The UEFA Europa League made a big comeback on Thursday, with a matchday in which 59 goals were scored in 16 games.
Some teams achieved big advantages that surely put them closer to the 2021 final to be played in Gdańsk, but most (including great historical clubs) have a lot of work to do on the return leg.
Wednesday 24 February 18:00 CET
Tottenham – Wolfsberg (ida: 4-1)
Thursday 25 February 18:55 CET
Arsenal – Benfica (1-1)
Rangers – Antwerp (4-3)
Villarreal – Salzburg (2-0)
Hoffenheim – Molde (3-3)
Naples – Granada (0-2)
Shakhtar – Maccabi Tel-Aviv (2-0)
Ajax – LOSC Lille (2-1)
Thursday 25 February, 21:00 CET
Club Brugge – Dynamo Kiev (1-1)
Manchester United – Real Sociedad (4-0)
AC Milan – Red Star (2-2)
Leicester – Slavia Prague (0-0)
Roma – Braga (2-0)
Dinamo Zagreb – Krasnodar (3-2)
Leverkusen – Young Boys (3-4)
PSV Eindhoven – Olympiacos (2-4)
Match of the day: Arsenal – Benfica
“Now we can’t take a wrong step,” said striker Bukayo Saka of his teammates at Arsenal after his team drew 1-1 at Benfica despite dominating the first leg in Rome. It was a similar story a year ago, when the England squad blew several chances against Olympiacos and were eliminated by a goal in the last minute of extra time. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is in top form this year. Can he surpass UEFA Europa League top scorer Pizzi?
Unexpected surprises! Young Boys will take a 4-3 lead over Leverkusen after their thrilling first leg, while Bundesliga rival Hoffenheim has plenty to do after Molde rallied from 3-1 to tie the match. There is an Italian club that is also under threat, as AC Milan may have to turn to Zlatan Ibrahimović after drawing against Red Star, who played with ten men. For their part, Napoli have an even more difficult task after losing 2-0 to Granada, and Lorenzo Insigne has already gone 11 games without scoring in this competition
59 goals were scored in the 16 first leg matches of the UEFA Europa League, the most in a single night for a knockout round since the competition was renamed in 2009/10. The record for a round came last season, when 95 goals were scored in the round of 32. That figure is now at risk.
From another planet
Bruno Fernandes resumed his UEFA Europa League love affair with two goals in Manchester United’s impressive 4-0 win against Real Sociedad. He has now participated in 26 goals (16 goals, ten assists) in 25 games in the competition. His form is equally impressive, and on the UEFA Europa League player tracker – the FedEx Performance Zone – he’s not so much the best as the most prominent. You may rest this week, but it is suspected that you will be looking forward to participating.
Take a look at all the matches, data and statistics here.