If there was something missing from Thursday’s UEFA Europa League action, it certainly was not drama.
Sixteen teams advanced to the next round of the competition, including a Zenit St Petersburg side that suffered a big scare against Liverpool. The Russian club nearly allowed Liverpool to come back in the two-legged series, giving up three unanswered goals at Anfield to lose, 3-1, but still advancing on away goals on a 3-3 aggregate courtesy of an early strike at from Hulk.
Tottenham were more fortunate, as Spurs advanced on a 3-2 aggregate score after tying Lyon late in their match at Municipal de Gerland. Lyon were on the brink of advancing to the Round of 16 on away goals, but Mousa Dembele broke their hearts with a last-gasp finish that left the home crowd stunned and in disbelief.
One of the biggest surprises in this round was Steaua Bucuresti edging out Ajax on penalty kicks. Steaua Bucuresti rallied from two goals down to pull level on aggregate at 2-2 and after a scoreless extra 30 minutes, the Romanian club won via penalty kicks.
While Steaua Bucuresti completed their comeback, Radamel Falcao and Atletico Madrid could not do the same against Rubin Kazan. Atletico Madrid pulled within one goal on aggregate courtesy of a late strike from Falcao, but the Spanish club never found the equalizing goal and was eliminated despite winning the second leg, 1-0.
Here is a full rundown of today’s results (aggregate score in parenthesis):
FK Rubin Kazan 0-1 (2-1) Atletico Madrid
CFR Cluj-Napoca 0-3 (0-5) Inter Milan
Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk 1-1 (1-3) FC Basel
FC Metalist Kharkiv 0-1 (0-1) Newcastle United
Lazio 2-0 (5-3) Borussia Moenchengladbach
Lyon 1-1 (2-3) Tottenham
Racing Genk 0-2 (1-3) VfB Stuttgart
Benfica 2-1 (3-1) Bayer Lverkusen
Bordeaux 1-0 (2-1) Dynamo Kiev
Chelsea 1-1 (2-1) Sparta Prague
Fenerbahce 1-0 (1-0) BATE Borisov
Hannover 96 1-1 (2-4) Anzhi Makhachkala
Liverpool 3-1 (3-3) Zenit St Petersburg
Olympiakos 0-1 (0-4) Levante
Steaua Bucuresti 2-0 (2-2, 2-1 on penalty kicks) Ajax
Viktoria Pizen 2-0 (5-0) Napoli
What do you think of these results? Which result surprise you the most? Who do you see winning the tournament?
Share your thoughts below.