By JOHN BOSCHINI
It wasn't the victory Maurice Edu and Rangers were hoping for, but a 0-0 draw away to PSV Eindhoven in the first leg of their last-16 clash puts the Scottish side in a good position to advance.
With 57% of possession and six shots on goal to Rangers' two, PSV Eindhoven had the majority of possession but Rangers had the best chance of the match when on-loan defender Stanislav Manolev's header was touched wide by Andreas Isaksson. The two teams meet again at the Ibrox, where Rangers haven't lost since just after the new year to rival Celtic.
FC Twente all but assured its advancement to the quarterfinals with a 3-0 thrashing of visiting Zenit St. Petersburg. Oguchi Onyewu spent the match on the bench but it hardly mattered as the Dutch outfit built up a nearly unassailable lead at home. Luuk de Jong opened the scoring in the 25th minute with a close-range header and Denny Landzaat doubled Twente's lead just after halftime. De Jong completed the rout in injury time with another headed goal.
In other Europa League action:
Kenny Dalglish's turnaround of Liverpool couldn't extend to Portugal as the English powerhouse was defeated 1-0 at Braga. It was the first defeat in 14 European games for Liverpool, who played without Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez. The home side took the lead early when Osorio Costa Silva Alan converted from the penalty spot in the 18th minute. Andy Carroll made his European debut at halftime but Liverpool was fortunate to escape back to Anfield with only a one-goal deficit to overturn.
Results weren't any better for the other English club in the competition as Manchester City suffered a 2-0 defeat at Dynamo Kiev. Both teams had seven shots on goal but strikes from Andrly Shevchenko and Oleg Gusev put the Ukrainian side in a golden position to advance. Mario Balotelli's rocky road at Manchester took another hit when the Italian striker unexpectedly came off in the 57th minute with an unknown allergic reaction.
In the highest-scoring affair of the afternoon, Villareal scored three away goals and downed Bayer Leverkusen 3-2 in Germany. The home side took the early lead with a goal from Michal Kadlec in the 33rd minute but the Yellow Submarine was back on level terms just before halftime courtesy of a Giuseppe Rossi finish. Substitute Nilmar put Villareal ahead in the 70th minute and two minutes later the teams were even again via a goal from Gonzalo Rondon Castro. The Spaniards would probably have been happy with a 2-2 draw but Nilmar assured victory in the 90th minute by completing his double.
Spartak Moscow take a victory and an away goal back to Russia after a 1-0 defeat of Ajax. Ajax dominated possession and registered an astounding 15 shots on goal but it was a 57th minute strike from Meschini Alex gave Spartak a slim lead. Moscow finished the game with only two shots on target.
Paris St. Germain squandered a one-goal lead to lose 2-1 to Benfica in Portugal. Peguy Luyindula gave the French side a surprising lead in the 17th minute with a simple finish from six yards out. Mevlut Erdnic almost doubled its lead just minutes later when he hit the post. Benfica recovered to equalize just before halftime and Franco Jara gave the home side a victory just nine minutes from time.
FC Porto take a 1-0 lead back home after defeating CSKA Moscow. Fredy Gurain scored 20 minutes from time with a strike from just beyond the 18-yard box. The two teams combined for 15 shots on target but very few were the result of full-fledged chances.
What did you think of today's action? Confident Edu and Rangers can win at home? Could we see both English clubs go out at this stage? Can any defense stop Villareal?
Share your thoughts below.