Lukas Haraslin Fires Spartak Prague into Europa League Round of 16


The elation of advancement was absent for David Hancko as his Feyenoord Rotterdam succumbed to AS Roma in a penalty shootout, ending with a 2-4 defeat, with the Slovak defender failing to convert his spot-kick.

Round of 16 Contenders

Joining Spartak Prague and AS Roma in the round of 16 are AC Milan, SL Benfica, Sporting Lisbon, SC Freiburg, Qarabag Agdam, and Olympique Marseille, showcasing a diverse array of clubs progressing in the Europa League.

Sparta Prague returned from Istanbul with a narrow 2-3 loss, eager to level the playing field on home turf. Their aspirations swiftly materialized in the eighth minute when Kairinen’s precise pass found Preciad, who deftly chipped the ball over the goalkeeper. However, Galatasaray responded just eight minutes later, with Bardakci heading home an equalizer from a set piece.

Lukas Haraslin emerged as a pivotal figure in the 68th minute, receiving the ball on the left flank and attempting to bypass Ayhan. Fouled with a reckless challenge, Ayhan initially received a yellow card from referee Taylor, but upon VAR intervention, it was swiftly upgraded to a red, granting Sparta a numerical advantage. They wasted no time capitalizing on the opportunity, as Zeleny’s pinpoint cross found Tuci, who expertly directed the ball into the net – 2-1.

European Football Recap

The shining moment for the Slovakian international arrived in the 80th minute, as Tuci released him on a breakaway, and Haraslin’s shot found the back of the net under Muslera’s outstretched arm – 3-1. The goal was subsequently confirmed by VAR. Haraslín departed the field in the 87th minute, witnessing from the sidelines as his teammates added a fourth goal in injury time following a two-on-one break.

Feyenoord Strikes First, VAR Confirms Opening Goal

Feyenoord stunned the Stadio Olimpico crowd within five minutes, as Nieuwkoop’s attempt from the left wing may not have gone as planned, but a fortuitous deflection off his teammate Gimenez’s shoulder caught the goalkeeper off guard. Despite protests from the home team, VAR upheld the goal.

In the 13th minute, Wieffer’s breakthrough was foiled as he could only direct his shot at the goalkeeper under pressure, equalizing the scoreline to 1-1. Pellegrini then showcased his finesse with a precise shot to the right post from the edge of the box.

The remainder of the match saw a tactical battle, continuing even after halftime. The second half witnessed only two shots, one from each side, neither of which troubled the goalkeepers. Hosts AS Roma showed signs of revival at the start of extra time, but Lukaku’s potential winner was denied by Wellenreuther in the final minute.

Ultimately, the match was decided by a penalty shootout, where Hancko and Jahanbakhsh failed to convert for Feyenoord, while Lukaku’s successful spot-kick secured a 4-2 victory for AS Roma.

Milan’s Resilience in Rennes

AC Milan arrived in Rennes with a comfortable 3-0 lead from the first leg, yet faced setbacks as Bourigeaud found the net twice early in each half. However, Milan swiftly equalized on both occasions. Bourigeaud completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot in the 68th minute, but his teammates failed to add further goals, resulting in their exit from the competition.

Marseille Triumphs, Sporting Lisbon Advances

Olympique Marseille secured their place in the Europa League round of 16 after a 3-1 victory at home against Shakhtar Donetsk, following a 2-2 draw in the first leg. Sporting Lisbon also progressed, eliminating Young Boys Bern with aggregate scores of 3-1 and 1-1. The Slovakian refereeing trio of Ivan Kruzliak, Branislav Hancko, and Jan Pozor officiated the decisive matches.

In the first leg held in Lens, the German team displayed more activity, but once again struggled to convert chances. Conversely, Lens players proved highly efficient, scoring twice in the first half through da Costa and Wahi. Freiburg intensified their efforts in the second half, with two goals from Hungarian forward Sallai forcing the game into extra time. Ultimately, Gregoritsch’s strike in the 99th minute sealed the victory for the home team.

Karabakh, following a surprising 4-2 victory in Portugal, maintained their momentum at home. However, their prospects dimmed when Cafarquliyev received a red card in the 57th minute.

Thirteen minutes later, Fernandes put the visitors ahead. Despite Ruiz’s disallowed goal due to handball, Djalov’s 83rd-minute strike leveled the score. In extra time, Silva restored Karabakh’s lead, but Banza’s penalty brought parity once more. However, in the second period of extra time, substitute Achundzade secured a historic victory for the Azerbaijani club. This win propelled them to the round of 16 for the first time in their European competition history, following two unsuccessful attempts in the playoffs.

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