On Thursday night, eight teams played the 2nd leg of their Europa League quarter-final matchups hoping to make it into the semi-finals. We look at the games where Nigerian players were in action.
After barely making it into the quarter-finals Arsenal were pitted against Napoli, a potentially tricky fixture. Arsenal played well at home taking all three points after a 2:0 win. The second leg was played at the San Paolo on Thursday.
Napoli played much better this time but couldn’t find a way through. One goal was enough to settle the game. And it was a belter. The referee awarded the Gunners a free kick in the 35th minute, some 25 metres from the goal. Alexandre Lacazette took the responsibility and curled the ball past the Napoli goalkeeper.
This goal made the aggregate score 3:0 to Arsenal. The Italians pushed on in the second half, but the Gunners were secure in the back. Alex Iwobi came on in the 68th minute to replace the Goalscorer. The final score stayed 1:0 Arsenal (3:0 on aggregate). The Gunners were through to the semi-finals.
In an all-Spanish fixture, Valencia welcomed Villareal for the return leg at the Mestalla. The hosts won the first leg 3:1 a week earlier meaning that, short of a miracle by the Yellow Submarine, they were going to go through. They scored early in the first half to make sure there were no doubts. Antonio Latorre Grueso was the scorer of the opener. The score was 1:0 at the break.
Samuel Chukwueze, the young Nigerian star, made his appearance at the start of the second half. However, it was the home team who scored again to double their lead in the 54th minute through Daniel Parejo. The game finished 2:0 and 5:1 on aggregate. Valencia were through to the next round and one game away from the final.
Carrying a slight advantage from the first leg, Chelsea met Slavia Prague at the Stamford Bridge for the second leg. And five minutes into the match they were away when Pedro scored. Four minutes later the Czech team was 2:0 down after an own goal by Simon Deli. Olivier Giroud made it three in the 17th minute.
It was clear where this fixture was headed. Still, Slavia didn’t give up pulling one goal back in the 25th minute courtesy of their captain Tomas Soucek. Two minutes later, Pedro netted his second of the night to restore parity and make it 4:1 to Chelsea.
Six minutes into the second half Petr Sevcik scored for Slavia to give them home of a comeback, Visitors manager reacted immediately, bringing Peter Oladeji Olayinka off the bench in the 52nd minute to try and bolster the attacking line. A couple of minutes later Sevcik scored again to make the score 4:3 to Chelsea and 5:3 on aggregate. However, this turned out to be the last goal of the match putting Chelsea through to the semis.
In the last quarter-final match, Eintracht Frankfurt played Benfica. The aggregate score at the final whistle of the second leg was 4:4 but the German team were through because of the away goal rule. They scored two goals back in Portugal.
In less than two weeks, Valencia will take on Arsenal in the first semi-final pairing while Chelsea will play Eintracht Frankfurt in the other match.