With the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals finishing up earlier in the week, the Europa Leg took the field Thursday as European play ramped up. Every single team playing got at least one goal, with plenty of late scoring.
Three of the four games saw a winner, with two of those three winners coming on the road. Here is a roundup of the action:
Borussia Dortmund 1-1 Liverpool
Both teams had big moments just before the 20th minute. Dortmund nearly struck first when Marcel Schmelzer got around Simon Mignolet and cut back to Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the center of the box with the goal open, but Mamadou Sakho made a goal-saving block in traffic on Mkhitaryan’s shot. Liverpool then found a chance of their own on a set-piece after a Marco Reus foul, as Dejan Lovren tried to bounce a header over Roman Weidenfeller, but the goalkeeper was smart to it, earning a foul as Lovren looked to head back in the rebound.
Dortmund’s relentless press gave Liverpool plenty of problems in their own half, and Mkhitaryan was a monster in front of the box, but it was Liverpool that struck first against the run of play. Adam Lallana found Divock Origi in space up front, and one-on-one with Lukasz Piszczek, the 20-year-old turned and fired past Weidenfeller for a 35th minute lead. Weidenfeller had to make another save – off his face – on the last kick of the first half as Origi sprung free on another counter.
Just 2 minutes back after the break Mats Hummels equalized for the home side off a corner. Coutinho continued to cause the Germans problems, forcing a pair of saves, the first a quality low save after good Liverpool combination play. Dortmund poured attackers forward in the final 15 minutes, but were unable to find a way through a packed box and past Simon Mignolet. Liverpool remains unbeaten in the Europa League this season.
Athletic Bilbao 1-2 Sevilla
A pair of goals soon after halftime provided much of the action, but the winner came late as Vicente Iborra tapped home in the 83rd minute for a huge away win. Artiz Aduriz scored just two minutes after the break with a header from the far post across the face of goal putting Athletic ahead, but Sevilla leveled it back up nine minutes later through Thimothee Kolodzieczak who finished expertly into the top corner after Ever Banega sucked the Athletic goalkeeper out of net.
Iborra finished off a wonderful move from Kevin Gameiro, who tap-danced across the top of the box before threading a ball through three defenders to a streaking Iborra who ended up one-on-one Athletic goalkeeper Iago Herrerin. The win is the first of the entire season for Sevilla on the road in any competition outside of the Spanish Cup.
Villarreal 2-1 Sparta Prague
The home side dominated for much of the game, scoring three minutes through Cedric Bakambu in and should have had a few more, but the Czechs came back to even it up deep into first-half injury time as Jakub Brabec used his head to redirect a corner into the back of the net.
Roberto Soldado was a force up front, and Bakambu picked up his brace just past the hour mark on a layoff from Denis Suarez which Bakambu buried into the top corner. It’s the third brace in Europa League play this season from Bakambu, the first time that’s happened in four years.
Braga 1-2 Shakhtar Donetsk
The heavy favorites put themselves in good position after away goals from Yaroslav Rakitskiy and Facundo Ferreyra sent them through. The Ukranians weathered 20 shots from Braga – six on target – until the final few minutes when they conceded a header from Eduardo to give the home side a lifeline in the quarterfinal.