Roma and Juve dealt nasty hand as Lazio progress
ROME – On a night which saw AC Milan crash out with a 3-1 loss to Arsenal, Lazio advanced to the last eight of the Europa League with a 4-2 aggregate victory over Dynamo Kiev. They will face German outfit, Red Bull Salzburg, whilst Roma host Barcelona and Juventus entertain a recently rejuvenated Real Madrid.
Faced with a demanding 2-0 deficit, Milan closed the gap on their English opponents as Hakan Calhanoglu sparked a potential comeback, planting a brilliant long-range strike into David Ospina's corner. However, the positivity was short-lived as Danny Welbeck dived under the challenge of Ricardo Rodriguez before converting from the spot in a manic end to the first-half.
An uncharacteristic howler by Milan’s Gianluigi Donnarumma saw Xhaka’s drive to spin painstakingly over the line, essentially killing off any remaining hope. Welbeck later added to his tally as Arsenal finished the final moments of the game queuing up to test the young Italian keeper.
Whilst Welbeck’s premeditated tumble came at a critical moment, Gattuso’s side were outplayed for large parts of the tie and can hardly begrudge the Gunners their victory. They now turn their attention to the Coppia Italia final against Juventus in their only remaining opportunity to lift a trophy.
Lazio, however, came out on top in Ukraine as they defeated Dynamo Kiev 2-0. A series of missed opportunities from Ciro Immobile didn’t agitate the Italians as they eventually made it safely through their round of 16 tie at the Kiev Olympic Stadium.
Lucas Leiva opened the scoring, leaving Dynamo Kiev keeper, Denys Boyko, grabbing the air as he rose well to head home a Luis Alberto corner for a crucial away goal.
The Brazilian’s strike gave the Italian side a cushion, but the outcome of the tie was put beyond doubt in the 83rd minute, once again from a corner. Stefan de Vrij stabbed home Luiz Felipe’s glancing header, coming as a signal for many of the home fans to head for the exit.
Whilst Lazio will now come up against Red Bull Salzburg in the Europa League last eight, both Roma and Juventus are to face much sterner tests in two mouth-watering ties against Barcelona and Real Madrid.