English football discovered a new teen sensation as 18-year-old Marcus Rashford scored twice in his debut as Manchester United beat Danish club FC Midtjylland 5-1 to join Liverpool, Tottenham and four Spanish sides in the last 16 of the Europa League on Thursday.
Villarreal stunned Italian high-flyer Napoli; Valencia cruised through 10-0 on aggregate; Sevilla progressed despite losing 1-0 away to Norwegian side Molde; and Athletic Bilbao edged out Marseille 2-1 on aggregate.
German side Borussia Dortmund also got through after comfortably eliminating Porto.
The pressure has been mounting on United coach Louis van Gaal in recent weeks and reached near-breaking point when United lost the first leg 2-1 last week.
Elimination may have ended van Gaal’s fractious reign and the signs were starting to look ominous with Wayne Rooney sidelined through injury and fellow forward Anthony Martial injured during the warm-up – giving the Manchester-born Rashford an unexpected opportunity.
Nearly 12 years ago, Rooney was 18 when he started his own United career in emphatic style – netting a clinical hat-trick as United swept aside Fenerbahce in the Champions League – and this time Rashford thrilled Old Trafford with two second-half strikes. That followed another sluggish United start, as Pione Sisto put the visitors ahead with a fine individual goal, having also scored in the first leg.
United equalized courtesy of an own goal from centre half Nikolay Bodurov four minutes laterm, but then missed a penalty as Juan Mata’s spot kick was saved by goalkeeper Mikkel Andersen. After Rashford’s brace took the pressure off, midfielder Ander Herrera and forward Memphis Depay added late goals.
Meanwhile, midfielders Ryan Mason and Erik Lamela grabbed a goal each as Tottenham beat Italian side Fiorentina 3-0 to go through 4-1 on aggregate.
In Naples, Marek Hamsik levelled the tie against Villarreal with a fine volley from just outside the penalty area, but midfield counterpart Tomas Pina levelled to send the visitors through 2-1 overall.
Leading 2-0 from the home leg, Dortmund was under little pressure against Porto and wrapped things up in the first half when Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s shot bounced off the crossbar, hit goalkeeper Iker Casillas and rolled in.
Earlier, an early penalty from midfielder James Milner was enough for five-time European champion Liverpool as it scraped past German side Augsburg 1-0; joining Shakhtar Donetsk, Fenerbahce, Basel, Anderlecht, Lazio, Bayer Leverkusen and Sparta Prague in the next round.
Valencia trounced Rapid Vienna 4-0 away after routing the Austrian side 6-0 in Spain, while veteran striker Miroslav Klose rounded off a good night for Lazio as it beat Turkish side Galatasaray 3-1 to advance 4-2 on aggregate.
This was Valencia and Gary Neville’s fourth straight win in all competitions.
Ukrainian side Shakhtar – the 2009 champion – won 3-0 away to German side Schalke 04, with highly rated midfielder Viktor Kovalenko capping a fine performance.
Leverkusen ensured a German presence in the next round after beating Sporting Lisbon 3-1 for a 4-1 aggregate win, with striker Karim Bellarabi scoring twice.
Meanwhile, Fenerbahce advanced after its match with host Lokomotiv Moscow, and it passed without any fan disturbances against a backdrop of political tension between Turkey and Russia. Fenerbahce drew the second leg 1-1 to advance 3-1 on aggregate.
Substitute Sabin Merino sent Athletic through with a fine diving header, after Belgium striker Michy Batshuayi put Marseille ahead.
Fans from both teams fought before the game, leaving eight people injured. A video published by El Pais showed fans throwing objects at each other on a street near the stadium. They also clashed last week in Marseille.
Basel lost the first leg 3-2, but pulled level thanks to a superb curling free-kick from midfielder Luca Zuffi.
Saint-Étienne looked to be heading through, however, when defender Moustapha Sall expertly flicked the ball home in the 90th minute – but Zuffi volleyed the winner two minutes into injury time to stun Saint-Étienne.
Ghana midfielder Frank Acheampong scored twice in extra time to send Anderlecht through 3-1 on aggregate against Greek side Olympiacos.
On Wednesday, Portuguese side Braga shaded its encounter with Swiss side Sion, drawing 2-2 at home to advance 4-3.Report Typo/Error