Liverpool, Borussia Dortmund close in on Europa League quarters

Liverpool: Liverpool, Villarreal, Borussia Dortmund, and Shakhtar closed in on the Europa League football quarter-finals with significant victories in the first-leg matches.

LiverpoolLiverpool's English midfielder Jordan Henderson applauds the fans following the UEFA Europa League round of 16, first leg football match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield in Liverpool, northwest England on March 10, 2016. Pic/AFP

Dortmund were the biggest round of 16 first-leg winners, prevailing 3-0 against Tottenham with the help of two Marco Reus goals on Thursday.

Liverpool, meanwhile, came out on top in Thursday's highest-profile fixture, Daniel Sturridge's first-half penalty and Roberto Firmino's close-range effort handing them the advantage over domestic rivals Manchester United in the clubs' first-ever European meeting.

Athletic Club edged the first instalment of another one-country tie, against La Liga rivals Valencia, with Fenerbahce winning by the same 1-0 scoreline against Braga, Mehmet Topal striking late.

Basel are still in with a chance of reaching a home final after drawing 0-0 with holders Sevilla in Switzerland.

Dortmund, Liverpool, Villarreal - 2-0 victors against Bayer Leverkusen - and Shakhtar, who defeated Anderlecht 3-1, will be particularly confident of progressing.

Only four times in the history of the competition has a side won the first leg by more than one goal and failed to advance.

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