Ferran Torres strikes to secure a draw for Barcelona at Eintracht Frankfurt, Jarrod Bown goal helps 10-man West Ham draw with Lyon, RB Leipzig fight back to snatch a draw against Atalanta, while Abel Ruiz hands Sporting Braga a win over Rangers in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-finals.
EINTRACHT FRANKFURT 1-1 BARCELONA
Ferran Torres snatched an equaliser for Barcelona in an entertaining 1-1 draw against Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday evening.
Ansgar Knauff’s sensational touch and finish from 20 yards fired the Bundesliga side ahead three minutes after half time, to the delight of a raucous crowd at the Deutsche Bank Park.
Substitutes Frenkie de Jong and Ousmane Dembele combined for Torres to equalise for Barcelona in fine fashion, midway through the second half.
Eintracht defender Lucas Tuta was dismissed for the hosts in the closing stages for a second bookable offence and will miss next week’s trip to Catalonia.
An intriguing second leg awaits next week at the Camp Nou with the tie perfectly poised
WEST HAM DRAW WITH LYON
Jarrod Bowen was on target but 10-man West Ham were ultimately left frustrated after securing a 1-1 draw at home to Lyon in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie.
The Hammers had high hopes of building a lead to take to France but they were dealt a huge blow on the stroke of half time when Aaron Cresswell was adjudged to have pulled back Moussa Dembele as he charged through on goal.
The referee produced a straight red card despite what appeared to be minimal contact and Dembele’s cheeky wink of approval.
It was an explosive conclusion to a drab opening period where the visitors probed without creating much of note while Said Benrahma had the home side’s best effort on the counter attack.
The Hammers adjusted their game-plan at the interval and deservedly stole in front on 52 minutes when Bowen pounced on Pablo Fornals’ deflected pass to fire home.
Lyon had lacked imagination in the final third but pulled level out of the blue on 66 minutes when on-loan Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele tapped home from close-range.
The French side continued to dominate as they tried to make their one-man advantage count but could not find a way through West Ham’s stubborn rearguard.
The Hammers will now regroup for their visit to Brentford on Sunday ahead of the second leg in France on April 14. Lyon travel to Strasbourg.
RB LEIPZIG 1-1 ATALANTA
Atalanta and RB Leipzig couldn’t be separated in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final as a highly entertaining game at the RB Arena ended in a 1-1 draw.
Atalanta forward Luis Muriel lit up the contest in the 17th minute with a stunning individual effort, cutting in off the left flank and after evading two challenges bent an unstoppable shot into the top corner.
The hosts offered little in a lacklustre first half but Andre Silva could have levelled matters only for the post to come to Atalanta’s rescue.
A two-goal lead at the break would have been reflective of Atalanta’s superiority and Mario Pasalic went agonisingly close to providing it with an angled shot but again the woodwork was left rattling.
Leipzig improved immensely after the restart – but their equaliser came in hugely dramatic circumstances.
Atalanta’s goalkeeper Juan Musso was the hero as he saved Silva’s spot-kick and then gathered himself to push Willi Orban’s header wide of goal. However, Atalanta’s defence failed to readjust as the hosts kept the attack alive, Dani Olmo’s cross was delivered and Davide Zappacosta turned the ball past his own goalkeeper.
To their credit, Atalanta piled on the pressure in search of a winner with the best opportunity falling to teenage substitute Giorgio Scalvini, who ought to have scored but blazed over from point-blank range, and just moments later Teun Koopmeiners shot against the post.
Leipzig finished on a high and may feel that they had done enough to win it as Dominik Szoboszlai struck the crossbar with a diving header and Merih Demiral scrambled Lukas Klostermann’s effort off the line.
Alas, a winner could not be found and the teams have it all to do again next Thursday in Bergamo.
BRAGA 1-0 RANGERSIt wasn’t an ideal start for Rangers in their Europa League quarter-final as they were beaten 1-0 by Braga at the Estadio Municipal.
A goal from Abel Ruiz was enough to ruin Allan McGregor’s centenary European appearance for the club in the visiting net, and Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side were fortunate to not leave Portugal with a two-goal deficit as Andre Horta saw his deflected effort chalked off for a foul on Ryan Jack by wide centre-back Fabiano.
In a game of few chances, the hosts’ captain Ricardo Horta crashed a shot against the post two minutes before Ruiz would put Braga ahead, as Carlos Carvalhal enjoyed a winning return against a British team.
Fashion Sakala was poor up top for the visitors in the absence of Alfredo Morelos, and the talismanic Colombian was sorely missed as the Zambian forward was erratic in his finishing, slashing a shot well over after he had outpaced and wrongfooted Tormena.
The Gers struggled to get into their attacking rhythm, and one could argue that they were missing the key names of Morelos and Joe Aribo in the final third, with Glen Kamara often outnumbered and outmuscled when attempting to link patterns of play in rare spurts of possession for the Scots.
Neither goalkeeper was really called into action as clear-cut chances were in short supply, and the defensive organisation from the home side meant that their Scottish opponents struggled to break them down: instead forced into laborious building from the back and side-to-sides rather than intricate, penetrative passing through the lines.
Van Bronckhorst’s men were disappointing from set-play situations as well, as captain James Tavernier had a quiet game when it came to dead-ball delivery and overall attacking output. He was forced back well by the energetic youngster Rodrigo Gomes at left wing-back for the hosts, and on the opposite side, Calvin Bassey and Borna Barisic had their hands full with Manchester City loanee Yan Couto.
A disappointing opening leg for Rangers, but with a slender one-goal cushion by way of the Portuguese, they should be confident that the Ibrox faithful will play their part in keeping the European fairytale alive.