- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 26, 2014

LONDON (AP) - The second leg of fixtures in the last 32 of the Europa League take place Thursday with the potential for some big names to be knocked out of the competition.

Lazio lost 1-0 at home to Bulgarian side Ludogorets, Tottenham was beaten by the same score away to Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk and Ajax was trounced 3-0 at home by Salzburg.

The ties involving Napoli and Sevilla also delicately balanced.



Swansea did well to hold Napoli to a 0-0 draw at home but will need to work even harder to find a way past the Italians’ defense at the Sao Paolo.

“In Italy it will be very difficult and I’m sure it will be an intimidating atmosphere,” defender Angel Rangel said. “We have to believe in ourselves because what we achieved last week in the first leg was a big achievement.”

Despite losing 4-3 to Liverpool on Sunday, scoring three times at Anfield in another impressive display should help to build Swansea’s confidence. Tottenham, which lost 1-0 to Norwich, will rely on home advantage to help it overturn the 1-0 deficit against Dnipro.

The winner of that tie could play Benfica, last year’s runner-up.



Aside from Napoli, Italy also has Serie A leader Juventus, Lazio and Fiorentina in action on Thursday. Lazio trails Ludogorets by an away goal but Fiorentina and Juventus look more assured.

Fiorentina hit three first-half goals against Esbjerg in Denmark to win 3-1 and take control of that tie. In Turin, Juventus beat Trabzonspor 2-0 but coach Antonio Conte is aware of how tough the away trip to Turkey for the return leg could be.

“We’ll need to score as soon as possible because we’ll be playing in a heated atmosphere and qualification isn’t yet in the bag,” Conte said.

Should Juventus and Fiorentina come out of their games victorious, they will meet in the last 16.



The 3-0 home loss to Salzburg was the shock result of last week’s matches, but Ajax responded by thrashing fellow Europa League side AZ Alkmaar 4-0 in the Dutch league at the weekend, with coach Frank de Boer saying “We redeemed ourselves.”

The four-time European champion conceded all three goals before halftime in the first leg.

Alkmaar takes on Slovan Liberec, where it has a 1-0 lead and an away goal, thanks to a winner in the 89th minute from Nick Viergever.



Surrendering a winning position at home is not normally associated with Porto, but it was stunned in the home leg of its tie with Eintracht Frankfurt last week. It led 2-0, but conceded twice in five minutes as Eintracht pulled level. The Portuguese side then lost 1-0 at home to Estoril in the league, its first domestic defeat at the Dragao stadium in five years.

Portuguese league leader Benfica has a 1-0 lead ahead of its home game with PAOK.

“Benfica is an experienced team in these competitions,” coach Jorge Jesus said. “We won the first half of this round; now we have to think about the second.”



Valencia recorded an impressive 2-0 away win against Dynamo Kyiv 2-0 with two goals in the last 11 minutes. It followed that result by beating Granada 2-1 at the Mestalla, and will be favorite to make the last 16, where it will play either Lazio or Ludogorets.

Sevilla drew 2-2 at Slovenian club Maribor but will be hoping that home advantage, along with two away goals, can help it progress.

Real Betis, bottom of La Liga and 10 points from safety, travels to Russia to face Rubin Kazan after a 1-1 draw in the first leg. Should Betis and Sevilla both progress, they will meet in an all-Spanish tie in the last 16.

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