English Soccer News

Europa League: Aberdeen, Kilmarnock & Rangers aim for second round

Three Scottish teams are in Europa League action later on Thursday, but can all three progress to the second qualifying round?

Aberdeen, Kilmarnock and Rangers all won their first legs last week, with the latter two particularly well placed to advance. The Dons are first up, taking on RoPS Rovaniemi in Finland at 17:00 BST, before Kilmarnock welcome Wales’ Connah’s Quay Nomads and Rangers host St Joseph’s of Gibralta, both at 19:45.

You can follow all the action across the BBC Sport Scotland website, but first, here is all you need to know pre-match….

‘We can be good enough’ – RoPS (1) v Aberdeen (2)

On the face of it, Derek McInnes’ side are the ones facing the trickiest second leg. Two goals to the good and cruising at Pittodrie last Thursday, Aberdeen conceded in stoppage time to mean they travelled to Lapland with work to do if they are to set up a meeting with Chikhura Sachkhere of Georgia or Luxembourg’s Fola Esch.

“Hopefully we will improve this week compared to last,” the manager said. “We can’t be 100% at this stage of the season but we can be good enough to get through to the next round.”

Defender Mikey Devlin and midfielder Craig Bryson have not travelled with the squad, full-back Greg Leigh is a doubt, and fellow new signing Funso Ojo is ineligible.

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‘The atmosphere will be great’ – Kilmarnock (2) v Connah’s Quay (1)

Having trailed with eight minutes remaining of their first leg against Connah’s Quay Nomads, the Rugby Park side turned the game around to leave themselves in a strong position before Thursday’s return in Ayrshire. Angelo Alessio’s side should now have enough to set up a daunting second-round tie with Partizan Belgrade of Serbia.

However, the Italian coach says his side “have to played better” than they did in north Wales. “I can’t wait as it’s the first home match for me, a real chance to say hello to the fans,” he said. “I think there will be a great atmosphere and I want to experience the noise and passion.”

New signing Alex Bruce was not signed in time to play, but Alessio has a full squad to choose from apart from that.

‘It’s an opportunity’ – Rangers (4) v St Joseph’s (0)

The Ibrox side are already looking to a likely second-round reunion with Luxembourg’s Progres Niederkorn after thumping St Joseph’s 4-0 in Gibraltar last Tuesday, and Steven Gerrard has already said “the team will look different” as he explores options in his squad. “I’m looking for players to show me they can play in our system and play our way. It is an opportunity for everyone picked to play,” he said.

New signing Filip Helander is ineligible and not yet fit enough to be involved, while defender Jon Flanagan and striker Dapo Mebude miss out too. However, 17-year-old winger Josh McPake will be involved.

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