Takumi Minamino bags Europa League hat trick

Kyodo, AP

Takumi Minamino hit a hat trick to lead his Austrian side Salzburg to a 5-2 victory over Norwegian top division champion Rosenborg in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday.

Minamino put the visitors ahead five minutes into the match at Lerkendal Stadion and completed his hat trick in the 45th, giving Salzburg a 4-0 lead at halftime along with a goal from Norway international Fredrik Gulbrandsen.

After the break, the 23-year-old midfielder nearly netted a fourth time, but a shot between two Rosenborg defenders in the 57th resulted in an own goal from Even Holvand.

“It was the best night for me,” Minamino said. “I’ve felt like I always have something in reserve when I take the field. Now I’m making good use of that opportunity.”

Samuel Adegbenro and Mike Jensen got two goals for Rosenborg in the second half but it wasn’t enough as the Austrian first- division leader walked away with its fourth straight Europa League win.

According to the team, Minamino is the first Japanese player to score a hat trick in a UEFA competition. Last week, he led Salzburg to a 1-0 win over Austria Lustenau for a spot in the Austrian Cup quarterfinals.

Minamino has scored four goals in his last three international appearances, including a brace in Japan’s 4-3 win against Uruguay in their friendly last month.

Salzburg sit at the top of Group B in the Europa League on 12 points after four matches, two wins clear of Leipzig with two games remaining.

Chelsea, Arsenal advance

Olivier Giroud ended his drought by scoring the only goal to lead Chelsea to a 1-0 win at BATE Borisov on Thursday that clinched a place in the knockout stage of the league with two group games to spare.

Giroud had not scored for Chelsea for six months but he knows what it’s like to net against BATE. Last season, the France forward was on target in both games against the Belarusian champion when he played for London rival Arsenal in Europe’s second- tier competition.

“I’m pleased for him,” Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri said of Giroud. “He’s a very important player for us, very useful for the team, but I know very well that strikers want to score, and so for his confidence it’s very important.”

Arsenal also made it through after a 0-0 home draw against Sporting marred by Danny Welbeck’s injury. The England striker was carried off on a stretcher after appearing to sustain a serious ankle problem. He needed to receive oxygen before he was taken to hospital.

“Danny’s looked like a serious injury, which is not nice to see,” Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech said. “Our thoughts are with him.”

In Group F, Spanish midfielder Suso curled in a free kick to salvage a 1-1 draw for seven-time European champion AC Milan at Real Betis, which had taken the lead in the 12th minute through Giovani Lo Celso.

Betis tops Group F on eight points, one ahead of Milan and Olympiacos, which thrashed Dudelange 5-1.

Luka Jovic, Sebastien Haller and Mijat Gacinovic scored as Group H’s Eintracht Frankfurt made it four wins from four games. Emilio Zelaya netted twice for Apollon, the second time from the penalty spot.

Marco Parolo headed the opening goal for Lazio in first-half injury time and Joaquin Correa beat goalkeeper Yohann Pele 10 minutes into the second before Marseille got one back through Florian Thauvin.

Eintracht has 12 points followed by Lazio on nine. Marseille and Apollon, both on one point, are out.

Dinamo Zagreb was another team to progress to the knockout phase after the fourth round of matches. Ten-man Sevilla won 3-2 at Akhisar thanks to a late penalty, but Anderlecht’s hopes of going through are over after a 2-0 defeat at Group D rival Fenerbahce.

In Group G, Spartak Moscow beat Rangers 4-3 in a thriller after the Scottish club had led 3-2. Villarreal leads the section with six points after drawing 0-0 at Rapid Vienna. Rangers and Spartak are one point behind.