Europa League: Liverpool thrash Sparta Prague; Roma down Brighton

An early penalty by Alexis Mac Allister and a Darwin Nunez brace helped Liverpool to thrash Sparta Prague 5-1 in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie
Europa League: Liverpool thrash Sparta Prague; Roma down Brighton

london: An early penalty by Alexis Mac Allister and a Darwin Nunez brace helped Liverpool to thrash Sparta Prague 5-1 in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie on Thursday.

Liverpool, who qualified for the knockout rounds as group winners, dominated the game and were up 3-0 at the break, edging closer to the quarter-finals.

After Mac Allister was taken down inside the box, the Argentine gave Liverpool the lead from the spot in the sixth minute. He sent Sparta keeper Peter Jensen the wrong way as he fired into the bottom corner.

Nunez doubled the advantage from a distance in the 25th, squeezing in his shot just under the bar to notch up the 1,000th goal during Juergen Klopp's tenure.

The Uruguay forward then made it 3-0 in first-half stoppage time after he received a lofted pass from Mac Allister to slot home from the edge of the box.

Liverpool substitute Conor Bradley scored an own goal just after the break but the visitors restored their three-goal lead in the 53rd minute through Luis Diaz.

Substitute Mohamed Salah thought he had extended Liverpool's lead to 5-1 but his goal was ruled out by VAR for offside.

However, Dominik Szoboszlai added a fifth in injury time.

In the other early kickoff, AS Roma secured a 4-0 win over Brighton & Hove Albion. Paulo Dybala opened the scoring in the 12th minute and Romelu Lukaku doubled their lead before the break following a one-on-one with goalkeeper Jason Steele.

Defender Gianluca Mancini made it 3-0 for the hosts in the 64th minute before midfielder Bryan Cristante completed the rout four minutes later with a header.

Runaway Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen came from two goals down to rescue a 2-2 draw at Azerbaijan's Qarabag with goals from Florian Wirtz and Patrik Schick.

Sporting Lisbon and Atalanta played out a 1-1 draw on Wednesday with forward Gianluca Scamacca scoring before halftime to cancel out Paulinho's opener for the Portuguese hosts.

The match took place one day ahead of the Europa League's Thursday schedule as UEFA safety rules do not permit teams from the same city to host games on the same day. Benfica take on Rangers in Lisbon in a later kickoff.

The second legs will be played on March 14.

AC Milan battled to a 4-2 win over Slavia Prague in an entertaining first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie at San Siro Stadium on Thursday.

Milan opened the scoring through Oliver Giroud's close-range header from Rafael Leao's cross in the 34th minute before the Czechs equalised when David Doudera's long-range volley went in off the post past keeper Mike Maignan.

Tijjani Reijnders restored the lead for the hosts with a fine low shot from Alessandro Florenzi's pass, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek headed home to make it 3-1 seconds before halftime, Florenzi assisting again from a corner.

Slavia pulled one back in the 65th minute through a fierce strike from Ivan Schranz, but Christian Pulisic sealed victory for Milan five minutes from time after a great solo run from Leao.

The visitors had looked solid early in the game, but their hopes of a first-ever triumph in Italy were reduced as El Hadji Malick Diouf picked up a red card for a heavy tackle on Pulisic in the 26th minute.

In another late kickoff, Freiburg avoided a third straight defeat to West Ham United as substitute Michael Gregoritsch's late goal earned the Germans a 1-0 home win.

A double by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang helped Olympique de Marseille to a resounding 4-0 win over Villarreal, down to 10 men after Alberto Moreno was shown a second yellow card in the second half.

Jordan Veretout grabbed the lead for the hosts in the 23rd minute before Villarreal's Yerson Mosquera netted an own goal five minutes later.

Portuguese champions Benfica twice fought back to salvage a 2-2 draw against Rangers, courtesy of an Angel Di Maria penalty and a Connor Goldson own goal, leaving the tie wide open for the return leg in Glasgow. Agencies

Also Read: AC Milan, Roma, Marseille, Benfica advance to Europa League round of 16

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