Atletico Madrid are the favourites to win this season’s Europa League after Manchester United and Manchester City both crashed out of the competition on Thursday night.
However, it was Athletic Bilbao who arguably got the result of the night, beating Manchester United 2-1 and 5-3 on aggregate. The result means this is the first time since the 2001-02 season where United will not play in a cup final.
Following the result, manager Sir Alex Ferguson said in Mail Online:
“I don’t think we can complain at the result. In the second half in particular, Bilbao were the better team”.
He’s not wrong.
Goals from Fernando Llorente and Oscar de Marcos put Bilbao 5-2 ahead on aggregate before a wonder strike from Wayne Rooney gave United a glimmer of hope with 10 minutes remaining.
You can see for yourself just how good they were here:
Manchester City also slipped out of the competition on away goals despite coming from 2-0 down to beat Sporting Lisbon 3-2 on the night with the aggregate score tied at 3-3.
City found themselves 2-0 down and 3-0 down on aggregate with two goals in seven minutes from Matias Fernandez and Ricky van Wolfswinkel before they hit back in the second half with two goals from Sergio Aguero and a Mario Balotelli penalty.
But, it wasn’t enough and following the defeat, Roberto Mancini even apologised to the supporters for their Europa League exit.
That said, whether Mancini got his tactics all wrong or not, goalkeeper Joe Hart almost won it for City five minutes into stoppage time and produced a fine save from Sporting goalkeeper Rui Patricio.
Watch it here:
Just a couple of weeks ago City and United were first and second favourites in the Europa League betting but it is now the teams from Spain that lead the way.
Atletico Madrid, Athletic Bilbao and Valencia will all fancy their chances of reaching the semi finals after being drawn against Hannover 96, Schalke 04 and AZ Alkmaar respectively.
City conquerors Sporting have been drawn against outsiders Metalist Kharkiv.
- Atletico Madrid @ 4.33 (Boylesports)
- Athletic Bilbao @ 4.5 (Coral)
- Valencia @ 4.5 (Betfred)
- Schalke 04 @ 6.5 (Sky Bet)
- Sporting Lisbon @ 12.0 (Betfred)
- AZ Alkmaar @ 19.0 (Sportingbet)
- Hannover 96 @ 21.0 (Bet Victor)
- Metalist Kharkiv @ 21.0 (Boylesports)