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Europa League half-time report: Everton and Liverpool impress

| 20.02.2015

It was a night of mixed fortunes for British clubs in the Europa League round-of-32 first legs, with Everton the standout performers of a quartet featuring Liverpool, Tottenham and Celtic.

Shining the spotlight on the four ties, it looks very much like the Merseyside clubs should progress while Tottenham face a tough task and Celtic’s challenge may be beyond them, but hope is not lost.

Young Boys 1-4 Everton

Everton’s split personality was in evidence again as the Toffees displayed an exuberance in Europe too often left on the shelf in the Premier League when thrashing their Swiss opponents on the road.

Hat-trick hero Romelu Lukaku located his world beater cape and looked every bit the record signing Roberto Martinez had persuaded Bill Kenwright to empty his piggy bank on. Stick a fork in this tie, it’s done.

Verdict: Will qualify/Europa League winner odds 14/1

Liverpool 1-0 Besiktas

The Turkish Super Liga leaders, replete with a molten-hot Demba Ba were always going to be tricky customers and so it proved.

It took a brilliant Simon Mignolet save to keep Ba at bay, while Mario Balotelli’s much-debated penalty kick stole the headlines.

Regardless of ‘penalty-gate’ though, it was another impressive display to tack onto Liverpool’s long run of good form and having kept a clean sheet the Reds look good for it.

Verdict: Will qualify/Europa League winner odds 7/1

Tottenham 1-1 Fiorentina

The most finely-balanced tie features a Tottenham side that may pay the price of Mauricio Pochettino’s decision to rotate with a hectic schedule ahead.

Fiorentina have the crucial away goal in the bank, though Spurs can take heart from the fact the Viola are suspect at home.

The Italians have only won four of their 11 Serie A matches at Stadio Artemio Franchi this term, while they won one, drew one and lost one (in that order) at home in the Europa League group stages.

Verdict: Will qualify/Europa League winner odds 7/1

Celtic 3-3 Inter

John Guidetti’s last-minute equaliser for Celtic rounded off a madcap encounter that offered those at Parkhead exceptional value for money, but a good old fashioned mountain to climb at the San Siro awaits.

Celtic might be enjoying a deep purple patch domestically, but the Hoops failed to win away in the Europa League group stages and will struggle to make up for the concession of three away goals in Milan.

Verdict: Heading out/Europa League winner odds 175/1

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Christian Crowther

Give Christian a sport with anything remotely spherical in it and he’ll happily while away the hours watching it on the box. However, he’d much prefer writing about, playing or betting on golf, football, cricket, tennis, snooker.... you get the picture.