15th March, 2012
Manchester City and Manchester United were knocked out of the Europa League on Thursday. While City lost to Sporting Lisbon on away goal’s rule, Man United lost both legs of the match against Spanish side, Athletic Bilbao.
City came back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 on the night, with the last-16 tie ending 3-3 on aggregate.
City had lost the first leg 1-0 in Portugal and Sporting went 2-0 ahead on the night with Matias Fernandez and Ricky van Wolfswinkel both on target before the interval for a 3-0 overall lead.
Roberto Mancini’s side roared back in the second half as Sergio Aguero (2) and Mario Balotelli, from the penalty spot, gave hope of completing a dramatic recovery.
But they were unable to find another goal as Sporting held on and City joined neighbours Manchester United in exiting the tournament.
Earlier, Manchester United’s bid to win a first Europa League title came to a juddering halt on Thursday after they were beaten 2-1 at Athletic Bilbao in the second leg of their last-16 tie.
The result gave Marcelo Bielsa’s effervescent young side a richly deserved 5-3 aggregate victory, following last week’s equally impressive 3-2 win in the first leg at Old Trafford.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s team were bidding to emulate Chelsea’s stirring comeback in their Champions League game with Napoli on Wednesday, but they fell to a stunning volley from Fernando Llorente and a second-half strike by Oscar de Marcos.
United replied with a fine goal from Wayne Rooney in the 80th minute, but the visitors could not find the two goals they needed to take the game to extra time.
It was a chastening experience for last season’s Champions League finalists, who will now have to plough all their resources into the defence of their Premier League crown, having stolen in front of title rivals Manchester City last weekend.
“We can’t complain,” Ferguson told Channel Five. “In the first half we let in a very soft goal, which was the last thing we wanted. I can’t believe we lost a goal like that. Even though, in the first half we did quite well.
Bilbao, currently seventh in La Liga, will learn their quarter-final opponents in Friday’s draw in Nyon.
“It was a wonderful match,” said Spanish international Llorente, who was withdrawn before half-time with a left thigh injury. “The team played a memorable game.
.List of the teams to have qualified for the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals, after the last-16 ties concluded on Thursday and ahead of Friday’s quarter-final draw in Nyon:
Athletic Bilbao (ESP)
Atletico Madrid (ESP)
AZ Alkmaar (NED)
Metalist Kharkiv (UKR)
Schalke 04 (GER)
Sporting Lisbon (POR)