Defeats for Sociedad and Villarreal but Spanish trio progress to last 32 – Europa League Round-UpDecember 7, 2017
La Liga’s three Europa League representatives all made it through to the Last 32 stage on Thursday night despite defeats for Real Sociedad and Villarreal. I take a look back at the three games.
Athletic Bilbao headed to Ukraine to take on Zorya Luhansk needing at least a draw to join Swedes Oestersunds in the knockout stages.
The Basques started slowly but had the ball in the back of the net midway through the half only for it to be wrongly disallowed for offside.
Raul Garcia floated a cross to the back post where Aritz Aduriz controlled the ball and laid it on a plate for Inaki Williams to tap home. The goal looked legitimate but the nearside linesman ruled it out for offside against Williams despite replays clearly showing the forward in an onside position.
Garcia went close less than ten minutes later as he tried an acrobatic effort from the edge of the box but his shot flew just over the bar.
Twenty minutes from time though and the Basques would take the lead. Markel Susaeta’s free kick was headed home by Aduriz to the delight of the small travelling support.
Susaeta got his second assist at the death when his free kick from the opposite side fell to the unmarked Garcia who had time to control and find the bottom corner.
Athletic’s win coupled with Oestersunds draw away at Hertha Berlin saw Bilbao top the group and they will be seeded in Monday’s draw.
Their Basque rivals Real Sociedad were already assured of qualification and faced Zenit as they both fought for first place.
The home side were dominant for the majority of the game but fell behind on 35 minutes when Aleksandr Yerokhin smashed home the rebound after Geronimo Rulli had parried Emiliano Rigoni’s shot.
La Real had to win by three goals or more and levelled things up when Willian Jose tapped home Adan Januzaj’s ball across the face of goal.
They were only level for six minutes however as Branislav Ivanovic scored a fantastic overhead kick to put the Russians back in front.
Rulli punched clear from a corner but Daler Kuzyaev put the ball back into the box and Ivanovic controlled and then found the corner beautifully with his acrobatic effort.
Leandro Paredes wrapped up the victory five minutes from the end after some beautiful build up play with the midfielder’s quick feet creating the opportunity and he passed the ball into the corner.
Sociedad will be unseeded in the draw with Zenit as one of the seeded sides.
Villarreal topped their group despite a 1-0 defeat at home to Maccabi Tel Aviv.
The Yellow Submarine were already assured of top spot and Javier Calleja’s 18 man squad included 15 players who had come through the club’s cantera youth system.
His young side gave a good show of themselves but lost out to a strike on the hour mark from on loan Blackburn Rovers forward Nick Blackman.
They will be joined in the last 32 by Atletico Madrid after they finished third in their Champions League group.
The full seedings are as follows:
Arsenal Lazio AC Milan Salzburg Villarreal Dynamo Kyiv Atalanta Braga Lokomotiv Moscow Zenit Viktoria Plzen Athletic Bilbao CSKA Moscow Atletico Madrid Sporting Club RB Leipzig
Nice Partizan Belgrade Lyon Astana Ludogorets Razgrad AEK Athens Copenhagen Real Sociedad FC FCSB Oestersunds Crvena Zvezda Marseille Celtic Spartak Moscow Napoli Borussia Dortmund