Europa League wrap: Portuguese teams dominate

Porto, Benfica and Sporting Braga all progressed to the Europa League quarter-finals in a good evening for Portuguese sides on Thursday.

The night was not so kind for British teams, with tournament favourites Manchester City, Liverpool and Glasgow Rangers all exiting continental competition far earlier than they would have liked.

Porto, who are unbeaten in 32 league games and are 13 points clear of Benfica at the top of the Liga Sagres table, produced another excellent performance to defeat CSKA Moscow 2-1 at the Estadio Do Dragao.

After they won the first leg in Moscow 1-0, Brazilian striker Hulk, who has 29 goals in all competitions, gave Porto the perfect start with a goal inside the first minute.

Freddy Guarin doubled Porto’s advantage after 24 minutes and although Zoran Tosic scored five minutes later for CSKA, the Russian side was unable to take advantage of their chances and were knocked out of the competition.

After a 2-1 victory at home, Benfica’s 1-1 draw in France against PSG secured their progression.

Nicolas Gaitan’s 27th-minute goal put the Portuguese side two goals in front on aggregate and despite Mathieu Bodmer’s equalizer eight minutes later, Benfica progressed to the last eight where they will be joined by Sporting Braga who held on for a 0-0 draw at Anfield against Liverpool to give them a 1-0 aggregate triumph.

Aleksandar Kolarov’s first-half strike was not enough for Manchester City, who despite defeating Dynamo Kiev 1-0, failed to progress after losing 2-1 on aggregate while Rangers also missed out by a goal, with Jeremain Lens’ 14th-minute away goal at Ibrox giving PSV a 1-0 win on the night and over the two legs.

Villarreal knocked Bayer Leverkusen out of the competition after a 2-1 second-leg win at El Madigral.

The fourth-placed La Liga outfit claimed a brilliant 3-2 away win in the first leg and booked their spot in the last eight with goals to Cazorla and Giuseppe Rossi, before Eren Derdiyok struck a late consolation for the Bundesliga side.

Other results saw four-time European Cup winners Ajax Amsterdam knocked out after they were hammered 3-0 by Spartak Moscow, thanks to goals from Dmitri Kombarov, Welliton and Alex, which ensured they won 4-0 on aggregate.

But Ajax’s Eredivisie rivals Twente had more luck, progressing despite a 2-0 defeat at Zenit St Petersburg.

Twente won the first leg 3-0 but first-half strikes to Roman Shirokov and Alexander Kerzhakov made for an exciting second half, in which Zenit were unable to extend their advantage as the 2008 UEFA Cup winners exited the competition.

 


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