Fulham, Liverpool storm through
Fulham stunned mighty Juventus to reach the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals on Thursday where they will be joined by seasoned campaigners Liverpool.
Fulham, 3-1 down from the first leg in Turin, staged a stunning fightback to clinch a 4-1 victory on the night against nine-man Juventus for a 5-4 aggregate triumph.
Roy Hodgson's Premier League side's European adventure looked over when David Trezeguet gave Juventus an early lead at Craven Cottage. But Bobby Zamora's strike gave the hosts hope and, after Juve's FIFA World Cup™ winning defender Fabio Cannavaro was sent off, Zoltan Gera struck twice to draw Fulham level on aggregate.
Juventus, twice European champions, gave a dismal display and American forward Clint Dempsey came off the bench to score a superb late winner before Jonathan Zebina was dismissed for kicking Damien Duff. "I'm on top of the world," said 62-year-old Hodgson. "I don't know if it is the biggest night in the club's history but it must come close."
Fernando Torres struck twice as Liverpool stormed back to overturn a first-leg deficit against Lille to book their place in the last eight at Anfield. Trailing 1-0 from the first leg, Steven Gerrard marked his 300th appearance as captain by levelling the scores on aggregate from the penalty spot.
Torres's first goal in European competition this season doubled his side's lead early in the second half before the Spanish striker made it 3-0 in the last minute. The 3-1 aggregate success keeps Liverpool's season alive as Rafael Benitez's stuttering side battle to avoid a fourth successive season without winning silverware.
The win also came on the day that Spanish international Albert Riera had described the Merseyside club as a "sinking ship" and claimed that compatriot Benitez did not talk to him. "We knew they had to push from the beginning and if we did not score an early goal they could carry on with some hope, so that goal gave us some time and some confidence too," said Benitez.
Villa on song
David Villa hit a hat-trick as Benitez's former club Valencia drew 4-4 at Werder Bremen that ensured the Spaniards a quarter-final place on the away-goals rule after the tie finished 5-5 on aggregate. Villa and Juan Mata gave Valencia a 2-0 lead by the 15th minute before Hugo Almeida pulled one back for the hosts.
Villa hit his second, and his team's third, on the stroke of half-time only for Bremen captain Torsten Frings to convert a 57th-minute penalty and Marko Marin to hit the Germans' third. However, Villa was on target again in the 65th minute which meant Claudio Pizarro's 84th-minute equaliser was not enough to save Bremen.
Benfica won the battle of former European champions with a 2-1 victory at Marseille for a 3-1 aggregate victory with Alan Kardec hitting a 90th-minute winner on the night to ensure the Portuguese a place in Friday's quarter-final draw. Belgium's Standard Liege also went through with Dieudonne Mbokani scoring in first-half injury time for a 1-0 win over Panathinaikos for a 4-1 aggregate win.
Anderlecht were unable to make it two Belgian sides in the last eight despite beating Hamburg 4-3. The German side went through 6-5 on aggregate. Fernando Torres's former team Atletico Madrid also qualified when a 2-2 draw at Sporting Lisbon gave them victory on the away goals rule.