Europa League roundup: Chelsea, Arsenal move on, Inter sent packing
Chelsea secured a place in the Europa League quarterfinals after Olivier Giroud’s hat-trick Thursday helped the Blues cruise to an 8-0 aggregate win over Dynamo Kyiv. Fellow Premier League heavyweights Arsenal also advanced with a 3-0 victory over Rennes.
Meanwhile, Valencia were on the brink of elimination before Goncalo Guedes saved the day with a late goal against FC Krasnodar, sending the Spanish side through to the last eight of the competition. Inter didn’t get so lucky, though, as the Italian side fell to Eintracht Frankfurt in Milan.
The Europa League saved the best for last, as Slavia Prague stunned continental chieftains Sevilla with a last-ditch winner in a frenetic seven-goal thriller in the Czech Republic.
Here’s a look at the results from Thursday’s last-16 second-leg fixtures:
Dynamo Kyiv 0-5 Chelsea (Chelsea win 8-0 on aggregate)
It was an easy night at the office for Chelsea, as Giroud opened the scoring five minutes into the contest before completing the hat-trick in the second half with his Europa League-leading ninth goal. With the treble, Giroud joined Scotland’s John Wark as the only non-English players to score a hat-trick in Europe for two different English clubs.
Red Bull Salzburg 3-1 Napoli (Napoli win 4-3 on aggregate)
RB Salzburg made it interesting by canceling out Arkadiusz Milik’s brilliant opener with a trio of goals in a 3-1 win Thursday. But the deficit after the first leg proved too great for the Austrian side, as Napoli will now compete in the quarterfinal stage of the Europa League for the first time since 2015. Could there be a rendezvous with former manager Maurizio Sarri? Friday’s draw has all the answers.
Krasnodar 1-1 Valencia (Valencia win 3-2 on aggregate)
Valencia are off to the next round after Thursday’s thriller saw the Spanish club narrowly top FC Krasnodar, 3-2 on aggregate. The Russian side looked set to pull off the huge upset until Guedes’ goal in second-half stoppage time canceled out Magomed-Shapi Suleymanov’s stunning strike. Los Che are now unbeaten in their last 14 matches in all competitions dating back to late January.
Arsenal 3-0 Rennes (Arsenal win 4-3 on aggregate)
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ainsley Maitland-Niles canceled out a two-goal deficit inside of 15 minutes as Arsenal overcame the first-leg shocker at Rennes to progress to the quarterfinal stage. Aubameyang completed his brace 27 minutes after the interval to end a positive spell from Les Rouges et Noirs and send the Gunners through, 4-3 on aggregate.
Inter 0-1 Eintracht Frankfurt (Eintracht win 1-0 on aggregate)
There’s no stopping Luka Jovic. The Serbian attacker made Inter his latest victims Thursday at the Giuseppe Meazza, eluding Samir Handanovic with a deft sixth-minute chip to send Eintracht Frankfurt to the last eight with a 1-0 victory. Eintracht will now fly the flag as the lone German team remaining in European competitions.
Villarreal 2-1 Zenit St. Petersburg (Villarreal win 5-2 on aggregate)
Villarreal made it look easy Thursday, as the Spanish side progressed to the next round with a 5-2 aggregate victory over Zenit St. Petersburg. Goals from Gerard Moreno and Carlos Bacca helped the Spanish side ease into the last eight with a 2-1 triumph at the Estadio de la Ceramica. A tale of two competitions for a Villarreal side that sits perilously close to the relegation zone in La Liga.
AET: Slavia Prague 4-3 Sevilla (Slavia Prague win 6-5 on aggregate)
Blink and you’ll miss a goal. Sevilla’s chances of capturing a sixth Europa League crown will have to wait another year after Slavia Prague’s Ibrahima Traore fired an effort towards goal in the waning moments of extra time that Simon Kjaer ferried into his own net. After being pegged back twice, the Czechs pulled off the shock of the last-16, as tallies from Mick van Buren and Traore nullified Franco Vazquez’s 98th-minute strike.
AET: Dinamo Zagreb 0-3 Benfica (Benfica win 3-1 on aggregate)
Better late than never for Benfica after ageless wonder Jonas’ 71st-minute goal canceled out Bruno Petkovic’s first-leg penalty to force extra time Thursday. Ferro was the hero, winning the two-legged tie with a dazzling effort from range before Alex Grimaldo cemented the 3-0 result to push the Portuguese giants past Dinamo Zagreb, 3-1 on aggregate.