La Masia graduate Inaki Pena’s superb display kept Barcelona at bay against Galatasaray in their UEFA Europa League Round-of-16 clash. Furthermore, Atalanta beat Bayer Leverkusen while Sevilla beat West Ham United in their respective first legs.
Galatasaray had Inaki Pena to thank for earning them a draw against heavyweights Barcelona in the UEFA Europa League Round-of-16 first leg. The La Masia graduate kept his former side at bay with a string of superb saves – starting in the 27th minute, when he acrobatically kept out Memphis Depay’s free-kick, which was headed for the top corner. At the other end, Gala’s best chance of the night fell to the young Kerem Akturkoglu; the winger dribbled his way into the opposition box but failed to keep his shot below the crossbar.
Meanwhile, on either side of the break, Pena turned Depay and Sergio Busquets’s efforts around the framework of the goal. And it was the woodwork that came to Galatasaray’s rescue the one time Pena was beaten in the 75th minute, preventing Frenkie de Jong from tapping in the opening goal of the night. Bafetimbi Gomis had the ball in the back of the Barcelona net three minutes later, but his goal was ruled out for offside, leaving the tie to be decided in the second leg next week.
Earlier in the night, Sevilla beat West Ham United 1-0, courtesy of Munir El Haddadi’s goal on the hour-mark. The Moroccan held his run at the back post before connecting with a cross from Marcus Acuna as part of a predetermined set-piece play. Unable to break the Sevilla defense, The Hammers came out of the away tie empty-handed – with the return leg scheduled for next week.
Furthermore, Atalanta edged out Bayer Leverkusen in a five-goal thriller. Bayer took the lead through Charles Aranguiz in the 11th minute before two goals in two minutes (Ruslan Malinovskyi 23’, Luis Muriel 25’) put La Dea on top. Muriel scored another shortly after the restart to put the Serie A side firmly on top, but Moussa Diaby’s late consolation goal means Bayer will only need to overturn a one-goal deficit if they wish to progress to the next round.