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Leverkusen, Roma, Atalanta, Marseille into Europa League SF. Liverpool, West Ham, Milan, Benfica out


BY KAREL JANICEK
Friday April 19, 2024

Liverpool failed to overcome a three-goal deficit and was eliminated from the Europa League on Thursday despite beating Atalanta 1-0 in the second leg of their quarterfinal matchup.

The result officially ended Liverpool’s hopes of a treble of trophies in manager Jurgen Klopp’s final season at Anfield, though the feat had looked unlikely after the Italian team won 3-0 in the first leg in Merseyside.

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“We won the game and that was the reaction we wanted to show,” Klopp told TNT Sports. “It was difficult and we knew it would be, but Atalanta deserve to go through, 100%.”

Days after celebrating its first-ever Bundesliga title, Bayer Leverkusen remained on course to claim a historic treble by holding West Ham to a 1-1 draw at London Stadium to stretch its unbeaten streak to 44. Xabi Alonso’s team advanced to the semifinals 3-1 on aggregate.

Leverkusen will face Roma in the last four after the capital club beat AC Milan 2-1 in an all-Italian quarterfinal to advance 3-1 on aggregate.

Michail Antonio put West Ham ahead early, heading in a cross from Vladimir Coufal. Jeremie Frimpong came off the bench and equalized in the 89th minute to clinch the aggregate victory and extend the team’s unbeaten run.

Alonso’s team will play second-division Kaiserslautern in the German Cup final in Berlin on May 25, three days after the Europa League final in Dublin.

In Bergamo, Liverpool had a dream start after Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross hit Matteo Ruggeri’s hand. Mohamed Salah sent goalkeeper Juan Musso the wrong way from the penalty spot for an early lead in the seventh minute.

But the Reds failed to convert any other chances — a long way off from their 5-0 win at Atalanta in the Champions League in 2020.

Atalanta will meet Marseille after the French team topped Benfica 4-2 in a shootout after winning 1-0 to level the aggregate score at 2-2.

With the English League Cup already secured, Liverpool still hopes for a second Premier League title under its German manager but is now in third and two points adrift of first-place Manchester City.

Inconsistent in Serie A, Atalanta has been shining in the second-tier continental league this season. Thursday’s loss was its first in the campaign after six wins and three draws.

It’s only the second time the Italian club reached the semifinals of a European competition.

In Rome, Roma coach Daniele De Rossi marked an extension of his contract announced earlier Thursday by reaching the last four with his team reduced to 10 men.

Gianluca Mancini put the hosts 1-0 up early at Stadio Olimpico after Lorenzo Pellegrini’s shot bounced off the post and the defender was in the right place to net. Mancini also scored the winner in the first leg at San Siro last week.

Paulo Dybala doubled the advantage in the 22nd.

Roma defender Zeki Celik received a red card on the half-hour mark for fouling Rafael Leão but Milan only halved the deficit with a Matteo Gabbia header five minutes from time.

Milan, the seven-time European champion, is second in the Serie A, trailing leader Inter by 14 points on the way to finish the season without a trophy after it was knocked out of the Italian Cup.

After Arsenal and Manchester City were eliminated from the Champions League on Wednesday, the Premier League clubs were knocked out also from second-tier Europa League.

Aston Villa remains the only English club in Europe in the third-tier Europa Conference League.

EUROPA CONFERENCE LEAGUE

Emiliano Martínez saved two spot kicks and Douglas Luiz converted the decisive penalty for Villa to prevail 4-3 in a shootout over Lille and advance to the Europa Conference League semifinals.

After Villa won the first leg of their quarterfinals 2-1 last week, Yusuf Yazıcı and Benjamin André scored in each half for Lille’s 2-0 lead before defender Matty Cash’s 87th-minute goal evened the aggregate score 3-3 to force extra time.

Villa is into its first European semifinal since 1982 and will face Olympiakos which beat Fenerbahce 3-2 on penalties for a spot in the May 29 final in Athens.

Fiorentina, last year’s runnerup, also reached the semifinals after Nicolás González and Cristiano Biraghi both scored in extra time to edge 10-man Viktoria Plzeň 2-0 in the second leg. The opening leg was a goalless draw. The Italian team will face Club Brugge, which won 2-0 at PAOK to advance 3-0 on aggregate, Plzeň’s Brazilian midfielder Cadu received a red card in the 66th minute.



 





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