Sevilla cruised past Roma 2-0 in a one-off Europa League round of 16 tie yesterday while Bayer Leverkusen beat visiting Rangers 1-0 in a second-leg game to win 4-1 on aggregate and also make the quarter-finals.
The two matches were played 50 kilometres apart in the Rhineland region of Germany, which will also host the last three rounds of the competition from August 10-21. In both games temperatures were hovering around 33 degrees Celsius at kick off.
Sevilla and Roma met in Duisburg, a neutral venue, because the first leg in Sevilla on March 12 was called off. The coronavirus pandemic cost each team a player. Roma were deprived of on-loan centre back Chris Smalling, recalled by Manchester United after the Serie A season ended on August 1.
Sevilla were without Serbian midfielder Nemanja Gudelj, an ever-present in the competition this season, who is in quarantine after testing positive for Covid-19 The Spaniards had the advantage of a 17-day break after the end of La Liga. Roma played at Juventus in Serie A on Saturday.
The Spaniards dominated and took the lead after 22 minutes. Captain and right back Jesus Navas switched play with a cross-field pass to left back Sergio Reguilon that caught Roma flat-footed. Reguilon surged past two defenders and into the box before sliding a low shot past Spanish goalkeeper Pau Lopez’s foot. Roma did not create a dangerous chance until the 34th minute when Nicolo Zaniolo pounced on a loose ball but fired over. They managed just one shot on target in the match. Sevilla added a second on the counter-attack in the 43rd minute.
Lucas Ocampos burst down the right. After Lopez failed to cut out the low cross, Youssef En Neysri finished into an empty net from close range. Sevilla, coached by former Spain boss Julen Lopetegui, stretched their unbeaten run to 18 games in all competitions and kept on course to add to their record five Europa League titles.
Roma finished a frustrating evening with 10 men after Gianluca Mancini was sent off in added time for smashing an elbow into the back of Luuk de Jong’s neck. It was a tame end to a dramatic day for Roma.
In Leverkusen, Moussa Diaby scored the only goal after 51 minutes to complete a comfortable victory for Bayer, who won 3-1 in Glasgow in March. In the quarter-finals, Bayer will face Inter Milan in Dusseldorf on August 10. The next night, Sevilla will return to Duisburg to play either Olympiakos or Wolves, who met later on Thursday.
United reach last eight
On Wednesday night, Manchester United coach Ole Gunner Solskjaer praised the performance of his second-string side in reaching the Europa League quarter-finals with a 2-1 win over LASK. United had a 5-0 lead from their first leg played in March and will face Copenhagen who enjoyed a 3-0 victory on the night over Istanbul Basaksehir in their last 16 tie.
Usual starters such as Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial were named on the bench while the likes of Jesse Lingard and Fred started at an almost empty Old Trafford. Despite United’s comfortable lead from March 12’s first leg the visitors caused problems early on. Andres Andrade hit the crossbar with a powerful header after 10 minutes before Peter Michorl fired wide just after the quarter of an hour mark.
The Linz-based outfit had to wait until the second half to break the deadlock as defender Philipp Wiesinger rifled into the top corner from outside the box after 55 minutes. Their celebrations were shortlived as Lingard equalised on the counter attack for United three minutes later. Martial claimed the match-winner with two minutes to go despite LASK goalkpeer Alexander Schlager getting a foot to the France striker’s shot.
Elsewhere, Antonio Conte’s Inter Milan beat Getafe 2-0. Romelu Lukaku and Christian Eriksen scored either side of the break for the Italians. Inter’s meeting with the La Liga side was played over just one leg in Gelsenkirchen to save time ahead of next week’s last eight to be held in Germany. Lukaku became the club’s first player to score in five straight European appearances since Brazilian striker Adriano in 2004.
Lukaku slotted home after Alessandro Bastoni’s long ball after 33 minutes. The Spaniards were given a chance to take the game to penalties with 25 minutes remaining as VAR said Diego Godin had handballed in his own box but veteran centre-forward Jorge Molina missed the resulting penalty.
Eriksen made sure of Inter’s last-eight spot after 84 minutes with his first touch after Dakonam Djene made a mess of a clearance inside his own area.
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