UEFA Europa League Round of 32 Report; United, Spurs, Arsenal progress; Leicester City knocked-out
UEFA Europa League: Round of 32 match report 2021.
Coming on the back of a resounding 0-4 away win in the first leg, Manchester United were in control as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side eased into the last-16 of the Europa League with a 0-0 draw against Real Sociedad in the return fixture at Old Trafford.
Bruno Fernandes came the closest to scoring for the Red Devils in the opening stages as he hammered a lay-off from Fred onto the crossbar. Mikel Oyarzabal missed an opportunity to give the visitors an early lead when he shot a penalty wide.
Sociedad goalkeeper Alejandro Remiro was forced into a smart save from a Daniel James header before the break and Marcus Rashford went close a little after that. The game was in fact decided right from the start what with the hosts' four-goal cushion from last week's game in Turin ensuring their place in the Round of 16.
There was little doubt that Tottenham Hotspur would have an easy game on Thursday night after their 1-4 pounding of Austrian club Wolfsberger AC in the first leg of the tie in Budapest.
Jose Mourinho's team were already in control following their win in Hungary as Dele Alli scored a superb overhead kick to set the tone for remainder of the second leg in London. Carlos Vinicius scored twice in the 50th and 83rd minutes with Gareth Bale contributing to a fourth in the 73rd as Spurs completed their aggregate rout of 8-1 to move into the next stage.
Returning from a 1-1 draw at Rome's Olympic Stadium in the first leg of the Round of 32 tie, Arsenal found a dramatic late winner to overcome Portuguese opponents Benfica at the Emirates on Thursday night and set foot into the Round of 16 of the 2020-21 Europa League.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang opened the scoring for the Gunners to give his side a 2-1 aggregate lead with 21 minutes of play gone. Diogo Goncalves drew level for Benfica just before the interval with a fine free kick after Dani Ceballos had fouled Julian Weigl at the edge of the area.
Ceballos’s poorly headed clearance was the culprit as Rafa Silva raced clear to put Benfica in front in the 61st minute. With Mikel Arteta's side requiring two more to advance because of the away goals rule, Kieran Tierney's low drive in the 67th minute set up a climatic finish.
Aubameyang who came under severe criticism for numerous missed chances in the first leg made no mistake this time around as he converted from Bukayo Saka's back-post cross to give the Gunners the late winner just three minutes from the final whistle.
Counted as the favourites to go deep into the Europa League when the tournament for the 2020-21 season began, Leicester City were dumped out of by Czech side Slavia Prague 0-2 on aggregate at the King Power Stadium on Thursday night.
With James Maddison out with a hip injury and in-form winger Harvey Barnes consigned to the bench for the first hour, Brendan Rodgers' team were a shadow of the side pushing for Champions League qualification at the top of the Premier League.
The Foxes fell behind four minutes after the break when Nicolae Stanciu's deep cross found an unmarked Lukas Provod who steered his volley in and leave Leicester needing to score twice to progress.
Jamie Vardy and Barnes had shots blocked but Slavia were rarely troubled and were able to secure their place in the last 16 when Abdallah Sima was allowed space to turn and drill home past Kasper Schmeichel from outside the box.
Rodgers took responsibility for leaving Barnes out and seemed to console himself by saying that a strong Premier League finish and the ongoing FA Cup campaign were his primary objectives.
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