Europa League: Holders Sevilla join Italian duo and Dnipro in semis
After a gritty performance in Russia, Europa League holders Sevilla are through to the semi-final stage of the competition, following a 2-2 draw which saw them progress on away goals.
After prolific Colombian Carlos Bacca, who has recently been linked with a move to the Premier League, gave the visitors the lead from the penalty spot, it seemed it would be all one way traffic for the southern Spanish side.
However, following the interval, hosts Zenit equalised through Venezuelan striker Salomon Rondon and the game became an arm wrestle.
It was Brazilian attacker Hulk’s spectacular effort though, which rocked the balance of the tie in Zenit’s favour leading to a cagey last 15 minutes for Unai Emery’s side. Eventually, through much probing, it was former PSG forward Kevin Gameiro who struck the ball hard into the bottom corner with four minutes of normal time remaining to give Sevilla that vital second away goal.
Elsewhere, Fiorentina held their nerve at home against a tricky Dynamo Kiev outfit, and were perhaps rewarded for their persistence in the opening half when Joaquin fired a low, hopeful cross into the box and the ball seemed to be half controlled by Mario Gomez into the net. Just minutes earlier the visitors went a man down when Jeremain Lens was handed a second yellow card.
With the Italian’s keen to push on for a second, Dynamo were restricted to the counter-attack with a man disadvantage, and playmaker Andriy Yarmolenko often looked dangerous.
As the game moved into the closing stages, Dynamo were pushing for an equaliser to send the game into extra time, however, it was Juan Manuel Vargas who struck with a superb solo effort to send the ball into the top corner from close range, to decide the tie.
Both Sevilla and Fiorentina joined Napoli, who beat Wolfsburg 6-3 on aggregate, with the match ending 2-2 on the night, and Dnipro who secured a 1-0 win over Club Brugge at home.