Manchester United reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League after securing a 2-1 aggregate win over FC Rostov on Thursday night. Juan Mata's goal saw United beat the Russian side 1-0 at Old Trafford and confirmed the Red Devils as the Premier League's representative in the last eight.
United will be joined by Schalke 04, who came back from two goals down to eliminate Bundesliga rivals Borussia Monchengladbach on away goals. Meanwhile, Olympique Lyonnais survived a tough tie against Serie A outfit AS Roma, despite losing 2-1 in the Italian capital.
Ajax, Celta Vigo and Besiktas all also made it through after securing aggregate wins. Anderlecht and Genk round out the last eight.
Here are the results from Thursday's round-of-16 second-leg fixtures:
|UEFA Europa League 2016/17 Last 16 Second-Leg Results|
|FC Krasnodar||0-2||Celta Vigo||1-4||Celta|
|KRC Genk||1-1||KAA Gent||6-3||Genk|
|Borussia Monchengladbach||2-2||Schalke 04||3-3||Schalke (away goals)|
|Manchester United||1-0||FC Rostov||2-1||United|
|RSC Anderlecht||1-0||APOEL Nicosia||2-0||Anderlecht|
United made all the early running in Manchester. Their pace, power and ingenuity left Rostov bewildered and on the back foot at the break, per Squawka Football:
The hosts remained the dominant force in the second half. Not even losing midfield powerhouse Paul Pogba to injury could slow the Red Devils' momentum.
Pogba hasn't always lived up this world-record fee this season, but he was at his influential best on Thursday:
However, United were still missing the decisive breakthrough to reward their superiority. Their moment finally came when striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic teed up playmaker Juan Mata to slot home with just 20 minutes remaining.
The Spaniard has established a niche in front of goal in recent seasons, according to WhoScored.com:
While Mata was sending United through, Ajax were erasing a 2-1 first-leg deficit against Danish side FC Copenhagen. Ironically, Ajax got their inspiration from precocious 19-year-old forward Kasper Dolberg, a native of Denmark.
His penalty sent the Dutch side through after Chelsea loanee Bertrand Traore had given them an early lead in Amsterdam. Dolberg's successful spot-kick also marked a milestone for Ajax in European competition, per the tournament's official Twitter account:
Ajax were impressive, and so were Celta in winning on Russian soil. FC Krasnodar were dispatched thanks to goals from prolific defender Hugo Mallo and intelligent forward Iago Aspas.
Celta are playing wonderfully flowing football in this season's competition. In Aspas, La Liga's representatives also boast a lethal presence in the final third:
Aspas couldn't make the grade at Liverpool, and it was another Reds flop who helped Besiktas cruise through against Olympiakos. The Greeks were hammered 4-1, with Ryan Babel an unlikely goal hero:
There was nothing surprising about seeing Vincent Aboubakar find the net for Besiktas, though. The powerful Cameroonian frontman has been in prolific form lately:
With Aboubakar's movement and strength leading the line, along with Babel's pace, in front of ample brawn and intelligence in midfield, Besiktas are a team to fear in the quarter-finals.
The same is true of a capable Lyon side built on the promise of young talent. It was 20-year-old defender Mouctar Diakhaby who put the Ligue 1 side ahead in Rome.
As WhoScored.com detailed, goals are becoming something of a forte for Diakhaby in this competition:
Roma battled back thanks to a goal from midfielder Kevin Strootman and an own goal by Lyon's Lucas Tousart. There were chances for the Italian side to win it late on, but Lyon survived.
Monchengladbach couldn't do the same despite racing into a 2-0 lead against Schalke. Chelsea loanee Andreas Christensen and dynamic midfielder Mahmoud Dahoud scored for Gladbach, but their efforts only proved the cue for Schalke's dramatic fightback.
Leon Goretzka got one back nine minutes into the second half before ex-Tottenham Hotspur man Nabil Bentaleb struck a penalty in the 68th minute. The 22-year-old's strike sent Schalke through on away goals.
Elsewhere, Genk completed a 6-3 aggregate mauling of Belgian Jupiler League rivals Gent despite being held to a 1-1 draw at home on Thursday. Genk weren't the only Belgian side to make it though, with Anderlecht seeing off Cypriot side APOEL Nicosia thanks to a goal from substitute Frank Acheampong.
United and Lyon still look like the teams most likely to contest the final of this season's Europa League. However, Ajax, Celta and Besiktas all possess the quality to upset the fancied duo.