Berne (Switzerland): Liverpool survived a missed penalty before teenager Trent Alexander-Arnold and a Havard Nordtveit own goal gave them a 2-1 win at Hoffenheim which put them on the brink of a Champions League group stage place on Tuesday. The English Premier League side had a let-off when their goalkeeper Simon Mignolet saved a weak Andrej Kramaric penalty in the 12th minute of the playoff first leg tie.
Alexander-Arnold, 18, curled a free kick through a gap in the Hoffenheim wall to put Liverpool ahead in the 35th minute and James Milner’s shot was deflected in off Nordtveit in the 74th. Mark Uth pulled a late goal back for the Bundesliga side. Sporting were held to a 0-0 draw at home by FCSB, formerly Steaua Bucharest, and CSKA Moscow sneaked a late 1-0 win at Young Boys thanks to a Kasim Nuhu own goal in added time.
Bonucci to make Milan debut
AC Milan’s headline signing in a summer spending spree, Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci is in line to make his debut for the club in the Europa League on Thursday. A little over two months after playing for Juventus against Real Madrid in the Champions League final, Bonucci looks ready to feature for his new club against modest Macedonians Shkendija in their play-off first leg.
The 30-year-old has been made captain by coach Vincenzo Montella after his shock 40 million-euro ($46 million) transfer to the Chinese-owned club. “I chose Bonucci because he is very charismatic and has international experience. He embodies the role of captain perfectly,” said Montella.
A spending spree has seen the likes of Portugal striker Andre Silva, Switzerland full-back Ricardo Rodriguez and Turkey midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu arrive at the San Siro this season. Seven-time European champions Milan are appearing in continental competition for the first time since 2013/14 and almost 66,000 fans attended the home leg of their third qualifying round win over Universitatea Craiova of Romania.
Everton are the one Premier League side in action in the play-offs and they host Croatians Hajduk Split at Goodison Park in the first leg. The Toffees come into the game boosted by the news that Iceland star Gylfi Sigurdsson has passed a medical ahead of a £45 million ($58m) move from Swansea City.
Other stand-out ties in the play-off round include Athletic Bilbao going to Athens to take on Panathinaikos, Marseille facing Domzale in Slovenia and last season’s runners-up Ajax hosting Rosenborg in a clash between two teams who lost in the Champions League third qualifying round.