UEFA Europa League talking points

UEFA.com looks back at some key moments you may have missed, including Sevilla FC's understudy goalkeeper, emerging threats and more success for Rafael Benítez.

Goalkeeper Sergio Rico has starred for Sevilla
Goalkeeper Sergio Rico has starred for Sevilla ©Getty Images

Draw conclusions
Not only have Sevilla FC won all three of their UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League quarter-finals, but on each occasion they went on to lift the trophy. The holders now tackle another former winner in the last eight in FC Zenit, having overcome the Russian outfit at this stage in 2005/06. Club Brugge KV, meanwhile, are in the quarter-finals for the first time since 1997/98, and they take on last-eight debutants FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, to whom they lost 3-2 in the 2004/05 group stage.

SSC Napoli also have a perfect quarter-final record, having won their only tie back in 1988/89 – when they also went on to win the trophy. Now they must overcome VfL Wolfsburg, whose sole previous last-eight appearance five years ago ended in defeat. The final tie pits FC Dynamo Kyiv against ACF Fiorentina, who have not lost in four meetings with their Ukrainian opponents, two coming in the 1989/90 UEFA Cup third round when the Viola eventually finished runners-up. Andrew Snowden

Sevilla in safe hands
The hero of Sevilla's 4-2 penalty shoot-out triumph against SL Benfica in last year's final, Beto has made just four appearances in this season's UEFA Europa League due to injury. Yet when one door closes another opens, and seizing his opportunity in the absence of the Portuguese international has been 21-year-old Sergio Rico, who continues to look more and more accomplished.

"We'll just have to see what happens when Beto comes back, which will be soon," said coach Unai Emery after Rico followed up an outstanding performance in last week's 3-1 first-leg win at Villarreal CF with another assured display as Sevilla triumphed 2-1 in the return. "Sergio's doing really well but he needs to keep improving. When Beto's back we'll have competition for the No1 shirt. That can only be good." Nick Aitken

Dnipro are dark horses
Few outside of Ukraine gave Dnipro much hope of getting the better of AFC Ajax, even after their 1-0 first-leg victory – and fewer still when the Dutch side took the tie to extra time. Ajax coach Frank de Boer had talked beforehand of being patient and taking chances when they arrived. Sadly for him, it also seemed to be the mantra of the visitors, with their 4-3-3 formation pressing the Dutch champions high up the pitch before Yevhen Konoplyanka struck on the break. Dnipro had not reached the last 16 before this season; underestimate them at your peril. Derek Brookman

Recall Maradona-inspired Napoli glory
Recall Maradona-inspired Napoli glory

Napoli's past master
Napoli are through to the quarter-finals for the first time since winning the UEFA Cup in 1988/89, during the glory days of Diego Maradona. Great for the club, but nothing new for coach Rafael Benítez, who could become the first coach to win this competition with three different teams after his triumphs with Valencia CF and Chelsea FC.

"We know that we are still lacking something, especially in defence and as regards the general balance of the team," said the 54-year-old Spaniard, who also led Liverpool FC to UEFA Champions League glory in 2005. "We are building our own identity in order to be competitive in Europe and I think we are on the right path." Paolo Menicucci

English gloom
The English Premier League remains one of the most popular competitions in the world for supporters, but there will be some glum faces during this weekend's ties, with Everton FC following Arsenal FC and Manchester City FC in being eliminated from Europe this week. The Toffees' 5-2 defeat at Dynamo Kyiv means that there will be no English teams in the last eight of any of UEFA's main club competitions for the first time since 1992/93 – which was also the very first Premier League season.

Everton boss Roberto Martínez cursed his side's bad luck: "[Ross Barkley] hit the post twice and sometimes the margins are very small," he said. "The way the game unfolded, there were plenty of chances, but the difference was the team that took most of their chances." Bohdan Buha

Torino out in a blaze of glory
Only two of Italy's five round of 16 contenders made it to the last eight, but if FC Internazionale Milano and AS Roma bowed out on a low note, Torino FC have reason to be proud of their elimination by Zenit, having terrorised the Russian side for much of Thursday's decider, and come close to scoring the second goal that would have taken their tie into extra time.

Torino eliminated Athletic Club in the last round and there was no shame in their aggregate defeat. "It was great to hear our fans still supporting us after our elimination," said veteran defender Emiliano Moretti. "We gave everything for them." Coach Giampiero Ventura also gave the Granata faithful credit: "They know that we gave everything and that we deserved more. We are very sorry for them because they were magnificent." Paolo Menicucci

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