The UEFA Europa League 2018-19 group stage matches started from 20th September 2018. This year the Europa League will feature the English giants Arsenal and Chelsea, the likes of Sevilla and Villarreal from Spain and AC Milan along with Lazio from Italy.
Here are the 5 main talking points from Matchday 1 of the UEFA Europa League 2018-19:
1. Sevilla wins big against Standard Liege, while Betis are held off to a draw at Olympiacos:
Sevilla started their Europa League campaign this season at home against Belgian side Standard Liege. Sevilla has had a rocky start so far in La Liga this season with losses to Betis and Getafe and are on 4 points from 4 games.
Sevilla started the match with a 3-4-3 formation with Ben Yedder up front supported by Franco Vasquez and Quincy Promes. Ever Banega scored from a free kick in the 8th minute to give the home side a 1-0 lead. Liege equalized in the 39th minute scored by Djenepo, but Sevilla regained the lead through a Franco Vasquez goal assisted by Jesus Navas.
Sevilla added three more in the second half with Ben Yedder scoring twice and Banega scoring another from the penalty spot. Pablo Machin's men would like to continue this form in La Liga as well as they take on Levante next.
Sevilla's Basque neighbors Real Betis also started their campaign in the Europa League with a trip to Olympiacos in Greece. Club captain Joaquin started the match for Betis alongside LoCelso in midfield. Betis and Olympiacos failed to convert any of their chances throughout the match resulting in a goalless draw.
2. Chelsea and Arsenal start with wins in their Europa League campaign:
Chelsea has started the Premier League on a perfect note this season having won all of their five matches. The blues started their European campaign with a trip to PAOK in Greece.
A Willian strike in the 7th minute was enough for Maurizio Sarri's men to finish above the line and defeat PAOK 1-0. Up next for Chelsea are neighbors West Ham in the Premier League.
Arsenal started their Europa League campaign against Ukrainian side Vorksla. Arsenal has improved on their performance in the Premier League after suffering two consecutive losses against Chelsea and City.
Arsenal started with the familiar 4-2-3-1 under Unai Emery with Aubameyang leading the attack and scoring twice, one on either side of the halftime break in the 32nd and 56th minute. Welbeck and Ozil scored one each as well to give Arsenal a convincing 4-0 lead. Vorksla scored two late goals in the 76th minute and in extra time but it was too late and not enough for the Ukrainian side.
3. 10 men Frankfurt come from behind to defeat Marseille while Lazio defeats Limassol in Group H fixtures:
Group H in the UEFA Europa League is certainly the group of death in the competition featuring the likes of last season's runners-up Marseille, Lazio, and 2017-18 DFB Cup winners Eintracht Frankfurt.
Marseille took the lead early on when Lucas Ocampos scored in the 3rd minute from a Thauvin assist. With the first half ending 1-0, Frankfurt equalized with a 53rd minute Torro strike from a de Guzman assist. Frankfurt was reduced to 10 men when Jetro Willems was sent off after just 2 minutes. Right before full time, Jovic scored the winner for Frankfurt in the 89th minute.
Lazio started their Europa League campaign with a home match against Cypriot side Apollon Limassol. Luis Alberto scored in the 14th minute to hand Lazio the lead which they carried into the second half. Ciro Immobile doubled the lead from the penalty spot in the 84th minute to ensure victory for Lazio. Though Limassol did score in the 87th minute, it was not enough and Lazio won all three points.
4. Rangers come back from behind to draw with Villarreal away and Celtic defeat Rosenberg:
Steven Gerrard's Rangers faced Villarreal on the first Matchday of the Europa League. Villarreal has not started this season's La Liga strongly while Rangers have had a mixed start to the season as well.
Carlos Bacca scored in the first minute to hand Villarreal a lead early on. The first half ended with Villarreal having a 1-0 lead. Rangers equalized in the 64th minute with a goal from Scott Arfield but were quick to go behind again when Gerard Moreno scored two minutes later off of an assist from Santi Cazorla. Steven Gerrard's men, however, showed character and bounced back with yet another equalizer from Kyle Lafferty in the 76th minute. The match ended 2-2 in what is a positive start for Steven Gerrard as a manager in Europe.
The Scottish champions Celtic faced off against Norwegian outfit Rosenberg. Celtic dominated the proceedings but was not clinical enough to get the winner until the 87th minute when Leigh Griffiths scored the winner assisted by Dedryck Boyata. Going forward, however, Celtic will have tough competition from Germany side RB Leipzig and Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg in order to progress to the knockout stages.
5. AC Milan register close win against Dudelange, while Sporting overcome Qarabag:
AC Milan started off their Europa League campaign away against Luxembourg side Dudelange. Milan has had a tough start to the Serie A again this season defeating Roma but drawing to Cagliari and losing to Napoli.
Gattuso started with a 4-3-3 with Higuain in attack and the midfield three anchored by Chelsea loanee Bakayoko. At the halfway mark, the score was goalless as Dudelange were happy to defend against Milan. Samu Castillejo provided the much-needed assist for Gonzalo Higuain in the 59th minute which was enough for Milan to win the match.
Sporting Lisbon has lost most of its big-name players to other clubs throughout the summer with a contract dispute, but still have managed to start their Liga Nos campaign on a strong note. Sporting started their Europa League campaign with a match at home against Qarabag. Though the first half ended goallessly, the Portugal side took the lead from a Nani assist which was converted by Raphinha. Sporting doubled their lead in the 88th minute with a Jovane Cabral strike assisted by Raphinha. The two goals were enough for Sporting to secure crucial three points.