Sunday, 13 March 2016

Europa League Last 16 First Legs Review

The draw for the last 16 of the Europa League saw a unique first as fierce rivals Liverpool and Manchester United were paired in Europe while Tottenham's pairing with favourites Borussia Dortmund meant the chance of two English sides in the last eight was a small one.

Thursday's action began with the tie between Dortmund and Tottenham and for the English side, it was a night to forget as they were outplayed in a 3-0 defeat that left them needing a miracle at White Hart Lane in the second leg. Pierre Aubameyang opened the scoring for the Germans on the half hour mark before a second half brace from Marco Reus in the 61st and 70th minutes wrapped up the three goal success.

FC Basel hosted defending champions Sevilla looking to start an end the Spaniard's stunning run in the tournament over the last few seasons. However, the sides were evenly matched across both halves of the game with the score remaining at 0-0 at the end of the 90 minutes. The only blot on the visitors evening came late on as Steven N'Zonzi was sent off in the 87th minute.

Fenerbache played host to Sporting Braga with both sides looking to place a mark in a tie between two sides who boasted rich European experience between them. The game itself proved to be a close one as the Turks sealed a narrow 1-0 win with a Topal strike in the 82nd minute.

Another tie between two experience sides saw Shakthar Donetsk welcome Anderlecht with both sides keen to move a step closer to the last eight. Shakthar raced into a 2-0 lead inside 25 minutes via strikes from Taison and Kucher on 21 and 24 minutes. Acheampong responded for the visitors to make it 2-1 on 68 minutes but any chance of a comeback was all but ended on 79 minutes as Eduardo sealed a 3-1 win.

In the first of two battles between domestic rivals, Atletico Bilbao hosted fellow La Liga side Valencia. The hosts had won both of the league meetings between the sides this season and they completed a trilogy of successes with a narrow 1-0 win. The crucial strike came in the 20th minute as Raul Garcia struck to leave the Catalans needing to score in the second leg after failing to claim a potentially vital away goal.

The first ever European meeting between Liverpool and Manchester United took place at Anfield as the Reds looked to gain revenge for the league double they suffered at the hands of their rivals. The Reds opened the scoring inside 25 minutes with Daniel Sturridge converting superbly from the penalty spot on 20 minutes. United's recent form has seen them struggle to not only score but register a number of shots on target in a game and this time around was no different as a second goal for the hosts on 73 minutes from Roberto Firmino was enough to confirm a comfortable 2-0 victory.

Sparta Prague hosted Lazio in a tie between two sides who eased into the last 16 but in the tie proved to be closely matched as they drew 1-1. The hosts took an early lead through Frydek in the 13th minute before a 38th minute leveller from Parolo secured a potentially vital away goal for the Italians in an otherwise tight encounter.

The final tie of the night saw Villarreal host Bayer Leverkusen with the sides meeting at this stage for the second time after the 2010/11 meeting which saw the Spaniards come out on top. The prospect of  repeat was boosted early on as Bakambu opened the scoring inside four minutes. He doubled the lead for the hosts with his second goal on 56 minutes and the misery for the visitors was completed late on with the dismissal of Jedvaj in added time to couple the 2-0 defeat.