Europa League Quarterfinals Review: Tight Encounters Set Stage for Second Legs Next Week

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RB Leipzig 1-1 Atalanta B.C.

A mouthwatering tie featuring two potent offenses that are known to concede delivered on its promise, despite only two goals being scored as RB Leipzig and Atalanta shared the spoils.

Luis Muriel latched on to a pass by Davide Zappacosta, and cut inside two Leipzig defenders to curl an astonishing rocket into the top right corner past the helpless Peter Gulacsi to give Atalanta the lead in the 17th minute.

Leipzig’s reply would come later in the second half, as rising star Cristopher Nkunku was brought down by Merih Demiral and referee Michael Oliver had no choice but to award the penalty. Andre Silva stepped up, and saw his shot thwarted by Argentine goalkeeper Juan Musso. The rebound fell to Willi Orban who’s diving header was once again saved by Musso, and Atalanta were able to clear. Only seconds later, Leipzig left back Angelino whipped in a dangerous ball, forcing Zappacosta to attempt a disastrous clearance that resulted with him putting it into the back of his own net.

One of the strangest turn of events of this campaign means that fans will have to wait until next Thursday to see which side comes out on top.

S.C. Braga 1-0 Rangers F.C.

Rangers have been the surprise story of this season’s Europa League, yet they fell short as they were unable to overcome a resilient Braga in Portugal on Thursday night.

Braga thought they had grabbed the opener, when Ricardo Horta’s shot from close range deflected off Rangers’ James Tavernier to make it 1-0. VAR would spoil Braga’s party, as Braga’s Fabiano was deemed to have fouled Ryan Jack in the buildup to the goal, thus ruling it out.

An undeterred Braga would deservedly take a 1-0 lead for the second time, this time with no VAR check to interfere. In the 39th minute, Tavernier’s misguided clearance allowed former Barcelona starlet Abel Ruiz to fire a precise strike at Allan McGregor’s near post to open the scoring for Braga.

Eintracht Frankfurt 1-1 FC Barcelona

Barcelona’s new era under Xavi has enjoyed a brilliant start, and they were able to earn a hard-fought draw at the raucous Deutsche Bank Park in Frankfurt.

An eventful first half surprisingly finished 0-0 after Kevin Trapp brilliantly saved Barcelona’s two best efforts from Ferran Torres and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Frankfurt then saw their penalty overturned, after VAR saw no wrongdoing in Sergio Busquets’ tackle on Rafa Borre’s rebound effort.

The second half proved to be another story, however, when 20 year old German right back Ansgar Gnauff collected a Barcelona clearance off a corner and let an astonishing half volley rip past Marc Andre Ter Stegen’s outstretched arms into the top right corner for a 1-0 lead in the 48th minute.

Frankfurt could have made it 2-0 only minutes later, but Jesper Lindstrom’s effort blazed over the bar.

Barcelona weathered the momentum the Germans had generated, and responded in style in the 65th minute. A beautiful combination between Ferran Torres and Frenkie de Jong ended with the former driving a low shot beyond Kevin Trapp to equalize.

Frankfurt’s efforts to regain the lead were hindered in the 78th minute, after Tuta received his second yellow card of the night for bringing down Spanish prodigy Pedri.

West Ham United F.C. 1-1 Olympique Lyonnais

10 man West Ham were able to hang on to a 1-1 draw that they will feel is a worthy effort going into the second leg, despite having surrendered the lead against Lyon.

West Ham were dealt a devastating blow when Aaron Cresswell brought down Lyon’s Moussa Dembele at the top of the box. Being the last man, Cresswell received a straight red and headed to the tunnels for an early shower.

This didn’t faze the Hammers however, as in form winger Jarrod Bowen capitalized on Jerome Boateng’s mistake to put the London club in front in the 52nd minute. An unlucky sequence of events for the massively experienced Boateng, as his attempt to clear ended at the feet of Bowen. In a last ditch effort to make up for his mistake, his sliding block ended up taking the ball into his own net.

Nonetheless, Lyon were able to make their one man advantage felt, when Kenny Tete’s low cross in the 66th minute led the way for on-loan Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele to tap in for one of the easiest finishes he’ll ever have.

About Post Author

Adam Echchaibi

Sports journalist who made the mistake of supporting Juventus and Arsenal. Attended the University of Colorado-Boulder 2017-2022.
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  • Sports journalist who made the mistake of supporting Juventus and Arsenal. Attended the University of Colorado-Boulder 2017-2022.

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