LONDON (Reuters) – Stephan El Shaarawy took a small step towards refuelling his career at Monaco when the AC Milan loanee came off the bench to rescue a late 1-1 draw against Tottenham Hotspur in the Europa League’s second round of group matches on Thursday.
Italian El Shaarawy, who was rated as one of the most promising young players in world football before his career plateaued at the San Siro, came on in the 60th minute and headed home to prevent Tottenham claiming a second straight victory.
It was another largely disappointing evening for English clubs in Europe, after Chelsea and Arsenal were beaten in the Champions League this week, as Liverpool’s woefully inconsistent start to the season continued with a 1-1 home draw against Swiss side Sion.
Yet while Brendan Rodgers’s team again struggled to put the ball in the net, there was no shortage of goals elsewhere as Schalke 04 and Fiorentina both scored four times to record heavy wins against Asteras Tripolis and Belenenses respectively.
The biggest game of the night on paper pitched Monaco against Tottenham, two teams who have shared a number of famous players over the years including Dimitar Berbatov, Juergen Klinsmann, Emmanuel Adebayor and Glenn Hoddle.
The Group J encounter had looked to be heading Tottenham’s way when they took the lead with a goal from a resurgent Erik Lamela in the first half.
Argentine Lamela bagged his third goal in his last four games, following up to tap home after new England call-up Dele Alli’s shot was parried by Monaco keeper Danijel Subasic.
Yet the introduction of El Shaarawy seemed to turn the tide in the hosts’ favour and his headed leveller nine minutes from time ensured the spoils were shared.
Despite being pegged back, Spurs will be satisfied with their night’s work and top their group with four points, two ahead of third place Monaco who have now drawn both their opening matches.
There was less satisfaction for Liverpool boss Rodgers, who made a number of changes for their clash with Sion at Anfield but was again faced with some familiar problems as his side’s goalscoring issues were once more in evidence.
Liverpool took the lead through Adam Lallana after four minutes but after Ebenezer Assifuah levelled 14 minutes later, the hosts failed convert a number Group B encounters.
Schalke’s Franco Di Santo bagged a hat-trick in a 4-0 home victory over Asteras in Group K while Fiorentina crushed Portuguese side Belenenses 4-0 away in Group I with the injury-plagued Italy striker Giuseppe Rossi scoring his first goal since May 2014.
Di Santo’s treble for Schalke came within 17 first-half minutes, with the Argentine rounding off his hat-trick with a penalty a minute before halftime.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar grabbed his 49th European goal to make it 4-0 six minutes before the final whistle to leave Schalke top of Group K with two wins from their opening two games.
Fiorentina’s Rossi made a welcome return to the scoresheet after recently coming back following 15 months out through injury.
The 28-year-old, who is still working his way back to form after a series of knee injuries, struck in the 90th minute to complete a resounding victory with a low shot beneath the keeper.
One of Rossi’s former clubs Villarreal continued their good start to the campaign as the surprise La Liga leaders secured a 1-0 victory in Group E against Viktoria Plzen with Leo Baptistao netting in the 54th minute.
Borussia Dortmund grabbed a late equaliser through Gonzalo Castro to draw 1-1 at PAOK Salonika in Group C, while Lazio withstood a late fightback to win 3-2 in Group G against St Etienne, who had two players sent off.
Fenerbahce fought back from two goals down in Group A to draw 2-2 at former European champions Celtic, with Brazilian Fernandao scoring twice in five minutes either side of halftime for the Turkish outfit.
Ajax Amsterdam, another former European champion, could only draw 1-1 at Norwegian side Molde.
(Reporting by Toby Davis; editing by Rex Gowar)