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Europa League: Chelsea Secure Slim Victory, Rangers Hold Villarreal

Willian’s early goal in Greece gave Premier League leaders Chelsea a 1-0 win over PAOK in the Europa League on Thursday, while Steven Gerrard’s Rangers twice fought back to earn a 2-2 draw at Villarreal.

Eden Hazard was omitted from the Chelsea squad at his own request due to fatigue, but manager Maurizio Sarri fielded a strong side for the Blues’ opening game in Group L at a hostile Toumba Stadium.

Brazil winger Willian struck after just seven minutes with a first-time finish after an assist from Ross Barkley to extend Chelsea’s winning run to six games in all competitions.

Rangers acquitted themselves well on their first appearance in the group stage of a European competition since the 2010-11 Champions League, as they came away with battling point in Spain.

A disastrous start for the Scottish side saw Carlos Bacca fire Villarreal ahead inside 60 seconds, but Scott Arfield turned home a cross from Daniel Candeias to level on 67 minutes.

Gerard Moreno put the hosts back in front almost immediately, only for Kyle Lafferty to again hit back for Rangers as Gerrard’s men made a solid start in Group G.

Marseille, last season’s runners-up, slumped to a 2-1 home defeat by Eintracht Frankfurt in Group H as Luka Jovic grabbed an 89th-minute winner for the reigning German Cup champions.

Lucas Ocampos opened the scoring early for Marseille, who were playing behind closed doors at the Stade Velodrome after numerous crowd incidents last season.

But Lucas Torro levelled on 52 minutes for Eintracht before Jovic’s late strike won it.

Record five-time winners Sevilla launched their Group J campaign with a 5-1 rout of Standard Liege, as Ever Banega and Wissam Ben Yedder both netted twice for the Spaniards.

AFP

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