Monday 5 December 2016

Man United and Liverpool to meet in Europa League as Spurs handed Dortmund assignment

Published 26/02/2016 | 12:20

England's two most decorated sides will clash in the Europa League after Liverpool and Manchester United were drawn against one another in the round of 16.

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Liverpool will host the first leg at Anfield with Old Trafford staging the return after both sides came through their round-of-32 ties on Thursday night.

Jurgen Klopp's men defeated Augsburg 1-0 on aggregate while United overturned a first-leg deficit to beat FC Midtjylland 6-3 on aggregate.

Tottenham, the third Barclays Premier League club in the draw, have been handed a tough test as they face Klopp's former side Borussia Dortmund while Gary Neville's Valencia have an all-Spanish tie having been drawn against Athletic Bilbao.

Liverpool, five-time European Cup winners, have also tasted a trio of successes in the Europa League - lifting the then UEFA Cup in 1973, 1976 and 2001.

They come up against bitter rivals United who have three European Cup victories to their name but have never triumphed in this tournament.

Louis van Gaal's side slipped into the Europa League having failed to get out of their Champions League group stage and then went on to suffer a shock 2-1 defeat to FC Midtjylland in Demark.

But, with pressure mounting on the United boss, they turned the tie around as they recorded a 5-1 victory at Old Trafford - with young striker Marcus Rashford scoring a brace on his first-team debut.

Liverpool made heavy weather of their round of 32 tie with Augsburg, with a James Milner penalty early in Thursday's second leg the only goal across both games and they have also lost at home and away in the Premier League to United this season.

With both famous clubs struggling to get into the top four this season, winning the Europa League could yet prove to be the easiest way to qualify for next season's Champions League and that will no doubt add even more spice to an already mouth-watering affair.

Tottenham were impressive in their 3-0 win over Fiorentina as head coach Mauricio Pochettino continues to maintain his side will challenge for both the Europa League and Premier League - with Spurs currently second in the table.

Neville appears to have turned a corner at Valencia after struggling in his early time in charge at the Mestalla, and they face Primera Divison rivals Bilbao after a hefty 10-0 aggregate win over Rapid Vienna in the previous round.

Europa League round of 16 draw - matches to be played March 10 and 17

Shakhtar Donetsk v Anderlecht

Basle v Sevilla

Villarreal v Bayer Leverkusen

Athletic Bilbao v Valencia

Liverpool v Manchester United

Sparta Prague v Lazio

Borussia Dortmund v Tottenham

Fenerbahce v Braga

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