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Away goals advantage makes Bilbao favourites for the Semis
Published : 29 Mar 2012 22:46:43
Fresh from mauling Manchester United, Marcelo Bielsa's Athletic Bilbao took a giant stride towards the UEFA Europa League semi-finals with a dramatic 4-2 first leg win at Schalke 04.
Fernando Llorente scored twice as Bilbao came from behind to grab their crucial advantage, which they boosted in injury time when Iker Muniain scored his side's fourth.
Llorente put the visitors ahead on 20 minutes at the Veltins-Arena before Schalke hit back with two goals from Raul either side of the break. But Bilbao, without a win in three since seeing off Sir Alex Ferguson's men, responded through Llorente again and an 81st minute goal from Oscar De Marcos before Muniain added to their lead.
Substitute Eduardo Salvio struck in the 89th minute as Atletico Madrid claimed a potentially crucial 2-1 first leg advantage in their quarter-final clash with Hannover in Spain.
The Germans looked to be heading home with a draw after Mame Biram Diouf equalised Radamel Falcao's early strike, but Salvio let fly from 20 yards to leave his side in command.
But it was not all good news for the Primera Liga as former UEFA Cup winners Valencia were beaten 2-1 away Dutch Eredivisie leaders AZ Alkmaar.
Brett Holman put the home side in front in first half injury time and although Mehmet Topal equalised in the 52nd minute, Maarten Martens hit what turned out to be AZ's winner with 11 minutes left.
Sporting Lisbon beat Metalist Kharkiv 2-1 in Portugal but can expect a much tougher second leg after the Ukrainians gave themselves hope with an injury-time penalty.
Sporting were cruising through second half goals from Marat Izmailov and Emiliano Insua, but Cleiton Xavier's spot-kick deep into added time will give Metalist plenty of hope.