French soccer on a high as Lyon advances in Europa League
ABS-CBN Sports on Feb 24, 2017 10:06 AM
Lyon' players celebrate after winning against AZ Alkmaar during the round of 32, second leg, Europa League soccer match between Lyon and AZ Alkmaar, in Decines, near Lyon, central France, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
STEVE DOUGLAS, AP Sports Writer
In the latest show of strength in French soccer, Lyon powered into the last 16 of the Europa League on Thursday by handing AZ Alkmaar a second heavy beating in a week.
Lyon displayed its attacking talent by following up a 4-1 victory in the first leg with a 7-1 thrashing at home, with Nabil Fekir scoring a hat trick. By winning 11-2 over two legs, Lyon completed the second biggest aggregate success in the competition's history.
French soccer is on a high. Paris Saint-Germain beat Barcelona 4-0 last week in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 match and Monaco — the free-scoring French league leader — gave Manchester City a real test in the same competition on Tuesday, losing only 5-3 in their first leg after conceding three late goals.
On the day Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas said he was going to sell some of the team's best players in the summer, they put on a show for potential buyers, although the best-known of the team's attackers — Alexandre Lacazette — wasn't even on the field. He was being rested.
Maxwel Cornet, Sergi Darder and homegrown players Houssem Aouar and Mouctar Diakhaby also scored for Lyon.
The 13 goals over two legs equaled a Europa League record.
Here's a look at other results in the last-32 second legs:
ROMA 0, VILLARREAL 1 (ROMA ADVANCES 4-1 ON AGGREGATE)
A pre-match gathering with the pope couldn't inspire a memorable fightback by Villarreal.
Behind 4-0 after the first leg against Roma, Villarreal recovered some pride by winning the return match 1-0 in the Italian capital but still bowed out. Rafael Borre scored.
Villarreal's players had an audience with Pope Francis at the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City ahead of the game.
FIORENTINA 2, BORUSSIA MOENCHENGLADBACH 4 ('GLADBACH ADVANCES 4-3 ON AGGREGATE)
In the comeback of the round, Moenchengladbach recovered from going 3-0 down on aggregate to score four goals in a 17-minute span bridging halftime and advance in the unlikeliest of fashions.
Lars Stindl scored in the 44th, 47th and 55th minutes, before Andreas Christensen added the fourth goal.
Fiorentina won the first leg 1-0 and went 2-0 up in the return match through goals by Nikola Kalinic and Borja Valero.
TOTTENHAM 2, GENT 2 (GENT ADVANCES 3-2 ON AGGREGATE)
Tottenham had another night to forget at Wembley Stadium.
Playing their European games at the national stadium while their White Hart Lane home across north London is gradually demolished, Spurs lost two of their three home games in the Champions League and then failed to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg against Gent in the Europa League.
Christian Eriksen's opener for Tottenham was canceled out by Harry Kane's own goal, before Dele Alli was sent off for a dangerous tackle. Victor Wanyama put Spurs back in front, but Gent equalized through Jeremy Perbet.
The attendance of 80,465 was a record for a Europa League game.
SHAKHTAR DONETSK 0, CELTA VIGA 2, ET (CELTA VIGO ADVANCES 2-1 ON AGGREGATE)
Celta Vigo scored in second-half stoppage time and then in extra time to eliminate Shakhtar, which had won all of its seven games in the Europa League.
Iago Aspas' penalty took the game into extra time, before Gustavo Cabral scored the crucial goal in the 108th.
Spanish teams have dominated the Europa League in recent seasons, but Celta is the only side from La Liga to advance to the last 16.
The other impressive comeback came from APOEL, which beat Athletic Bilbao 2-0 to advance 4-3 on aggregate. Pieros Sotiriou, who was later sent off, and Yannis Gianniotas scored early in the second half.
Zenit St. Petersburg looked like completing an even bigger fightback against Anderlecht when it went 3-0 ahead after 78 minutes through two goals by Giuliano and another by Artem Dzyuba, moving the Russian team into a 3-2 aggregate lead. A 90th-minute header by Kiese Thelin, his first goal for Anderlecht, helped the Belgian club dramatically qualify on away goals.
Olympiakos, Besiktas and Ajax, Rostov, FC Copenhagen and Genk also progressed to Friday's draw for the last 16.
AP Sports Writer Jerome Pugmire in Paris contributed to this report.
Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80