams from the Faroes."

1842: Still no chances to tell you about in Thun, although Stoke winger Matty Etherington did put home keeper David Da Costa under a bit of pressure when he chased down a back-pass.

MJDillon7 on Twitter: "Looking forward to seeing how Klose and Cisse gel tonight against Dr Robotnicki! Forza Lazio!"

From Greg Malkin via text: "Any chance you can mention my pal Mark Bonthrone? He's a fellow Hearts supporter living in New York travelling two hours to a Spurs bar just to watch the Jambos in action tonight. A true fan!"

1838: On a night where TV feeds are few and far between, this is exactly what we need: A celeb spotted at a Europa League game. Yep, apparently Brad Pitt is at Celtic versus FC Sion. Pitt IS in Scotland at the moment, filming a horror flick, so there is half a chance this rumour is true...

1835: Radio 5 live's John Southall is in Thun and reports that their plastic pitch is very old school. Probably a bit like the one at my old school that ripped your knees off if you tried a sliding tackle. Anyway, no chances yet and Stoke seem to be coping well with the ball bouncing a bit higher than usual.

1832: Hooray. FC Thun versus Stoke has definitely kicked off now. It was the Swiss side who got us under way.

1831: Er, Stoke are due to start in Switzerland round about now. Sorry, no pictures so my updates might be a little vague for the time being. And you cannot get much vaguer than not being sure whether a game has kicked off yet...

WoolleyBag95 on Twitter: Finally, an oppurtunity to see Barca Vs Stoke this season, thats if Barca finish 3rd in their Champions League group and Stoke get through. I live in hope!

1863_Forum on Twitter: "Re 1805. It's pronounced 'Toon', not 'Thun' so your rhyme has failed. Sorry that I'm pedantic. Kindest regards"

Saj Chowdhury reports: Stoke
winger Matthew Etherington is in the line-up after scans revealed he suffered nothing more than nerve damage during the match against Chelsea. Centre-back Matthew Upson makes his debut for the Potters and replaces Jonathan Woodgate at the back. Defender Rory Delap (hamstring) and midfielder Jermaine Pennant (thigh) are not risked.

From Dennis in Swadlincote, via text: "You know that horrible feeling you get when players younger than yourself make it and the sad realisation sinks in that you'll never play for England? Jari Litmanen playing has the inverse effect. If he can play European football at 40, surely someone must be in the market for all of us. SURELY?!?"

From anon, via text: "Just seen Roberto Mancini entering a private hospital wearing a city scarf. Nasri having a medical?"

Not long to go until we get about a million of these sort of texts on transfer deadline day... can't wait!

1815: In other football news, a couple of tit-bits to tell you about. Peter Odemwingie has signed a new three-year contract at West Brom, while Zavon Hines has joined Burnley from West Ham for an undisclosed fee. He must like playing in claret and blue... will he end up at Aston Villa next? No news on Samir Nasri's switch to Manchester City yet, though...

Sun journalist Dean Scoggins at Arena Thun on Twitter: "Stoke fans making all the noise so far... but you'd expect it after a day on the beer in Thun. Ground less than half full"

new signing from St Etienne, Carlos Bocanegra, will start for the Scottish champions against Maribor in Slovenia. He replaces the injured Kyle Bartley in central defence, while Lee McCulloch has recovered from injury to replace Jamie Ness in midfield.

1808: Shamoon Hafez is going to be helping out with Europa League updates this evening and here's his first missive: 1997 Uefa Cup winners Schalke 04 are behind after half an hour against HJK Helsinki, who have veteran former Liverpool striker Jari Litmanen playing for them up front. Incidentally, by my calculations, we have six former winners and 11 runners up of the competition (in its former and current guise) in action tonight.

1805: Time to wheel out my 'Thun Fun Facts'. Did you know they are top of the Swiss Super League? Maybe. That they play on an artificial pitch? Possibly. But I bet you didn't know they are the only team to have played in the Champions League group stage, without ever having won a domestic or European prize. If that's wrong, then blame Wikipedia...

1801: Right, I don't have any pictures from Arena Thun, so I can't tell you what the atmosphere is like. Or whether it is a 10,300 sell-out. What I can tell you is that it is less than half-an-hour until Stoke kick-off in Switzerland.

OptaJoe on Twitter: "8 - Birmingham have not won any of their last eight away games in all competitions, and have lost the last three 2-1. Fado."

QuinnPFC on Twitter: "Be interesting to see how Birmingham do tonight. Got some decent players, so fancy them for an upset!"

pete_christie on Twitter: "Hearts fan, very excited! reckon we can snatch a draw or narrow win, Spurs low on match fitness and missing many regulars."

From TJ, in Manchester, via text: "It will be interesting to see Harry's line-up tonight, how serious will he take this competition? I can't see him ignoring the chance to win a European trophy, given the difficulty of Champions League qualification for this season. The Europa League will prove a distraction as much as anything if he doesn't significantly add to his squad!"

FC Thun v Stoke line-ups
FC Thun: Da Costa, Matic, Schindelholz, Reinmann, Luthi, Battig, Demiri, Andrist, Schneuwly, Lustrinelli, Lezcano. Subs: Djukic, Rama, Sanogo, Hediger, Schneider, Schirinzi, Wittwer.
Stoke: Sorensen, Huth, Shawcross, Upson, Wilson, Pugh, Whitehead, Tonge, Etherington, Walters, Jones. Subs: Nash, Collins, Whelan, Wilkinson, Shotton, Arismendi.
Referee: Daniel Stalhammar (Sweden)

Saj Chowdhury reports:
"This time a year ago, qualifying for European competition was just a dream for Stoke, in fact, many Potters fans would have thought it a fantasy. Now Tony Pulis's men are a round away from reaching the Europa League group stage - great progress for a side who were promoted to the top flight in 2008. They play Swiss side FC Thun who have recent European pedigree, having qualified for the Champions League group stages six year ago. "

1748: You lot are going to play your part too, of course. I'm Chris Bevan, and you can tweet me at @chrisbevan_bbc using the hashtag #BBCFootball please. Or feel free to text me via 81111 (UK) instead.

1745: Right then. Here's what we have got to look forward to tonight, in terms of home interest:
FC Thun v Stoke (1830 BST)
Fulham v Dnipro (1930 BST)
Hearts v Tottenham (1945 BST)
NK Maribor v Rangers (1945)
Nacional v Birmingham (1945 BST)
Celtic v FC Sion (2005 BST)
Oh, and we will of course be bringing you as much information as possible on all tonights other games too, and not just the ones involving teams with funny names.

1738: Big or small, mega-rich or super poor, we have clubs of all shapes and sizes involved tonight, some of them who have come through several rounds of qualifying to get here. Like Fulham. It's a busy old night too, with 38 first-leg ties to be played. Some of them have already started (our Lithuanian friends Ekranas Panevezys among them). Six of them involve British teams, and we even have a 'Battle of Britain' to look forward to too - step forward Hearts and Tottenham.

1733 BST: What do I like best about the play-offs for the Europa League group stages? The fact that you always see some of Europe's big names up against some REALLY big names (in a different sense). Tonight, Lazio, Roma and PSG are all in action, and so are Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, Rabotnicki Skopje and Ekranas Panevezys. An evening of thrills and spills, and spelling mistakes, awaits...

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