After having witnessed some very interesting first leg matches in the Europa League’s Round of 32, it was time for Europe and the rest of the world to find out which teams would be going through to theRound of 16 and get closer to becoming the second champions of Europe. For some teams, a second leg was an opportunity to finish what they had started; for others, it was an opportunity to turn things around. One thing’s for sure, though: each and every team was out to go out and do the best they could.
Some results were unexpected while some very few were predictable; all in all, however, Thursday, February 21st, 2013 was an exciting night in Europa League football!
Liverpool vs. Zenit Saint Petersburg
Liverpool were not in a very comfortable position after having lost in Saint Petersburg, and even worse, not having scored an away goal. Having put this under serious consideration, Brendan Rodgers’ men went into this match with only one mission: to win, and win by a big margin. Knowing that even one Zenit away goal would make their hill even harder to climb, they lined up a very strong defense along with a very strong attack. Zenit, in the same manner, were looking to get some away goals to finish what they had started in the first leg, and they planned to do so by lining up a strong team all in all. Unfortunately for the former, however, they made one very serious mistake, and that cost them their lives in the Europa League. A Jamie Carragher back-pass fell to Hulk, who got Zenit the away-goal they had planned to get. Liverpool controlled the whole game from then on, and scored three goals of their own, but were unable to get a fourth, meaning that Zenit were through on the away-goal rule.
The home side had more attempts and better chances, but the away side’s defensiveness paid off in the end. Only two yellow cards were issued between the two teams and no players were sent off during this game.
Brendan Rodgers and Luciano Spalletti lined up the following teams:
Liverpool Starting XI:
Reina, Johnson, Enrique, Agger, Carragher, Gerrard (c), Lucas, Downing, Allen, Suarez, Henderson
Subs: Gulacsi, Coates, Wisdom, Suso, Assaidi, Shelvey, and Sterling
Zenit Starting XI:
Malafeev, Anyukov, Luis Neto, Hubocan, Lombaerts, Semak, Shirokov (c), Denisov, Witsel, Danny, Hulk
Subs: Zhenov, Bruno Alves, Bukharov, Kerzakhov, Fayzulin, Rodic, and Criscito
Final Score: Liverpool 3-1 Zenit Saint Petersburg* (Agg: 3-3)
Hulk 19′, Suarez 28′, 59′, Allen 43′
Round of 16:
Having eliminated Liverpool, Zenit will face Basel in the round of 16. They will play the first leg away and the second at home.
Viktoria Plzen vs. SSC Napoli
Napoli were probably faced with one of the biggest challenges on the night, as they had already conceded three goals in Naples and had a whole mountain to climb in Plzen. They would need a miracle to get past the Czechs and did as much as they could to get something back but it was all in vain. The away team had a few more attempts than the home team (17 against 10), although they had fewer good chances. Plzen took advantage of Napoli’s slips and added to their tally, making it 5 goals (6 if they hadn’t hit the woodwork) against Napoli. One thing I’m sure many of us were very surprised to see was Cavani not start! Referee on the night, Viktor Kassai, issued 8 yellow cards for 40 fouls committed between the two teams, but no players were sent off during this match.
Pavel Vrba and Walter Mazzarri lined up the following squads:
Plzen Starting XI:
Kozacik, Limbersky, Reznik, Prochazka, Clsovsky, Horvath (c), Darida, Kovarik, Kolar, Bakos, Rajtoral
Subs: Pavlik, Hejda, Zeman, Duris, Stipek, Tecl, and Fillo
Napoli Starting XI:
De Sanctis, Maggio (c), Rolando, Gamberini, Zuniga, Dzemaili, Behrami, Pandev, Insigne, Calaio, Donadel
Subs: Rosati, Campagnaro, El Kaddouri, Mesto, Inler, Cannavaro, and Cavani
Final Score: Viktoria Plzen* 2-0 Napoli (Agg: 5-0)
Kovarik 51′, Tecl, 74′
Round of 16:
Having eliminated Napoli, Viktoria Plzen will face Fenerbahçe in the round of 16. They will play the first leg at home and the second away.
Written by Ange Marline