The Europa League knockout rounds have been chalk full of drama and action, and the second leg of the quarterfinals was no exception. There were 11 goals scored between the four matches, with two ties won in the last 10 minutes of their matches and the other two certainly not lacking for excitement. The four teams headed for the semifinals have definitely earned their places, and whoever finds themselves in Warsaw for the final will have fought through a virtual war to get there.
Napoli 2 (6) - 2 (3) Wolfsburg
Napoli were mostly content to sit back and defend as a somewhat depleted Wolfsburg side tried to overcome a three-goal deficit from the first leg. They almost overdid it, allowing Wolfsburg to run rampant and struggling to put together coherent attacks of their own, but they managed to hold on through the first half before regrouping at the break.
The Italians came out in the second half a much different team and drove hard for a goal, with their efforts paying off just five minutes in, giving them a 5-1 aggregate lead and putting any faint hope Wolfsburg had to rest. They added a second goal in the match for good measure, but then their defense went to sleep, allowing two quick Wolfsburg goals to put the tie under some vague threat. Napoli held firm the rest of the way, though, and are full value for their spot in the semifinals.
Zenit St Petersburg 2 (3) - 2 (4) Sevilla
Defending Europa League champions Sevilla needed to come out strong, holding just a one goal lead on aggregate and with Zenit carrying an away goal, and they did just that. They earned an early penalty that was converted by the ever-dangerous Carlos Bacca, but then the Spaniards struggled to find a second goal. That gave Zenit the opening they needed, and while they couldn't find a goal in the first half, the second turned in to a wild affair.
Salomon Rondon scored early in the half for Zenit to put pressure on Sevilla, then Hulk smashed a shot from long range that hit the crossbar so hard that it deflected in instead of away. That left the tie equalized on aggregate, and with both sides holding an away goal, that would have seen the match go to extra time. Zenit's defense couldn't hold out, though, as their efforts to chase a go-ahead goal left them exposed at the back. Sevilla exploited that ruthlessly with a late counter attack, with substitute Kevin Gameiro lashing in a low strike to put Sevilla ahead and get them in the semifinals for the second year in a row.
Fiorentina 2 (3) - 0 (1) Dynamo Kyiv
Fiorentina had no manner of luck at all in the first half, with four clear early scoring chances going begging thanks to woodwork, finishing that was just a hair off, and the crossbar. Then Dynamo Kyiv saw Jeremain Lens earn himself a second yellow card late in the first half after diving in the penalty area, and the Italians took full advantage of being a man up. It took only three minutes for them to score, with Mario Gomez beating Dynamo's keeper with a shot to the far post, and Fiorentina were able to safely ride out their lead to an easy win, scoring another goal at the death just for the heck of it and securing place in the penultimate Europa League round.
Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk 1 (1) - 0 (0) Club Brugge
Dnipro and Brugge fought to a standstill once again, with the Ukrainian and Belgian sides going blow for blow again almost all match long. Neither side could get a clear advantage over the other, with their tactics and high-effort styles seemingly canceling each other out -- at least, until Brugge started to wear down late on. Dnipro reached down and found a last reserve of energy to exploit their opponents starting to slow, and Evgeniy Shakov finally found the first goal of the match and the tie with less than 10 minutes to go, giving Dnipro the win and their first-ever Europa League semifinal berth.