Europa League roundup: Napoli, Sevilla, Dynamo Kiev hold QF leads after Leg 1

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We’ve spent the last two days watching the brilliance that is the Champions League quarterfinals, and while the Europa League’s round of eight perhaps offers slightly less intrigue — OK, it’s a lot less — the soccer being played in Europe’s second-tier club competition is still equally brilliant.

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Wolfsburg 1-4 Napoli

Wolfsburg, perhaps the darlings of this year’s Europa League thanks to Kevin De Bruyne’s standout performances since leaving Chelsea, but goodness did Napoli put a hurting on them at the Volkswagen Arena in Wolfsburg.

The Neopaltians jumped all over Die Wolfe early on and never looked back. Gonazlo Higuain opened the scoring with 15 minutes on the clock, a quick-reflex finish past Diego Benaglio after chesting the ball down with a defender draped all over his back. Marek Hamsik doubled the lead eight minutes later when Higuain’s through ball cut the Wolfsburg defense in half and put the Slovak playmaker in on goal.

[ UCL RECAPS: PSG 1-3 Barca | Porto 3-1 Bayern | Atletico 0-0 Real | Juve 1-0 Monaco ]

Jose Callejon pounced on a poor pass inside Wolfsburg’s defensive third and crossed for Hamsik at the top of the six-yard box, where he netted his second goal of the game with 25 minutes left in the game. It got even worse for Wolfsburg in the 76th minute, when Manolo Gabbiadini headed home from six yards out, making Napoli’s lead 4-0 on four away goals.

Nicklas Bendtner, who apparently “plays” for Wolfsburg now, grabbed a simple consolation goal when he turned home Ivan Perisic’s cross in the 80th minute, but with a three-goal deficit to erase in the away leg, Dieter Hecking’s side need at least four goals (and a clean sheet) to advance.

Sevilla 2-1 Zenit St. Petersburg

Aleksandr Ryazantsev gave the visitors the lead in the 29th minute when he slammed home Sergio Rico’s strong save of his first effort, but Ryazantsev’s powerful shot over the top of Rico was unstoppable from five yards away.

Carlos Bacca scored his 22nd goal of the season (all competitions), equalizing for Sevilla in the 73rd minute with a powerful header from three yards out, and Denis Suarez gave the Spanish side a narrow advantage ahead of the second leg when he hit a stunning volley (below video) from the edge of the penalty area, through traffic and just inside the far post, in the 87th minute.

Dynamo Kyiv 1-1 Fiorentina

Dynamo Kyiv’s Jeremain Lens gave the home side a first-half lead (39th minute) when his right-footed effort from just outside the penalty area took a heavy deflection off the leg of a defender, sending the ball skyward over the head of Fiorentina ‘keeper Neto and quickly back down to find the back of the net.

Dynamo looked destined to carry a one-goal lead into the second leg having not conceded an away goal to Fiorentina, but Khouma Babacar scored with an opportunistic overhead kick (below video) two minutes into second-half stoppage time, grabbing the vital away goal for La Viola and making them the favorites heading into next Thursday’s return leg.

Elsewhere in Europa League

Club Brugge 0-0 Dnipro

FOLLOW LIVE, Gold Cup: USMNT closes out group v. Panama

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It’s a fully-changed starting XI for the U.S. Men’s National Team as it closes out the group stage against Panama at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

Omar Gonzalez and Matt Miazga start together in the backline, Jozy Altidore returns to the starting lineup up top, and Jordan Morris and Jonathan Lewis feature on the wings alongside Altidore. Ten of the 11 players now ply their trade in MLS, including the Gonzalez, who recently moved to Toronto FC.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: USMNT takes on Panama in Kansas City]

Hit the link above to follow along for the next two hours, and check back on PST for a full recap and in-depth analysis after the final whistle.

Must-See Goal: Wayne Rooney v. Orlando City

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I’m going to go out on a limb and say it. Wayne Rooney just scored the most amazing goal in Audi Field’s young history.

In the 10th minute of D.C. United’s match against Orlando City SC on Wednesday evening, Rooney noticed Orlando’s Brian Rowe straying way off his line. And so, with an audacious but accurate attempt, Rooney let fly from 65 yards and SCORED. Just check this goal out below.

[FOLLOW LIVE: USMNT v. Panama]

Rooney took advantage of a crazy bounce and with his literal first touch, unleashed a thunderbolt that Rowe couldn’t catch up to. It automatically becomes one of the top contenders for the MLS Goal of the Year, and should make it on every top ten countdown this evening and tomorrow.

Benfica: Atletico Madrid make $143 million bid for Felix

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The legend of Joao Felix appears to have reached full market value potential.

The 19-year-old Portuguese striker is coming off a breakout year for Benfica, and now the Portuguese giants have received an impressive $143 million offer from Atletico Madrid for Felix. The club confirmed the offer in a statement on its website, stating it was analyzing the deal. Felix has a $136.5 million release clause in his contract, but it appears the additional $7 million is in processing costs.

[READ: Kroos wants to retire at Real Madrid]

Felix was outstanding at Benfica last year, scoring 15 goals with seven assists in 26 league games and three goals and one assist in five Europa League game. Felix has already made his international debut for Portugal.

If confirmed, Felix would become the fifth-most expensive transfer in world history, and the second-most expensive transfer for a teenager behind Kylian Mbappe.

AFCON: Nigeria 1st team through to round of 16 at African Cup, joined by host Egypt

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CAIRO (AP) Former champion Nigeria became the first team to reach the last 16 at the African Cup of Nations after defender Kenneth Omeruo‘s second-half goal delivered a 1-0 win over Guinea on Wednesday.

The Nigerians were unimpressive in the first half in Alexandria but lifted their game in the second. Alex Iwobi‘s rasping shot was pushed away by Guinea goalkeeper Ibrahim Kone and Ahmed Musa almost set up Odion Ighalo on a counterattack.

The former Chelsea defender Omeruo did what the forwards had not been able to do when he beat Kone with a glancing header at the near post off Moses Simon’s corner in the 73rd minute.

Nigeria, which won the title in 2013, has two wins from two games in Group B. It beat Burundi 1-0 in its first match and now needs a draw from its last fixture against Madagascar to finish top and stay in Alexandria for the last 16.

There was more good news for Nigeria when Samuel Kalu came on as a substitute near the end. The midfield player collapsed at a training session the day before the first game, suffering from dehydration, and was hospitalized.

Coach Gernot Rohr rested captain John Obi Mikel against Guinea.

Elsewhere, Egypt also confirmed a place in the knockout stages with a 2-0 win over the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ahmad Elmohamady and Mohamed Salah each scored in the first half to lead the Pharoahs to victory, the hosts second-straight win in the competition.

In the other match of the day, Uganda tied Zimbabwe, 1-1.