Europa Conference League knockout round play-off second legs: Anderlecht and Gent through on penalties
Thursday, February 23, 2023
Belgian pair Anderlecht and Gent won on penalties to reach the round of 16 while Fiorentina were in the goals again.
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Anderlecht and Gent both made it through on penalties as the UEFA Europa Conference round of 16 line-up was completed.
Anderlecht 2-1 Ludogorets (agg: 2-2; 3-0 pens)
Bart Verbruggen saved all three Ludogorets penalties as Anderlecht made it through. The Belgian side took the lead on the night when Franco Russo deflected in Islam Slimani's shot, and went ahead on aggregate in the second half as Yari Verschaeren squeezed a shot in. But Ludogorets got back on terms in the tie within three minutes when Thiago, scorer of the only goal in the first leg, prodded in. Jakub Piotrowski was sent off for the visitors midway through the first period of extra time, and although his team hung on for the shoot-out, they were denied by the inspired Verbruggen.
Ludogorets were beaten on penalties for the first time in European competition, having previously defeated Steaua (2014) and Olympiacos (2021) in the UEFA Champions League.
Gent 1-0 Qarabağ (agg: 1-1; pens 5-3)
Davy Roef was the hero with a crucial penalty save as Gent ousted Qarabağ. Roef saved a penalty in the first leg, and that proved crucial as his side won 1-0 in the return despite riding their luck at times. Emmanuel Orban scored the goal shortly after coming off the bench. Yassine Benzia had an effort disallowed deep into added time and after a goalless extra time it was the Algerian whose spot kick was saved down to his right by penalty specialist Roef.
Gent had not won a knockout tie in European football since beating Tottenham six years ago tonight.
Winners of the ties will take their place in Friday's round of 16 draw, where they will meet the group winners.
The group winners are AZ Alkmaar, Djurgården, İstanbul Başakşehir, Nice, Sivasspor, Slovan Bratislava, Villarreal, West Ham.
Fiorentina 3-2 Braga (agg: 7-2)
Fiorentina survived an early scare to see off Braga and reach the round of 16. The Italian side – 4-0 up from the first leg – looked on edge as both André Castro and Álvaro Djaló struck from range in Florence. But Giacomo Bonaventura provided three assists as Rolando Mandragora turned in, Riccardo Saponara levelled and Arthur Cabral volleyed a winner.
Fiorentina have scored in 13 consecutive home games in European competition.
Best of the rest
- Mouhamed Diop scored twice in three minutes either side of half-time as Sheriff won 3-1 at Partizan to go through 3-2 on aggregate.
- Basel recovered from a first-leg loss at Trabzonspor to progress, Andi Zeqiri scoring the winner in the tie.
- Lech Poznan reached the last 16 of a European competition for the first time as Mikael Ishak's second-half goal was enough to see off Bodø/Glimt.