The Europa League has been a staple of European soccer for several years now, and it is growing rapidly in popularity. It’s becoming one of the most competitive and prestigious competitions in Europe.
The 21/22 edition of the tournament kicked off in style last night and it delivered some of the most memorable moments you will see all year.
Take a look at how Twitter reacted to some of the most adventurous goals on Thursday. Who would have guessed that a goalkeeper like Thomas Strakosha would grab the headlines with such a spectacular own goal? And how did Declan Rice and Victor Osimhen get involved in the fun?
Declan Rice v Dinamo Zagreb
West Ham United took control of their Europa League campaign as goals from Michail Antonio and Declan Rice secured a deserved three points for the Hammers in Croatia.
Antonio opened the scoring on the 21st minute, while Declan Rice made it two five minutes after halftime with a stunning solo effort.
Rice was put into action as he intercepted the ball on the halfway line. The 22-year-old midfielder headed for the left channel with determination and after shaking off a Zagreb defender, slammed home his goal to send the home side packing.
Declan Rice. pic.twitter.com/KM6DzZIY7n— Luís (@luiscgs00) September 16, 2021
If you don’t rate Declan Rice, you don’t know ball. Simple as that— FPL_Teddy 🧸 (@FPL_Teddy) September 16, 2021
Nah in all seriousness, If you don’t think that Declan Rice is going to the very, very top of the game of football, regardless of what club he ends up at for his peak years, you simply have no idea about the game.— DavidBranch CHELSEA ⭐️⭐️💙 (@DavidBranchCFC) September 16, 2021
Declan Rice gets more and more complete with every game he plays. Forget the goal, how he defends space + reads play is already world class.— #8 (@Mxdiano) September 16, 2021
Declan Rice >>>>>>>>>— Joe Thomlinson (@joethomlinson) September 16, 2021
The improvement in the last 18 months has actually been frightening. Got to be in the top 3 young holding mids in world football right now. Incredible. 📈👏🏻
That Declan Rice goal is absolutely sensational, the drive , the control and the composure with his finish was absolutely superb. He just gets better and better a real joy to watch and he’s maturing even further. He dictates games at at such a young age that’s a huge feat.— Josh Bunting (@Buntingfootball) September 16, 2021
I have watched West Ham 35 years & this is the best group of players we have assembled in my time, along with the best coaching staff.@_DeclanRice is the best player I have seen in Claret & Blue in that time & that includes Di Canio, Payet, Brady. @ExWHUemployee @DaveWalkerWHU— Anthony Morrissey (@AntMo1977) September 16, 2021
Victor Osimhen v Leicester City
Victor Osimhen proved to be the hero for Napoli as his brace gave them a 2-2 draw against Leicester City at the King Power Stadium.
The Nigerian forward, who left Lille for Napoli last year, scored both goals in the second half as he led his side back in the game with an impressive show of attacking flair.
The 22-year-old’s first on the night was something special as he lobbed the covering defender and goalkeeper in succession with a brilliant bit of skill, before being mobbed by teammates in celebration.
2 great goals by Vittorio Osimhen today, but the 1st one was top class 🔝 pic.twitter.com/DZ8H3vnSST— Uncle $harma 🎙️ (@RSharmzz) September 16, 2021
Victor Osimhen was brilliant for Napoli yesterday against Leicester City, watch his two brilliant goals here 👇🏾⚽⚽pic.twitter.com/n9FK4FDxjB— BirdieFootball (@birdiefootball) September 17, 2021
At just 22 years of age, Victor Osimhen is someone for whom the sky is the limit.— EiF (@EiFSoccer) September 16, 2021
Skilful, intelligent, pacey and strong – Osimhen has all the tools to be a top player.
Today’s two great goals are a perfect reflection of what he is capable of.
Thing about Osimhen tonight aside from the goals he roasted proper PL CBs down the channels and he was holding/linking all game. He’s too complete— A1 🇵🇸 (@A1ZH4RY) September 16, 2021
Osimhen will be a complete beast when he fully gets games in & develops part of his game.— POOJA… (@PoojaMedia) September 16, 2021
The two goals today show that he can mix his finishing.
If you want street goals, he will give, if you want goals with make-ups, he delivers as well.
He keeps growing in every game.
Thomas Strakosha v Galatasaray
There are the players who come up clutch. And then there are those who will have you laughing so hard you can’t breathe.
Lazio goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha became part of the latter group as he conceded a godawful goal against Galatasaray yesterday.
What would have made boss Maurizio Sarri even madder was the fact that it turned out to be the only goal of the match. No wonder both Sarri and Inzaghi before him prefer an aging Pepe Reina to the Albanian.
OWN GOAL OF THE WEEK?! 😳 pic.twitter.com/TVssBbS7h5— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) September 16, 2021
Lazio lost 1-0 against Galatasaray to kickoff their Europa League campaign.— Raffaele (@ItalianoCalcio) September 16, 2021
The lone goal was an own-goal by Strakosha. 🤦♂️ pic.twitter.com/ObxBwq3Vop
Lazio down in Turkey!!! Strakosha with a moment of madness. Scoring an own goal by catching the ball into his own net under no pressure.— SITSO (@OfficialSitso) September 16, 2021
Thomas Strakosha used to be described as a goalkeeper worthy of an elite club two years ago. His own goal v Galatasaray encapsulates everything that has gone wrong.— Kaustubh Pandey (@Kaus_Pandey17) September 16, 2021
If Maurizio Sarri is someone who makes very few substitutions, well this may be Thomas Strakosha last start for a very long time.— Jerry Mancini (@jmancini8) September 16, 2021