Positive results for the three Spanish sides in tonight’s Europa League ties, although all of them still have work to do in next Thursday’s second legs if they are to make it through to the last sixteen. Athletic Bilbao were first up, and they came away from Torino with a 2-2 draw, despite leaving key players at home. Youngster Iñaki Williams gave the Basque side an early lead with his first senior goal, and although Maxi López scored twice to turn the scoreline around by the break, Gurpegui headed the equalizer later on. Later in the evening defending champions Sevilla beat Borussia Moenchengladbach 1-0, Iborra getting the only goal from Diogo’s cross with twenty minutes to go. And Villarreal won 2-1 against Salzburg, Cheryshev scoring the winner after a Jonathan Soriano penalty had cancelled out Uche’s first half strike. (19.02.15)
Although Athletic Bilbao’s Champions League campaign is over, they still have the consolation prize of the Europa League, and they got off to a good start with a 2-2 draw at Torino. Valverde left key players such as Aduríz at home, but with only nine minutes gone youngster Iñaki Williams turned in Viguera’s cross for his first senior goal. However Maxi López scored twice to turn the scoreline around by the break, the first with a low shot from Molinaro’s cross, and the second a header from Darmian’s centre, and Herrerín had to save from Molinaro early on in the second half. With just over a quarter of an hour to go though Gurpegui levelled it with a looping back-header from Beñat’s long free kick, and the veteran defender came close to winning it with another ahead against the crossbar near the end.
Defending champions Sevilla have the edge going into next week’s return match in Germany after beating Borussia Moenchengladbach 1-0 on Thursday evening. Although Fernando Navarro and Vitolo went close for the locals early on, Sergio Rico had to make good saves from Kramer and Johnson, and Wendt fired wide when free on goal soon after the restart. Unai Emery’s decision to bring on Diogo Figueiras for crowd favourite Reyes some ten minutes in to the second half got a few whistles from the home fans, but in the end it was Diogo’s cross that set up Iborra for what was to prove the only goal of the night with twenty minutes to go.
Villarreal beat Salzburg 2-1 in the first leg of their Europa League tie, and although that gives Marcelino’s side the advantage, the away goal leaves the outcome in the balance. Both keepers were in action early on, but the locals took the lead on the half hour mark, Uche drilling the rebound back into the net after Gulacsi saved from Vietto. The striker headed wide soon afterwards, but just three minutes in to the second half the Austrians drew level, Jonathan Soriano converting a penalty after Víctor Ruíz brought down Djuricin in the area. Cheryshev put Villarreal back in front though with a first time volley across Gulacsi after Vietto put him through, and the keeper had to save from Uche after that to prevent the scoreline from increasing.