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Best Europa League Semi Final Moments

The Europa League semi-finals this year had it all: intrigue, uncertainty, and plenty of goals. We take a look at some of the best Europa League Semi-Finals that have been played over the years.

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Last updated: 25.05.2021
Best Europa League Semi Final Moments

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The Europa League semi-finals this year had it all: intrigue, uncertainty, and plenty of goals. The tie was on a razor's edge after Arsenal's 2-1 loss at Villareal. Unai Emery got his vengeance on Arsenal when Villareal held them to a 1-1 draw at Emirates Stadium even though they only required one goal.

In the other semi-final, Roma needed to claw their way back from a 6-2 thrashing at Old Trafford. Manchester United finally rode to Gdansk after losing 3-2 at Stadio Olimpico due to an own goal by Alex Telles but ultimately winning 8 goals to 5 on aggregate.

We take a look at some of the best Europa League Semi-Finals that have been played over the years.

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Forlan shuts down Liverpool

Atletico Madrid has broken the hearts of Liverpool fans before. Marcos Llorente's spectacular extra-time double finished Liverpool's reign as European champion’s just last season. Diego Forlan had done some amazing work ten years ago. Under Rafa Benitez, the Reds had one of their worst campaigns in 2009/10. Due to their 3rd finish in a poor Champions League group, they played in Europe on Thursday nights. Rafa's men finished seventh in the Premier League despite being without their midfield maestro Xabi Alonso, who'd been sold to Real Madrid at the beginning of this season. The Europa League, on the other hand, got some much-needed relief from their domestic woes. En route to their semi-final matchup with Los Rojiblancos, they easily defeated Romanian champions Unirea Urziceni, French side Lille – who will go on to conquer Ligue 1 the following season – and Portuguese giants Benfica.

With the match stuck at 1-1 from a goal by Forlan and Alberto Aquilani, the match trickled into extra time. Aquilani would score again, 5 minutes into the extra time. The critical away goal was scored just seven mins after The Reds took control of the match. Jose Antonio Reyes exploded into the penalty box, and his left-footed cross found the unmarked ex-Manchester United man just at the back post, who smashed the ball over the line behind a helpless Pepe Reina. The goal elicited ecstatic scenes in front of the Kop and shocked the hosts into silence. In the final minutes, Liverpool huffed and puffed but was unable to force a winner, allowing Atletico to advance to the Hamburg final.


Dnipro get the better of Napoli

Dnipro has a love story to speak of with the power of the winger Yehvan Konoplyanka and Nikola Kalinic, whose goals, managed Dnipro to finish 2nd in the group in the 2014/15 campaign. They beat Olympiacos, Ajax and Club Brugge on the way to the Semis.

Napoli had a wonderful team composed of captain Marek Hamsik, Lorenzo Insigne, Dries Mertens, Jorginho, and Kalidou Koulibaly along with Gonzalo Higuain. The first leg ended in a 1-1 draw at Naples. Dnipro was forced to play their game in Kyiv due to conflicts in Eastern Ukraine. In the match, Just before the hour mark, Konoplyanka broke free down the left flank and floated in a cross into the middle, which striker Yevhen Seleznyov headed past Mariano Andujar. Napoli pushed for an equaliser but was unable to break through the Boyko defence, and the final whistle was met by ecstatic home fans who invaded the pitch to celebrate one of the most unexpected wins in the competition's history.


A tryst at Craven Cottage

Fulham's European journey has been well known, but their semi-final match is often dropped in favour of Juventus' more glamorous last-16 clash. That night will be remembered for a long time. It's easy to ignore that the Cottagers had a long road ahead if they wanted to punch their ticket to the 2009/10 showpiece after their resistance to concede against Italian football's Old Lady – a display that symbolized all about Roy Hodgson's valiant hand. Hamburg, whose venue would have hosted the final, was adamant about being invited to their party. This was never going to be that easy with the aggressive Ruud Van Nistelrooy heading the charge alongside Mladen Petric – the man who knocked England out of Euro 2008 even before the tournament even started.

The first leg ended in a draw with Zamora, the star at Craven Cottage, limping off with an injury. The second leg saw Petric score from an electric 30-yard- free-kick Fulham, on the other hand, were made of tougher material, maybe as a result of their epic journey. After the pause, they fired everything at the hosts, and they were rewarded in seven minutes. In the 69th minute, Simon Davies scored an excellent goal to draw them level, and Zoltan Gera achieved the comeback shortly after. After withstanding a late bombardment from the Germans, the final whistle blew, ushering in epic scenes that could never be replicated on the Thames.

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