London: West Ham United’s Lucas Paqueta scored a late goal to earn his side a 1-0 home win over Olympiakos Piraeus as they retained top spot in Europa League Group A, while Olympique de Marseille won 2-0 at AEK Athens to remain first in Group B on Thursday.
West Ham lost 2-1 away to the Greeks a fortnight ago but their win at the London Stadium put them level on nine points with second-placed Freiburg, who crushed bottom side Backa Topola 5-0. Olympiakos are third with four points.
A close call
Paqueta broke the deadlock in the 73rd minute with a deft left-foot volley following a delightful James Ward-Prowse chip over the defence for his third goal in European competition this season, which was confirmed after a VAR review for offside.
The West Ham fans then held their breath late on as the visitors nearly equalised when Mady Camara’s close-range header struck the post when he should have scored.
Marseille secured a second victory with their win in Athens thanks to goals from Chancel Mbemba and Ismaila Sarr.
Mbemba opened the scoring with a header from a corner after 25 minutes before Sarr struck three minutes into stoppage time.
The Ligue 1 side have eight points, one ahead of European debutants Brighton & Hove Albion, who secured a 2-0 victory at Ajax Amsterdam earlier on Thursday.
Liverpool suffered a shock 3-2 loss at French side Toulouse in Group E, Juergen Klopp’s side still top the standings with nine points, two ahead of Toulouse, despite being denied an equaliser in the last minute of added time by VAR.
Atalanta claimed a 1-0 win against Sturm Graz at a rainy Gewiss Stadium after Berat Djimsiti managed to score following a melee in the area five minutes after the break.
The Italians are unbeaten in Group D on 10 points, three ahead of Sporting who beat 10-man Rakow Czestochowa 2-1.
A penalty in each half from Pedro Goncalves was enough to beat the Polish side, who played most of the match with 10 men after the early dismissal of defender Bogdan Racovitan.
Early goals from Rangers’ Danilo Pereira and Todd Cantwell secured a 2-1 win over Sparta Prague, while Real Betis hammered visiting Aris Limassol 4-1. Betis lead Group C on nine points, while Rangers are second with seven.