There was drama in Thursday’s UEFA Europa League round of 32 return legs as a number of big names were eliminated. AFC Ajax, Arsenal, Rangers, Shakhtar Donetsk, Villarreal and AS Roma all made it through, but Lille OSC, Benfica, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, SSC Napoli, Red Bull Salzburg Bayer Leverkusen and Leicester City all fell by the wayside, though.with another set of intriguing ties expected.
Some winners and losers from this week’s return legs.
Winner: Arsenal edge out Benfica
With 29 minutes to go in Portugal, Arsenal were looking at an exit at the hands of Benfica. However, late Kieran Tierney and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang goals turned things around for the Gunners and sent them through 4-3 on aggregate against their ailing hosts. Mikel Arteta’s men will surely fancy themselves to at least reach the quarterfinals.
Loser: Napoli dumped out by Granada
The Italians came into the second leg 2-0 down and made an ideal start through Piotr Zielinksi before Angel Montoro’s equalizer. After that, it was always going to be an uphill task — even if they had 30 minutes to score against after Fabian had made it 2-1. Something now has to be salvaged from the domestic season as competition heats up for continental qualification.
Winner: Molde shock Hoffenheim
Arguably the most unexpected result, Molde won 2-0 at Prozero Arena through an Eirik Ulland Andersen to complete a 5-3 aggregate success over the Germans when home progress was expected. With more time to concentrate on the Bundesliga, Chris Richards’ Hoffenheim might be able to make a late push for Europe.
Loser: Lille crash out to Ajax
The Ligue 1 leaders travelled to Amsterdam feeling a sense of injustice after last week’s 2-1 loss but suffered the same score this time and end French interest in the competition. Yusuf Yazici’s penalty had threatened late drama, but David Neres ended those hopes after Davy Klaassen had put the Dutch giants ahead. Christophe Galtier’s men can now concentrate on their domestic hopes.
Winner: Rangers top Antwerp in goal fest
As aggregate scorelines go, Rangers’ 9-5 triumph over Antwerp is extremely high-scoring and topped Tottenham Hotspur’s 8-1 hammering of Wolfsberger as the round’s top-scoring encounter. Steven Gerrard’s men even managed five different goal scorers as Ryan Kent and Borna Barisic were the only players to find the back of the net in each leg.
Loser: Wolfsberger thrashed by Spurs
Jose Mourinho’s men hit four against the Austrians for the second time and Dele Alli managed a spectacular effort as Spurs romped into the round of 16 with a commanding seven-goal advantage. Gareth Bale and Vinicius both managed to score in each leg in a welcome distraction from domestic difficulties, but this was a chastening experience for Ferdinand Feldhofer and his men.
Winner: Roma sweep Braga aside
The Italians have not had the best of seasons domestically, but are still in the European shakeup in Serie A. However, they are coming on strong in the Europa League and made light work of Braga with a 5-1 aggregate victory. Carles Perez and Borja Mayoral got late goals at Stadio Olimpico for the Giallorossi.
Loser: Leverkusen and PSV limp out of Europe
A 2-0 home defeat after a 4-3 away loss was a disappointing way for the Bundesliga side to crash out of Europe as Gemany’s last remaining representatives, but Young Boys outplayed them over two legs and deserved to progress. Also, PSV Eindhoven were minutes away from going through before Olympiacos grabbed a late consolation striker through Ahmed Hassan Koka to complete a 5-4 aggregate win.
Winner: Kiev keep Ukrainian flag flying
Mircea Lucescu is eyeing a second Europa League title after winning the competition back in 2008-09 with Shakhtar Donetsk, only this time with Dynamo Kiev. Vitaly Buyalski’s late effort completed a 3-0 aggregate win over Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Loser: Leicester upstaged by Slavia Prague
The Foxes will be able to concentrate on their finish to the Premier League season as they remain in the fight for second place as a 2-0 loss at home to Slavia Prague ended their continental hopes. Lukas Provod and Abdallah Sima did the damage at King Power Stadium after a goalless first leg in the Czech Republic.