Thursday evening heralded the return of Europe's second-rate club competition to our screens, as the Europa League came back into focus following some high-definition Champions League wonderment.

But, this time around, the destitute younger brother of the upwardly mobile European Cup made the most of its time in the spotlight and provided numerous talking points and sensational goals aplenty.

The Europa League is seemingly regarded by English teams as an annoyance rather than chance to hone their skills against continental sides, but any such pre-conception appeared to be disregarded in the first leg of this week's last 32 encounters.

With White Hart Lane rocking as Gareth Bale hammered Tottenham ahead in their tie against Lyon, it was evident that the Europa League is being embraced into the bosom of its Premier League competitors.

And what better way to celebrate such an occurrence then to re-live the best goals of a game week to offer up an embarrassment of riches. Here are our top five...

Samuel Umtiti

Tottenham 2-1 LYON

Samuel Umtiti realised an ambition of surely every Arsenal fan when he clobbered in a quite brilliant goal in front of the away support at White Hart Lane.

With the ball having squirmed out of the Tottenham box and bobbling its way towards the penalty area's junction, Umtiti surged from the depths of the TV screen and unleashed a top corner hammer-bang in its purest form.

Watch the goal here.

Gareth Bale

TOTTENHAM 2-1 Lyon

Remi Vercoutre will never want to see Gareth Bale standing over a free-kick again following his nightmarish Thursday evening, but the two will renew their duel in just six days time.

Well, it wasn't so much of a duel as a torturing of Guantanamo Bay proportions as Bale left his opponent a broken mess begging for mercy at the final whistle.

Watch Bale's second free-kick - a stunning match-winner - here.

Hulk

ZENIT ST PETERSBURG 2-0 Liverpool

Hulk lost the ball an incredible 154 times - more than any other player - during the group stages of the Champions League, but giving it back to the opposition by virtue of planting it in their top corner is something Zenit fans will surely encourage.

With a torso like an Atlas Stone propped up by double-barreled thighs, Hulk has the ability to discharge the ball with frightening velocity, which he demonstrated perfectly against Liverpool.

Watch the goal here.

Oscar

Sparta Prague 0-1 CHELSEA

If Hulk scored an almost anti-Brazilian goal in St Petersburg, Oscar responded with a moment of Samba majesty in Prague to provide Chelsea with a slender advantage going into the second leg.

Turning the defender like a recently WD40d door handle, Oscar engaged in a one-two with Eden Hazard before slipping the ball into the bottom corner as the goalkeeper advanced.

Watch the goal here.

Rodrigo Palacio

INTER MILAN 2-0 CFR Cluj

Is there anything worse than being a goalkeeper who gets lobbed? Well, yes, there are loads of things that are worse - but it still isn't a pleasant experience for our beleaguered net custodians.

Mario Felgueiras was the man caught with his pants down or, more accurately, caught off his line this week, and Rodrigo Palacio took advantage with a lovely ripe right-footed rise.

Watch the goal here.

What was your favourite Europa League goal of the week? Let us know below.

Topics:
Europa League
Tottenham Hotspur
Football
Chelsea
Liverpool