The round of 16 games at the Europa League were concluded on Thursday and amidst a few surprises, eight deserving teams have made it to the quarter-finals to be contested in the coming month.
German giants, Bayer Leverkusen were up against Spanish outfit Villarreal at the BayArena, and with the Yellow Submarine 2-0 ahead from the first leg, they always held the advantage over their German rivals. The game ended in a scoreless draw, meaning Marcelino’s men made it to the last eight with a 2-0 aggregate win.
The biggest surprise of the round was Sparta Prague’s 3-0 defeat of Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico that ended Italian challenge in Europe this season. The first leg had ended in a 1-1 draw, giving Lazio a slight advantage for the second leg, but they were completely dismantled by the visiting side and succumbed to a 4-1 aggregate defeat.
In one of the closest encounters of the round, Valencia won 2-1 against Athletic Bilbao but went out of the competition on away goals rule. The Basques went into the game with a 1-0 win at home but were staring at the exit gates after going 2-0 down by the 37th minute. However, a late goal from Aduriz Zubeldia meant that Gary Neville’s men were ousted from the competition.
Manchester United were facing an uphill battle against Liverpool, having lost to their fierce rivals 2-0 at Anfield in the first leg. But they got a foot in when Anthony Martial converted a spot kick. However, an exquisite goal after an inspired run from Philippe Coutinho just before the break effectively put out the Red Devils. The game ended 1-1 on the night and 3-1 in favour of the Reds on aggregate.
Anderlecht were defeated 1-0 by Ukrainian giants Shakhtar Donetsk, which meant that they won the tie with a 4-1 aggregate result to move into the quarter-finals.
Sevilla have been unbeaten at home this season and at their fortress, the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, they hammered Swiss giants FC Basel 3-0 to book their place in the quarter-finals. The Sevillistas are the reigning Europa League champions and they will be eager to win the trophy for a third successive year. The first leg of their tie against Basel had ended in a scoreless draw, but Sevilla continued their impressive home record to continue their quest for another Europa League triumph.
Turkish giants Fenerbahce went into their clash against Sporting Braga with a 1-0 win from the first leg, but the Portuguese club hammered the visitors 4-1 to make their way to the last eight.
Borussia Dortmund had effectively sealed their place in the quarter-finals with a 3-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur at the Signal Iduna Park in the first leg and they completed the task with another 2-1 win at White Hart Lane to continue their quest to win the Europa League. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang grabbed a brace for the Germans, while South Korea international Son Heung-min scored the solitary goal for the Londoners.