RECAP: EUROPA LEAGUE ACTION
The Europa League was once again filled with plenty drama for the Americans competing abroad.
Molde 1-2 Steaua Bucuresti
Josh Gatt played the first half in Molde's loss at home to Group E leaders Steaua Bucuresti.
The teams began fairly even, and the wheels nearly fell off when left midfielder Paul Pârvulescu went off with an injury just 15 minutes into the match, being replaced by Iasmin Latovlevici.
But the Romanians stepped up to the task, scoring just six minutes after the switch. Right midfielder Alexandru Chipciu controlled a pass from Cristian Tanase at the top of the 18-yard box, blasting a shot to the top corner to open the scoring.
In the 36th minute, Tanase made another dangerous run, this time down the left flank. Spinning at the end line, he found Latovlevici at the corner of the 18. The early substitute wrapped a shot around a defender, completely fooling Molde's ‘keeper who seemed to never see the shot until it was too late.
Gatt would come off at halftime in favor of Mattias Mostrøm, though neither made much of an impact offensively.
Daniel Chima scored in the 55th minute to draw Molde within one, but Steaua held firm for the last 35 minutes to secure the victory.
Molde haven't seen victory in the Europa League since the second week of play, currently finding themselves two points behind an advancement place.
Ironi Kiryat Shmona 1-1 Sparta Praha
Brian Gerzicich and Ironi Kiryat Shmona secured their first point since the opening game of the group stage.
After falling to Sparta Praha in their last Europa League game, an early goal that was only matched by a world-class shot was enough to earn a draw.
Just under three minutes in, Laszco Lencse found a streaking Darko Tasevski, who calmly beat Tomas Vaclik between his legs to the far post.
Not to be outdone, Praha scored a goal of their own in the first half. In the 24th minute, Mario Holek jumped on a poor pass from the Shmona midfield, finding Leonard Kweuke in space. The Cameroonian forward took one touch before lofting a shot from 35 yards out over the head of Daniel Amos to draw level.
The second half was a defensive deadlock as neither team could break the tie.
Gerzicich again played the full match, anchoring the midfield from behind. Despite holding only two points through four matches, Shmona have yet to be eliminated from advancement and are sitting five points behind Praha with two matches to play.
Bayer Leverkusen 3-0 Rapid Vienna
Terrence Boyd's club, Rapid Vienna, were eliminated from the possibility of advancement in the Europa League after falling to David Yelldell's Bayer Leverkusen.
Jens Helger got the hosts off to a dream start when he was able to smash home a chip off the crossbar from the edge of the 6-yard box. Rapid keeper Lukas Königshofer fell into the net trying to prevent the original deflection from crossing the end line and the entire Rapid defense completely gave up on the play, allowing Helger a near uncontested header in the third minute.
Rapid Vienna's defense shored up for the remainder of the first half, but it took only eight minutes of second half play for Leverkusen to double their lead.
Andre Schürrle jumped on a chance at the edge of the 18 following another poor clearance by the Rapid defenders. His low smash snuck through a mass of players, finding the back of the net over Königshofer's gloves.
Boyd finally showed up in the 65th minute, but it was for yet another Leverkusen goal. The young forward was back defending the near post for a corner kick and had to watch a Manuel Freidrich header float over his head for the third and final tally.
The American received a yellow card in the 81st minute, and then was subbed off five minutes later. In all he played 86 minutes but made nearly no impact offensively.
Rapid Vienna have lost all four of their matches in the Europa League and are now officially out of contention for the next round. Likewise, Mikkel Diskerud and Rosenborg, also in Group K, are eliminated, as each team is more than six points back of Leverkusen and Metalist with just two games remaining.
Yelldel was an unused substitute in the match, but could see time in the final two matches as Leverkusen have secured advancement.
Hannover 96 3-2 Helsingborg
Late drama again propelled Steve Cherundolo and Hannover over Alejandro Bedoya and Helsingborg.
After Mame Diouf scored two headers for Hannover, Helsingborg mounted an impressive comeback to draw even at two.
The first goal came for the visitors off the head of Nikola Durdic. The forward controlled an end line volley from Mattias Lindstrom, redirecting a sprawling close-range attempt only nine minutes after the second Hannover goal.
Bedoya would score the equalizer for Helsingborg in the 67th minute. After confusion in the box allowed the ball to bounce dangerously near the penalty spot, Beyoda took a first-time attempt at an awkward angle, completely baffling the entire Hannover defense. The goal is his first of the Europa League campaign.
Helsingborg did their best to avoid another stoppage time goal from Hannover, but Artur Sobiech had different plans. Streaking into the box, Sobiech was tripped up by center back Peter Larsson, giving the hosts a penalty kick and the defender a red card for his infraction. Fellow central defender Walid Atta came to his teammate's defense but was also shown a red.
Szabolcs Huszti calmly stepped up to the spot and put a hard drive on frame. Par Hansson managed to get a hand on it, but the blast had too much strength and it deflected into the opposite corner.
Cherundolo played a solid 90 minutes at right defense, forcing Helsingborg to attack each time through the opposite side of the field. The captain has played every minute of his team's Europa games.
Bedoya received a yellow card to go with his goal, playing the same 90 minutes as Cherundolo.
Helsingborg have dropped two consecutive points to Hannover, putting them at the bottom of Group L. They'll need to win their remaining two matches and get help from FC Twente Hannover in order to advance.
Hannover added four points to their last two matches, snatching wins from jaws of draws, moving to first place in the group with ten points. Their advancement was secured with the victory, now seven points clear of FC Twente with two games remaining.
Clint Dempsey played eight minutes as Tottenham managed their first victory over Maribor in North London. Jermain Defoe scored a hat trick in the 3-1 victory. Brad Freidel had the night off.
Mikkel Diskerud played just over 20 minutes for Rosenborg against Metalist. The Norwegian club fell 3-1 and are eliminated from advancement.