Manchester City Follows Rival United Out of Europa League Soccer

Manchester City followed Manchester United out of soccer’s Europa League as Sporting Lisbon held off a late comeback to reach the quarterfinals, where it will be joined by three Spanish teams.

Sporting advanced on away goals after a 3-2 loss at tournament favorite City last night left the teams tied 3-3 over two games. Athletic Bilbao defeated United 2-1 in Spain to complete a 5-3 victory and reach its first European quarterfinal for 35 years.

“It’s disappointing,” United manager Alex Ferguson told Channel 5. “We haven’t progressed in the Champions League and now we’re out of the Europa League. The best team went through. I don’t think we can complain.”

Former champions Atletico Madrid, Schalke and Valencia also moved into the final eight of Europe’s second-tier club competition, along with Hanover, Metalist Kharkiv and AZ Alkmaar. The quarterfinal draw will be held today.

Manchester City rallied from three goals down on aggregate to pull even, then came within inches of a winning goal in stoppage time as Sporting goalkeeper Rui Patricio made a fingertip save off a header from opposite number Joe Hart.

“I thought it was in,” Hart told ESPN. “Hopefully we can take some positives out of the second half and move on for the rest of the season.”

Goals from Matias Fernandez and Ricky van Wolfswinkel gave Sporting a 2-0 lead in the game after 40 minutes. Needing four goals to advance, City began its comeback in the 60th minute when Sergio Aguero scored.

Late Goals

Mario Balotelli converted a penalty kick in the 75th minute and Aguero added his second goal seven minutes later. Hart then ran into the Sporting area for a corner kick in the last of five added minutes and was denied by Patricio just before the final whistle was blown.

“We didn’t play as a team in the first half,” City manager Roberto Mancini said. “The second half was fantastic, but in the end I’m disappointed to go out like this.”

Manchester United’s campaign ended in Spain after a third straight defeat in Europe. The Red Devils won three of their 10 matches in the Champions League and Europa League and won’t contest a cup final for the first time since the 2001-02 season.

Bilbao took the lead in the 12th minute as Fernando Llorente volleyed Fernando Amorebieta’s long ball into the area past goalkeeper David de Gea. Oscar de Marcos extended the Spanish club’s advantage in the 65th minute before United’s Wayne Rooney scored with 10 minutes left.

Looking Forward

The Manchester rivals, who are separated by a point atop England’s Premier League, had dropped into the competition after finishing third in their Champions League groups. Their losses leave Chelsea as England’s lone representative in the last eight of either competition.

“Now we just need to think about the future,” City captain Kolo Toure said. “The past is the past.”

Atletico Madrid beat Besiktas 6-1 on aggregate following its 3-0 win in Turkey, while Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s hat trick led Schalke to a 4-1 home win over FC Twente that wiped out a 2-0 deficit after the Dutch team took the lead last night. Huntelaar leads the competition with nine goals.

Valencia’s 1-1 tie at PSV Eindhoven sent it through by a 5-3 score. AZ Alkmaar withstood the third-minute sending off of Nick Viergever to progress 3-2 over Udinese following a 2-1 loss. Erik Falkenburg’s goal in the 31st minute secured the Dutch league leader’s place in the quarterfinals after Udinese took a 2-0 lead.

Hannover routed Standard Liege 4-0 to advance to its first European quarterfinal 6-2 on aggregate. Metalist Kharkiv scored twice in the final nine minutes to win 2-1 at Olympiacos and advance on away goals after a 2-2 aggregate.

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