Celtic, Rangers and Hearts crash out of Europa League

Posted on by SoccerPunter

Old Firm rivals Rangers and Celtic crashed out of the Europa League on Thursday as Scottish football suffered a humiliating continental wipeout.

With Hearts also exiting the tournament, Scotland was left without a single representative in either the Champions League or Europa League group stages for the first time.

Rangers drew 1-1 with Slovenia’s Maribor at Ibrox to lose 3-2 on aggregate, Celtic went 3-1 down at Sion in Switzerland while Hearts’ 0-0 draw at Tottenham was at least an improvement on the 5-0 mauling they suffered in the first leg in Edinburgh.

American international Carlos Bocanegra grabbed his first goal for Rangers since his move from St Etienne to cancel out Dalibor Volas’ opener, but they drew a blank in front of goal for the rest of the evening.

Celtic went to Switzerland having been held 0-0 by Sion in the first leg, but they were undone in the first minute when Daniel Majstorovic was red-carded for a foul on Guilherme Afonso and Pascal Feindouno scored from the spot.

Feindouno added a second before Charlie Mulgrew pulled one back for Neil Lennon’s team.

But a late strike from Giovanni Sio secured the win for Sion leaving Celtic to mull a depressing record of having won just one of their last 30 games away matches in Europe.

Hearts toiled manfully at White Hart Lane to salvage a degree of pride as Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp introduced a crop of youngsters into his team on a night when he also sealed a loan move for Emmanuel Adebayor from Manchester City.

Unlike Scotland, England will have four representatives in Friday’s group stage draw.

Joining Tottenham will be fellow English Premier League sides Stoke and Fulham as well as second-tier Birmingham City.

Fulham, the 2010 runners-up, lost 1-0 at Dnipro Dniepropetrovsk in Ukraine but went through courtesy of their 3-0 first leg win at Craven Cottage last week.

Evgeny Shakhov headed in a first-half corner from Serhiy Kravchenko to give Dnipro a glimmer of hope but Martin Jol’s Fulham held firm.

Stoke cruised into the group stages as Kenwyne Jones scored twice in a 4-1 win over Swiss side FC Thun for a 5-1 aggregate victory. Matthew Upson and Glenn Whelan were also on target for Tony Pulis’ side.

Birmingham, who were relegated from the Premier League last season, celebrated the return of European football to St Andrew’s for the first time in 50 years with a 3-0 win over Nacional of Portugal.

Teenage winger Nathan Redmond, David Murphy and Chris Wood scored the goals for the Blues.

There were mixed fortunes for Italian sides with Roma, watched by new American multi-millionaire owner Thomas DiBenedetto, drawing 1-1 at home to Slovan Bratislava to go out 2-1 on aggregate.

City rivals Lazio, however, enjoyed a 3-1 win at Rabotnicki in Macedonia for a 9-1 aggregate.

Unheralded Dublin side Shamrock Rovers reached the group stages for the first time thanks to an extra-time penalty winner over Partizan Belgrade.

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