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Friday, February 22, 2019

Europa League: Arsenal, Eintracht march into last 16

Arsenal beat BATE Borisov 3-0 to reach the Europa League last 16 after a 1-0 first-leg defeat by the Belarus champions and were joined by Eintracht Frankfurt who earned a 6-3 aggregate victory over Shakhtar Donetsk on Thursday. Salzburg were also big winners as their 4-0 home rout of Club Bruges gave the Austrian side a 5-2 overall win while two goals from Iran forward Sardar Azmoun handed Zenit St Petersburg a thrilling 3-2 aggregate success against Fenerbahce.

Napoli, winners of the UEFA Cup in 1989, had no problems beating FC Zurich 2-0 at home to advance 5-1 on aggregate. An early Zakhar Volkov own goal settled Arsenal’s nerves at the Emirates stadium as the defender turned a sharp low cross by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang into his own net in a frantic opening.

The Gunners enjoyed a huge let-off several minutes later when Stephan Lichsteiner cleared a Stanislav Dragun shot off the line before Shkodran Mustafi made it 2-0 with a thumping header from a Granit Xhaka corner. Switzerland midfielder Xhaka delivered another impressive corner on the hour for substitute Sokratis Papastathopoulos to head home from six metres with his first touch of the ball.
Following a 2-2 draw in Ukraine, Eintracht thumped Shakhtar 4-1 in an action-packed encounter with Sebastian Haller and Luka Jovic putting the German side in the driving seat before Junior Moraes pulled one back for the visitors. Marlos came within a whisker of an equaliser when he hit the woodwork before Haller netted his second and substitute Ante Rebic sealed the tie with a crisp low shot from 20 metres.
Unfazed by Munas Dabbur’s early penalty miss, Salzburg wiped out a 2-1 first-leg deficit thanks to a clinical first-half brace by Zambian forward Patson Daka after Xaver Schlager opened the scoring in the 11th minute. Dabbur made amends for his blunder to make it 4-0 on the night in the 90th minute.
Goals from Magomed Odzoev and Azmoun gave Zenit a 2-0 lead against Fenerbahce to put them on course for a last-16 berth after a 1-0 first-leg defeat in Istanbul. Their progress looked in peril after Mehmet Topal hauled the Turkish side back into the tie shortly before halftime but livewire Azmoun sealed the win in the 76th minute.
Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb thrashed Viktora Plzen 3-0 for a 4-2 aggregate win over the Czechs while a Kevin Gameiro goal gave Valencia a 1-0 win over 10-man Celtic who had Jeremy Toljan sent off in the first half.
The result completed Valencia’s 3-0 overall defeat of the 1967 European Cup winners.