The UEFA Europa League round of 16 kicked off with some ‘big clubs’ in action, who would be lining up on Tuesday or Wednesday nights under Champions League lights just a few years ago.
The likes of Manchester United and AC Milan made for premium Champions League watching some years ago. But they now find themselves in Europe’s second-tier competition but stand as some of the favourites to go all the way and win the competition.
How did the English reps do in the Europa League last 16 first leg?
Manchester United was generally slow and sluggish in their game against AC Milan, needing 18-year-old Amad Diallo to step up from the bench in the second half to break the deadlock with a pretty goal.
Perhaps Manchester United underestimated their Italian opponents due to them having key absentees. Still, the players who stood in for them performed excellently, limiting United’s threat and getting in good areas and creating great chances.
Had Diallo not scored, and had VAR not made a questionable call on a Franck Kessie play, United would be in a more precarious situation.
Mikel Arteta expressed optimism about his Arsenal team’s project sometime earlier this week, and there have been some encouraging signs recently. But sometimes, Arsenal can be the cause of their own problems
They were completely dominant against Olympiakos, but then they still made two completely avoidable and even daft blunders. The team from Greece failed to capitalize the first time, but Arsenal’s luck ran out the second time, as they conceded the equalizer.
Late goals from Mohamed Elneny and Gabriel Magalhaes eventually secured a 3-1 win.
Jose Mourinho’s men have rediscovered their good form in good time for the Europa League knockout stages, and they picked up a fifth straight win in all competitions against Dinamo Zagreb.
Tottenham take a two-goal lead with them to the Croatian capital for the last-16 second leg next week, and while Gareth Bale missed a late chance to put extra gloss on this latest success, there is a real swagger about the men in white at present.
Tottenham take a two-goal lead into the second leg next week, and while Gareth Bale could have put the icing on the cake with another goal, there is something good going on in the London team at the moment.
Harry Kane scored both goals on the night, and with the Englishman in this sort of form, the final in Gdansk might not be such a far cry. Possibly even the Europa League trophy.