Heads and tails for the Spanish teams this Thursday in the first leg of the quarterfinals of the Europa League: Villarreal won 1-0 in their visit to Dinamo Zagreb and sees the semifinals closer, from which Granada, defeated 2-0 at home for Manchester United.
In the other matches of this round, Roma also took a step into the next round by beating Ajax 2-1 in the Netherlands, while Arsenal drew 1-1 at home with Slavia Prague and are in a compromising situation.
Real Madrid had opened the week for Spanish teams in European competitions. He did so with a 3-1 win over Liverpool on Tuesday in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals, and Villarreal and Granada aspired to follow in his footsteps to get their playoffs on track in the Europa League, the second continental tournament.
But only one of the two could do it, Villarreal, who with their 1-0 win in Croatia against Dinamo Zagreb is in a very favorable position before next week’s return at the Estadio de la Cerámica.
The only goal of the game came in minute 44, when Gerard Moreno converted a penalty.
“Winning in Zagreb is not an easy thing, so we have to be satisfied, although we are cautious because there are still another 90 minutes to go,” coach Unai Emery said after the match.
The ‘Yellow Submarine’, sixth in the Spanish LaLiga, maintains a practically perfect path this season in the Europa League.
They got through the group stage as the leader, with five wins and a draw in six rounds. In the round of 32 they won both of their games, against Salzburg, and repeated with two wins, in the round trip, in the round of 16 against Dynamo Kiev.
In both heats, Gerard Moreno had a decisive scoring contribution, who also added this Thursday and continues to impress, already accumulating 24 goals in 32 games this season.
Granada had less fortune, despite their enthusiasm in the week that has turned 90. Manchester United were too tough a nut to crack and the English won 2-0 in Andalusia.
“A 2-0 is a very good result. We know how difficult it is to win in Spain,” United Norwegian coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said. “(In the return) we want to win, as in all our games,” he warned.
Marcus Rashford opened the scoring in the 31st, in a heads up against Rui Silva after receiving a long pass from Swede Victor Lindelöf.
In 1990, Bruno Fernandes, from a penalty kick, gave a second blow that made the tie very uphill for the Andalusians, who have been playing in this tournament since the previous rounds and who in the round of 32 gave the surprise by eliminating Naples.
“I am very proud of the team. Annoyed with the result, which is a bad result, but I am proud. Faced with this type of rivals, mistakes are paid for with goals,” lamented Granada coach Diego Martínez.
– Slavia Prague continues to surprise –
In the other quarter-finals, Roma came out of the Johan Cruyff Arena strongly strengthened, beating Ajax 2-1.
The Dutch team had gone ahead shortly before the break (minute 39), with a goal from Davy Klaassen well assisted by Dusan Tadic. It was the 23rd goal this season, taking into account all competitions, for the Dutch player.
Although Ajax dominated and Tadic missed a penalty in 53rd that would have made it a provisional 2-0, Roma woke up with a goal from a direct free kick from Lorenzo Pellegrini, for a 1-1 draw at 57.
When everything seemed to point to the even final, Brazilian-Uruguayan Roger Ibáñez signed the visitors’ winning goal at 87.
Ajax had gone 24 consecutive games without losing, taking into account all competitions, which was the longest streak for the historic club since 1995, the year in which they won their last European championship title.
In London, Arsenal ended up disappointed, drawing 1-1 with Slavia Prague.
Tomas Holes (90 + 4) equalized for the Czechs in the final discount, after the Ivorian Nicolas Pepé had overtaken the English in 86.
The outcome of the quarterfinals will take place on Thursday next week.
bur / dr