UEFA.com works better on other browsers
For the best possible experience, we recommend using Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft Edge.

Europa League knockout round play-off second legs: Game-by-game preview

Get the lowdown on the eight UEFA Europa League knockout round play-off second legs.

Mike Maignan and Olivier Giroud on the eve of Milan's second leg away to Rennes
Mike Maignan and Olivier Giroud on the eve of Milan's second leg away to Rennes AC Milan via Getty Images

Milan, Benfica, Galatasaray, Sporting CP and Qarabağ enter the second legs holding an advantage, while three ties – including Roma versus Feyenoord – remain evenly poised following first-leg draws. Get the lowdown on every game.

Sign up for a free MyUEFA account to watch live streams and on-demand content, play games and challenge your friends, win money-can't-buy prizes, and apply for tickets to Europe’s biggest games.

What are the knockout round play-offs?

There are 16 teams involved in the Europa League knockout round play-offs: the eight runners-up from the Europa League group stage and the eight third-placed teams from the UEFA Champions League group stage.

Ties are played over two legs and will conclude on Thursday 22 February; the away goals rule has been abolished. The eight play-off winners join the eight group winners in the round of 16 draw on Friday 23 February; the eight play-off losers will no longer be involved in 2023/24 European competition.

Thursday 22 February

18:45: Rennes vs Milan (first leg: 0-3)

Two Ruben Loftus-Cheek headers and a wonderfully-worked goal between Theo Hernández and scorer Rafael Leão gave a flowing Rossoneri a comfortable home victory in the first leg. Rennes threatened at times but Milan, who dominated possession, provided the moments of quality which the visitors could not, despite some exciting late attacking efforts.

Rennes defender Arthur Theate admitted as much post-match, telling UEFA.com that he and his team-mates felt Milan "didn't control the whole game" but were better in "the key moments". He added: "It's not over, anything can happen. Anything is possible at home."

Rennes have scored in all but two of their last 17 Europa League fixtures but the signs at San Siro indicated Milan could cause serious problems on the counterattack as the French side search for a route back into this tie. They will need to be well-balanced as well as brilliant in attack to cause an upset in the second leg.

Did you know?
Milan have eight players in their squad who have played in France: Olivier Giroud, Rafael Leão, Mike Maignan, Simon Kjaer, Yacine Adli, Alessandro Florenzi, Ismaël Bennacer and Pierre Kalulu.

Highlights: Milan 3-0 Rennes
Play Europa League Predictor!

18:45: Freiburg vs Lens (first leg: 0-0)

Despite Franck Haise believing that a "number of his players did not perform at the level we would have liked", Lens dug in to keep out a determined Freiburg in the first leg. "We still believe [we can qualify]," says Lens defender Kevin Danso, whose instinctive block denied Maximilian Eggestein the best chance of the evening.

Christian Streich had considered the first leg a "must-win match" as Freiburg travelled to France on the back of three German Bundesliga defeats. That said, he opted to start club top scorer Vincenzo Grifo (nine goals in all competitions, including four in the Europa League) and Michael Gregoritsch (three in the Europa League) on the bench.

As Freiburg aim for the last 16 for a second successive season, having weathered the storm, Lens coach Haise declares "everything is still possible" as his men look to continue their first European campaign since 2007/08.

Did you know?
Freiburg have only played French opposition three times in UEFA competition (W2 D1). The first two matches were against Nantes in last season's Europa League.

Highlights: Lens 0-0 Freiburg

18:45: Toulouse vs Benfica (first leg: 1-2)

Speaking before a first leg decided by Ángel Di María's last-gasp penalty, former Benfica winger Simão Sabrosa – the club's head of international relations – said the strong Portuguese community in France could inspire the Eagles in Toulouse.

The two-time European champions may need that support, having struggled to break down knockout stage debutants who were in confident mood during their 2-1 defeat in Lisbon, keeping to their passing principles and absorbing pressure, as well as equalising through Mikkel Desler's volley.

"Benfica are a very big team," said Violets boss Carles Martínez Novell, praising his side while looking forward to the atmosphere he anticipates from the home fans. "I expect a similar game in the second leg, but hopefully we'll have more chances. We're going to try everything we can to turn the result around. There are four parts; we're halfway through."

Did you know?
Toulouse qualified for the Europa League by winning their first ever trophy in the form of the Coupe de France last season. They scored 25 goals in seven games on their glorious run, including four in the first 31 minutes of a 5-1 defeat of Nantes in the final at the Stade de France.

Highlights: Benfica 2-1 Toulouse

18:45: Qarabağ vs Braga (first leg: 4-2)

Qarabağ are 90 minutes away from reaching the round of 16 in a major European competition for the first time. Gurban Gurbanov's side headed into the first leg against a Braga side that had won each of their three previous Europa League knockout matches on home soil without conceding.

However, Qarabağ ran amok at Estádio Municipal de Braga, Abdellah Zoubir scoring twice with Marko Janković and Juninho were also on target. The Horsemen still have work to do to progress, but they will be buoyed by the fact they have lost just two of their last 26 European matches on home soil.

