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Fernando Llorente’s two goals helped Athletic Bilbao to a 4-2 comeback win at Schalke in the Europa League quarter-final first leg.
After Llorente put Bilbao ahead in the 20th minute, Schalke’s Raul Gonzalez rallied the hosts back in front with two goals either side of half-time.
But Llorente headed in an equaliser in the 73rd minute to turn the high-tempo contest in Bilbao’s favour, as Oscar de Marcos and Iker Muniain scored late on at Veltins Arena.
“It was a great game,” Llorente said. “It wasn’t at all easy because they responded very well to our first goal. What Raul did was incredible. You can’t ask anything more of a match.”
At Schalke both sides started well but Bilbao struck first through Llorente when he poked in his own rebound that goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand failed to hold on to.
Bilbao’s lead lasted two minutes before Raul redirected Atsuto Uchida’s cross inside the near post. The former Real Madrid star then made it 2-1 in the 60th minute with a dipping volley from outside the area.
With Schalke pressing for another goal, Llorente muscled past a pair of defenders to flick in a corner for his 25th goal in all competitions.
Bilbao showed the same attacking flair that led them to oust Manchester United in the previous round as De Marcos scored the winner in the 81st off a rebound and Muniain sealed the win in stoppage time on a counterattack.
“We knew they were good on the break, but we let our guard down,” the Schalke defender Christian Fuchs said. “Everyone will now be against us but we can still pull off a miracle. We need three goals but anything is possible.”
Atl├ętico Madrid beat Hannover 2-1 in the other first-leg quarter-final between Spanish and German teams. Radamel Falcao capitalised on Atl├ętico’s early dominance by heading home a free-kick nine minutes in for his seventh goal of the competition this season. The Colombia striker is the Europa League’s all-time leading scorer with 22 in 23 appearances.
Hannover levelled through Mame Diouf’s 38th-minute goal and looked set to head back to Germany with a positive result until Eduardo Salvio blasted in a shot from long range to give Atl├ętico the victory in the 89th minute.
“Thank God for the goal, it gives us some breathing room heading to Germany,” Salvio said.
In the Netherlands the Australia midfielder Brett Holman scored one and created another as AZ Alkmaar got the better of Valencia 2-1.
Holman put AZ in front with a powerful volley in the 45th minute but Mehmet Topal levelled for Valencia six minutes later. Maarten Martens converted Holman’s cross from six yards in the 78th minute to earn the win for AZ.
Sporting Lisbon inflicted on the Ukrainian side Metalist Kharkiv their first away defeat in the competition with second-half goals from Marat Izmailov and Emiliano Insua. Izmailov scored from a cross by Diego Capel in the 51st minute and Insua extended the Portuguese club’s lead 13 minutes later with a low drive from a free-kick.
Cleiton Xavier got a valuable away goal for Metalist Kharkiv with a 90th-minute penalty.