Europa League: Zagreb stun Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United edge Milan to reach last eight


Dinamo Zagreb produced one of the great European fightbacks to beat Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 and reach the Europa League quarterfinals on Thursday (March 18) along with Manchester United, Arsenal and Ajax Amsterdam. United edged their heavyweight tie with AC Milan as Paul Pogba came off the bench to score the goal that secured a 1-0 win in the San Siro for a 2-1 aggregate triumph. 

Arsenal overcame Olympiakos 3-2 on aggregate despite losing the second leg 1-0 while Ajax beat Young Boys 2-0 for a 5-0 aggregate victory to ease into Friday’s last-eight draw. The night belonged to Zagreb, however, and in particular Mislav Orsic who scored a sublime hat-trick to stun Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham. 

Orsic gave Dinamo a glimmer of hope in the 62nd minute when he beat Hugo Lloris with a superb curling effort, and he finished off a flowing move in the 83rd minute to send the tie into extra time. With Tottenham on the ropes Orsic delivered the knockout blow when he dribbled round Tottenham players before firing past Lloris in the 106th minute, prompting ecstatic celebrations. 

Zagreb resisted a belated Tottenham siege in which Harry Kane and Gareth Bale were denied what would have been a winner by home keeper Dominik Livakovic. Dinamo’s win was even more remarkable because coach Zoran Mamic had quit four days ago after being handed a five-year prison sentence for tax evasion and fraud. 

“This was a wonderful game – one you like to dream about, but you don’t dare to,” said Damir Krznar, who replaced Mamic. 

“The draw? We are enjoying this position and let fortune bring us whoever. We will be ready, like we were for Tottenham.” 

It was a crushing blow for Spurs and one that left manager Jose Mourinho accusing his players of failing to match the attitude of a Zagreb side he praised for leaving their ‘blood, sweat and tears’ on the pitch. 

“My team didn’t look like they were playing an important match. If for any one of them it is not an important match, for me it is, for the respect I have for my own career and for my own job, every match is an important match,” Mourinho said. 

After Manchester United drew 1-1 with Milan at Old Trafford the Italian were favourites to progress but the English side have been superb on the road this season and they produced again. 

Pogba’s goal, three minutes after coming on as a substitute for his first appearance for almost two months, was enough to settle the tie for United who lost to Sevilla in last season`s semi-finals. “We’ve come through a very difficult tie against a fantastic club and we`ve overcome some difficulties,” United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said. 

Newly-crowned Scottish champions Rangers slipped out after a 2-0 home defeat by Slavia Prague following a 1-1 draw away. Goals by Peter Olayinka and Nicolae Stanciu were enough for the Czechs and Rangers ended the match with nine men after Leon Balogun and Kemar Roofe were sent off. 

“My dream is to play at Old Trafford, experience the stadium, see the tradition. It is Mecca of football for me, so you may easily guess who I want next,” Slavia coach Jiindrich Trpisovský told Czech TV. 

Spain will have two teams in the draw with Villarreal completing a 4-0 aggregate win over Dynamo Kiev and Granada edging out Molde 3-2 despite a 2-1 loss in Norway. AS Roma beat Shakhtar Donetsk 2-1 for a 5-1 aggregate win.

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Sagar Biswas

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