MUNICH — Athletic Bilbao kept up their push for Europa League football glory as two goals from Fernando Llorente helped them to a 4-2 win at Schalke in the first leg of their quarter-final clash.
Llorente pounced on an error from goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand to stab home the opener and give the Spanish side a vital away goal, but within 31 seconds Raul had arrived at the near post to net the leveller from Atsuto Uchida’s cross. The Spaniard should have gone in the book shortly before half-time when he dived to try and win a penalty, but after an hour he redeemed himself with a stunning volley from outside the area to put his side ahead.
However, Llorente was not done and headed Athletic’s equaliser from the near post before Oscar de Marcos made it 3-2 as the ball was palmed into his path by substitute goalkeeper Matthias Schober after a shot from Susaeta.
Klass-Jan Huntelaar hammered a post late on and Raul was denied by Schober, but the German side could find no way back and Iker Muniain slotted home the fourth with the final kick of the game to make them firm favourites.
Brett Holman and Maarten Martens handed AZ Alkmaar a scarcely-deserved 2-1 victory with Valencia in Holland.
The pair combined at the end of the first half for Holman to put the hosts in front and did so again late in the second to restore the lead, Martens this time providing the finish.
The result was hard on the Spaniards, who levelled early in the second half through Mehmet Topal and had enough chances, particularly in a spell of total domination in the 20 minutes after half-time, to win the game with ease. But the Eredivisie leaders rode their luck to ensure they would take the narrowest of advantages back to the Mestalla.
Substitute Eduardo Salvio struck in the 89th minute as Atletico Madrid claimed a potentially crucial first-leg 2-1 advantage against Hannover in Spain.
The Germans looked to be heading home with a draw after Mame Biram Diouf equalised Radamel Falcao’s early strike, but Salvio let fly from 20 yards to leave his side in command.
Metalist Kharkiv boosted their chances of reaching the semi-finals with a last-gasp penalty at Sporting Lisbon as they lost 2-1.
The home side looked on course to take a comfortable lead into the second leg of the quarter-final when Marat Izmailov and Emiliano Insua put them 2-0 in front at Estadio Jose Alvalade.
However, Cleiton Xavier converted a 90th-minute spot-kick to give the Ukrainian side a vital away goal and firm foothold in the tie. —Soccernet