Europa League round-up: Pugh strike has Stoke looking plastic fantastic

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Stoke City manager Tony Pulis was delighted with how his players overcame FC Thun's artificial pitch last night to take away a 1-0 win from the first leg of their Europa League play-off in Switzerland.

Danny Pugh's left-footed strike in the 19th minute was the difference between the sides and Thun finished the match with 10 men when goalkeeper David Da Costa was sent off in the final minute for violent conduct. His replacement, midfielder Stephan Andrist, tipped a Jonathan Walters' strike round the post to stop Stoke doing more damage.

Pulis said: "It was difficult on the Astroturf because we don't have much experience on this kind of ground. But otherwise it was a brilliant game."

The shock of the night came in Slovenia where Rangers conceded an injury-time goal to lose 2-1 to Maribor after Dejan Mezga teed up substitute Etien Velikonja, who back-heeled over the line.

It had all looked so good for the Scots who took the lead through Juan Manuel Ortiz in the first half. The Spaniard started the move by finding Kirk Broadfoot out on the right flank, before racing into the box where he was waiting to collect the return pass and flick home from six yards. Agim Ibraimi equalised after the break with a powerful left-foot shot.

Birmingham will be reasonably pleased with their goalless draw in Portugal against Nacional. But it could have been better as Chris Hughton's side hit the woodwork three times.

Gary McCabe salvaged a draw at home to Partizan Belgrade for Shamrock Rovers but Nemanja Tomic's away goal looks ominous.

At Celtic Park the home fans endured a frustrating evening as Neil Lennon's men created little against Sion and must try to advance in Switzerland on the back of a goalless draw.