Thursday, March 15, 2012

Four Americans Advance in Europa League

It was a good day for Americans in Europe as Jozy Altidore, Steve Cherundolo, Jermaine Jones and Oguchi Onyewu all saw their clubs advance to the Europa League Quarterfinals.

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Jozy Altidore and AZ Alkmaar entered their second match with Udinese up 2-0, but defender Nick Viergever was sent off less than 2 minutes into the match forcing AZ to play a man down for basically the whole game. Antonio Di Natale converted the ensuing PK and by the 15th minute added a second goal putting AZ back on their heels. But 23 year old Erik Falkenburg scored what would be the game winner in the 31st minute as Udinese couldn't capitalize on the man advantage or a missed AZ penalty kick in the second half.
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Hannover 96 and their captain Steve Cherundolo jumped all over Standard Liege (Belgium) scoring in the first five minutes of the match and then getting some help with a pair of own goals from Antonio Kanu in a 4-0 win. Serge Gakpe was sent off in the 60th minute with a second yellow card with the score already 2-0 removing any doubt of Hannover's advancing.
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Jermaine Jones turned in one of his best efforts in a Schalke uniform tallying a goal and an assist as Schalke 04 rallied from a 2-0 aggregate deficit with 4 unanswered goals in a 4-1 win over Twente Enschede. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, the second leading scorer in the Bundesliga this season, added a hat trick for the winners. Huntelaar leads all scorers in the tournament with 9 goals.
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Oguchi Onyewu is still out injured, but his Sporting Lisbon teammates dispatched Manchester City after jumping out to a 2-0 first half lead and then holding on for dear life as City rallied for 3 goals in the second half. It wasn't enough though as Sporting advanced on away goals. Onyewu injured his knee three weeks ago and is expected to miss at least another five weeks.

Athletic Bilbao, Valencia, Atl├ętico Madrid and FC Metalist Kharkiv (Ukraine) also advanced to the quarterfinals. The quarterfinal draw will be tomorrow.

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