Defeat by Liverpool
After the fifth round, Liverpool guaranteed themselves a ticket directly to the 1/8 finals of the Europa League. After a misfire in the meeting with Toulouse, the Merseysiders left no chance to LASK at home – 4:0. Even the rotation started by Jurgen Klopp did not prevent them from succeeding. At the same time, some leaders, for example, Mohamed Salah, got into the first team.
The Reds' lead was overwhelming, with 61% possession and almost three dozen shots. The intrigue died in the opening, when the hosts twice easily tore apart the left flank of the opponent's defense. First, Luis Diaz finished off a cross from Joseph Gomez, and then Salah delivered a perfect cross from Cody Gakpo to the empty net.
The Dutchman was the most active football player on the field and could even play poker. It was he who earned a penalty immediately after the break, which Salah confidently converted. It is fair that it was Gakpo who put an end to injury time.
Hard-fought victories for English teams
In addition to Liverpool, two more English teams, Brighton and West Ham, secured their participation in the playoffs, but both faced fierce resistance from inferior opponents.
The first team was close to losing points again in the confrontation with AEK, but still achieved their goal and at the same time took revenge for the sensational home defeat. At the same time, supported by a stadium filled to capacity, the hosts had more possession of the ball and made five shots on target against only two for the guests. Former CSKA midfielder Steven Zuber was especially active, hitting the post in the first half.
But immediately after the break, everything was decided by a mistake by Damian Szymanski. The Pole let Joao Pedro behind his back and, trying to stop the Brazilian in the penalty area, knocked him to the turf. The referee did not record a foul, but after watching the replay, he changed his mind. The victim himself converted a penalty. In addition, ten minutes later, the Athenians were reduced to ten men, as Mijat Gacinovic received a second yellow card for a foul in attack.
At the same time, the current holders of the Conference League suffered with a modest TSC, which had scored only a point before. Everything was going to a goalless draw, but in the 89th minute Tomáš Soucek put an end to it. Cech burst into the penalty area and, taking advantage of a cross from the right, sent the ball into the corner.
Aston Villa also achieved success in the Conference League, breaking the resistance of Legia at home and avenging the defeat in Warsaw. At the same time, the Birmingham team has not yet secured the first place in Quartet E.
Goal extravaganza in Marseille
Meanwhile, Marseille and Ajax staged a real scoring extravaganza. The teams scored six goals for two in the first round, and now they have surpassed this indicator. Already in the opening stages, Gennaro Gattuso's men earned a penalty, which was converted by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. But in the very next minute, Brian Brobbey restored the balance. In the middle of the first half, the situation repeated. Chancel Mbemba struck a corner and Brobbey scored a brace.
Immediately after the break, Aubameyang scored a masterpiece. Taking advantage of his partner's neat serve, he struck a terrific blow through himself. To top it all off, at the end of the hour, the Amsterdammers were in the minority. Steven Berghuis, who had two assists, made a sloppy tackle with the risk of injury and received a straight red.
Even in the minority, the guests managed to win back again. The first touch after coming on as a substitute was scored by Chuba Akpom. But that wasn't the end of it. In injury time, Diant Ramai dropped a projectile near the front and was forced to bring down Mbebma. Aubameyang came to the point and did not miss his chance – 4:3. The Gabonese scored a hat-trick and scored his fifth goal against Ajax in the group stage. And he couldn't upset anyone else.
The reporting game day was not without sensations. For example, Betis lost to Sparta on the road. Manuel Pellegrini's wards approached the game as clear favorites and, if successful, made their way to at least the 1/16 finals. The Prague team had only four points.
As expected, Sevilla had the advantage and created chances, but Peter Windal-Jensen made five saves on the last line. But the hosts took advantage of a rare chance at the start of the second half after the ball was introduced from behind the sideline. Former Lokomotiv forward Jan Kuchta dragged the ball forward and made a pass to Lukas Garaslin, who neatly shot from the edge of the penalty area into the far post.
Villarreal, on the other hand, almost allowed Panathinaikos to make an amazing comeback. Everything started great for Marcelino's wards. Even before the break, Alex Baena and Santiago Comesaña gave them a comfortable advantage, and immediately after Jose, Luis Morales brought the gap to a large one. But the Athenians managed to reduce the gap to a minimum. First, Fotis Ioannidis missed a penalty kick, but Sebastian Palacios was the first to finish it off. And in the end, Ioannidis corrected for the miss.
Roma also made another misfire. The Romans won their first four matches in the group stage, but then lost away to Slavia. Now they have missed the victory over Servette. Romelu Lukaku's fourth goal in the tournament was answered by Chris Bedia with an accurate shot in the 50th minute.
