Europa League Review: Arsenal progress, Zenit struggle, Lucas surprises and more

Yahoo Sport UK

Donnarumma has a night to forget

Milan’s Gianluigi Donnarumma is sent the wrong way by Arsenal’s Danny Welbeck.
Milan’s Gianluigi Donnarumma is sent the wrong way by Arsenal’s Danny Welbeck.

Milan provided much more attacking intent than they did at the San Siro, but it wasn’t enough as Arsenal beat them 3-1 at the Emirates. Andre Silva hit the side netting in the first minute, when he arrived in the box unmarked off a pull-back from Fabio Borini, who was playing at right-back.

Arsene Wenger will have been concerned when Laurent Koscielny limped off after only 10 minutes. Danny Welbeck saw his effort saved by Gianluigi Donnarrumma at the near post, as the game began to open up.

Hakan Calhanoglu’s quality strike from distance put Milan back into the tie in the 35th minute, but the hope was short-lived when Welbeck fell to the floor after little contact from Ricardo Rodriguez. Welbeck hadn’t scored in his last 10 appearances for Arsenal and he comfortably sent the 19-year-old goalkeeper the wrong way from the penalty spot before grabbing another late-on.

Donnarumma’s long-term future at Milan remains in doubt, even though he signed a new four-year deal last summer. Napoli’s Pepe Reina had a medical at the club at the start of this week and his poor attempt at keeping out Granit Xhaka’s long range strike won’t have endeared him to his manager.

Milan have only won once in England, which is a remarkable statistic given their historical pedigree. Gennaro Gettuso has a lot of work to do, if he is to be the coach to restore them to former glories.

Zenit struggling to find their groove

Liverpool-bound Naby Keita causes Zenit problems once again
Liverpool-bound Naby Keita causes Zenit problems once again

RB Leipzig qualified for the quarter-final of the Europa League in their first ever season in European competition, with a 1-1 draw at the Krestovsky Stadium. Zenit Saint Petersburg were slow in possession and lacked energy in the early proceedings, although they did improve marginally in the second half.

Leipzig took the lead when Timo Werner wriggled between a couple of defenders before playing a clever pass into his strike partner Jean-Kevin Augustin. The former Paris Saint-Germain striker took a touch and then scored on the spin.

Leandro Paredes’ free-kick stung the post just three minutes later and Emiliano Rigoni forced a smart save from Peter Gulacsi, as Zenit began to work some openings. Sebastian Driussi then volleyed in the equaliser in stoppage time at the end of the first 45 minutes, as he connected with a cross from the goal scorer in the first leg Domenico Criscito.

Roberto Mancini’s side have lost their rhythm since the winter break and are now 10 points behind Lokomotiv Moscow in the league after three successive 0-0 draws. They only needed a goal to take them to extra-time, but it was Leipzig that came closest when Werner saw his penalty saved by Andrey Lunev with 10 minutes left on the clock.

Ocampos shines once again

Lucas Ocampos celebrates his third goal against Athletic in the last two games
Lucas Ocampos celebrates his third goal against Athletic in the last two games

Florian Thauvin returned to the Marseille line-up after he was stretchered off in the first leg, with his coach Rudi Garcia fearing the worst. The former Newcastle United winger has been his side’s star player this season, with 16 Ligue One goals in a team without a deadly striker.

However, it was his fellow attackers that made the difference once again in the 2-1 victory over Athletic Club in the Basque region. Dimitri Payet’s mazy run saw him tripped by left-back Inigo Lekue and the playmaker dispatched the resulting penalty.

Payet had scored his first European goal in nine years last week and is now beginning to find his form after an indifferent campaign. Athletic had a penalty call of their own waved away by English referee Anthony Taylor, when Adil Rami blocked a shot with his arm in an almost identical fashion to the one which was given against him at the Stade Velodrome.

Lucas Ocampos cut inside and beat Iago Herrerin with a fantastic strike once again early after the restart. It was the Argentine’s fourth goal in the last eight days and his 14th of the season, whilst Inaki Williams hit a consolation effort for the home side.

Former Liverpool players star for Lazio

Lucas Leiva scores a crucial, but rare goal against Dynamo
Lucas Leiva scores a crucial, but rare goal against Dynamo

Lazio had to score at the Olympic Stadium, as they drew 2-2 with Dynamo Kyiv back in Rome. It came from an unlikely source, with Lucas Leiva heading in his first goal for the club off a corner from Luis Alberto.

The Brazilian scored only three goals in Europe across 10 seasons for the Reds, whilst Alberto saw his game time limited under Brendan Rodgers. Alberto’s set-pieces were a constant problem for Dynamo goalkeeper Denys Boyko, as he was forced to push another corner away.

Lucas’ ball over the top of the defence saw Ciro Immobile try to lift it over the advancing Boyko, with the keeper appearing to handle it outside of his area. It didn’t matter in the end though, as defender Stefan de Vrij made it 2-0.

Jesus enjoys the Europa League

Sporting coach Jorge Jesus reached two Europa League finals in his six years in charge of Benfica.
Sporting coach Jorge Jesus reached two Europa League finals in his six years in charge of Benfica.

Sporting CP looked comfortable after they beat Viktoria Plzen 2-0 in Lisbon last week, but an early goal for the Czech’s changed the complexion of the encounter. Marek Bakos headed past Sporting keeper Rui Patricio with only five minutes gone, as Jan Kovarik’s deep cross shocked the opposing defence.

The 34-year-old captain is no longer first choice for coach Pavel Vrba, although he’s still the team’s joint-leading scorer in the league with four goals. He scored his second of the game when he combined with Milan Havel to take the game to extra time.

Rodrigo Battaglia ensured that it was Sporting that advanced to the next stage, when netted in stoppage time at the end of the first period. It was only the versatile Argentinean’s second goal of the season and illustrated once again coach Jorge Jesus’ tactical nous in the competition.

Golovin will alert Europe’s elite

Golovin dazzles the Lyon defenders
Golovin dazzles the Lyon defenders

CSKA Moscow progressed to the last eight, as they beat Lyon 3-2 in France. Aleksandr Golovin curled a sublime shot past Anthony Lopes, which levelled the score on aggregate.

The midfielder has already attracted the attention of Barcelona, Chelsea and Arsenal in recent months, but there will be more suitors should he continue in this vein. He has excellent technique and at 21 years old there’s plenty of room for improvement.

Maxwel Cornet scored for Lyon in the second half, but two goals in five minutes from Ahmed Musa and Pontus Wernbloom swung the momentum in CSKA’s favour. Mariano Diaz gave Bruno Genesio’s men some optimism, although it ultimately wasn’t enough.

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