Dortmund, Liverpool close in on Europa League quarters

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Liverpool, March 11 (IANS) Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool, Villarreal and Shakhtar closed in on the Europa League football quarter-finals with significant victories in the first-leg matches.

Dortmund were the biggest round of 16 first-leg winners, prevailing 3-0 against Tottenham with the help of two Marco Reus goals on Thursday.

Liverpool, meanwhile, came out on top in Thursday’s highest-profile fixture, Daniel Sturridge’s first-half penalty and Roberto Firmino’s close-range effort handing them the advantage over domestic rivals Manchester United in the clubs’ first-ever European meeting.

Athletic Club edged the first instalment of another one-country tie, against La Liga rivals Valencia, with Fenerbahce winning by the same 1-0 scoreline against Braga, Mehmet Topal striking late.

Basel are still in with a chance of reaching a home final after drawing 0-0 with holders Sevilla in Switzerland.

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Dortmund, Liverpool, Villarreal – 2-0 victors against Bayer Leverkusen – and Shakhtar, who defeated Anderlecht 3-1, will be particularly confident of progressing.

Only four times in the history of the competition has a side won the first leg by more than one goal and failed to advance.

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