Cliche time: this is why they play the matches.
Valencia entered the second leg of its UEFA Europa League quarterfinal tie against Basel down 3-0 and needing extreme home magic to find renewed hope for a semifinal berth.
Well, they found that wizardry and then some. Valencia scored thrice in regulation and then watched as Basel took not one but two red cards in the first period of extra time en route to a 5-0 win, 5-3 on aggregate.
Francisco “Paco” Alcacer scored twice in regulation before finding a winner in the 114th minute to dust off the championship hopes of Los Che. Juan Bernat and Eduardo Vargas also scored for Valencia as they advanced. Alcacer now has seven goals in European competition and 14 overall this season.
They are joined by Juventus, Benfica and Sevilla in a Western Europe-heavy final four.
Juventus received a scare from visiting Lyon, but emerge with plans intact to play the Europa League final on its home pitch. Andrea Pirlo scored in the fourth minute to give the Old Lady a 2-0 lead before Lyon halved the deficit in the 18th minute. Yet it was a 68th minute own goal that gave Juve clear sailing into the semis.
Sevilla faced a 1-0 deficit to Porto entering Thursday’s home leg, but that was erased rather quickly as Los Rojiblancos struck four times on the night. Ivan Rakitic converted a 5th minute penalty to kick off a 4-1 (4-2 aggregate) win that was completed by red-hot Kevin Gameiro’s 79th minute tally. Ricardo Quaresma’s goal in the second minute of stoppage time was the only blemish on Sevilla’s day.
Benfica dismissed American forward Aron Johannsson and AZ Alkmaar with relative ease, as Johannsson’s best play actually came on a hard-charging tackle to save a scoring chance. Leading 1-0 going into the home leg, 23-year-old Rodrigo recorded a brace to send the Portuguese side through.
The draw for the semifinals will be held Friday, with the legs being played on April 24 and May 1.
Leaving Manchester City is proving difficult for longtime backstop Joe Hart.
The English No. 1 is heading out on loan to Torino after dropping down Pep Guardiola‘s depth chart at the Etihad Stadium after 348 appearances for City.
[ MORE: Deadline Day’s done deals ]
Hart needed to play, as he’s still in Sam Allardyce’s plans for England, and couldn’t wait around for a chance in Manchester.
That didn’t stop the 6-foot-5 keeper from a very emotional goodbye in his last City start, last week’s win over Steaua Bucharest in the UEFA Champions League.
Days later, the goalkeeper is trying to put it all into words, saying in a Facebook post that he will miss Manchester:
I am very grateful that Torino has given me this opportunity to play for their great club. But the feelings I felt during the recent Steaua Bucharest game will live with me forever. You can’t buy that and I will struggle to replicate them. So thank you for that and all the amazing memories.
Hart joins a Torino side with European aims, and is not the only big name loan on the books. Leandro Castan and Iago Falque have joined the Turin side from AS Roma.
AFC Bournemouth have secured the biggest signing in club history on Transfer Deadline Day.
Arsenal and England midfielder Jack Wilshere, 24, has signed for Bournemouth on a season-long loan deal at the Vitality Stadium.
Put your jaw back in its correct position.
[ LIVE: Every Deadline Day deal ]
Wilshere only became available on Tuesday after holding talks with Arsene Wenger and the outcome was that he wouldn’t get regular minutes with the Gunners this season.
The England international is a star talent and as soon as he became available over 22 teams registered their interest in taking him on loan. Three front-runners emerged early on Wednesday with Crystal Palace, Bournemouth and AS Roma all keen on Wilshere.
However, tiny Bournemouth won the race in the Wilshere stakes to dish up the biggest shock of the transfer window so far.
This is a massive transfer coup for Bournemouth.
In only their second-ever season in the Premier League they have landed a star midfielder with vast UEFA Champions League and international experience.
Yes, Wilshere has a history of injuries but now he has the chance to prove everyone wrong and play in a sustained run of games for the Cherries (he was likely fifth or sixth on the depth chart in Arsenal’s midfield this season) as he aims to get his career back on track after several injury-hit seasons.
It is thought that Wilshere preferred playing for Bournemouth over the likes of Palace and Roma due to the style of play of Eddie Howe‘s side as the Arsenal academy product loves to pass and move the ball. He will fit in very nicely for the Cherries on the south coast and will become an instant hit with the Bournemouth faithful as his signing gives them a massive boost after a tough start to the season.
Nobody could’ve predict this move. The madness of Deadline Day lives on.
Tipped for several Premier League destinations, Islam Slimani has joined Algeria teammate Riyad Mahrez at Leicester City.
Slimani, 28, spent the last four seasons as Portuguese powerhouse Sporting Lisbon, scoring a career-best 31 goals last year.
[ MORE: Sissoko to Everton for medical]
He scored two his 23 international goals at the 2014 World Cup, netting against both South Korea and Russia.
Slimani said Mahrez helped with his decision:
He added: “My friend Riyad Mahrez spoke to me about the Club and about the atmosphere the Leicester fans create at King Power Stadium. I will give absolutely everything I have on the pitch for them and for my team-mates and I hope that together we can achieve something special.”
Get the jersey ready. Slimani, Mahrez, Vardy, and Musa could be a deadly bit of depth as Leicester strives to strike hard in the UEFA Champions League.
West Ham United has strengthened their flanks with the addition of two-time UEFA Champions League winner Alvaro Arbeloa.
The 33-year-old back played in the Premier League with Liverpool from 2006-09 before skipping town for Real Madrid.
[ MORE: Sissoko off to Everton for medical ]
Arbeloa has been with Real since, scoring six goals and making 233 total appearances. His appearance dipped to just nine last season, and he’ll finish his time at the Bernabeu with
He also was a part of Spain’s EURO-World Cup-EURO sandwich between 2008-2012.