Italian champions Juventus have reached the Europa League quarterfinals at Fiorentina's expense, courtesy of a venemous Andrea Pirlo free kick. Last year's finalists Benfica knocked Tottenham out of the competition.
Italian veteran Andrea Pirlo broke the deadlock in Florence on Thursday evening with a fierce set piece. Pirlo ignored the wall altogether and went for power, placing his strike in the top corner of Brazilian keeper Neto's goal.
The 71st-minute scorcher ultimately settled the tie in Juventus' favor, following the 1-1 draw in the first leg of the all-Italian encounter in Turin.
Red Bull Salzburg and FC Basel played a fiery and heavily delayed second leg in Austria, following a major pause in proceedings in the first half after coins were thrown onto the pitch. The officials took both teams off the pitch entirely for several minutes in response to the fan misconduct. Basel ultimately won 2-1 with second-half goals from captain Marco Streller and Gaston Sauro. Salzburg's goal was the best effort of the night, with Jonathan Soriano providing the finishing touch to a strong team move in the 22nd minute. The two sides had drawn 0-0 in the first leg in Basel.
Borussia Mönchengladbach commercial manager Max Eberl was on hand in Austria, perhaps to watch his club's new signing in goal for next season - Yann Sommer.
Chadli double not enough for Spurs
Beaten 2013 Europa League finalists Benfica enjoyed a less nervy second leg against Tottenham Hotspur on Thursday, having brought a 3-1 lead home with them to the Estadio da Luz. Benfica drew 2-2 with Spurs on the night, tying the score deep into stoppage time from the penalty spot. A quick-fire double from Nacer Chadli, who netted in the 78th and 79th minutes, briefly seemed set to provide Tottenham at least with the consolation of an away win in Lisbon. Spurs were the last team from the English Premiership still in the competition.
Valencia progressed with ease, beating Bulgarian outfit Ludogorets Razgrad 1-0 on the night and 4-0 on aggregate.
In Thursday's earliest fixture, Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala held on to their 1-0 first-leg lead against AZ Alkmaar from the Netherlands - drawing 0-0 on the night.
FC Porto and Napoli drew 2-2 in Naples, meaning Porto's 1-0 lead from the home leg carried them through to the last eight of the Europa Leauge.
Finally, in the all-Spanish single-city battle between Sevilla and Real Betis, the rivals went all the way to penalties. Sevilla won 2-0 over 90 minutes, exactly the scoreline Betis had managed on home turf, and the score stayed even through extra time. Despite missing their very first spot kick, Sevilla ultimately won the shootout 4-3.
The draw for the Europa League quarterfinals will take place on Friday, when the Champions League quarterfinal matchups will also be decided.
msh/hc (AFP, dpa, Reuters)