With so much attention being focused on the Champions League, we tend to forget there is also the Europa League, which had its own fair share of quarterfinals action this week!
Four games, eight teams… but only four could advance to the semi-finals.
Kicking off the action was Juventus‘ clashing with Lyon!
In the first leg of the Europa League quarterfinals, Juventus was triumphant with a score of one-nil.
In the second leg, Andrea Pirlo netted the first goal of the game… in the fourth minute! A stunning free-kick made the score to one-nil.
But Jimmy Briand would respond for the visitors in the 18th minute with the equalizer. Lyon attempted to score another goal but weren’t very successful.
After half-time, Juventus regained the lead but only because Samuel Umtiti made the mistake of scoring an own goal – a tough blow for Lyon! The match ended 2-1, 3-1 in the aggregate, sending the Italians to the semis.
Next up for Lyon – a wounded Paris Saint-Germain who also suffered a loss this week and was eliminated from the Champions League.
Then there was a battle between Benfica and AZ Alkmaar. Benfica was victorious in the first leg thanks to a goal from Eduardo Salvio.
Benfica entered the second leg with a slight lead of one goal in the aggregate, so if AZ wanted to make the semi-finals, they needed to overcome a stronger Benfica.
After a rocky start, Benfica managed to open the scoreboard with a goal from Rodrigo.
Later, after half-time, Benfica would thrash the hopes of AZ with another goal by the man of the match, Rodrigo, to increase its lead to two.
Benfica is in the quest of their first European trophy, something it has not accomplished in over 50 years!
Sevilla and Porto – a match that was anyone’s game. Porto came out on top in the first leg 1-0 after a header from Eliaquim Mangala.
But was it much of an advantage?
If Sevilla wanted to clinch a spot in the semi-final, Sevilla knew it had to score at least two goals and prevent Porto from scoring.
Sevilla would have home-field advantage, but Porto had the aggregate lead.
And then, within the first five minutes, Sevilla opened the scoring as Ivan Rakitić abolished the aggregate deficit by scoring on a penalty. Then 20 minutes later, Sevilla struck again!
This time, Victor Machin, better known as Vitolo, put Sevilla in the lead.
Shortly after, about three minutes after to be exact, Carlos Bacca also managed to find the net, giving Sevilla control of the game. It was a complete turnaround considering Porto was the one with the early advantage.
Sevilla’s Coke received a red card after half-time, causing Sevilla to play short-handed, but it didn’t stop Sevilla from scoring again. With 10 minutes left in regular time, Kevin Gameiro stepped up to give Sevilla the upper hand!
Approximately two minutes into extra time, Porto’s Ricardo Quaresma netted a consolation goal for Porto. With a score of 3-1, and an aggregate score of 4-2, Sevilla is going to the semi-finals!
Porto’s only chance now for a title is the Portuguese Cup in which they will face off against Benfica.
And finally, Valencia’s showdown with Basel brought the Europa League quarterfinals to a close.
In the first leg, Basel defeated Valencia with a score of three-nil, a pretty impressive advantage going into the second leg.
But soccer always has its surprises and sometimes it can even award us with great comebacks!
And Valencia didn’t disappoint.
After a scoreless thirty minutes, Valencia struck with a goal from Paco Alcacer that gave Valencia hope!
Valencia’s Eduardo Vargas netted a goal of his own to cut the aggregate deficit to one. If Valencia wanted to keep playing in the Europa League, they needed two more goals and allow none.
With about 20 minutes left in the game, before Valencia’s hopes were completely dashed, Paco Alcacer struck again to tie in the aggregate!
A TIE? There can’t be a tie! This meant only one thing – if no team scored before the end of regular time, then the only way to declare a winner would be 20 minutes of extra time.
Basel seemingly collapsed under the pressure, losing Marcelo Diaz to a red card.
Valencia capitalized on Basel’s short-handed squad. Paco Alcacer completed the hat trick with his third goal before Juan Bernat iced the game in extra time.
The incredible comeback left the four teams standing – Valencia, Benfica, Juventus and Sevilla!
And now, with Friday’s draw, the semi-final match-ups are as follows:
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