Liverpool, City humbled in Europa League


PARIS – Liverpool were brought down to earth in the Europa League on Thursday after losing 1-0 at Sporting Braga in the last 16, while big-spending Manchester City crashed 2-0 at Dynamo Kiev. Liverpool, rejuvenated under interim coach Kenny Dalglish and 3-1 victors over arch-rivals Manchester United on Sunday, will have to turn their tie around in the March 17 return leg if they are to reach the quarter-finals. Braga took the lead in the 18th minute in Portugal, with Alan guiding an emphatic penalty into the bottom-left corner after Mossoro had been sent sprawling by Sotiris Kyrgiakos.
Full-back Silvio came within inches of doubling the hosts’ advantage 20 minutes later but his magnificent left-foot half-volley from 25 yards crashed back into play off the crossbar. City completed an underwhelming evening for the English sides as they went down 2-0 amid freezing conditions in the Ukrainian capital. Former AC Milan and Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko gave the hosts a 25th-minute lead when he diverted Andriy Yarmolenko’s left-wing cross past Joe Hart to claim his 67th goal in European competition.
City introduced Carlos Tevez from the bench in the second half but to no avail, as Oleh Gusev doubled Dynamo’s advantage by controlling a clearance on his chest and volleying home. Portuguese champions Benfica had to dig deep as they fought back from a goal down to beat Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 at the Estadio da Luz. Dutch champions FC Twente took a sizeable step towards the last eight after Luuk de Jong claimed a brace in a 3-0 win at home to 2008 champions Zenit Saint-Petersburg.
Spartak Moscow struck a blow for their country in the night’s other Dutch-Russian encounter, however, by prevailing 1-0 at Ajax.
Earlier, Villarreal asserted control of their tie against Bayer Leverkusen as a neat individual goal in the fourth minute of injury time from Nilmar earned them a last-gasp 3-2 victory in the away leg.
Elsewhere, a powerful 70th-minute effort by Colombian midfielder Fredy Guarin gave Portuguese league leaders Porto a 1-0 win at CSKA Moscow, while Scottish champions Rangers’ visit to PSV Eindhoven finished goalless.
Europa League results:
Sporting Braga (POR) 1 (Alan 18-pen)
Liverpool (ENG) 0
PSV Eindhoven (NED) 0 Rangers (SCO) 0
Bayer Leverkusen (GER) 2 (Kadlec 33, Castro 72) Villarreal (ESP) 3 (Rossi 42,
Nilmar 70, 90+4)
CSKA Moscow (RUS) 0 FC Porto (POR) 1 (Guarin 70)
FC Twente (NED) 3 (De Jong 25, 90+2, Landzaat 56) Zenit Saint-Petersburg (RUS) 0
Benfica (POR) 2 (Maxi Pereira 42, Jara 81) Paris Saint-Germain (FRA) 1 (Luyindula 14)
Ajax (NED) 0 Spartak Moscow (RUS) 1 (Alex 57)
Dynamo Kiev (UKR) 2 (Shevchenko 25, Gusev 77) Manchester City (ENG) 0