Europa League last-32 second-leg talking points

Borussia Dortmund turning on the style, Marlos and Karim Bellarabi showing their class, Tottenham's selection question and Midtjylland's fine campaign: our reporters sum up the second legs.

Dortmund beat Porto home and away
Dortmund beat Porto home and away ©Getty Images

Dortmund looking ominous
Following their 2-0 first leg victory, it would have been easy for Borussia Dortmund to sit back and go through the motions away at Porto. However, the 2013 UEFA Champions League finalists showed they meant business from the off, with a number of outstanding displays all over the pitch. Thomas Tuchel's side picked off their opponents early on to score an away goal and seal their progress to the last 16 with ease.

Even with progress ensured, it might have been more. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan had goals disallowed in the second period, before the latter smacked the post late on. Add that to Roman Bürki's solid display between the sticks, Marcel Schmelzer's impressive shift at full-back and İlkay Gündoğan returning from injury, and the Bundesliga outfit have shown they will take some beating if anyone is to stop them from going far in the UEFA Europa League.
Joseph Walker

Let us not forget Midtjylland
Manchester United deservedly took the plaudits after a scintillating second-half display at Old Trafford to win 5-1, and 6-3 on aggregate, but Midtjylland's campaign warrants enormous credit. Only formed in 1999 – when United were busy winning a treble – the Danish champions reached the last 32, further than they have ever been in European competition, having started their campaign in the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round, all the way back in mid-July.

"Disappointment has taken over at the moment but hopefully in time we can be proud of what we achieved in the Europa League as a whole," goalkeeper Mikkel Andersen told UEFA.com. United were playing with a swagger by the end on Thursday, but Jess Thorup's side had given them an almighty fright by then.
Tom Kell

Bellarabi's contrasting double
If there was an element of luck about Karim Bellarabi's first goal against Sporting CP on Thursday, the German international's second at the BayArena in Bayer Leverkusen's 3-1 win is surely a contender for goal of the tournament.

After seeing his 30th-minute opener deflect off goalkeeper Rui Patrício and bobble over the line, the 25-year-old curled in superbly from the edge of the area with the outside of his right foot to put Leverkusen 2-1 ahead and firmly in control of their last-32 tie, eventually winning 4-1 on aggregate. "It doesn't really matter who gets the goals, but I'm obviously delighted to have scored," said a modest Bellarabi afterwards.
Matthew Howarth

Spurs' squad dilemma
Tottenham Hotspur reached the last 16 for the third time in four seasons by beating Fiorentina 4-1 on aggregate but they will need to manage their squad better than in previous years if they are to reach the UEFA Europa League semi-finals for the first time since the UEFA Cup was rebranded. Traditionally harbouring hopes of finishing in the UEFA Champions League places in England – as they are again this term – the London club have often rotated their lineup too much in this competition and paid the price with narrow exits to the likes of Basel and Benfica.

Mauricio Pochettino may have found the right blend this time, though, with the current squad appearing better equipped than in previous years. Evidence came in the form of last night's eye-catching result, which was earned despite the absences of injured trio Harry Kane, Mousa Dembélé and Jan Vertongen, while Son Heung-Min was not required from the bench.
Mark Pettit

Marvellous Marlos
While Shakhtar Donetsk were outstanding in all departments in their 3-0 win at Schalke, Marlos's 27th-minute opening goal will live longest in the memory. The Brazilian's third career UEFA Europa League strike, an away goal that changed the tie after a 0-0 draw last week, was a thing of beauty.

Holding off covering defender Sead Kolašinac, the 27-year-old turned on a sixpence before nonchalantly backheeling the ball into the far corner of Ralf Fährmann's goal, in the process turning the tie on its head. "The first goal was not easy," Marlos said. "But I am glad that it was possible. My goal is dedicated to the whole of Shakhtar."
Daniel Thacker

Top