GELSENKIRCHEN, GERMANY - MARCH 29: Javi Martinez of Bilbao challenges Jefferson Farfan of Schalke during the UEFA Europa League quarter-final first leg match between FC Schalke 04 and Athletic Bilbao at Veltins-Arena on March 29, 2012 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. (Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)

UEFA Europa League: Bilbao Destroy Schalke

Schalke scored twice through Raul, but got blown apart by a rampant Bilbao side late. All other ties are still in play, with every other home team winning 2-1.

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Atletico Madrid Vs. Hannover, 2012 UEFA Europa League: Final Score, Falcao Stars In 2-1 Win

Radamel Falcao put in another brilliant performance for Atlético Madrid, helping them to a win in the first leg of their Europa League quarterfinal, but Hannover 96 have a good shot at overturning the result in Germany. An away goal scored by Manchester United castaway Mame Biram Diouf has Hannover very much in the tie, despite a 2-1 loss.

Falcao put his team up early with an absolutely brilliant header on a free kick. Because of the straight-on angle of the free kick, a shot looked like the best option for Atléti, but Gabi found Falcao's head instead, and the Colombian international directed the ball into the back of the net.

Diouf's goal was scored from close range and was one of few Hannover shots on target during the game. In the 38th minute, Lars Stindl set him up with a great low cross into the box, and Diouf finished the chance from the edge of the 6-yard box.

It appeared that Hannover were going to hang onto a fantastic 1-1 road draw until the very end of the match, when Eduardo Salvio struck the winner. After Falcao rose up to head down a 50-50 long ball, Salvio took the ball on the bounce and struck a magnificent 25-yard volley to turn the result and lift his team from underdog status into being slight favorites in the return leg.


AZ Alkmaar Vs. Valencia, 2012 Europa League: Final Score, Alkmaar Win 2-1

Valencia's little slump continues as they were dispatched 2-1 at the AFAS Stadion by AZ Alkmaar in the first leg of their Europa League quarterfinal. Although Alkmaar have a phenomenal home record and Valencia are somewhat short of form at the moment, the teams ended up matched up fairly well, and things could easily have gone the other way.

Nothing about the first half gave us any indication as to the eventually winner until Brett Holman broke the deadlock in stoppage time. Both sides were playing reasonably good football, and it was probably Valencia who had the better of the chances before Holman struck with a sweet right-footed finish from the far post following a Maarten Martens free kick.

The visitors were stung into action, and Mehmet Topal grabbed a vital away goal with a head just five minutes after the restart. The second half was a little bit tighter than the first -- AZ realised that they couldn't afford to concede another away goal and Valencia were fairly happy with what they had -- so it wouldn't have been a major surprise if the match ended at 1-1. Fortunately for the hosts, Martens was able to score 10 minutes from time, giving them a slender lead to take to the Mestalla. If they can avoid defeat in Spain, Alkmaar are through to the semifinals.


Sporting Lisbon Vs. Metalist Kharkiv, 2012 Europa League: Final Score 2-1, Sporting Hit By Late Away Goal

Sporting Lisbon put in a strong home performance against Metalist Kharkiv to give themselves the edge in their quest to advance to the Europa League semifinals. Sporting had beaten Manchester City to get to the quarterfinals, and the hosts were impressive throughout, continually putting pressure on their Ukrainian opponents, who were rather sensibly looking to defend and counterattack, hoping for a vital away goal.

For the first half, it seemed to work. Metalist didn't really do much on the attack, but they also didn't look to be under any major threat as Sporting dominated play but failed to endanger Alexandr Goryainov's goal. That changed after the break, with Marat Izmailov slamming home a low cross following some excellent work down the left flank by Diego Capel. Emiliano Insúa made it 2-0 with a free kick, taking advantage of a huge gap in Metalist's wall and sending a fizzing shot into the bottom corner.

It would have been very difficult to recover from a 2-0 first-leg loss, and so Metalist went on the attack, opening up the game and setting the tone for a furious last few minutes. All seemed in vain until Marko Devic struck, the substitute bursting into the box only to be brought down by Sporting goalkeeper Rui Patrício. Cleiton Xavier powered home the penalty to reduce the deficit to one and give the visitors a huge away goal. The return fixture in the Ukraine looks set to be very interesting indeed.


Sporting Lisbon Vs. Metalist Kharkiv, 2012 UEFA Europa League: Competition's Underdogs Do Battle

Metalist Kharkiv and Sporting Lisbon's tie is very much out of the Europa League spotlight, but it won't be any less entertaining than the ties with bigger teams.


Schalke Vs. Athletic Bilbao, 2012 UEFA Europa League: Can The Hunter Slay Bielsa?

Athletic Bilbao slayed the competition's biggest giant in Manchester United. Their reward is a date with the most in-form striker in the world, Klass-Jan Huntelaar.


AZ Alkmaar Vs. Valencia, 2012 UEFA Europa League: Let's All Flail Over Jozy Altidore

AZ Alkmaar are undefeated at home in all competitions and will like their chances against Valencia.

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