RECAP: EUROPA LEAGUE ACTION
A trio of yanks were knocked out of the Europa League quarterfinals at the hands of Spanish teams, with Oguchi Onyewu the only remaining American with a hope of reaching next month's final.
FC Valencia 4 - 0 AZ Alkmaar (agg. 5-2)
Jozy Altidore and AZ Alkmaar were no match for Valencia on Thursday evening, surrendering a quartet of goals en-route to a quarterfinal exit from European competition.
With Alkmaar holding a narrow 2-1 advantage from the first leg, Valencia got the upper hand after just 15 minutes when Adil Rami rose up at the edge of the six-yard box to head in a long diagonal cross from Sofiane Feghouli, then took the aggregate lead two minutes later with Rami netting his second, one-timing a flicked header from Roberto Soldado to the left side of goal.
AZ kept their hosts quiet through the rest of the half, however the Spaniards netted a third in the 56th, with Jordi Alba doing the honors after being picked out by Soldado with a short pass from the right side of the area to spring him in front of an open goal.
They then added an insurance goal ten minutes from full time, with Pablo sending a finesse shot from the left side of the area just inside the upper far corner for the final 4-0 victory.
AZ now have only their domestic campaign to deal with, which sees them in second place trailing Ajax by one point. They have a short break before returning to action on Wednesday when they host Twente.
Athletic Bilbao 2 - 2 FC Schalke 04 (agg. 6-4)
Jermaine Jones played the full game for Schalke on Thursday in Bilbao, as they twice took the lead to have hope of overturning their first-leg deficit, however ended up crashing out of the competition in an exciting draw.
Dutch star Klaas-Jan Huntelaar put Schalke ahead with his tenth goal of the competition since the beginning of the group stage in the 28th minute - more than any other player in the competition - taking the ball a few yards outside the area, cutting to his right then nailing a low shot just inside the left upright.
The Basque team then equalized four minutes before the half in eye-popping fashion, with Ibai Gomez picking up the ball on the left side, working his way to the upper left corner of the 18-yard box, and launching an unstoppable blast that was perfectly aimed for the lower far corner.
Former Real Madrid legend Raul then restored the German lead seven minutes after the break, finishing off a slick attack by taking a lay-off from Chinedu Obasi and rocketing it from 19 yards out to the right side of goal.
Still needing two more goals to secure an unlikely passage to the semifinal, Schalke were vulnerable to yet another equalizing goal by Bilbao three minutes later, as Iker Muniaín sent Markel Susaeta on the right side for a low shot well out of Lars Unnerstall's reach.
With Bilbao going through with a 6-4 aggregate score, Schalke have only domestic matters to deal with, and will try to solidify their hold on automatic qualification to the Champions League group stage when they take on Hannover on Sunday afternoon.
Hannover 96 1 - 2 Atletico Madrid (agg. 2-4)
Steve Cherundolo and Hannover put up a good fight against Atletico Madrid on Thursday, however a pair of second-half goals saw their run in Europe come to an end.
Details of the game are given in Yanks Abroad press box report.
Oguchi Onyewu is recovering from a knee injury and did not suit up for Sporting's 1-1 draw at Metalist Kharkiv on Thursday. The win gives Sporting a 3-2 aggregate victory and a semifinal date with Athletic Bilbao beginning in two weeks, and should they continue their run, could mean an return for Onyeweu once he has returned to full health.