Europa League run ends for Gary Neville’s Valencia

Aritz Aduriz’s late goal earns Athletic Bilbao quarter-final on away goals rule

Aritz Aduriz scored late in the second half to send Athletic Bilbao into the quarter-finals of the Europa League on away goals, despite a 2-1 defeat to Spanish rivals Valencia on Thursday.

Sparta Prague, who secured a superb 3-0 away win at Lazio, and Villarreal, who went through 2-0 on aggregate after a goalless draw at Bayer Leverkusen, will join them in the last eight.

Valencia boss Gary Neville has had little to celebrate since joining the club in December but looked on course for some rare joy when his side scored twice in the first half against Bilbao.

Santi Mina netted on the rebound to put them ahead after 13 minutes and Brazilian defender Aderlan Santos doubled the advantage eight minutes before the break with a superb header from Jose Gaya’s cross.


Elation turned to disappointment, however, when Aduriz poked home his eighth Europa League goal this season after 76 minutes following a brilliant flick from Raul Garcia, giving Atletico a crucial away goal to add to their 1-0 win in the first leg.

Despite their victory on the night, the result was another blow for Valencia, who had lost their previous three matches in all competitions and have struggled for the majority of Neville’s spell in charge.

There was no late drama in Italy where Lazio were comprehensively taken apart by Sparta Prague, who scored three times in the first half to complete a 4-1 aggregate victory.

Sparta, who held on for a 1-1 draw in the home leg last week, scored twice in quick succession through Borek Dockal after 10 minutes and Ladislav Krejci two minutes later.

The tie was effectively done and dusted when Lukas Julis hooked in a third a minute before the break.