Europa League: Victory for Gary Neville's Valencia but frustration for Premier League sides
Last Updated: 19/02/16 10:39am
We round up the talking points from the Europa League, including Gary Neville's big win and Dele Alli's rash kick out...
No wins for English teams
No Premier League team has tasted victory in Europe this week. Following Chelsea's 2-1 defeat to PSG in the Champions League, Manchester United fell by the same scoreline at Midtjylland, while Tottenham and Liverpool were held to draws in Fiorentina and Augsburg, respectively.
All four sides will still have ambitions of progressing to the next phase. The Europa League sides will have the chance to do that next week, when they play their return legs in England - and there's good reason for supporters of all Premier League sides to wish them well.
The Premier League's fourth Champions League qualifying spot is currently at risk, due to impressive performances from Italian sides in Europe in recent years. Victories for United, Tottenham and Liverpool next week will boost the Premier League's co-efficient.
Pressure builds on Van Gaal
After suffering a frustrating defeat to Sunderland on Saturday, which further dented Manchester United's top-four aspirations, Louis van Gaal would have been hoping for a convincing response from his team against little-known Midtjylland.
However, his team were afforded no gifts from the Danish champions. Midtjylland may not have played a competitive game for over two months but they had Van Gaal's United - shorn of David de Gea in the warm-up - on the back foot for long periods and grabbed a 2-1 win, which they celebrated in style.
United will still be favourites to progress at Old Trafford next week, but Van Gaal will know he can ill afford a similar slip-up in the return leg - let alone a defeat at League One Shrewsbury in the FA Cup.
Neville's birthday treat
Valencia's players handed Gary Neville the perfect 41st birthday present by thrashing Rapid Vienna 6-0 at the Mestalla.
Santi Mina (twice), Daniel Parejo, Alvaro Negredo and Andre Gomes all struck during a first-half blitz before substitute Rodrigo added a sixth in the final minute.
The victory comes on the back of Saturday's 2-1 win over Espanyol - Valencia's first La Liga win in 13 attempts.
Alli's red mist
Tottenham left the Stadio Artemio Franchi with a creditable 1-1 draw in the Europa League, but the visitors were fortunate not to have to play the final hour in Florence with just 10 men after Dele Alli's rash kick out at Fiorentina defender Nenad Tomovic.
The midfielder only received a booking, but on reflection referee Felix Zwayer really should have produced a red, which would have ruled him out of the return leg at White Hart Lane next Thursday.
And despite all the deserved plaudits the 19-year-old has received of late, he will need to keep his temper in check as the pressure builds while Spurs continue to challenge for trophies on three fronts.
Benteke down the pecking order
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp opted to bring Divock Origi on for Daniel Sturridge for the final 22 minutes of their 0-0 draw at Augsburg, posing the question: just how far back is £32.5m summer signing Christian Benteke in his forward plans?
Origi's Belgium team-mate Benteke has score seven goals in 28 games for the Reds this term, but has no goals in 12 having been deployed mainly as an impact sub under Klopp.
With Liverpool regularly getting the ball out wide and low into the box in Germany, using the overlap of Alberto Moreno and Nathaniel Clyne, it may have surprised a few that Benteke remained seated.
Augsburg centre-halves Ragnar Klavan and Christoph Janker deserve some credit for a fine job in keeping those balls clear of danger, but they were never truly tested aerially. Benteke's future role in Klopp's Liverpool, which will remain closer to Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool until the summer, is anyone's guess.
What was your favourite moment from the Europa League games? Let us know using the message boards or by tweeting @SkyFootball