Antonio Conte believes "sport must be meritocratic" but called on UEFA to reflect after the European Super League project Inter signed up to crumbled.

Inter were among the 12 teams from Serie A, the Premier League and LaLiga to on Sunday back the formation of a breakaway tournament.

However, following widespread criticism, the plans fell apart on Tuesday as clubs opted to pull out in the wake of significant backlash from supporters, politicians and the media.

The Nerazzurri announced prior to their Serie A meeting with Spezia on Wednesday they would no longer be taking part in the Super League.

Conte is confident the club have made the right decision, but he urged UEFA to understand why the teams wanted to step away from the Champions League.

"As a sporting man, I think we mustn't ever forget tradition. This is history and it should be respected," Conte told Sky Sport Italia.

"We mustn't forget the passion for sport, and sport must be meritocratic. We work to win and to earn something. Meritocracy must always be first and foremost.

"Having said that, everything that happened shows it's only right that UEFA reflect too. They organise tournaments, take all the revenue and reserve only a minimal part of that for the teams who are actually taking part in these tournaments.

"The players are squeezed like lemons with this packed fixture list and get very little for it. The organisations need to consider better remuneration. Clubs invest in coaches and players, so they deserve some of the revenue they help to generate.

"If you get 10 from rights and keep seven of it for yourself, giving out just three to everybody else, that's not really fair. I think the split needs to be reconsidered."

UEFA announced on Monday that a new format for the Champions League would come into effect in 2024, with the competition expanding to accommodate 36 teams.

Instead of being split into groups, qualifying clubs will be part of a single league and play a minimum of 10 games rather than six.

Asked for his opinion of the new set-up, Conte replied: "I haven't really reflected on the format. It doesn't matter how many teams are in there, the important thing is that there is meritocracy, otherwise sport loses its meaning.

"Meritocracy is the most important thing, but also the organisations including those who run the international fixtures need to consider spreading out the resources a little better."

Inter were held to a 1-1 draw at Spezia but extended their lead at the top of Serie A to 10 points due to Milan's 2-1 home defeat to Sassuolo earlier in the day.

"Pressure is inevitable, and let's not forget that many players are challenging for something important for the first time. They are doing very well and I think we could easily have deserved the win," said Conte.

"I was happy with the intensity of the performance, though we could've had more quality in the final third, which is why we're talking about a draw rather than a win.

"There are fewer rounds left. We can see the finish line and the pressure is taking its toll.

"We used up a lot of energy and have another physical game coming up against [Hellas] Verona [on Sunday]."

UEFA has officially sanctioned a new-look Champions League a day after plans for a controversial breakaway European Super League were announced.

The reforms received unanimous backing from the ECA (European Club Association) Board and the UEFA Club Competitions Committee following what UEFA described as "extensive consultation across the football family".

Under new rules which were announced on Monday, there will be 36 teams competing in the Champions League instead of 32, while the present group-stage format – whereby there are eight pools of four – will be scrapped.

Each team will instead play 10 group games before advancing to a last-16 knockout format. The changes, which have faced criticism, will be implemented for the 2024-25 season onwards.

Similar format alterations will also be applied to the Europa League, with six matches in a league stage of the competition.

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin said: "This new format supports the status and future of the domestic game throughout Europe as well. It retains the principle that domestic performance should be the key to qualification and reconfirms the principles of solidarity right through the game and of open competition.

"This evolved format will still keep alive the dream of any team in Europe to participate in the UEFA Champions League thanks to results obtained on the pitch and it will enable long-term viability, prosperity, and growth for everyone in European football, not just a tiny, self-selected cartel.

"Football is a social and cultural treasure, enriched with values, traditions and emotions shared across our continent.  As the governing body and responsible stewards of the European game, it is UEFA's role to safeguard this legacy while leading positive future development of football in Europe for national associations, leagues, clubs, players, and fans at every level. 

"This is why we had an extensive consultation process over the last two years which led to the unanimous backing of our proposal and we are convinced that these reforms achieve those objectives."

The news comes following Sunday's announcement that 12 clubs have agreed to become founders members of a rival Super League, which has been met with widespread condemnation.

Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham from the Premier League have joined with Juventus, Milan and Inter of Serie A, and LaLiga giants Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Atletico Madrid in signing up.

Europe's top leagues vowed to do all they can to block the project and UEFA described the breakaway plans a "cynical project".

In an emphatic response, UEFA together with the English Football Association, Premier League, the Royal Spanish Football Federation, LaLiga, the Italian Football Federation and Serie A have joined forces in attempt to quell the Super League.

They reiterated a pledge to ban teams from other competitions if they take part in the Super League, while FIFA's threat of barring players from the World Cup was also alluded to.

Former Manchester United star Chris Smalling has spoken of the "harm and distress" his family felt after an armed burglary at their home in Rome.

