Europa Cup: Roma, Marseille, Leverkusen & Atalanta Advance To Semis

Europa Cup quarter-finals second leg action on Thursday saw four teams advance to the next stage: Roma, Marseille, Leverkusen and Atalanta. 

Roma defeated Series A rivals AC Milan at Stadio Olimpico 2-1 despite going down to 10 men after Mehmet Zeki Celik’s lunging challenge on Rafael Leao. In the end, Roma won 3-1 on aggregate score and booked a meeting with Leverkusen on the 2nd of May.

Gianluca Mancini opened the scoring for the hosts after 12 minutes tapping in a Lorenzo Pellegrini shot after it struck the goal post. Paulo Dybala doubled the lead for Roma 10 minutes later, swiveling one over the Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan.

Matteo Gabbia was able to score a late consolation goal for Milan in the 85th minute but his team was too far behind to mount a comeback.

Leverkusen Draw 1-1 With West Ham

Roma’s semi-final opponents, Leverkusen, held off West Ham in their quarter finals matchup by securing a 1-1 draw. They had previously taken the lead in the series with a 2-0 win at home. 

West Ham held the lead for most of the match courtesy of a 13th minute header from Michail Antonio to open the scoring. There was hope at this point at London Stadium that the home team could overturn the two-goal deficit they came into the game with.

Despite dominating the first half they could only muster the one goal, leaving a goal behind entering the second half. Jarrod Bowen came close to leveling out the series with a shot towards the far-post but Matej Kovar was able to make the save.

Leverkusen came out in the second half and were much more assertive, holding the ball for long periods of time and playing most of the half on West Ham’s side. 

Jeremie Frimpong tied up the game in the 89th minute with a shot that deflected off Aaron Cresswell into the goal. The game ended in a 1-1 draw with Leverkusen advancing due 3-1 in aggregate.

With the last minute goal, Leverkusen preserved its incredible unbeaten record since 27 May last year. 

It should be noted that it was Roma who knocked out Leverkusen from the semi-finals of the Europa Cup last season. They will be looking for revenge and extending their streak as long as possible.

Marseille Beat Benfica In Penalty Shootout To Go Through

Marseille narrowly made it through to the next round after beating Benfica 4-2 on penalties at the Stade Velodrome.

The only goal in the match was scored by substitute Faris Moumbagna in the 79th minute to put the aggregate score level at 2-2. They came into the game trailing in the series 2-1, but were able to keep Benfica scoreless to complete the comeback.

Marseille ended up scoring all of their penalties while Angel di Maria and Antonio Silva missed for Benfica.

The French side will now need to take on Atalanta for a place in the finals. The two teams have never faced each other so there will be much to be learned from the first leg at Stade Vélodrome in Marseille.

Atalanta Knock Liverpool Out of Europa Cup

Liverpool’s dreams of winning the Europa Cup trophy ended when they failed to overturn a 3-0 first-leg deficit against Atalanta. 

Liverpool were three goals down traveling to Italy after losing 3-0 at Anfield Park last Thursday. While the visitors were the better team on the day and controlled much of the time of possession the three goal hole they came in with was too much to overcome.

Mohamed Salah scored the only goal for Liverpool in the seventh-minute off a penalty, after Trent Alexander-Arnold was fouled in the box. They almost had another near the end of the first half when Salah lofted one just wide after winning a 1vs1.

Liverpool have been having a rough time as of late, drawing with Manchester United and then losing at home to Crystal Palace to give up their lead at the top of the Premier League. They will likely now focus on getting back into the title race by winning out the rest of their EPL season.