Did you know?
Qarabağ have failed to score in just one of their 15 European matches this season.

Highlights: Braga 2-4 Qarabağ

Who is through to the last 16?

Atalanta (ITA)
Brighton (ENG)
Leverkusen (GER)
Liverpool (ENG)
Rangers (SCO)
Slavia Praha (CZE)
Villarreal (ESP)
West Ham (ENG)

21:00: Roma vs Feyenoord (first leg: 1-1)

How important will very near-misses in the first leg prove when Roma and Feyenoord meet in the Italian capital? After Leandro Paredes' strike for Daniele De Rossi's side was tipped against the crossbar by Timon Wellenreuther with the score goalless, Luka Ivanušec was unlucky to smack the outside of a post with a cleverly disguised free-kick during second-half added time of their 1-1 draw.

"For them, it's easier because we've played pretty much the same way over the last two years," Feyenoord's Quilindschy Hartman theorised, discussing the familiarity of a fixture which has taken place six times in nine years, with Roma prevailing at home after extra time to reach the semi-finals last season.

"But every player can still cause you difficulties. We just have to learn from the first game and take it to the next level."

Did you know?
During his 18-year career as a player for the club, new Roma coach De Rossi was named captain for the first time in a match in the round of 16 of this competition, taking the armband against English opponents Middlesbrough in March 2006.

Highlights: Feyenoord 1-1 Roma

21:00: Sporting CP vs Young Boys (first leg: 3-1)

Led by lively in-form talisman Viktor Gyökeres and the creative Marcus Edwards, visitors Sporting established themselves as clear favourites to progress in the first leg. Edwards forced an Aurele Amenda own goal before winning a penalty for Gyökeres to convert.

Young Boys bounced back immediately through Filip Ugrinic but cancelled out their good work at the start of the second half by allowing Gonçalo Inácio to head in Pedro Gonçalves's free-kick. Mohamed Ali Camara's late red card compounded the visitors' woes.

Returning home with a two-goal advantage, Portuguese league leaders Sporting will be confident of seeing this job through. Young Boys are seeking a first-ever win over Portuguese opposition and will need to play with greater attacking incision to have a chance of completing a dramatic turnaround.

Did you know?
Sporting were Europa League quarter-finalists last season.

Highlights: Young Boys 1-3 Sporting CP

21:00: Sparta Praha vs Galatasaray (first leg: 2-3)

It was not match-winner Mauro Icardi who drew praise from team-mate Dries Mertens and coach Okan Buruk after a five-goal thriller, goalkeeper Fernando Muslera gaining the plaudits instead. Sparta's attempts to play balls in behind the Turkish team's defence and general counterattacking tactics caused headaches for those of a Galatasaray persuasion, and the Czech outfit were foiled on a number of occasions by Muslera's heroics.

Buruk also commended his group's reaction to conceding to Jan Kuchta's header shortly after Victor Nelsson's dismissal, while Brian Priske felt his Czech champions brought their "best out to the pitch" despite the defeat. If they can both replicate that performance, the meeting in Prague has all the ingredients to replicate an enthralling first leg.

Did you know?
Sparta have won both their previous home meetings with Galatasaray, scoring three goals in each fixture.

Highlights: Galatasaray 3-2 Sparta Praha

21:00: Marseille vs Shakhtar Donetsk (first leg: 2-2)

Marseille allowed a lead to slip twice in the first leg, and on Tuesday announced that they had parted company with coach Gennaro Gattuso, with former Ivory Coast boss Jean-Louis Gassetannounced as his replacement. The Shakhtar game will be the 70-year-old's first in charge of his new side.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will have additional motivation as he looks to impress Gasset; he will become the Europa League's all-time leading scorer outright should he find the target again in the second leg. The Marseille striker matched Radamel Falcao's tally of 30 goals when he opened the scoring during the first leg.

Meanwhile, Shakhtar coach Marino Pušić was pleased by the determination his side demonstrated in what was their first competitive match since bowing out of the Champions League with a 5-3 defeat at Porto 64 days earlier. "We showed character by coming back twice and we showed guts to attack again," he said. "I think we deserved a little more, but that is how football is sometimes."

Did you know?
In the first leg, Shakhtar failed to keep a clean sheet in seven successive Europa League matches for the first time.

Highlights: Shakhtar Donetsk 2-2 Marseille

Where is the 2024 UEFA Europa League final?

©Getty Images

The 2023/24 UEFA Europa League season will conclude at Dublin Arena in the Republic of Ireland on 22 May 2024.

With a capacity in excess of 50,000, Dublin Arena is the home of the Republic of Ireland's national football and Ireland's rugby union team. First opened in 2010, the stadium will be staging its second UEFA Europa League decider, having been the venue for the all-Portuguese final of 2011 between Porto and Braga, when Radamel Falcao scored the only goal as the Dragons took the trophy.