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Europa League: Round of 16 playoffs recap

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Ace Football presents a detailed review of the second-leg games of the 2021-22 Europa League round of 16 playoffs.

Sixteen Europa League sides locked horns with their opponents in the second leg of their playoff ties from February 15 to 23.

Eight teams secured a spot in the competition’s round of 16 as they got a sense of what to expect in the next rounds. As we prepare for the exciting last-16 clashes, let’s review our main takeaways from the playoffs.

Olympiacos 0-3 Atalanta (1-5 on aggregate)

The Greek side managed to put up a decent fight against Atalanta in the first game. However, they eventually suffered a 2-1 defeat against La Dea.

On home soil, however, they failed to make a comeback, and the Italian side smashed them with three goals. Ruslan Malinovskyi scored a three-minute brace to send the Italian heavyweights to the next round. Gian Piero Gasperini’s side will face Bayer Leverkusen in their last-16 tie.

Lazio 2-2 Porto (3-4 on aggregate)

Porto managed to clinch a narrow 2-1 win over Lazio in the first leg. The Italian side came back into the tie when Ciro Immobile scored a 19th-minute opener at Olimpico.

However, the Portuguese side killed their hopes off with two goals to secure their last-16 qualification. Danilo Cataldi scored a last-minute equalizer for the Italian side, but it was too late to push for another goal.

Porto will host Lyon in the first leg of their round-of-16 tie on March 9.

Dinamo Zagreb 1-0 Sevilla (2-3 on aggregate)

Sevilla were already 3-1 ahead when they arrived at the Stadion Maksimir. It was clear from the beginning that they would try to hold on to their lead, and they managed to do just that.

The Croatian side converted a penalty to revive their hopes for a comeback in the second half. However, Sevilla’s solid defence and their dangerous counter-attacks prevented them from scoring more goals.

Julen Lopetegui’s men will lock horns with West Ham in one of the most exciting matches of the next round.

Real Sociedad 1-3 RB Leipzig (3-5 on aggregate)

Sociedad came into the game on the back of a terrible 4-0 loss against Atletico Bilbao in La Liga. The White and Blues had managed to hold the German side to a 2-2 draw at Leipzig.

However, Die Rotten Bullen completely dominated the game in the second leg. Three goals from Willi Orban, Andre Silva, and Emil Forsberg were enough to keep Domenico Tedesco’s side in the competition.

Since the sacking of Jesse March, Leipzig have shown great signs of improvement. Let’s see if they can reach the Europa League quarter-finals by beating Spartak Moscow in the next round.

Napoli 2-4 Barcelona (3-5 on aggregate)

A 1-1 draw at Camp Nou generated serious doubts as to whether the Catalans would be able to reach the round of 16. However, Xavi Hernandez’s side, once again, proved their doubters wrong with a brilliant attacking performance.

Three first-half goals from Jordi Alba, Frenkie de Jong, and Gerard Pique ended Napoli’s dreams of a home win before Pierre Emerick Aubameyang scored their fourth goal of the night.

The Spanish giants will travel to Turkey to face Galatasaray in the first leg of their last-16 tie on March 10.

Braga 2-0 Sheriff Tiraspol (2-2 on aggregate, 3-2 on penalties)

Sheriff Tiraspol started their European journey with a few brilliant performances in the Champions League. They defeated Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu, but it was not enough to secure them a group-stage qualification.

Having won the first leg 2-0, Sheriff came into the second half to defend their league. However, their Czech opponents defeated them on penalties after an exciting 2-0 win after 120 minutes.

Braga will now prepare to face Monaco in the round of 16.

Rangers 2-2 Borussia Dortmund (6-4 on aggregate)

The Gers stunned Dortmund with a 4-2 win in the first leg in Germany. The Black and Yellows came into the second round while missing some of their key players, including Erling Haaland.

However, similar to their previous games, it was their defensive struggles that changed the game in favour of their opponents. Two goals from Jude Bellingham and Donyell Malen revived Dortmund’s hopes for a comeback.

However, the hosts equalized the match to go through to the next round with an impressive 6-4 win on aggregate. The Gers will now prepare to face Red Star Belgrade at Ibrox on March 10.

Real Betis 0-0 Zenit (3-2 on aggregate)

The game took place under the heavy shadows of the political situation between Russia and Ukraine. Zenit came into the game needing only one goal to level the tie on aggregate.

However, the Russian side were not able to score despite their numerous attacks. Betis maintained their defensive integrity throughout the game as they became the third Spanish side to qualify for the next round. Betis will host Eintracht Frankfurt in the first leg of their last-16 tie on March 9.