x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

City wins battle of rich clubs in Europa League

Mancini's boys win 2-0 over Salzburg while holders Atletico Madrid and Juventus start the group stage on a losing note.

Atletico Madrid began the defence of their Europa League crown with a 1-0 defeat at Aris Salonika while Juventus were held to a shock 3-3 draw by Lech Poznan in Turin as the group stage kicked off on Thursday. Manchester City won 2-0 at Salzburg in a clash between two big-spending clubs who had been aiming for the Champions League but had to settle for the second-tier competition. Aris's Spanish forward Javito scored just before the hour against Atletico in Group B, running onto a flicked pass by Carlos Ruiz and firing a powerful shot into the corner, as they preserved their unbeaten home record in European competition. Juve's Brazil World Cup villain Felipe Melo gave away an early penalty as the Italians fell two goals behind with Artjoms Rudnevs grabbing a hat-trick for the visitors including a stoppage-time equaliser in their Group A match.

Felipe Melo, who enhanced his reputation for reckless tackling by getting sent off in Brazil's World Cup quarter-final defeat by Netherlands, produced a familiarly clumsy challenge to concede a 13th-minute penalty, converted by Rudnevs. The Latvian was on target again on the half hour, snapping up a rebound, but Juve equalised when defender Giorgio Chiellini scored either side of halftime before Alessandro del Piero put them ahead in the 68th minute with a superb left-foot strike. However, the Poles had the last laugh when Rudnevs equalised in the second minute of added time.

In the same group, Spain forward David Silva and Brazilian striker Jo scored in each half to give Manchester City a 2-0 win at Austrian champions Salzburg. City failed to make the Premier League top four last season while Salzburg, bought by the Red Bull soft drinks company in 2005 amid protests by fans, have lost in the Champions League qualifying rounds four times in the last five seasons. Patrick Helmes scored a hat-trick to help Bayer Leverkusen claim a 4-0 win over Norwegians Rosenborg in Group B. Stefan Reinartz scored the other for the German side, who were missing injured captain Michael Ballack. * Reuters