Europa League’s Last 16 First Leg Part One

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar March 10, 2016 21:07

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Europa League’s Last 16 First Leg Part One

The Young Pretenders

Fresh from seeing off last year’s conqueror Fiorentina, Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur faced Borussia Dortmund, now under the management of Thomas Tuchel – Jürgen Klopp left at the end of last season and joined Liverpool after Brendan Rogers was sacked. Liverpool and Manchester United face each other tonight.

With less than 10 minutes played Erik Durm pulled his shot wide – Hugo Lloris did well to make the angle difficult. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang went close twice before scoring from a rebound of Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s fierce shot – it was rightly disallowed for offside. With just under half an hour played Marcel Schmeltzer’s cross was headed in by Aubameyang to give Dortmund a deserved lead.

They came close to doubling it, but profligate finishing and the woodwork came to Tottenham’s aid until Marco Reus scored from close range after recently introduced substitute Neven Subotić nodded on the 60th minute corner. Reus’ third was the pick of the goals. Lloris stood no chance after Gonzalo Castro’s pass invited the finish it received.

Evenly Poised

Either the host of this year’s final Basel, or defending champions Sevilla will bow out in this round. A game of few chances and poor finishing left it scoreless in Switzerland, but evenly poised as Unai Emery Etxegoien’s team chases an unprecedented third successive Europa League title. They’ll have to play the return leg in Sevilla without Steven N’Zonzi as the Camerounian was sent off for a second yellow card after catching substitute Alexander Fransson in the face.

Previous winners Shakhtar Donetsk met Anderlecht in the Ukraine. Viktor Kovalenko missed a good opportunity to score, but provided the assist for Taison Barcellos Freda to open the scoring after 21 minutes. Three minutes later the veteran Croatian Darijo Srna crossed to the back post, for Olexandr Kucher to head in powerfully. Anderlecht threatened to make a match of it after 68 minutes by scoring an away goal.

However, Eduardo ought to have made it safe just before half time, but his shot hit the outside of the post. Anderlecht made them pay. Substitute Ibrahima Sory Conté’s first contribution was to cross for Frank Acheampong to bundle it in from close range. Shakhtar went in search of a third and got it after 79 minutes thanks to the Brasilian, Bernard’s corner which Eduardo swept in. Despite the two goal lead the away goal makes the return in Belgium interesting.

Meanwhile, Fennerbahçe beat Braga 1-0 in Turkey. Mehmet Topal left it late to settle the match, scoring after 82 minutes. The return leg in Portugal is evenly poised.

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar March 10, 2016 21:07