A win for Valencia and draws for the two Andalusian teams as the knock-out stage of the Europa League commenced on Thursday. Valencia’s game against Dynamo Kiev was switched at the last minute to Cyprus due to the current unrest in the Ukrainian capital, and the Ches ran out 0-2 winners to virtually ensure a place in the next round. The goals didn’t come until the last ten minutes though, Vargas heading in a Dani Parejo corner and Feghouli firing in a shot which deflected in to the net off a defender. Sevilla clocked up a 2-2 draw at Maribor which gives them the edge for the second leg, although they will be disappointed that they allowed Vrsic a late equalizer after second half strikes by Gameiro and Fazio had overturned a Tavares opener. Betis will also not be happy with a 1-1 draw at home to Rubin Kazan, especially after the Russian side had to play the last hour with ten men. Didac put the hosts in front in only the third minute, but with a quarter of an hour to go an Eremenko penalty saved a draw for the visitors. (20.02.14)
Valencia are close to a place in the last sixteen of the Europa League after they beat Dynamo Kiev 0-2 on Thursday evening. The game was switched at the last minute to Cyprus due to the current unrest in the Ukrainian capital, and there was a minute’s silence for the victims of the fighting before kick off. Neither side caused too many problems though in the first half, Veloso and Gusev going close for Dynamo and Michel firing a shot wide for the Ches. Pizzi eventually turned to Vargas and Feghouli however, and they immediately made their mark, the former bringing a couple of good saves out of Rybka (who had replaced the injured Shovkovskiy), and the latter just failing to hit the target twice. With ten minutes to go Vargas got on the end of a Dani Parejo corner to head the visitors in to the lead, and the Brazilian striker headed against the woodwork before Feghouli made it two in injury time, his shot from Pereira’s cross hitting Vida and bouncing in to the net.
Sevilla clocked up a 2-2 draw at Maribor which gives them the edge for the second leg, although they will be disappointed that they allowed a late equalizer after they had overturned a first half opener from Tavares. Only a good save by Javi Varas from Viler prevented the Slovenian side from going further ahead before the break, but after the restart Gameiro had a shot saved before he got on the end of a long Rakitic cross to level the scores. With twenty minutes to go Fazio got above the defence to head in a Rakitic corner, but ten minutes later Vrsic picked the ball up outside of the area and fired a long shot past Varas to make it all square again. Trochowski came close to winning it for the Andalusians when his shot was deflected on to the post in the last minute, but with two away goals in the bag Unai Emery’s side have probably done enough to see them through to the last sixteen, where they will meet city rivals Betis if both can win through.
Another disappointment for Betis, who could only draw 1-1 against ten man Rubin Kazan despite dominating for much of the game. Didac battled past a couple of defenders to put the hosts in front in only the third minute, and only a couple of good saves by Ryzhikov from Leo Baptistao and Cedrick stopped them from going further ahead before the break. With half an hour gone the visitors were left with ten men when centre forward Prudnikov picked up two bookings in quick succession, and although Torbinski finally tested Adán, Baptistao and Cedrick both went close again before the half time whistle. After the restart Ryzhikov was in action again to keep out a Cedrick header, but the locals gradually ran out of steam, and with a quarter of an hour to go the Belgian referee awarded a dubious penalty to Rubin after Lolo Reyes felled Karadeniz on the edge of the area, Eremenko stepping up to fire home the resulting spot kick. Betis now have a tricky trip to Russia next Thursday, but they do have an added incentive to win, as they have been drawn against city rivals Sevilla in the next round.