In the future, the favorite could put the pressure on the hosts, but failed to convert several chances. Even a draw guaranteed the "wolf" participation in the playoffs, but the Prague team rose to the first place in Group G, who with a high degree of probability will go directly to the 1/8 finals.
In turn, Atalanta, which had long solved the problem, parted ways in peace with Sporting. Their meeting is notable for the substitute appearance of Alexei Miranchuk. In the 21 minutes allotted to him, the Russian did not make any effective actions, but was quite active: he made two shots, one of which was on target, and gave 14 passes with an accuracy of 64.3%.
Another Italian team, Fiorentina, had a hard time beating Genk in the Champions League. The opponents exchanged goals at the end of the first half. The Purples tipped the scales in their favor only closer to the final whistle, when Nicolas Gonzalez did not miss from the spot.
Gregoritsch's hat-trick in 34 minutes
And the biggest victory of the game day was scored by another team from Germany, Freiburg. At home, he left no chance for Olympiacos – 5-0, scoring four times before the break. Unexpectedly, the protagonist was Michael Gregoritsch. The Austrian's assets this season did not have a single point according to the "goal + pass" system. But on this evening, he scored a hat-trick in 34 minutes and assisted Kyllannu Sildiya.
Another German team continues to delight the fans. Bayer is still almost free of misfires in all competitions. He reached the 1/8 finals of the German Cup, and in the Bundesliga only once parted ways with the opponent. Finally, in the Europa League, Leverkusen are the only ones who do not know losses. So they beat Hacken in class thanks to accurate shots by Viktor Boniface and Patrik Schick.
Despite the absence of domestic clubs, football fans from Russia have someone to support in the current Europa League season. In particular, Alexander Kokorin shows himself amazingly in the ARIS squad. Despite the fact that the forward was temporarily out of the squad due to not being in the best physical shape, he scored points in almost all matches of the group stage.
Previously, he upset Sparta and Betis, and now he scored a great assist in the meeting with Glasgow Rangers. The striker from his own half of the field made a perfect pass behind the backs of two defenders at once for the move of Xavi Babika. In turn, the Gabonese put the body of his vis-à-vis, beat the goalkeeper and shot into the empty net. Unfortunately, the Limassol team failed to keep the score that suited them. In the 49th minute, Ross McCausland restored the status quo. Now the representatives of Cyprus have minimal chances even to continue the fight in the Champions League.
Meanwhile, Bodø-Glimt, in the absence of the injured Nikita Khaikin, defeated Lugano and guaranteed themselves at least a place in the 1/16 finals of the third most important European competition. And PAOK, whose colors are defended by Magomed Ozdoev, completely secured a ticket to the 1/8 finals, defeating their main rival Eintracht on the road. The Russian spent 79 minutes on the field, but did not score points for performance.
Lunyov's eight saves
Qarabag with Andrey Lunyov in the squad could have taken second place in the H Europa League quartet in case of an away win over Molde, but failed to cope with the task. Although the confrontation began magnificently for him. Already in the 12th minute, Juninho beautifully twisted two opponents and accurately shot into the corner.
Having achieved its goal, the Azerbaijani squad completely gave the initiative to the opponent and began to fight back. The domestic goalkeeper also played superbly on the last line, making eight saves. But closer to the final whistle, the pressure of the Norwegian team took its toll. In six minutes, Christian Eriksen scored a brace. However, the guests had the last word. In injury time, Bahloul Mustafazadeh restored the balance. Thus, in the final round, it is enough for the Aghdam team to play no worse against Hacken, who did not score a single point, than Molde against Bayer.
But the Moldovan Sheriff disappointed the fans again. During the second half, he beat Slavia 2-1 at home, but in the end he conceded twice, including the decisive goal in the 95th minute from the penalty spot and crashed out of European competitions.
In the Conference League, Astana suffered a disappointing defeat, because in case of success in the home match with Dynamo, it guaranteed itself a place in the playoffs. Moreover, already in the tenth minute, the Astana team earned a penalty, but Dembo Darboe shot into the left corner at a comfortable height for the goalkeeper, and Daniel Zagorac saved his teammates. And in the second half, Gabriel Vidovic and Takuro Kaneko brought the most important three points to the visitors.
And Zorya from Ukraine completely lost their chances to continue the fight ahead of schedule. The Ukrainian team failed to cope with Gent away, conceding four goals. Only in the end did Denis Nagnoinyi score a prestige goal.