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Villarreal And Sevilla Reach Europa League Semi-Finals

Europa-league-final-fourIt was another good night for Spanish football as Villarreal And Sevilla both reached the Europa League semi-finals on Thursday night. That means that La Liga has half of the teams left in the two European competitions, a testament to how strong La Liga is. That it is not of only two teams.

Villarreal had the easiest of the two Spanish teams advancing as they beat Sparta Prague 4-2 on the night and 6-3 on aggregate to reach their fourth European semi-final. Can they make history and reach their first European final?

They put the tie to bed with first-half goals from Cedric Bakambu, Samuel Castillejo and Bruno Soriano. Bakambu then netted again in the 49th minute, but Sparta kept fighting and had the consolation of goals from Borek Dockal and Ladislav Krejci.

Captain Darijo Srna toasted breaking Shakhtar Donetsk’s all-time appearance record with a goal and two assists as the Ukrainians thumped Braga 4-0. Leading 2-1 from the first leg, Shakhtar took the lead in the 25th minute through a penalty from full-back Srna on his 486th appearance for the club. The unlucky Ricardo Ferreira scored two own goals, one from a Srna cross, with the Croatian also setting up Viktor Kovalenko.

It was a much more nervy night for the two-time defending champions Sevilla, who kept alive their hopes of a third successive Europa League title with a penalty shoot-out victory over Athletic Bilbao. Bilbao’s 2-1 victory on the night at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan sent the tie into extra-time, where there were no more goals.

The first six penalties were scored, but Benat Etxebarria sent his spot-kick into the arms of David Soria and Kevin Gameiro was able to seal the win for Sevilla. Earlier, Gameiro had cancelled out Aritz Aduriz’s opener but Raul Garcia pulled Bilbao level in the tie with an 80th-minute goal.

Joining the two Spanish sides in the draw will be Liverpool, who beat Borussia Dortmund 4-3 on the night and 5-4 on aggregate after an epic comeback at Anfield and Shakhtar Donetsk who easy took care of Sporting Braga 4-0 on the night and 6-1 on aggregate.

Four Europa League Semi-Finalists
Liverpool (ENG)
Last SF: 2009/10 (2-2, lost on away goals v Atlético)
SF record: W3 L2
UEFA Cup/Europa League best: winners (1973, 1976, 2001)
This season: W6 D6 L0 F15 A9 (entry: group stage)
Top scorer: James Milner, Adam Lallana, Divock Origi, Philippe Coutinho (2)
European head-to-heads
v Sevilla N/A
v Shakhtar N/A
v Villarreal N/A

Sevilla (ESP, holders)
Last SF: 2014/15 (won 5-0 v Fiorentina)
SF record: W4 L0
UEFA Cup/Europa League best: winners (2006, 2007, 2014, 2015)
This season: W3 D1 L2 F9 A4 (entry: round of 32)
Top scorer: Kevin Gameiro (4)
European head-to-heads
v Liverpool N/A
v Shakhtar W1 D1 L0 F5 A4
v Villarreal W2 D0 L0 F5 A2

Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR)
Last SF: 2008/09 (won 3-2 v Dynamo Kyiv)
SF record: W1 L0
UEFA Cup/Europa League best: winners (2009)
This season: W5 D1 L0 F13 A2 (entry: round of 32)
Top scorer: Darijo Srna, Viktor Kovalenko, Eduardo, Facundo Ferreyra (2)
European head-to-heads
v Liverpool N/A
v Sevilla W0 D1 L1 F4 A5
v Villarreal N/A

Villarreal (ESP)
Last SF: 2010/11 (lost 7-4 v Porto)
SF record: W0 L2
UEFA Cup/Europa League best: semi-finals (2004, 2011)
This season: W8 D3 L1 F22 A10 (entry: group stage)
Top scorer: Cédric Bakambu (9)
European head-to-heads
v Liverpool N/A
v Sevilla W0 D0 L2 F2 A5
v Shakhtar N/A