United cruise as City, Atletico fight back
Manchester United and Manchester City shrugged off the disappointment of being dumped out of the UEFA Champions League to inch confidently closer to the UEFA Europa League last 16 on Thursday.
United defeated Ajax in Amsterdam 2-0 with Ashley Young and Javier Hernandez finding the target in the first leg of their last-32 tie. City, meanwhile, came back from a goal down to defeat defending champions Porto 2-1 with substitute Sergio Aguero scoring the winner in the 84th minute.
At the Amsterdam Arena, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson fielded a full-strength side, but he had to wait until the 59th minute to see the opening goal hit by Young, who recently came back to action following an injury lay-off. And, Mexican international Hernandez added the second five minutes from time to give United a commanding advantage.
Ajax coach Frank de Boer struck a pessimistic tone after his side's defeat. "For us to do something against Manchester, you have to really be at 100 per cent, which wasn't the case tonight," he said. "There's a difference in class between the two clubs. I don't think we're going to win 3-0 over there."
City inflicted Porto's first defeat at their Estadio do Dragao in eight European matches to take a crucial advantage back to Eastlands for the second leg.
Silvestre Varela had given Porto, unbeaten in the Portuguese league at home since November 2008, the lead midway through the first half. But Alvaro Pereira's 55th-minute own goal drew the Premier League leaders level before Aguero secured victory with six minutes to play.
Valencia edge Stoke, Atletico down Lazio
Stoke City were unable to make it a triple celebration for the Premier League sides competing in the Europa League after a 1-0 loss to Valencia at the Britannia Stadium. Mehmet Topal scored the only goal in the 36th minute with a stunning 30-yard strike.
Spain's Atletico Madrid saw off Lazio 3-1 in Rome despite falling behind to a 19th-minute goal from German striker Miroslav Klose. Adrian Lopez levelled before Radamel Falcao, who lifted the trophy with Porto last season, bagged a brace for Atletico.
Former England manager Steve McClaren saw his Dutch side FC Twente edge Steaua Bucharest 1-0 in Romania thanks to a second-half strike from Ola John.
Eredivisie trio bag victory
Meanwhile, fellow Eredivisie club PSV Eindhoven were 2-1 winners at Trabzonspor, with Tim Matavz and Ola Toivonen both on target in the first 12 minutes before Olcan Adin hit back for the hosts. AZ Alkmaar were also successful on the day with a 1-0 win over Anderlecht through a Adam Maher goal.
Maxime Lestienne had given Club Brugge the lead at Hannover, but Artur Sobiech and Jan Schlaudraff both scored to claim a 2-1 win.
Wisla Krakow overcame Michal Czekaj's 26th-minute sending off to draw 1-1 with Standard Liege. Gohi Cyriac scored the resulting penalty following Czekaj's dismissal, but Tsvetan Genkov stole an 88th-minute equaliser.
Salzburg are all but out of the competition after a 4-0 thrashing by visitors Metalist Kharkiv. They scored in the first and last minutes of the match through Taison and Bonfim Marlos, with Jonathan Cristaldo scoring twice in three minutes in between.
Lokomotiv Moscow defeated Athletic Bilbao 2-1 after Iker Munain had initially put the La Liga side in front. However, goals in the second half strikes from Felipe Caceido and Denis Glushakov from the spot completed the turnaround.
Schalke drew 1-1 at Viktoria Plzen, with Klaas Jan Huntelaar equalising Vladimar Darida's first-half effort. Legia Warsaw and Sporting Lisbon also drew 2-2 in Poland, with the Portuguese side equalising twice through Daniel Carrico and Andre Santos after goals from Jakub Wawrznyiak and Janusz Gol.
Finally, Udinese were held to a frustrating goalless draw at home by Greek side PAOK at home.