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Aubameyang on fire, Sevilla march on – 5 Europa League talking points

The second-legs of the Europa League last-16 on Thursday provided us with some great entertainment, on a memorable night for Liverpool.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Wednesday, March 16, 2016: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates after a 1-1 draw, 3-1 on aggregate, victory over Manchester United during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 2nd Leg match at Old Trafford. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Reds qualified for the quarter-finals at the expense of bitter rivals Man United, with the 1-1 draw at Old Trafford earning Jurgen Klopp‘s team a 3-1 win on aggregate.

Anthony Martial’s first-half penalty certainly made things nervy for the visitors, but a sublime Philippe Coutinho effort on the stroke of half-time effectively put the tie to bed.

There was a discipline and authority about Liverpool’s performance – Mamadou Sakho, Dejan Lovren and Emre Can were all superb – and they will be a match for anyone left in the competition.

Here are five talking points from Thursday’s action.

Controversy in all-Spanish affair

If United being dumped out of Europe wasn’t enough to make Gary Neville’s evening miserable, his Valencia side exited the competition in controversial circumstances.

Trailing 1-0 to Athletic Bilbao from the first-leg, Neville’s men turned the tie on its head, leading 2-0 at half-time.

Just as it looked as though he would be guiding his side to the last-eight, Bilbao’s lethal marksman Aritz Aduriz scored his 31st goal of the season, bagging a crucial away goal in the process.

A handball in the lead-up to the goal went unpunished, however, and an incensed Neville was sent to the stands for his furious reaction.

When it rains, it pours.

Relentless Aubameyang downs Spurs

Tottenham‘s visit of Borussia Dortmund saw the north Londoners tasked with somehow overturning a 3-0 deficit at White Hart Lane.

It never remotely looked like materialising, as the German giants continue to show why they are the bookies’ favourites to win the Europa League this season.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is one of the most in-form strikers in world football on current form, and the Gabon international once again inspired his side to victory.

He scored twice on the night, taking his goal tally for 2015/16 to 35 in all competitions, and there are likely to be some big-money bids for the 26-year-old this summer.

Son Heung-min’s consolation did little to dampen Dortmund spirits, and it is now time for Spurs to focus solely on winning the Premier League title.

Sparta Prague produce shock result

Lazio’s 1-1 draw away to Sparta Prague last week made the Serie A side firm favourites to progress after the second-leg, but it didn’t pan out that way whatsoever.

The Biancoceleste crumbled in front of their own supporters, with Sparta producing an emphatic 3-0 victory that nobody saw coming.

Borek Dockal and Ladislav Krejci scored quickfire goals to put the Czech outift in complete control, and Lukas Julis’ volley put the icing on the cake just before the break.

Sparta have not been expected to do much in the Europa League this season, but this result will make people sit up and take notice.

Sevilla still on course for hat-trick of titles

Sevilla’s feats in Europe in the last decade have gone criminally under the radar, with the La Liga side looking for a third straight Europa League crown, and a fifth in 10 years.

Having drawn 0-0 away to Basel in the first-leg, their imperious home form was sure to get them through to the quarters, and that is exactly what happened.

They cruised to a 3-0 win on the night, and along with Dortmund, they will be the team Liverpool will want to avoid most in Friday’s draw.

Frenchman Adil Rami eased the nerves inside the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium, and a Kevin Gameiro double ensured Sevilla cruised into yet another European quarter-final.

They are a force to be reckoned with.

Braga steamroller Fenerbahce to reach last-eight

When any team takes a 1-0 lead going into a second-leg, you fancy their chances to progress. This applied to Fenerbahce on Thursday, as they visited Sporting Braga for the second-leg of their last-16 showdown.

The Portuguese team had other ideas, however, sealing a magnificent 4-1 win to stun their opponents. There was far more to the story than just that, though.

The two sides were all square at 1-1 at the interval, with Hassan Koka giving the hosts the lead and Alper Potuk putting Fenerbahce back in charge on the stroke of half-time.

A crazy second-half saw Mehmet Topal sent-off for the visitors, before Josue, Nikola Stojilkovic and Rafa Silva all scored for Braga to send the home fans delirious.

There was still time for both Potuk and Volkan Sen to receive their marching orders, as Fenerbahce finished the game with just eight men on the pitch.

Full list of results

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Wednesday, March 16, 2016: Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia celebrates scoring the first goal against Manchester United during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 2nd Leg match at Old Trafford. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Bayer Leverkusen 0-0 Villarreal
Villarreal won 2-0 on aggregate

Lazio 0-3 Sparta Prague
Sparta Prague won 4-1 on aggregate

Valencia 2-1 Athletic Bilbao
Bilbao won 2-2 on away goals

Man United 1-1 Liverpool
Liverpool won 3-1 on aggregate

Anderlecht 0-1 Shakhtar Donetsk
Donetsk won 4-1 on aggregate

Sevilla 3-0 Basel
Sevilla won 3-0 on aggregate

Sporting Braga 4-1 Fenerbahce
Braga won 4-2 on aggregate

Tottenham 1-2 Borussia Dortmund
Dortmund won 5-1 on aggregate

Man United 1-1 Liverpool

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