Rennes took a shocking 3-1 aggregate lead over Arsenal in the first leg of their last-16 Europa League encounter on Thursday, setting up what should be an exciting return fixture next week at the Emirates.
Meanwhile, relegation-threatened Villarreal put their domestic troubles behind them to snatch an impressive 3-1 away win at Zenit St. Petersburg, and Chelsea kept their pursuit of silverware alive with a professional 3-0 victory over Dynamo Kyiv.
Here’s a look at the results from Thursday’s first-leg fixtures:
Dinamo Zagreb 1-0 Benfica
Bruno Petkovic’s penalty proved the difference between Dinamo Zagreb and Benfica, whose defeat in Croatia was further compounded by the loss of striker Haris Seferovic to injury. Benfica now head back to Lisbon in need of a victory to progress.
Eintracht Frankfurt 0-0 Inter
Frankfurt goalkeeper Kevin Trapp denied Marcelo Brozovic’s penalty in the first half to give his side a fighting chance. Danny da Costa nearly scored the winner for the hosts, only for the offside flag to end his celebrations abruptly. There’s everything to play for next Thursday.
Rennes 3-1 Arsenal
Europa League upstarts Rennes overcame Alex Iwobi’s early opener to secure a 3-1 victory over 10-man Arsenal. Sokratis Papastathopoulos was sent off late in the first half for a second yellow card. It’s the first time the Gunners lost to a French opponent in 10 matches.
Sevilla 2-2 Slavia Prague
Wissam Ben Yedder’s goal within 30 seconds set the tone for a topsy-turvy encounter between Sevilla and Slavia Prague, who responded with two crucial away goals. Sevilla have managed just two wins in their last nine matches across all competitions.
Zenit St. Petersburg 1-3 Villarreal
Villarreal played nothing like a team that stands 18th in La Liga. Javier Calleja’s side produced three away goals in excellent conditions in St. Petersburg, giving supporters something to celebrate in what has been a dreadful campaign.
Chelsea 3-0 Dynamo Kyiv
Pedro, Willian, and underused substitute Callum Hudson-Odoi gave Chelsea a healthy advantage heading into next week’s second leg in Ukraine. It was mostly one-way traffic at Stamford Bridge, where the Blues fired eight shots on target to the visitors’ goose egg.
Napoli 3-0 Red Bull Salzburg
Goals from Arkadiusz Milik and Fabian Ruiz, coupled with some friendly fire, put Napoli in a fantastic position to reach the Europa League quarterfinals. Milik received a standing ovation, and Ruiz continued to show why Napoli spent the money to sign him from Real Betis.
Valencia 2-1 FC Krasnodar
Viktor Claesson offered Krasnodar hope of a potential second-leg comeback with a slick finish in the second half. Valencia gave way to the visitors after a scintillating start that included two goals in the first 25 minutes of play.