PARIS: Liverpool eased past Manchester United to seal their place in the draw for the quarterfinals of the Europa League, where Borussia Dortmund and holders Sevilla are looking like the teams to beat. Jurgen Klopp’s side saw off old rivals Manchester United as a 1-1 second-leg draw at Old Trafford on Thursday saw them win their last-16 tie 3-1 on aggregate. United had it all to do after losing last week’s first leg 2-0 but they were given hope when Anthony Martial scored from the penalty spot just past the halfhour mark after the Frenchman was fouled in the box by Nathaniel Clyne. However, Daniel Sturridge struck the bar from a free-kick before Philippe Coutinho scored a superb goal for Liverpool just prior to the break, cutting in from the left and chipping past David de Gea.
That left United needing three more goals to stay in Europe and they never looked like doing enough in the second half to prevent an exit that only piles more pressure on manager Louis van Gaal. “Both teams had chances, we didn’t play as well as we did in the first leg but we did enough,” said Liverpool’s James Milner. Klopp’s old side Dortmund progressed with the prolific Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring twice in their 2-1 win away to Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane that saw them win 5-1 on aggregate. The Gabon striker sent a swerving longrange strike past Hugo Lloris on 24 minutes and then added another in the second half to take his tally for the season to 35 goals. Son Heung- Min pulled one back for Spurs, who are now left to focus on their Premier League title challenge. Holders Sevilla remain in with a chance of winning the Europa League for the third year running after beating Swiss champions Basel 3-0.
After a goalless first leg, Basel were looking to keep alive their hopes of reaching a final that will be played in their own stadium, but Sevilla have a fearsome home record and Adil Rami put them ahead before fellow Frenchman Kevin Gameiro added a quick-fire brace. Meanwhile, European soccer body UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against Manchester United and Liverpool yesterday after fans clashed and threw objects during a Europa League tie at Old Trafford. UEFA said in a statement that Manchester United faced charges of crowd disturbances, blocked stairways and the throwing of objects by supporters at Thursday’s match. They were listed as illicit chants, the setting off of fireworks, throwing of objects, crowd disturbances and a late kick-off. The case will be heard by UEFA’s control, ethics and disciplinary body on May 19.
A handful of Liverpool fans sitting in the top tier of the East Stand, among the home supporters, unfurled a banner in the dying minutes of the game, sparking clashes in which punches were thrown and a seat hurled. Liverpool fans in the lower tier of the stand began chanting “Munich” in a reference to the 1958 air disaster that killed 23 people including eight Manchester United players as the ‘Busby Babes’ flew home from a European Cup tie in Belgrade. Police and stewards were forced to form a human shield to separate the two sets of supporters and Greater Manchester Police confirmed making five arrests and said they were investigating a “handful of concerning incidents”.
Valencia crash out
Gary Neville’s Valencia were sent crashing out after they lost their last-16 tie to Spanish rivals Athletic Bilbao on away goals despite winning the second leg 2-1. Valencia had been trailing 1-0 after last week’s first leg at San Mames but looked to have turned the tie around when they went two goals up in the first half at the Mestalla. Santi Mina got the first goal on the night in the 13th minute and Aderlan Santos headed home the second eight minutes before the interval, but beaten 2012 finalists Athletic struck the decisive away goal 14 minutes from time.
The inevitable Aritz Aduriz scored his eighth in nine Europa League games this season and his 31st altogether after a superb flick-on by Raul Garcia. “Tonight is a negative obviously, but I saw a very good performance,” said Neville, who was sent to the stands for complaining about a handball in the build-up to Aduriz’s goal. “I thought it was a really bad decision. I never like to completely put the elimination down to the referee but I think when he watches that back he will be very disappointed.” Villarreal are also through after beating Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 on aggregate following a 0-0 draw in the second leg in Germany.
That means three Spanish sides in the last eight, and six left in Europe altogether. In contrast, Italian interest in European competition is over after Lazio were humbled 3-0 by Sparta Prague in Rome. Captain Borek Dockal put Sparta in front and Ladislav Krejci and Lukas Julis added further goals to take the Czech side through 4-1 on aggregate. The 2009 UEFA Cup winners Shakhtar Donetsk also advanced, Eduardo’s late goal securing a 1-0 win over Anderlecht in Belgium that took the Ukrainians through 4-1 on aggregate. — Agencies