RECAP: EUROPA LEAGUE ACTION
Michael Parkhurst and Nordsjælland kept it tight in Portugal, but were unable to find the winner in the end, while Daniel Antunez netted a pair of goals for Inter in their loss to Genk.
Sporting CP 2 - 1 FC Nordsjælland (agg. 3-1)
Michael Parkhurst played the full 90 minutes in Nordsjælland's central defense against Sporting on Thursday night, however the team was unable to overcome their Portuguese opponents and saw their short European run come to an end.
The Wild Tigers entered the game as unquestionable underdogs in their quest to advance, needing an outright victory after last week's first-leg loss at home to even force overtime.
Undaunted by their surroundings and a raucous crowd in Sporting's Estádio José Alvalade, Nordsjælland had an early chance after ten minutes when newcomer Enoch Adu set up Nicki Bille Nielsen for a shot on goal that just flew wide.
The hosts maintained the majority of possession, and took the deserved lead 14 minutes later when Nordsjælland keeper Jesper Hansen was unable to fully clear a ball from his area, with the Sporting attack lifting it back into the danger area for Helder Postiga to head into the net.
The visitors took the initiative after the break, putting Sporting on the back heel for must of the second half before finally equalizing in dramatic fashion with 11 minutes left in regulation.
Ghanian midfield maestro Adu showed why he will be an important addition to the club when he slid a precise pass over to Rawaz Lawan, with the young Swede leaving the Sporting keeper lead-footed with his shot to bring his team even.
Still needing another goal to secure a place in the play-off round, the Wild Tigers continued their push for a second and came close on several occasions, but were finally dealt the death-blow two minutes into added time when a quick Sporting counter-attack left Maniche free to add the insurance goal, sending the Portuguese on to the next phase of the competition.
Having seen their European adventure come to an end barely after it had gotten underway, the Wild Tigers now turn their focus back towards their just-started domestic campaign, beginning with Sunday's visit by Brøndby.
KRC Genk 3 - 2 FC Inter Turku (agg. 8-3)
Daniel Antunez put in a man-of-the-match performance for FC Inter but the visitors came up short against KRC Genk in the third round of Europa League qualifying on Thursday night.
KRC Genk were heavy favorites going into the game, having routed FC Inter 5-1 last week at the Veritas Stadion in Turku, Finland, so it looked like more of the same just 24 minutes in when Marvin Ogunjimi put the home team ahead after good collaboration by Stein Huysegems and Dugary Ndabashinze on the left wing.
But the floodgates never opened and a resilient FC Inter team took just eleven minutes to find the equalizer. After an Antunez shot was parried wide by Thibaut Courtois, the ensuing corner was swung into the box and Antunez popped up again to score his first Europa League goal.
After halftime, FC Inter defended well despite heavy pressure in the attacking third from Genk. With ten minutes to go, however, Genk finally broke ahead. After Davi Rancan was sent off for a foul in the box, Daniel Tozser stepped up and converted the penalty.
Five minutes later, Fabien Camusin made it three after a nice lay off from Moussa Koita.
With one of the last kicks of the game, Antunez offered the FC Inter fans a bit of consolation when he notched his second goal of the game with a narrow finish to the bottom corner against the run of play. KRC Genk now advance to the next round after an aggregate score of 8-3.
With their European dreams over, FC Inter return to domestic action and face KuPS this Saturday.
On-loan midfielder Freddy Adu is no longer a part of FC Aris' plans for the season, and did not participate as they progressed to the play-off round of the Europa League thanks to their 2-2 home draw with Polish team Jagiellonia Białystok, giving them an overall 4-3 aggregate victory.