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Valencia crash out of Europa League due to Athletic goal

Photo credit: AFP

Photo credit: AFP

Gary Neville’s Valencia were sent crashing out of the Europa League on Thursday, losing their last-16 tie to Spanish rivals Athletic Bilbao on away goals despite winning the second leg 2-1.

Valencia had been trailing 1-0 after last week’s first leg at San Mames but looked to have turned the tie around when they went two goals up in the first half at the Mestalla.

Santi Mina got the first goal on the night in the 13th minute, following in to score after Alvaro Negredo’s effort had been saved by Iago Herrerin.

Aderlan Santos then headed home the second eight minutes before the interval, but beaten 2012 finalists Athletic struck the decisive away goal 14 minutes from the end.

The inevitable Aritz Aduriz goal, his eighth in nine Europa League games this season, and his 31st altogether, came after a superb flick-on by Raul Garcia.

Neville will point to a handball in the build-up to that goal by Oscar De Marcos, while Herrerin made a huge save from Paco Alcacer late on and Dani Parejo sent a free-kick just wide with the last kick of the game.

The only objective remaining this season for Neville and Valencia is to make sure they avoid relegation in La Liga — they sit seven points above the drop zone with nine games left.

Athletic march on to the quarter-finals where they will be joined by fellow Spaniards Villarreal, who beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 on aggregate after a 0-0 draw in the second leg in Germany.

Meanwhile, Italian interest in European competition is at an end after Lazio were humbled 3-0 by Sparta Prague in Rome.

Captain Borek Dockal put Sparta in front and Ladislav Krejci and Lukas Julis added further goals before the break to take the Czech side through 4-1 on aggregate.

Lazio’s exit comes after Juventus were eliminated from the Champions League in the last 16 by Bayern Munich on Wednesday, with Roma, Fiorentina, Napoli and Sampdoria all having been knocked out of Europe earlier in the season.

Later on Thursday, Manchester United will seek to overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit when they entertain Liverpool at Old Trafford.

Borussia Dortmund defend a 3-0 first-leg lead when they go to Tottenham Hotspur, while holders Sevilla entertain Basel after drawing 0-0 in the first leg in Switzerland.

Anderlecht and Braga are bidding to turn around first-leg deficits when they host Shakhtar Donetsk and Fenerbahce respectively.

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