Europa League 2014/15: Winners and Losers from Round of 16

Jerrad Peters@@jerradpetersWorld Football Staff WriterMarch 12, 2015

Europa League 2014/15: Winners and Losers from Round of 16

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    Thursday's Europa League matches served up no shortage of drama, with standout performances and noteworthy gaffes taking place at each of the eight grounds.

    Over the following slides, we'll have a look at some of the individual winners and losers from the first-leg matches of the tournament's round of 16—those players who either made a positive difference for their sides or were at least partially culpable in defeat.

    Let's get to it.

Winner: Romelu Lukaku, Who Recovered from a Miss to Lift Everton to Victory

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    It took Everton the better part of the first half to settle in against visiting Dynamo Kiev, by which time they found themselves a goal behind after Oleg Gusev's 14th-minute opener.

    Their night didn't look like it would much improve when Romelu Lukaku missed a glorious chance late in the period, but just moments later, the Belgium international assisted on Steven Naismith's equaliser.

    He had regained his composure, which he again exhibited with eight minutes remaining when he stroked the winner into the back of the net from the penalty spot.

    "Romelu Lukaku has now scored seven goals this EL season (main tournament), trailing only Red Bull Salzburg's Alan (8)," tweeted Infostrada Sports.

Loser: Juan Pablo Carrizo, Who Cost Inter Milan at Least Two Goals

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    Inter Milan manager Roberto Mancini will surely take a close look at his goalkeeping situation ahead of his side's Europa League round-of-16 second leg against Wolfsburg.

    Juan Pablo Carrizo was at least partly to blame for each of the German outfit's first two goals, with the third seeing him stapled to the spot as Kevin De Bruyne beat him with a free kick.

    "If you want to genuinely give yourself the best chance in this competition, you have to play Handanovic," tweeted BT Sport pundit James Horncastle, in reference to the Nerazzurri's typical No. 1.

Winner: Gonzalo Higuain, Who Notched a Hat-Trick for Napoli

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    Napoli didn't make the best of starts on Thursday, conceding after just over a minute at home to Dinamo Moscow.

    But thanks to Gonzalo Higuain, they were back on level terms by the 25th minute, and not long after, the Argentina international's second of the night had them deservedly in front.

    Higuain completed his hat-trick 10 minutes after the restart, and as Squawka pointed out on Twitter, he has now scored at least 20 goals in back-to-back seasons for Napoli.

Loser: Marco Benassi, Who Was Sent off in Russia

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    Torino were always going to struggle away to Zenit St. Petersburg, and their task became even more difficult when Marco Benassi was sent off in the 27th minute.

    The midfielder picked up his first yellow card in the 12th minute for a tackle on Hulk, and a quarter-hour after that, his foul on Axel Witsel had him heading back down the tunnel in shame.

    "Second booking for Marco Benassi there, 27 minutes in. Silly," tweeted Jack Pitt-Brooke of The Independent.

Winner: Kevin De Bruyne, Who Starred for Wolfsburg Yet Again

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    Michael Sohn/Associated Press

    Kevin De Bruyne was involved in all three Wolfsburg goals as the Bundesliga side came from behind to beat Inter Milan on Thursday.

    The Belgium international picked up an assist on Naldo's equaliser in the 28th minute, and shortly after the hour mark, he found the back of the net himself, when his well-placed shot struck the corner of the net.

    De Bruyne completed his brace in the 75th minute with a sumptuous free-kick, and as a result of his performance, Wolfsburg will take a 3-1 aggregate advantage into the second leg at San Siro.

    "Goal! 76' What a beauty! Kevin De Bruyne makes it 3-1 with a stunning direct free-kick!" tweeted Wolfsburg's official account.

Loser: Roman Zobnin, Who Picked Up a Red Card in Naples

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    Dinamo Moscow got off to a terrific start away to Napoli when Kevin Kuranyi opened the scoring for the guests inside two minutes.

    A Gonzalo Higuain brace midway through the first half put the hosts in the lead, but the match was by no means over when Roman Zobnin was ejected just seconds after the restart.

    Booked in the 32nd minute for a foul on Gokhan Inler, the Dinamo midfielder was then sent off after throwing himself into Faouzi Ghoulam in the 46th.

    Nine minutes later, Higuain had his hat-trick and the game was finished as a contest.