VALENCIA DEFEATED AZ Alkmaar 5-2 on aggregate as all three Spanish clubs advanced to the Europa League semi-finals on Thursday.
Valencia smashed AZ 4-0 in their quarter-final second leg and will be joined in the semi-finals by Athletic Bilbao and Atletico Madrid, with Portugal’s Sporting Lisbon the odd one out of the final four.
In Valencia, the home side produced the early pressure. Manager Unai Emery knew they needed at least one goal and he did not have to wait long.
Adil Rami brought Valencia level on aggregate after only 15 minutes with a header from a corner, before he doubled his tally only two minutes later with a volley.
Jordi Alba tapped home 10 minutes after half-time to make it three and Pablo Hernandez scored 10 minutes from time to complete the four-goal thrashing.
In Hannover, Atletico Madrid overcame a late scare to beat the home side 2-1 on Thursday and 4-2 over two legs.
Trailing 1-0 in the second leg and 3-1 on aggregate, Mame Diouf gave Hannover some hope with 10 minutes remaining when he scored from a corner.
But it was not to be for the German club. In the 87th minute Falcao sent a stunning volley into the top corner to secure the win for Atletico.
Adrian had scored the opener for the Madrid-based club with an impressive solo effort after 63 minutes. Atletico will now face Valencia in the Europa League semi-finals.
Another high-scoring affair saw Athletic Bilbao advance at the expense of Schalke after drawing 2-2 at home and winning the tie 6-4 on aggregate.
In the 28th minute, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored for Schalke and, needing two more goals to take the lead in the tie, the German club pressed on.
But five minutes before the break Bilbao’s Ibai Gomez cut in from the left wing before hitting a wonderful effort that curled off the far post to make it 1-1.
In the second period, the visitors made it 2-1 when Raul hit the back of the net. But any hope Schalke had of a dramatic comeback was extinguished just moments later when Fernando Llorente set up Markel Susaeta and the winger scored.
Bilbao play Sporting Lisbon in the final four after the Portuguese side drew 1-1 away to Metalist Kharviv of the Ukraine to go through 3-2 on aggregate.