West Ham and Saints face differing Europa League chances


After the completion of Thursday night’s third qualifying round second legs in the Europa League, the relative big boys will enter the fray for the competition’s play-off stage.

The three UK-based sides still fighting it out in the qualifiers will hope to be there, but each one faces a very different task to do so.

Here is a brief look ahead at West Ham, Southampton and Aberdeen’s matches, including any special offers Ladbrokes have lined up for the events:

Astra Giurgiu v West Ham

Things haven’t been going swimmingly for Slaven Bilic in the competition so far. His side needed penalties to see off Malta’s Birkirkara in the last round and let a two-goal lead slip at home against this Romanian opponent after James Collins became their third sending off of the season.

Astra, who are 7/4 to win in 90 minutes, have progressed from this stage of the Europa League in the last two campaigns and even went on to pip Lyon to a group stage berth last term. Cause for Hammers concern.

After the 2-2 draw in the first leg, Ladbrokes are offering 4/1 (out from 11/4) on West Ham winning with both teams scoring.

Vitesse v Southampton

It was a far simpler first leg for the Saints, who secured a 3-0 win over Vitesse at home, with the goals coming from Graziano Pelle, Dusan Tadic and Shane Long. Now Ronald Koeman returns to the site of his first managerial job, priced up at 5/4 to triumph in the second leg.

Ladbrokes also go 4/1 about a win for the south coasters in a game where both teams score, boosted from 3s.

Aberdeen v Kairat Almaty

The Scottish outfit have the toughest task of the trio to book a play-off place, having travelled 5,500km to lose 2-1 to their Kazakhstan opponents last time out.

There is a shred of hope, thanks to Kenny McLean’s consolation away goal and Ladbrokes offer odds of 21/20 that the SPFL outfit spare their blushes with victory at Pittodrie.

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

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.