Manchester clubs head out
Both Manchester clubs headed out of the Europa League on Thursday night in a thrilling night of action.
Manchester City were knocked out on away goals by Sporting, despite a spirited comeback that saw them win 3-2 on the night as they came close to scoring the four goals in 30 minutes they needed to progress.
Having lost the first leg in Portugal 1-0, Sporting appeared to be home and dry when they scored twice through a sublime Matias Fernandez free-kick and then Ricky van Wolfswinkel to grab a 3-0 aggregate lead before half-time.
However, City fought back manfully in the second half thanks to two goals from Sergio Aguero either side of Mario Balotelli penalty. In the dying seconds of injury time, goalkeeper Joe Hart was denied by opposite number Rui Patricio and City's comeback ended in failure.
Manchester United were taught a rare footballing lesson by a rampant Athletic Club in Bilbao on Thursday, as they were dumped out of the Europa League in impressive fashion.
A lacklustre campaign in European football this season was brought to an end with no little emphasis by the entertaining Basque side, who completed a 2-1 victory at San Mames to secure a comfortable 5-3 aggregate victory after winning at Old Trafford last week.
Fernando Llorente got the opener for the hosts with a spectacular first-time volley beyond David De Gea, before Oscar De Marcos subsequently put the contest beyond doubt with a thumping finish shortly after the hour-mark. Wayne Rooney scored a beautiful curling effort with ten minutes remaining, but it proved to be nothing more than a consolation.
A Klaas Jan Huntelaar hat-trick helped Schalke come back from behind to beat Steve McClaren's FC Twente, with a 4-1 win on the night giving them a 4-2 aggregate win.
Willem Janssen had extended Twente's advantage with a 14th-minute opening strike, but Huntelaar equalised on 29 and added two further second-half goals either side of a 71st-minute effort from Jermaine Jones.
Atletico Madrid wrapped up an impressive 6-1 aggregate success over Besiktas with a 3-0 win in Turkey. Adrian Lopez put the Spaniards ahead before late goals from Radamel Falcao and Eduardo Salvio completed their easy passage.
AZ Alkmaar survived a major scare to book their place in the quarter-finals of the Europa League following an incident-packed 2-1 second leg win against Udinese.
AZ led 2-0 from the first leg but saw that advantage wiped out in a nightmare opening 15 minutes where Antonio Di Natale netted twice for Udinese and the visitors were reduced to ten men following Nick Viergever's early sending off.
However, just as things were looking bleak for the Dutch side, Erik Falkenburg made it 2-1 in the 31st minute to give his side a priceless away goal and leave Udinese needing to net twice more to go through. That proved to be beyond the hosts, who could not make the most of their man advantage or the second-half penalty miss by AZ midfielder Rasmus Elm as they exited the competition.
Valencia advanced to the quarter-finals with a 5-3 aggregate win over PSV after an entertaining 1-1 draw in the Netherlands.
Ola Toivonen nearly gave the hosts the early goal they needed but was denied by a fine save by Diego Alves, before an even better stop from Przemyslaw Tyton prevented Valencia going in ahead at the break as he tipped Jordi Alba's attempted lob wide of the post.
The visitors did go in front two minutes after half-time as Sofiane Feghouli's shot deflected in off the head of Adil Rami, but Toivonen gave PSV hope when he coolly slotted past Alves from close range 15 minutes later.
The Brazilian goalkeeper denied PSV victory on the night with a stunning save from Kevin Strootman before Valencia had to see out six minutes of stoppage time with ten men as Rami was shown a straight red card following a collision with Toivonen.
Hannover booked their place in the quarter-finals with a comfortable 4-0 win over ten-man Standard Liege.
Two goals in the first 21 minutes put the German side on course for the last eight, with Standard then having to play the last half an hour a man down following Serge Gakpe's dismissal, and two more goals in the closing stages sealed a 6-2 aggregate success for Mirko Slomka's side in front of a crowd of 43,000.
The home side were always favourites to progress after claiming a 2-2 draw in Belgium in the first leg, and they made the ideal start this evening.
Ukrainians Metalist Kharkiv staged a fine late comeback to nudge out Olympiacos with a 2-1 win in Greece enough to see them through on the away goals rule after a 2-2 aggregate result.
Ivan Marcano's early goal put Olympiacos further ahead on aggregate but Cristian Villagra equalised on the night in the 81st minute and Marko Devic scored the all-important winner four minutes from time.