American Exports: Boyd, Diskerud key Europa progress
AMSTERDAM – It was an exciting Thursday night for Americans taking part in Europa League playoff-round deciders, headlined by Mikkel Diskerud's cracking late winner in a 2-1 (3-2 on aggregate) victory over visiting Legia Warsaw.
The Troll Kids fell behind in both the match and the tie when Danijel Lluboja scored for the Polish visitors in the 36th minute, but Tore Reginiussen pulled everything level again with 20 minutes to play. That set the stage for Diskerud (above, right) to run onto a high-bouncing deflection at the edge of the area to volley home the fatal blow with his first RBK goal three minutes from time.
Rosenborg will be in seeding pot No. 3 for Friday's group stage draw, with the first group games set for Sept. 20.
Meanwhile, Terrence Boyd also struck for a clinching goal as Rapid Vienna overcame a first leg deficit with a 3-0 (4-2 on aggregate) triumph over Greek guests PAOK.
The US goal shark nodded home a free kick just beyond intermission to put the Green-Whites ahead for the first time in the tie. They added a late insurance tally to advance into seeding pot No. 4 for the group-stage draw.
Also in pot No. 4 will be Molde FK, who got a nifty assist from Josh Gatt to help put away second leg hosts Heerenveen 2-1 (4-1 on aggregate). In the 54th minute, the young winger spun expertly at midfield to release Jo Inge Berget for the first goal of the game.
Hannover 96 skipper Steve Cherundolo worked 70 active minutes as the home side finished off Polish underdogs Śląsk Wrocław with a 5-1 (10-4 on aggregate) rout. The Reds will see their lot for the group stage cast out of pot No. 2.
Jozy Altidore and AZ Alkmaar came up short, however, suffering a rough 5-0 (6-0 on aggregate) home loss to Russian big spenders Anzhi Makhachkala. Though far from alone in his struggle, the US striker was unable to hit the frame with any of his three shots.
Joining Thursday night's four victorious Americans for the group phase draw will be Brad Friedel's Tottenham Hotspur, David Yelldell's Bayer Leverkusen (both seeding pot No. 1), Alejandro Bedoya's Helsingborg and Bryan Gerzicich's Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona (both pot No. 4). Oguchi Onyewu's Sporting CP are also on to the next round, but the US defender is in talks to move before the transfer window closes.
Over in Scottish Communities League Cup, Carlos Bocanegra went the distance in what could be his final game for Rangers, a 3-0 home win over Falkirk.