UEFA Europa League: Manchester United Survive Scare

Ajax made things interesting late, but Manchester United are through. They'll face Athletic Bilbao in the next round.

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UEFA Europa League 2012, Late Scores: Schalke Survive Scare; Braga Out

Atlético Madrid completed their easy win against Lazio in style. A Diego Godin goal shortly after halftime ensured a 1-0 home victory and a 4-1 aggregate lead over their Serie A opponents. Braga, last year's runners-up, weren't nearly so fortunate against Beşiktaş. After a 2-0 loss at home against their Turkish opponents, Braga needed two goals to avoid going out. They found one in the first half, but despite applying constant pressure, the match would remain at 1-0 and Beşiktaş advance on aggregate.

Metalist Kharkiv must have felt bad about demolishing Salzburg 4-0 in their home stadium, so they gave them a goal this time around. Of course, any sympathy the Ukrainians may have felt for their woeful opposition didn't stop them from scoring a second sackful of goals. Their 4-1 home win meant an 8-1 aggregate victory that was the standout scoreline of the first knockout round. Meanwhile, Olympiacos made their most of their 1-0 lead against Rubin Kazan from the first leg, striking early in the first half and holding on for a 2-0 aggregate win.

Schalke 04 would have had every confidence of advancing against Czech outfit Viktoria Plzeň, but despite going ahead early and seeing the visitors down to 10 men, the Germans were rocked by a very late equalizer from midfielder František Rajtoral that took the match to extra time. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar would save Schalke from the lottery of the penalty shootout, however, scoring shortly after the halfway point and then again in the 120th minute to give Schalke a 3-1 win on the night and a 4-2 aggregate victory.

Sporting Lisbon and Legia Warsaw had drawn 2-2 in Poland, meaning that a 0-0 draw would see the Primeira Liga side through. That's how it stayed for much of the match before Matías Fernández made sure of things for the hosts, scoring in the 84th minute to lead his side to a 3-2 aggregate win. Meanwhile, a Maarten Martens goal saw AZ Alkmaar add to their first leg lead with a 2-0 aggregate win against Anderlecht.

Atlético Madrid 1-0 Lazio (Atlético win 4-1 on aggregate)
Beşiktaş 0-1 Braga (Beşiktaş win 2-1 on aggregate)
Metalist Kharkiv 4-1 Salzburg (Metalist win 8-1 on aggregate)
Manchester United 1-2 Ajax (United win 3-2 on aggregate)
Olympiacos 1-0 Rubin Kazan (Olympiakos win 2-0 on aggregate)
Schalke 04 3-1 AET Viktoria Plzeň (Schalke win 4-2 on aggregate)
Sporting Lisbon 1-0 Legia Warsaw (Sporting win 3-2 on aggregate)
Anderlecht 0-1 AZ Alkmaar (Alkmaar win 2-0 on aggregate)


Manchester United Vs. Ajax, 2012 UEFA Europa League: Red Devils Sneak Through

Javier Hernandez scored early for Manchester United in the second leg of their UEFA Europa League tie against Ajax, but his team almost threw away a massive three-goal lead.

Following their 2-0 win in Amsterdam and Hernandez's goal, United conceded twice at Old Trafford, setting up a dramatic finish, but they held on for a 3-2 aggregate victory to advance to the Round of 16. They will meet Athletic Bilbao, who advanced earlier on Thursday.

Hernandez's sixth-minute strike was set up brilliantly by a lightning fast counterattack by the Red Devils. Park Ji-Sung started it with an interception and Dimitar Berbatov provided the assist with a great ball over the top. Hernandez beat his defender with a great cut-back dribble before placing the ball past Kenneth Vermeer to extend his team's lead in the tie.

Aras Özbiliz scored on a bit of a scramble, taking advantage of some poor defending by United to score in the 37th minute. Things got dramatic in the 87th minute when Toby Alderweireld headed in a free kick by Özbiliz to make it 3-2 on aggregate, but Ajax would not create another good chance as United held on for the victory.

For more on the Red Devils, head over to Manchester United blog The Busby Babe.


UEFA Europa League 2012, Early Scores: Udinese, PSV Eindhoven Cruise Through

Udinese struggled with PAOK Salonika at home last week, but brought their best on Thursday evening. They needed a scoring draw to progress after drawing 0-0 at home, but did much better than that, netting three goals in a dominant 3-0 win. They were one of seven sides that punched their ticket to the Round of 16 after the early fixtures, with none of the ties providing any major surprises.

PSV Eindhoven continued their dominance with a big home win over Trabzonspor. Hannover 96 appeared to be in some trouble after giving up an away goal last week, but they're through after winning away from home against Club Brugge. Steve McClaren's FC Twente, Standard Liege, Valencia and Athletic Bilbao are the other sides who progressed to the next round.

Full Reports

Valencia 1-0 Stoke City
Athletic Bilbao 1-0 Lokomotiv Moscow


Club Brugge 0-1 Hannover 96
FC Twente 1-0 Steaua Bucharest
PAOK Salonika 0-3 Udinese
PSV Eindhoven 4-1 Trabzonspor
Standard Liege 0-0 Wisla Krakow

Progressed to Round of 16

Athletic Bilbao
Hannover 96
PSV Eindhoven
Standard Liege
FC Twente


Athletic Bilbao Vs. Lokomotiv Moscow, 2012 UEFA Europa League: Les Leones Sneak Through

Athletic Bilbao entered Thursday night's Europa League match against Lokomotiv Moscow as slight favorites to advance, despite trailing 2-1. They were the better team in the first half away in Moscow before giving up two goals, and looked good to get through with an away goal. They struggled in the first half and had a man sent off, but found a way to advance with a set piece goal and some desperate defending. Their goal gave them a 1-0 win on the night, making it 2-2 on aggregate. They advance to the next round on away goals.

The red card came in the 60th minute, when central defender Fernando Amorebieta picked up a second yellow card. Athletic's chances of advancing looked a bit slim at that point, but Iker Muniain would score the winner just two minutes later. On a corner kick, Fernando Llorente rose up and nodded the ball to the back post, where an unmarked Muniain was waiting to finish off the chance and send his team through.

Lokomotiv were lively after the goal and looked like they were capable of grabbing a winner, but the Bilbao defense held on to see them through to the Round of 16.


Valencia Vs. Stoke City, 2012 Europa League: Valencia Cruise To Next Round

Valencia saw off Stoke City at the Mestalla to advance to the last sixteen of the 2012 Europa League. The hosts had already beaten the Potters 1-0 in England, so it seemed as though they'd have a fairly easy ride through this match even before kickoff, and so it proved. Stoke played with some intensity in the first half, but they were undone in the 24th minute when Pablo Hernandez waltzed through their defence and cut back for Jonas to tuck home.

The goal had come shortly after Stoke winger Diego Arismendi went down at the top of the Valencia box - a foul that wasn't given - and a 2-0 deficit was simply too much for the visitors to recover from. They tested goalkeeper Vicente Guaita a few times, but looked more likely to have a man sent off (Stoke received five booking in the match, four of them in a 13 minute orgy of dissent) than to notch the two goals they needed to advance. Meanwhile, Valencia were buzzing, always looking like a threat to score again. Ultimately, they didn't need to, and they advance to the next round in some style.

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