LONDON: Manchester United and Manchester City may be first and second in the English Premier League but they are nobodies in Europe after both tumbled out of the Europa League, following their relegations from the Champions League group stage.
United lost 2-1 on the night and 5-3 on aggregate against Athletic in Bilbao while City missed out on the away goals rule after a spirited second-half recovery against Sporting Clube of Lisbon resulted in ‘only’ a 3-2 win which failed to make up the group lost by a single-goal defeat in the first leg in Portugal.
Goals from Matias Fernandez (33 minutes) and Ricky van Wolfswinkel (40) gave Sporting a 2-0 half-time lead. City turned that advantage on its head with second-half strikes from Sergio Aguero (two) and Mario Balotelli (penalty) but it was not enough – though advancing keeper Joe Hart went close with a very late header.
As for United, 3-2 losers at home a week ago, Wayne Rooney’s 27th goal of the season proved little consolation after United went behind to a fine volley after 23 minutes from Fernando Llorente. Oscar de Marcos made it 2-0 in the 65th minute with a deflected shot before Rooney pulled one back.
Elsewhere AZ Alkmaar survived the third minute sending-off of Nick Viergever to hang on for a 2-1 defeat at Udinese which was enough to send them through 3-2 on aggregate. Viergever’s early dismissal threw the Dutch Eredivisie leaders into chaos and things looked bleak when two goals from Antonio Di Natale drew the hosts level on aggregate within the opening 15 minutes. But Udinese failed to make the most of their chances and AZ went back in front through a 31st minute strike from Erik Falkenburg..
Ukrainians Metalist Kharkiv staged a fine late comeback to nudge out Olympiacos with a 2-1 win in Greece which saw them through on the away goals rule. Ivan Marcano’s early goal put Olympiacos further ahead on aggregate but Cristian Villagra equalised on the night in the 81st minute and Marko Devic scored the all-important winner four minutes from time.
A Klaas Jan Huntelaar hat-trick helped Schalke also come back from behind to beat Steve McClaren’s FC Twente, with a 4-1 win on the night giving them a 4-2 aggregate win. Willem Janssen had extended Twente’s advantage with a 14th-minute opening strike, but Huntelaar equalised on 29 and added two further second-half goals either side of a 71st-minute effort from Jermaine Jones.
Atletico de Madrid wrapped up an impressive 6-1 aggregate win over Besiktas with a 3-0 win in Turkey. Adrian Lopez put the Spaniards ahead before late goals from Radamel Falcao and Eduardo Salvio completed their easy passage.
Hannover left no room for doubt with a crushing 4-0 second leg win over Standard Liege in Germany to send them through to the quarter-finals 6-2 on aggregate. Mohammed Abdellaoue opened the scoring on four minutes before two own goals from Brazilian Kanu either side of the break. Sergio Pinto added a fourth in stoppage time after Standard had Serge Gakpe sent off.
Valencia moved through 5-3 on aggregate after a 1-1 draw at PSV. Adil Rami opened the scoring for Valencia on 47 before Ola Toivonen equalised. Goalscorer Rami was sent off in injury time.