Europa League: Liverpool eliminated; Aston Villa in semis

Atalanta progressed to the Europa League semi-finals despite losing 1-0 to Liverpool on Thursday as they triumphed 3-1 on aggregate to move one step closer to a first ever European final for the Serie A side.
Europa League: Liverpool eliminated; Aston Villa in semis

LONDON: Atalanta progressed to the Europa League semi-finals despite losing 1-0 to Liverpool on Thursday as they triumphed 3-1 on aggregate to move one step closer to a first ever European final for the Serie A side.

Atalanta had stunned the Premier League club 3-0 in the first leg of their quarter-final last week at Anfield, levelling another huge blow to Liverpool's dreams of a fairytale ending in manager Juergen Klopp's final season.

Liverpool got off to a quick start in Italy as talisman Mohammed Salah scored from the penalty spot in the seventh minute, fuelling hope that a remarkable comeback was in the making.

But while Klopp's men looked little like the shaky side who were steamrolled by Atalanta at Anfield, particularly in the first half, Gian Piero Gasperini's team held on in what the manager had called the biggest game in the team's history to earn a semi-final place against Olympique de Marseille.

Salah had Liverpool's best chance at a second goal when he was sent in one-on-one against goalkeeper Juan Musso, but he chipped the ball well wide.

Liverpool, who won the League Cup earlier this season, now turn their attention back to the Premier League. They are level on 71 points with second-placed Arsenal and two points behind leaders Manchester City.

Martinez avoids red card, saves penalties to send Villa into semis

Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez saved two spot kicks and survived a bizarre red card incident as his side beat French club Lille on penalties to reach the Europa Conference League semi-finals on Thursday.

A chaotic match ended 3-3 on aggregate after Lille's 2-1 victory on the night but the real drama was to come in the shoot-out with World Cup winner Martinez in the thick of it.

Martinez, who was shown a yellow card during the game for time wasting, first saved brilliantly to keep out Nabil Bentaleb's effort to give Villa the advantage in the shoot-out but was warned for his persistent mind games and reactions towards the French fans in the Stade Pierre Mauroy.

The Argentine was then shown a second yellow card for his antics and appeared to have been sent off only to be reprieved by the rule which states that yellow cards awarded during regular time are not carried forward to penalty shoot-outs.

Villa's Leon Bailey then missed his spot kick but Martinez proved the hero as he kept out Benjamin Andre's effort to seal a 4-3 shoot-out win for Unai Emery's side.

Martinez raced the length of the pitch to celebrate in front of the ecstatic away fans.

It is the first time Villa have reached a European semi-final since 1982 and they are now the only English team left in Europe after Liverpool and West Ham United bowed out of the Europa League on Thursday.

Lille had led 2-0 with goals by Yusuf Yazici and Andre but Matty Cash's deflected effort in the 87th minute sent the tie into extra time.

Ten-man Roma beat Milan to set up semi-final with Leverkusen

AS Roma beat AC Milan 2-1 at a buzzing Stadio Olimpico on Thursday to complete a 3-1 aggregate win and set up a semi-final showdown with Bundesliga champions Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa League.

Defender Gianluca Mancini, whose 17th-minute header had helped Roma edge Milan 1-0 at the San Siro last week, gave them another early lead in the quarter-final second leg, scoring on a rebound from close range in the 12th minute.

Paulo Dybala doubled the advantage for the hosts 10 minutes later with a curled shot inside the far post before Matteo Gabbia pulled one back for Milan five minutes from time, nodding home a cross from forward Rafael Leao.

Last season's runners-up Roma, who were beaten on penalties by Sevilla after a 1-1 draw in the final, advanced to their fourth European semi-final in a row.

They will next face the newly-crowned Bundesliga champions Leverkusen, who beat West Ham United.

Roma started off confidently and captain Lorenzo Pellegrini hit the post from outside the box before Mancini grabbed a rebound to score the opener.

Milan's Ruben Loftus-Cheek came close to levelling when he hit the bar minutes later but the visitors' worst nightmare became reality when Dybala made it 2-0 soon after.

Striker Romelu Lukaku raced to win the ball on the right flank before his pass towards front of the goal was cleared by Milan defence but ended at the feet of Dybala who made no mistake slotting home.

However, Roma lost Lukaku to an injury in the 28th minute before they were left with 10 men in the 31st when defender Zeki Celik was sent off for a challenge on Leao.

This resulted in both coaches making tactical changes before the break with Stefano Pioli introducing striker Luka Jovic in place of midfielder Ismael Bennacer for Milan and Daniele De Rossi took off Dybala to beef up Roma's defence with Diego Llorente.

Milan had more possession following halftime and their attacks intensified but Leonardo Spinazzola could have made it 3-0 for Roma after a solo run, before his low effort was saved by goalkeeper Mike Maignan.

Jovic then struck low from around the penalty spot but was denied by Roma keeper Mile Svilar.

Gabbia's late goal sparked little hope for Pioli's side, who are now winless in three games across all competitions.

For Roma it was only their third victory in the last 15 matches against Milan, the other two a 2-1 Serie A home win in October 2019 and last week's triumph in the first leg.

Marseille edge Benfica on penalties

Olympique de Marseille claimed a penalty shootout win over Benfica on Thursday to reach the Europa League semi-finals for the first time in six years after Faris Moumbagna's late second-half goal levelled the tie at 2-2 on aggregate.

Benfica's Angel Di Maria missed the first kick of the shootout striking the post and goalkeeper Pau Lopez saved Antonio Silva's effort to hand Marseille the win with all of their penalty takers scoring their first four.

The hosts broke the deadlock 11 minutes from time through Moumbagna's close-range header off Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's cross from the left.

The Ligue 1 side will take on Atalanta in the semi-finals, who went down 1-0 at home to Liverpool but progressed with a 3-1 aggregate win after their shock victory at Anfield last week. Agencies

Also Read: Europa League: Liverpool stunned by Atalanta, Roma beat AC Milan

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