Europa League round of 16 first legs: Manchester United, Roma, Sevilla and Leverkusen take control
Thursday, 9 March 2023
Manchester United, Roma, Sevilla and Leverkusen were the big winners at home while Arsenal were forced to settle for an away draw.
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Manchester United, Roma, Sevilla and Leverkusen opened up significant leads while Arsenal and Union Berlin played out thrilling draws on an entertaining evening of UEFA Europa League round of 16 first legs.
UEFA.com rounds up the action from all eight matches.
Union Berlin 3-3 Union Saint-Gilloise
A pulsating first leg in the German capital ended all square. Victor Boniface broke the deadlock before Josip Juranović's free-kick levelled the scores. Yorbe Vertessen re-established the visitors' lead but Robin Knoche scored a second equaliser from the rebound after Anthony Moris had saved his penalty. Boniface netted again, but the hosts had the last word thanks to Sven Michel's brilliant close-range finish.
Union Berlin have won five of their last seven Europa League matches (D2).
Leverkusen 2-0 Ferencváros
Xabi Alonso's side took a big step towards the quarter-finals with a solid first-leg win against Ferencváros. Kerem Demirbay fizzed the hosts ahead before half-time and a late diving header from Edmond Tapsoba, after Adam Hložek's sublime free-kick came back off the post, gave the German outfit a healthy advantage before the return leg in Hungary.
Leverkusen had lost their last four Europa League knockout fixtures in Germany before this game.
Sporting CP 2-2 Arsenal
Hidemasa Morita's own goal saved the Premier League leaders after Rúben Amorim's men had come from behind to lead. Arsenal's William Saliba and Sporting's Gonçalo Inácio traded first-half headers before Paulinho's predatory finish edged the Portuguese side in front in the 55th minute. Paulinho should have added a third and the hosts paid the price when Granit Xhaka's speculative effort deflected in off Morita.
Arsenal have lost only one of their last ten UEFA club competition matches against Portuguese opposition (W5 D4).
Roma 2-0 Real Sociedad
The Giallorossi claimed the advantage with a victory launched by Stephan El Shaarawy's 13th-minute opener, pouncing at close range following a rapid counterattack and precise Tammy Abraham cross. La Real's Takefusa Kubo and Roma substitute Andrea Belotti both struck the woodwork before Marash Kumbulla headed in Paulo Dybala's corner three minutes from time.
Roma have scored in 35 of their last 36 European matches.
The second legs of all these ties take place on Thursday 16 March; the away goals rule has been abolished. The eight winners advance to the quarter-final draw on Friday 17 March, which is an open draw with no seedings, while the eight losers will no longer be involved in 2022/23 European competition.
Sevilla 2-0 Fenerbahçe
A deflected effort by Joan Jordán and Erik Lamela's late strike gave Sevilla victory over Fenerbahçe with the help of a much-improved second half showing. Goalkeeper Marko Dmitrović repeatedly came to the hosts' rescue before the opening goal, producing notable saves to deny Ferdi Kadıoğlu and Joshua King when both broke clear.
Sevilla are unbeaten in 19 first-leg matches in the Europa League knockout phase, winning 15.
Juventus 1-0 Freiburg
Ángel Di María impressed throughout and earned Juventus a slender lead to take to Freiburg when the sides meet again next Thursday. After Juan Cuadrado was twice denied by busy away keeper Mark Flekken in the first period, Di María leapt to power in a header after the break on a night where Freiburg played with poise but lacked a cutting edge.
Juventus have lost only one of their last 21 Europa League matches (W11 D9).
Man United 4-1 Betis
Erik ten Hag's side surged into a commanding position with a three-goal second half against the Spanish hopefuls, who were holding their own when Ayoze Pérez cancelled out Marcus Rashford's early opener. Antony's wonderful effort in the 52nd minute opened the floodgates, though, with Bruno Fernandes quickly making it three and Wout Weghorst adding gloss late on.
United are unbeaten in their last 14 home matches in the knockout phase of the Europa League (W10 D4).
Shakhtar 1-1 Feyenoord
Ezequiel Bullaude's first Feyenoord goal two minutes from time salvaged a draw in Warsaw. The hosts were indebted to keeper Anatoliy Trubin, who produced one stunning stop to claw Danilo Pereira's looping header out, to keep the deadlock intact until Yaroslav Rakitskyy glanced Shakhtar ahead with their first effort on target on 79 minutes. However, Bullaude rose to meet a fine cross from fellow sub Marco Paixao just two minutes after coming on to ensure parity ahead of the return leg in Rotterdam.
Shakhtar have won only two of their last 16 European matches (D7 L7).