Barcelona and Lionel Messi’s spectacular showing in the Champions League on Wednesday apparently inspired fellow La Liga sides on their Europa League adventure as once again, all of them picked up important victories against their opponents.
Atletico Madrid, Athetic Bilbao and Valencia showed their credibility along with focus in the competition, earning all a well deserved result which could a valuable asset for their upcoming second leg fixtures.
Bilbao Stunned Man United at Old Trafford.
Among the other two Spanish teams, Bilbao’s victory on Thursday could be considered as the most memorable one since it happened at their opponent’s ground, and it simply wasn’t any random club as well. The Basque region outfit were beating Manchester United and playing the Red Devils out of the park with some crisp tiki-taka moves that forced goal keeper, David De Gea, to become the home team’s savior.
United did take the first blow though when Wayne Rooney opened the scoring in the 22th minute but after wasting several goal scoring chances, Bilbao eventually got what they deserved when Fernando Llorente beat De Gea a minute before the break. In the second half, nothing really changed much as the visitor were still the more dominant side and added their tally through Oscar and then Iker Muniain, which puts Marcelo Bielsa’s team in the driving seat for the next round, despite Rooney grabbed a brace from the spot kick in the final 90.
Valencia Trashed PSV at Mestalla.
At Mestalla, one of this season’s Europa League favorites, Valencia eased their way passed Dutch opponent PSV Eindhoven and could actually made things easier for the second leg after taking a 4-0 lead at one stage. However, the Spaniard’s clumsy defending in the final minutes eventually led the visitor a lifeline for the second meeting as the Dutch team grabbed two late goals and turned the final scoreline into 4-2.
Victor Ruiz started Valencia’s goal rout on the day, followed by Roberto Soldado’s brace before Pablo Piatti grabbed the fourth which temporarily gave lots of comfort for the home team fans. Unfortunately, a poor defending allowed Ola Toivonen to pull one goal back from the penalty spot and Georgino Wijnaldum eventually gave a real lifeline for the Dutch team at second leg with his late goal.
Atletico Madrid Tamed Turkish Opposition
Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid still show their positive trend with another impressive victory in the Europa League, this time against Turkish’ representative, Besiktas. The home team simply thought they had the job done in the first half where Eduardo Salvio bagged a brace before Adrian Lopez closing the half with the Spaniard’s third.
However, Besiktas’ remain hopeful of their chance in the second leg thanks to a second half goal from Atletico’s former star, Simao Sabrosa, who scored in the 53rd minute. The Porguese winger’s strike could ends up as a big blow for Diego Simeone’s team, if they doesn’t keep their concentration high in the second leg, as traveling to Turkey never seems to be an easy task for any European team.