Europa League 2016: Round of 32 Leg 1 results
Man Utd, Liverpool, Spurs to compete at home in Europa League Leg 2 knockout matches
The European knockout match provided surprising results for Premier League superclubs in Round of 32 Leg 1 with Midtjylland defeating Manchester United in Denmark; Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side fighting to a 0-0 draw with Augsburg; and the Spurs battling to a 1-1 draw against Fiorentina as Bernardeschi put the brakes on Tottenham.
FC Midtjylland 2-1 Manchester United
Three-time European champions Manchester United, entered the Europa League competition having finished third in their UEFA Champions League group. United were favored to win in the knockout stage, and perhaps go on to win a spot in next season’s elite Champions League. However their opponents, Danish minnows Midtjylland, came from a goal down to ensure they travel to Old Trafford with a 2-1 advantage going into the 2nd leg of the tie.
Forwards Wayne Rooney and Marouane Fellaini, and Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea missed the match, ruled out due to injury. The three footballers joined an ever-growing Man United injury list that already included Luke Shaw, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia. De Gea limped out of the warm-up for the Europa League last-32 clash and was replaced by United boss Louis van Gaal with backup goalie Sergio Romero from the bench in the starting XI.
The club's injury crisis caused Van Gaal to turn to his youngsters against FC Midtjylland with Donald Love making his full debut and Regan Poole, James Weir and Joe Riley named on the bench. Replacement goalie Sergio Romero made some outstanding saves to keep the Red Devils' hopes alive.
"You cannot cope with such an injury list," said United boss Louis van Gaal. "Five minutes before the start of the game, David de Gea couldn't play. That is in the heads of the players. So we had a bad start. I have to say that Midtjylland were better than us in the second half. They won all the second balls." After the match, substitute goalkeeper Romero gave credit to Midtjylland saying, "They played very well. They defended well and had some very dangerous counterattacks and we didn't handle those well enough."
Fans in the packed stadium and footballers from both sides were shocked by the 2-1 result - the most famous result in the Wolves' history. "It is a dream come true," said match winner Paul Onuachu after local heros Midtjylland’s surprise upset of the mighty Red Devils. "It was like time stopped still when the ball went in. I just have to thank God," continued the shocked and delighted Onuachu. "You cannot imagine it. The energy is amazing. Now we just have to enjoy this moment before we think of Old Trafford," said the 21-year-old Nigerian striker.
The 2-1 UEFA Europa League round of 32 first-leg win made it an unforgettable night for the Wolves side and gave them hope and a real chance of ousting Man Utd in the 2nd leg at Old Trafford. The Danish title holders' manager Claus Steinlein epressed his joy with Midtjylland's triumph after the whistle. "It is fantastic! Winning against Manchester United, can you believe it? Now we can dream of going through to the next round," said Steinlein. "I think we were actually unlucky that we didn't win by a bigger margin. It could have been three or 4-1. Only thanks to their goalkeeper did they keep it at 2-1."
Midtjylland’s twenty-one-year-old Danish forward Pione Sisto opened the scoring with an excellent run. "They must have underestimated us," said Sisto about the English giants. "We took advantage. We stood together as a team and that helped us. It is a pleasure to see that when you work together, you can achieve big things." Twenty-one-year-old Paul Onuachu scored the second goal and winner for Midtjylland only 13 minutes from time. United will have to pull up and do it all in the second leg at Old Trafford after their shocking defeat by the Danish champions.
The Danish minnows beat Southampton 2-1 on aggregate in the play-offs to go through to the knockout Round of 32. After coming back from a 9-1 defeat on aggregate to Napoli in the group, not playing well for two months with a losing streak of only one win in 10 matches before the winter break, the Danish champions played well and will surely be confident after their famous win going into their second leg at Old Trafford. Memphis Depay’s away goal was a positive on a night of many negatives for titan three-time European champions Manchester United. Tickets are still available for the return leg at Old Trafford next week.
In other games Borussia Dortmund easily cruised to a 2-0 victory against Portugese giants FC Porto, Napoli was defeated 1-0 at Villarreal, and defending Europa League Champions Sevilla beat Molde, 3-0 in Thursday's UEFA Europa League action, gaining a strong position after the round-of-32 first-leg tie.
Europa League 2016: Round of 32 1st leg results
Fiorentina 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Midtjylland 2-1 Manchester United
Anderlecht 1-0 Olympiacos
Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Porto
Villarreal 1-0 Napoli
St-Étienne 3-2 Basel
Sevilla 3-0 Molde
Sporting CP 0-1 Leverkusen
Valencia 6-0 Rapid Wien
Sparta Praha 1-0 Krasnodar
Galatasaray 1-1 Lazio
Sion 1-2 Braga
Shakhtar Donetsk 0-0 Schalke
Marseille 0-1 Athletic
Fenerbahçe 2-0 Lokomotiv Moskva
Europa League: Round of 32 2nd leg tickets
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FEB 25 Europa League Manchester United v FC Midtjylland Tickets Old Trafford - Manchester, UK
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Europa League final tickets & schedule
May 18 Uefa Europa League final 2016 Tickets St. Jakob Park - Basel, Switzerland