Liverpool Cruise Into Europa League Quarters


Liverpool scored four times in 14 minutes to reach the Europa League quarter-finals by beating Sparta Prague 6-1. Other teams to book their places in Friday's quarter-final draw included AC Milan, Marseille, Roma and West Ham. Despite leading 5-1 from the first leg, Jurgen Klopp named a surprisingly strong Liverpool team and were well rewarded as the Reds remain in the race for a quadruple of trophies.

Darwin Nunez and 19-year-old Bobby Clarke got Klopp's men off to bright starts before Mohamed Salah made his first club start since January 1 with his 20th of the season.

Liverpool briefly took their foot off the gas ahead of Sunday's visit of Manchester United in the FA Cup, before Cody Gakpo fired over in the fourth.

Veljko Birmančević scored a goal for Sparta, but Dominik Szoboszlai and Gakpo completed the scoring in the second half.

“It was an amazing win – and the first 15 minutes were amazing too,” Gakpo said after the 11–2 aggregate win.

“This is what we had in mind. It shows the confidence we have in the team at this time.”

West Ham went down 1–0 in the first leg against Freiburg, but came back strongly to reach the European quarter-finals for the third consecutive season.

Lucas Paqueta curled a corner at the far post, before Jarrod Bowen blasted home to overturn the tie before half-time.

Aaron Cresswell fired a shot into the far corner and Mohammed Qudus then took center stage to ensure a record European win for David Moyes' men.

The Ghanaian fired a fourth down from inside his own half, passing through the Freiburg midfield and defence.

And then Qudus scored from the edge of the box.

“Obviously we have two or three exceptional individual players who helped us get the goal,” Moyes said. “Winning by five was a great performance for us.”

Brighton left themselves with little to do as a 1–0 win over Roma could not recover from a 4–0 defeat in the first leg.

Danny Welbeck scored the only goal as the Seagulls at least finished their first European campaign on a high.

Benfica ended Rangers' hopes of another deep run in the Europa League with a 1–0 win in heavy rain in Glasgow to advance 3–2 on aggregate.

24 minutes from time, Rafa Silva showed composure through Angel Di Maria's ball and the goal stood despite initially being ruled offside.

Seven-time European champions AC Milan reached the last eight with a 3-1 win over 10-man Slavia Prague.

Three quick goals from Christian Pulisic, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Rafael Leao ended the tie just before half-time.

Villarreal ended Jean-Louis Gasset's undefeated run as Marseille boss, but the 3–1 win in Spain was too little, too late for the Spaniards as they lost 5–3 on aggregate .

In Italy, Atalanta beat Sporting Lisbon 2-1 to make the aggregate score 3-2.

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