Europa League round-up: Swansea battle to bloody victory, Spurs success in Russia, Wigan record first ever European win

A round-up of all the reaction from the Europa League

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The Independent Online

Michael Laudrup praises bloodied Michu after the forward battled on in Swansea victory despite suffering a nasty cut on his head

Michael Laudrup praised Michu's attitude after the bloodied Spaniard battled through 90 minutes - as well as five different jerseys - during Swansea's 1-0 Europa League win over St Gallen.

Wayne Routledge got the only goal of the game six minutes into the second half to give the home side the win, tapping in at the far post.

Swansea were a long way short of the form they showed in humbling Valencia at the Mestalla in their first group game, and the visitors would have taken something from the match had striker Goran Karanovic converted a first-half penalty.

The game was hardly helped by the inconsistent and fussy refereeing of Duarte Gomes, but Swansea can now head into the home game with Kuban Krasnodar later this month knowing a win would put them a long way towards a place in the last-32.

Into the bargain, Michu secured his status as a cult hero after suffering a cut to his head courtesy of the boot of Stephane Besle in the first half.

Michu got to his feet with blood streaming from a cut and a farce developed as efforts to stem the flow, including vaseline, bandages and a change of shirt, all failed.

He was then prevented from returning to the field as blood seeped onto his change shirt, before a numberless jersey was finally deemed up to standard and he wandered back on.

At half-time a member of Swansea's staff was sent to the club shop to retrieve a shirt with his name and number on the back, but even that was changed for a fifth of the night during the closing stages.

"We talk so much about him." said Laudrup.

"But it shows he just wants to play, he is very important for the other players when he is in there.

"He works so hard and he is really important for us, but I guess that's not really news."

He added: "We did not know how bad it was, because he was on the other side of the field.

"We said he would come back on, but we were eight minutes with 10 men.

"Fortunately nothing happened, it was not bad for him and we did not concede.

"There was a little bit of blood, so he changed to one with no number.

"He had some stitches at half-time. I don't know how many."

When asked about the dash to the club shop for a new shirt, Laudrup joked: "Wasn't it closed?"

While Michu managed to remain on the field, St Gallen's Karanovic was forced off at half-time after a heavy collision with Swans' keeper Gerhard Tremmel. The concussion he sustained meant he had no memory of his miss from the spot.

Laudrup, meanwhile, was satisfied to see his side in such a strong position after two games.

"We are in a fantastic position, Valencia won away in Russia so we have six points, and there are two teams on three points and they play each other next time," he said.

"If we could win the next game it would be a really good position."

Andrew Gwilym - PA


Jermain Defoe set to return to the bench in the Premier League despite scoring seventh goal in four games

Jermain Defoe is unlikely to start for Tottenham against former club West Ham this weekend, despite netting in Thursday night's Europa League win at Anzhi Makhachkala.

The 30-year-old's first-half strike put Spurs on course for a 2-0 win in the Europa League in Russia, moving him within a goal of Martin Chivers' club record European haul of 22.

It was Defoe's seventh strike in four starts this season, although it has so far not been enough to persuade Villas-Boas to start him in the Premier League.

Villas-Boas has preferred big-money signing Roberto Soldado as a lone striker and he appears set to replace Defoe in the starting line-up against West Ham.

"We have to judge recovery and the fact that JD was involved today and Soldado wasn't," Villas-Boas said. "Everything will come into consideration.

"We have been extremely happy with the performances of both. It is a question of deciding what is best for the team.

"It was another great goal, a great finish. It's really good to see him out there again doing extremely well whenever he's given the opportunity.

"He is a great professional, has a great attitude and now he's only one off Martin Chivers so it's a real great achievement for him.

"I think he has the ambition this season to go even further up the ladder in this record tally behind Martin Chivers and as a all-time goalscorer so I think that plays highly in his motivation, definitely."

Defoe put the north Londoners ahead after 34 minutes, with Nacer Chadli sweeping home five minutes later to wrap up a 2-0 win.

Anzhi returned revitalised after the break but Spurs held strong, as their run without conceding in this year's competition stretched to a fourth match.

The only negative on the night was a knock sustained by Younes Kaboul, forcing him off 20 minutes from time at the Saturn Stadium.

The Frenchman has been plagued with injuries for the best part of 18 months and suffered another setback in Russia.

"It's a bit of a problem because of his injury in the knee it has taken him time for his body to adapt to new positions on his run," Villas-Boas said.

"Because of that he's putting extra strain on his muscles and keeps getting small contractions that limit him finishing the games.

"At the moment it doesn't look very serious but it will force him to stop for a week or so.

"When we get him back we will give him a one-week or two-week preparation to be physically better."

Simon Peach - PA


On-loan Manchester United youngster Nick Powell tipped for stardom after guiding Wigan to first ever Europa League victory

Owen Coyle tipped Nick Powell as a future Manchester United and England star after his goals helped Wigan make history against Maribor.

The Latics' 3-1 win over the Slovenian side in the DW Stadium's first European game was their maiden victory in continental competition.

Powell profited from a goalkeeping howler to become the first Wigan player to score in the Europa League and FA Cup hero Ben Watson made it two before half-time.

Tavares took advantage of profligacy from Powell to pull one back and would have levelled matters in the 90th minute but for a stunning save from Scott Carson.

But a fine individual goal from 19-year-old Powell wrapped up the points to put Wigan second in Group D.

Powell joined United in 2012 from boyhood club Crewe and scored on his Premier League debut against Wigan last September.

His loan spell with the Latics runs until the end of the season, and Coyle believes he has the potential to follow in the footsteps of two other young players he has helped move forward in their careers.

Jack Wilshere and Daniel Sturridge both played for Coyle on loan at Bolton and are set for key roles in England's forthcoming World Cup qualifiers.

Coyle said of Powell: "That's why we brought him here because I believe he's a top player in the making and nights like this will certainly help.

"He's got so much to offer. I want it on a consistent basis, and I'm trying to demand that of him to help him progress his career.

"I've been fortunate to be able to do that before with a couple of very good players and I see Nick Powell in that category.

"I've no doubt when you see Jack Wilshere and Daniel Sturridge, the level they're playing at, both England players, I truly believe that in time Nick Powell can attain that level.

"To do that he's got to bring performances like this on a consistent basis and show that after his year's loan, when he goes back to Manchester United, that he's in a position to challenge for their first team.

"And if he is, given the level they play at, that would then push him towards the England limelight. He's a bit off that yet but he's certainly got the ingredients that we can help to move him forward."

Powell is more comfortable in midfield but injuries to Grant Holt and Marc-Antoine Fortune meant he was pushed into a striking role, and he could easily have had five or six goals.

Coyle was delighted to see his side acquit themselves so well at a new level.

"When we bring it all together, it's a terrific sight to see, and you saw that tonight," said the Scot.

"Sixteen years ago we were a Division Four club and to be out there on that European stage - and not only on the stage but showing the quality they did. Because with that performance, we would have stood toe-to-toe with an awful lot of teams, and that was very pleasing."

Eleanor Crooks - PA