Draw keeps big clubs separated as Europa League enters round of 16

February 23 – The draw for the Europa League last 16 knock-out rounds has the feel of a Champions League draw with Liverpool and Bayer Leverkusen (both leading their national leagues), AC Milan, Benfica, Marseilles and Roma all in the competition, and none of them drawn against each other in the next round.

Liverpool will feel optimistic after drawing Sparta Prague from this morning’s ceremony – the Czech side surprised Galatasaray with a 4-1 thumping on Thursday night but face a sterner test ahead.

AC Milan secured their place in the Europa League last-16 draw despite a loss to Rennes in the second of their play-off. They now meet Slavia Prague.

Roma went through on penalties against Feyenoord. With the tie locked at 2-2 after 120 minutes – both legs having finished 1-1 – keeper Mile Svilar saved two spot kicks as Roma won the shootout 4-2. They will meet Roberto De Zerbi’s Brighton in an unpredictable Round of 16 match-up with both sides tipped as tournament dark horses.

Xabi Alonso’s ferocious Leverkusen are unbeaten since the start of the season and are eight points clear at the top of the Bundesliga table. They meet Azerbaijan’s Qarabag who secured their spot by overcoming Sporting Braga with a narrow 6-5 aggregate victory.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ismaila Sarr found the net as Marseille secured a 3-1 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk, resulting in a 5-3 aggregate triumph which has led to them being drawn against LaLiga’s Villarreal for the next round of the competition.

Meanwhile, Portuguese duo Sporting Lisbon and Benfica also advanced and secured their spots in this morning’s draw, where they were pitted against Atalanta and Rangers respectively.

Europa League Round of 16 draw:

Liverpool v Sparta Prague

Marseille v Villarreal

Roma v Brighton

Benfica v Rangers

SC Freiburg v West Ham United

Sporting Lisbon v Atalanta BSC

AC Milan v Slavia Prague

Qarabag v Leverkusen

Round of 16 begin on March 7 with the first leg, and conclude a week later.

Contact the writer of this story, Harry Ewing, at moc.l1713132430labto1713132430ofdlr1713132430owedi1713132430sni@g1713132430niwe.1713132430yrrah1713132430