Atletico edges Hannover as Spain dominates Europa League

Published April 05, 2012

| Sports Network

Atletico Madrid punched its ticket to the Europa League semifinals on Thursday as Adrian and Falcao helped the Spanish side get past Hannover with a 2-1 win in the second leg, capping a 4-2 aggregate triumph.

The opening goal of the second leg came as a result of some inventive dribbling play by Adrian in the 63rd minute.

The Spanish striker latched on to a long pass played over the top and muscled his Hannover defender off the ball. Adrian then drifted inside and danced past a couple of defenders before drawing Ron-Robert Zieler out of position. When the Hannover 'keeper over committed, Adrian slipped past him and slotted a shot into the back of the net.

Mame Biram Diouf pulled one back nine minutes from time, but Atletico booked its place in the semifinals six minutes later when Falcao controlled a chipped pass from Diego and rifled a shot just inside the post.

The result means that three of the four teams remaining in the competition ply their trade in La Liga as Athletic Bilbao and Valencia also advanced.

With Marcelo Bielsa's men claiming a 4-2 win in the opening leg at the Veltins-Arena, it was always going to take something miraculous for Schalke to advance. The Gelsenkirchen club ultimately fell short as Athletic Bilbao, one of the most impressive sides in all of Europe this season, cruised past Schalke with a 2-2 draw at San Mames to cap a 6-4 aggregate win.

Valencia's route was much different. After suffering a disappointing 2-1 loss at AZ Alkmaar in the opening leg, the Spanish side battled back to claim a 4-0 win at the Mestalla as Adil Rami bagged a brace with goals in the 15th and 17th minutes. Jordi Alba and Pablo Hernandez added second-half goals to wrap up the 5-2 aggregate victory for Unai Emery's men.

The last semifinal participant will be Sporting Lisbon after the Portuguese side played a 1-1 draw with Metalist Kharkiv on Thursday. Lisbon advances with an aggregate score of 3-2.

The semifinals kick off on April 19 with Atletico Madrid hosting Valencia at the Vicente Calderon and Sporting Lisbon welcoming Athletic Bilbao to the Estadio Jose Alvalade.

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