Five-Star Liverpool Stroll Past Sparta, Roma Thrash Brighton

Liverpool advanced to the Europa League quarterfinals with a 5-1 victory against Sparta Prague on Thursday, while Roma defeated Brighton 4-0 in the Italian capital.

In a 2-2 draw with Qarabag in Azerbaijan, Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen had to come from behind 2-0 to keep their perfect season alive.

Liverpool remain on track to send Jurgen Klopp off with a quadruple of trophies, after the Reds remained unfazed by Sunday’s titanic Premier League clash with Manchester City.

Klopp fielded a strong squad and achieved his goal by winning the tie in the first leg, but at the expense of additional injury concerns as defenders Joe Gomez and Ibrahima Konate were forced to be changed.

Alexis Mac Allister got the visitors off to a great start in the Czech capital, winning and converting a penalty after just seven minutes.

Sparta had eliminated Galatasaray in the previous round and had plenty of chances against Liverpool’s flimsy defence.

However, the talent gap between the teams became apparent in the final third.

Nunez’s dipping long-range drive beat Peter Jensen, making it 2-0, before the Uruguayan blasted home Mac Allister’s through ball in first-half stoppage time.

Conor Bradley replaced Gomez at halftime, and his first action was to shoot into the top corner of his own goal one minute into the second half.

But Luis Diaz’s deflected shot swiftly restored Liverpool’s three-goal lead.

Mac Allister and Nunez were replaced in the second half with an eye on City’s visit, and Klopp received some good news on the injury front when Mohamed Salah returned from a hamstring injury as a substitute.

Salah felt he had celebrated his return with a goal, but a VAR review ruled his shot offside.

Instead, another substitute, Dominik Szoboszlai, scored the fifth goal in stoppage time.

Ruthless Roma 

Brighton’s first journey into European football appears to have ended in the last-16 after they were crushed by in-form Roma.

Since famous former player Daniele De Rossi took over for the dismissed Jose Mourinho in January, the Italian giants have only lost once in 10 games.

Leandro Paredes expertly picked up Paulo Dybala to open the score, and Romelu Lukaku capitalised on Brighton skipper Lewis Dunk’s error to increase Roma’s lead before halftime.

Gianluca Mancini reached out to meet Stephan El Shaarawy’s cross 25 minutes from time.

El Shaarawy also created a great team goal, which Bryan Cristante finished off to round off a dismal journey for the visitors.

Two Brighton supporters were stabbed in a robbery the night before the match.

Leverkusen are on track to win their first Bundesliga title, but they must first qualify for the Europa League quarterfinals.

Yassine Benzia fired into the roof of the net, giving Qarabag the lead.

Just before the break, Juninho demonstrated incredible skill by around goalkeeper Matej Kovar and slotting home, sending Azeri fans into a frenzy.

Alonso rested several key players, and the Germans improved with a series of adjustments after the half.

Florian Wirtz was one of those introduced off the bench, and his cool chipped finish 20 minutes later handed the Bundesliga leaders a lead in the tie.

Patrik Schick then scored in stoppage time to keep Leverkusen unblemished in 35 games in all competitions this season.

AC Milan, the seven-time European champions, will host Slavia Prague later.

Rangers will travel to Benfica, while West Ham will visit Freiburg as Europa Conference League holders.

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