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Mixed night for Spanish sides in Europa League
By:
ThinkSpain , Friday, March 30, 2012

Both Athletic Bilbao and Atlético Madrid secured a crucial advantage in tonight's Europa League quarter-final first leg matches, but Valencia will take a one-goal deficit into next week's return leg at the Mestalla.

Athletic Bilbao produced a stunning comeback in the final 20 minutes to claim a 4-2 victory away to Schalke in the first leg of their quarter-final tie.

Llorente (pictured above) gave Athletic the lead after 20 minutes, but it was quickly cancelled out by a Raúl brace putting Schalke in command of the game.  However, Llorente drew Athletic level on 73 minutes before late goals from Óscar de Marcos and Iker Muniain put the Spanish side in a strong position to reach the semi-finals.

Eduardo Salvio (pictured second from left) struck with a minute remaining to hand Atlético Madrid an advantage over Hannover in Spain.

The Germans looked to be heading home with a draw from their quarter-final first-leg clash after Mame Biram Diouf equalised Radamel Falcao's early strike.

But substitute Salvio let fly from 20 yards late on to leave his side in command of the tie.

AZ Alkmaar take the narrowest of advantages to the Mestalla after a 2-1 home success over Valencia in Holland on Thursday.

Brett Holman and Maarten Martens handed the Eredivisie leaders a scarcely-deserved victory in the first leg of their quarter-final.

After cancelling out the first AZ goal within six minutes, Valencia will rue a series of missed chances, especially during a 20 minute spell at the start of the second half in which they dominated the game, but failed to make it count on the scoreboard.

 
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