The UEFA Europa League continues to be just as entertaining as its big brother the Champions League. The eight games played on Thursday featured a total of 20 goals, and everyone will still have something left to play for in the second leg. The team that is in the most trouble, incredibly, is Manchester United. They conceded three goals to Athletic Bilbao at home.
Atletico Madrid 3-1 Besiktas
Besiktas snuck through the last round, but they looked a lot more like the fourth placed team in Turkey in this match. Atletico Madrid scored all three of their goals in the first half. Eduardo Salvio netted the first two, with Adrian hitting the third. Simao kept the tie alive for Besiktas by netting a fantastic goal from 20 yards in the 53rd minute, but they couldn't cut the lead further. Atleti are in control heading to Istanbul, but Besiktas' away goal makes things interesting.
FC Twente 1-0 Schalke 04
Things were a bit cagey and lacking in real chances in the first 60 minutes of this encounter, before Joel Matip picked up a straight red card for a foul on Luuk de Jong in the penalty area. He stepped up and converted the penalty himself for the game's only goal. Twente won't be thrilled about failing to extend that lead against 10 men, but they're in control of the tie on account of not allowing an away goal.
AZ Alkmaar 2-0 Udinese
The Zebrette did not start Antonio Di Natale in this game and they paid for it. He did not enter until the 79th minute and Udinese were unable to find an away goal. AZ struggled to create chances for much of the match, but eventually found a breakthrough in the 63rd minute, when Maarten Martens headed in a cross from Jozy Altidore. Erik Falkenburg added the second in the 84th minute, and Udinese have some serious work to do in Fruili.
Standard Liege 2-2 Hannover 96
Though Standard didn't lose, it's tough to see them recovering from giving up two away goals. Antonio Kanu of Standard gave away a penalty in the 22nd minute which Lars Stindl converted, but they responded brilliantly. Yoni Buyens and Mohamed Tchite both scored immediately afterwards, putting the home side up 2-1 in the 30th minute. Hannover would find the equalizer through Mame Biram Diouf in the 56th minute, assisted by Didier Ya Konan, and they will be favorites to advance in Hannover.
Valencia 4-2 PSV Eindhoven
With 56 minutes gone, this tie appeared to be over. Valencia jumped out to a 4-0 lead and were in complete control, Incredibly, PSV fought back to grab two away goals, and Los Che suddenly have a lot to play for in Holland. PSV was undone twice in three minutes in the early going, with Victor Ruiz netting in the 11th minute and Roberto Soldado scoring in the 13th. Just before halftime, Kevin Strootman fouled Jonas in the penalty area and Soldado stepped up to convert and complete a brace.
Pablo Piatti scored for Valencia in the 56th minute and it was tough to see a way back for PSV, but they found one. In the 82nd minute, Jeremy Mathieu was called for a foul in the box on Strootman. Ola Toivonen converted, but it wasn't particularly concerning to anyone until stoppage time, when Georgino Wijnaldum finished from close range on a cross by Zakaria Labyad. A two-goal loss is still tough to overturn, but with two away goals, the lead is not insurmountable.