Difficult night for Spanish sides in Europa League

MADRID, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) -- Spanish sides suffered a difficult Thursday night in the first leg of the knockout stages of the Europa League.

Athletic Club Bilbao were the only of the three sides, all of whom played at home, to win their game, but will be frustrated by a 3-2 win at home to APOEL Nicosia.

The visitors took the score with their first shot of the game in the 36th minute with a curling effort from Georgios Efrem, before an own goal following a deflected Mikel Balenziaga shot leveled matters before the break.

The home side controlled the match and forced 14 corners to none for he Cypriots and looked to be en-route for the next stage when goals from Artiz Aduriz and Inaki Williams put them 3-1 ahead, but a late goal from Giannis Giannotas gave APEOL hope for the return leg.

Celta Vigo kicked off the day with a 1-0 home defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk, who won the game thanks to a 26th minute goal from Gustavo Blanco.

Finally Edin Dzeko scored a hat-trick for Roma as Villarreal virtually said goodbye to Europe with a home defeat to the side currently second in Serie A: Emerson Dis Santos scored the opening goal for the Italians.

[ Editor:yfs001]