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Europa League last-16 first-leg talking points

David de Gea prevented a rout and Marco Reus excelled out on a night when Shakhtar spread the goals around and holders Sevilla remained on course: our reporters recap the action.

David de Gea limited the damage for Manchester United
David de Gea limited the damage for Manchester United ©AFP/Getty Images
2016 highlights: Liverpool 2-0 Manchester United
2016 highlights: Liverpool 2-0 Manchester United

De Gea keeps United alive
Liverpool will be delighted to have beaten old rivals Manchester United 2-0 in Thursday's opening leg, but the Reds are far from safe yet – largely due to the heroics of United goalkeeper David de Gea. The Spanish international made a string of saves, most thrillingly from Coutinho in the second half, to give his side a fighting chance next week, providing some of his outfield colleagues up the performance levels.

Highlights: Watch Bakambu double for Villarreal
Highlights: Watch Bakambu double for Villarreal

Villarreal's strong foundations
This was the Spanish side's fifth win out of five at home in the UEFA Europa League this season, and their fifth clean sheet. Only Atlético Madrid have a better defensive record in Spain and it does not seem to matter who Marcelino selects – only Víctor Ruiz is ever-present at the back in Europe this season – the wall of yellow stands firm. Try as they might, Leverkusen could not put them out of shape. Scoring two next week will be a tall order.

Highlights: Dortmund 3-0 Tottenham
Highlights: Dortmund 3-0 Tottenham

How good is Marco Reus?
After his first-leg strike helped to see off Porto in the last round, Marco Reus's two goals in Dortmund's 3-0 win against Tottenham Hotspur have left Thomas Tuchel's side with one foot in the quarter-finals. Both strikes showcased the 26-year-old's excellent technique; arriving at the back post, the Germany international hammered an unstoppable volley past Hugo Lloris for his first, before rounding off a free-flowing team move with a half-volleyed finish for number two. "The nicest thing was to help the team with my two goals," said Reus.

First-leg highlights: Shakhtar 3 Anderlecht 1
First-leg highlights: Shakhtar 3 Anderlecht 1

Alex who?
January's loss of Alex Teixeira (scorer of 25 goals in the first half of the campaign) to China was expected to severely blunt Shakhtar Donetsk's strike force – it seems to have had the opposite effect. Five games into 2016 and the Pitmen have already managed 13 goals, shared between eight different players. The absence of a dominant target man has added a dimension to their play. As Anderlecht discovered.

First-leg highlights: Basel 0 Sevilla 0
First-leg highlights: Basel 0 Sevilla 0

Three in a row on for Sevilla
Sevilla ended up looking very comfortable at Basel, despite having lost all four of their European away games this season – a 0-0 draw taking them a step closer to an unprecedented third successive triumph. Basel, though, should not be underestimated in next week's rematch; they have lost just once in six away fixtures in Europe in 2015/16, and have scored in all of those matches. The prospect of playing in the 18 May final as hosts will also help to give Urs Fischer's side some edge.

Highlights: Sparta Praha 1-1 Lazio
Highlights: Sparta Praha 1-1 Lazio

Lazio still a class act
Underwhelming in Serie A and out of the Italian Cup, Stefano Pioli's Lazio have attracted the wrong kind of attention, rumblings in the Italian media suggesting defeat at Sparta Praha might have led to sweeping changes. The Biancocelesti showed a good deal of class to come from behind and earn a draw against a side on a four-game winning streak in this competition. Terrific at home in Europe all season, a continental trophy and a place in next season's UEFA Champions League would silence most of their critics.