London (dpa) – Leipzig midfielder Konrad Laimer says his team are relieved to make it through to the last 16 stage of the UEFA Europa League after advancing on away goals despite a 2-0 defeat to Napoli on Thursday.
The result meant that the sides were level on aggregate at 3-3, but Timo Werner’s goals in Italy after a 3-1 first leg win meant that the German side’s first season in Europe continues.
“We fought right up until the end and, over two games, we’ve knocked out one of the strongest sides in the Europa League. We can’t wait for the next round,” said Laimer. Goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi added: “Napoli really demonstrated their attacking quality today. We had one goal – reaching the next round – and we did it.”
Elsewhere, Atletico Madrid confirmed their place in the next round as Kevin Gameiro’s early goal confirmed a 5-1 aggregate victory; the French striker is pleased with his current goal scoring form. Gameiro said: “I’m feeling good. Whenever you score, you feel confident. I scored with my left leg. I haven’t done that too much and it’s good for my confidence.”
Another striker in fine form is Italy’s Ciro Immobile, who scored a hat trick to help Lazio overturn a 1-0 first leg deficit against FC Steaua Bucharest in a comprehensive 5-1 second leg win.
Lyon’s Bertrand Traore scored a late winner against Villarreal to confirm their 4-1 aggregate success over the Spanish side.
Coach Bruno Genesio said: “We are happy to have achieved this performance. We must continue to keep working. I wanted to make the best team possible and it worked tonight.”
In other ties, a brace of goals from Bruno Fernandes was enough to see Sporting Lisbon through comfortably despite a late FC Astana fight back in a tense 3-3 draw.
Russian side Zenit St Petersburg progressed with a 3-0 home win over Scotland’s Celtic.
Czech side Viktoria Plzen advanced with a 2-0 home win against Partizan Belgrade, Dynamo Kiev went through on away goals after a 0-0 draw in Athens and Lokomotiv Moscow secured a place with a 1-0 win over Nice.
The draw for the Europa League last 16 ties will be made on Friday 23 February.