Five-time winners Sevilla are the team to beat in Europa League
Sports Desk, Aug 6 (efe-epa).- Sevilla, who have won the Europa League a record five times, showed again Thursday why they are the favorites to hoist the trophy on Aug. 21, dominating AS Roma 2-0 to set up a quarterfinal clash with Wolverhampton, who dispatched Olympiacos Bayer Leverkusen and Basel also punched their tickets to the final eight of Europe’s second-tier club competition.
Wolves-Olympiacos, Leverkusen-Rangers and Basel-Eintracht Frankfurt began their respective ties before Covid-19 forced a halt to professional sports, but the pandemic derailed the first leg between Sevilla and Roma, so Thursday’s contest was for all the marbles.
Sergio Reguilon put Sevilla ahead in the 22nd minute with a great individual effort and Youssef En-Nesyri doubled the advantage right before half-time with an assist from Lucas Ocampos.
Both goals came on takeaways.
Roma, victorious in seven of their last eight games in Serie A, lost to a clearly “superior” team on Thursday, the Italian club’s coach, Paulo Fonseca, told Sky Sports afterward.
The AS Roma captain was even more blunt.
“They ate us up in every area. They were better prepared, played better, in better shape. Everything,” Edin Dzeko said to Sky Sports.
Wolves began Thursday level with Olympiacos at 1-1 after the first leg months ago in Athens, but the deadlock lasted only until the 9th minute of Thursday’s game.
Olympiacos goalkeeper Bobby Allain committed a pointless foul against Daniel Podence to concede a penalty and Raul Jimenez converted from the spot to give Wolves a 2-1 lead on aggregate, the Mexican international’s 27th goal in 54 matches.
Though the lead held up, it was not smooth sailing for Wolverhampton, who lost Jonny Otto to injury and spent some anxious moments waiting for VAR to disallow Mady Camara’s equalizer for Olimpiacos.
After beating Rangers 3-1 in the first leg, Leverkusen got a goal from Moussa Diaby six minutes into the second half to prevail 4-1.
Fabian Frei scored in the 88th minute as Basel completed a 4-0 aggregate win against Frankfurt.
All of the single-leg quarterfinals are to be played next week in Germany.
Monday will see Manchester United and Copenhagen square off in Cologne while Inter Milan face Leverkusen in Düsseldorf.
Duisburg is the host for Tuesday’s Sevilla-Wolves clash and Shakhtar Donetsk is set to battle Basel in Gelksenkirchen.
Though Sevilla are the clear favorites, it would be a mistake to count out Man United and Inter, a pair of clubs who have made great strides in their quests to reclaim past glory. EFE id/dr