Now playing for Roma, who will face United in the Europa League semi-finals, the 31-cap England international had his home raided in the early hours of Friday.

According to reports in Italy, Smalling handed over three Rolex watches, jewellery and money to the three men who entered the property in the Appia Antica district of Italy's capital.

Police were called after the terrifying incident, and 31-year-old Smalling wrote on Twitter on Saturday: "I'd like to thank everyone for your well wishes and support! My family although very shaken up are luckily unharmed!

"Hoping these people can find a more meaningful way to live their lives without causing such harm and distress to others."

Former United team-mate Marcus Rashford sent a message of support to Smalling on Friday, saying he was "so sorry" to hear of the break-in.

Rashford added: "Thinking about you @ChrisSmalling and your lovely family. Can’t imagine how you're feeling but I hope you're ok."

Smalling has been injured recently and did not play on Thursday when Roma edged past Ajax to reach the Europa League last four.

Marcus Rashford sent his support to Chris Smalling after the former Manchester United defender was reportedly a victim of an armed burglary.

Smalling and his family were said to have been at home in the Appia Antica district of Rome when three men with guns broke into the property and demanded a safe be opened.

The burglars reportedly fled with Rolex watches and jewellery and a small sum of cash.

La Gazzetta dello Sport said that a call to police was made by Smalling's wife at around 05:00 local time (04:00 GMT) on Friday, with an investigation subsequently launched.

United striker Rashford sent a message to his former club-mate, writing on Twitter: "Thinking about you @ChrisSmalling and your lovely family. So sorry to wake up to the news this morning. Can’t imagine how you're feeling but I hope you're ok."

Smalling has been injured recently and did not play on Thursday when Roma edged past Ajax to reach the Europa League semi-finals, with United awaiting them in the last four.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes winning the Europa League title can be a catalyst for his team after they reached another semi-final.

United set up a semi-final showdown with Roma after Thursday's 2-0 victory over Granada at Old Trafford sealed a 4-0 aggregate triumph.

Solskjaer's United have reached four semi-finals and lost them all – the Red Devils beaten in last season's Europa League semi, having also missed out on trips to the FA Cup and EFL Cup deciders in 2019-20.

United – second in the Premier League standings – also fell to Manchester City in this season's EFL Cup semi-final, leaving Solskjaer hungry for that last elusive step.

Not since the 2016-17 season, when they claimed the Europa League, EFL Cup and Community Shield under former boss Jose Mourinho, have United won silverware.

"You know, when you get to a semi, that's the nature of the game," Solskjaer said during his post-match news conference after United advanced to their 18th semi-final in all European competition – only Liverpool (19) have appeared in more among English sides.

"You are playing against good teams. We've played against good teams but we relish the chance again to go to a final.

"I've seen the determination, the attitude in every player that we want to go one further because the disappointment of the defeats that we've had, they give us the motivation to go one step further and hopefully end the season on a high."

The first leg of the semi-final against Serie A side Roma will be played at Old Trafford on April 19, followed by a May 6 date at Stadio Olimpico in the Italian capital.

Since losing their first two home games in the Europa League in 2011-12, United have not lost any of their last 17 games at Old Trafford in the competition (W13 D4).

United – who have won three consecutive knockout-stage games without conceding in major European competition for the first time since 2008 – have kept five clean sheets in six Europa League games since the turn of the year, more than any other side in 2021.

"This season has been difficult with no pre-season. It's not been possible for us to practice anything really, since the pre-season of 19-20. That's one thing," Solskjaer added.

"I think the next step for the team, of course, is to get to a final, to win a trophy. I think that would give this group of players something extra.

"The motivation is there. I see it. The determination is there to improve all the time. I've seen before a catalyst for a team is often to win a trophy, to get over the line. That's what we're aiming to do at the end of the season."

Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is "feeling good" after returning home from two days in hospital with malaria, manager Mikel Arteta has confirmed.

The Gabon striker has been left out of the squad for Arsenal's last two matches and revealed on social media on Thursday that he contracted the virus during the recent international break. 

Aubameyang posted a picture of himself in a hospital bed and wearing a gown, but he has now been discharged and his health is improving.

Speaking at a news conference after Arsenal's 4-0 win over Slavia Prague on Thursday evening, which saw his side through to the Europa League semi-finals 5-1 on aggregate, Arteta said: "We just spoke with him. He's at home, he's fine.

"He had two days in hospital to get the right treatment, but he's feeling good now.

"Everybody has been in contact with him. He's been really supportive with every team-mate through messages and calls.

"He was watching the game like everybody else at Colney. David [Luiz], Martin [Odegaard], Kieran [Tierney]. Everybody who has not been able to be involved.

"It is what it is, these things happen. He travelled to his country and he picked it up and you know that these risks always exist."

Aubameyang has sat out Arsenal's wins over Sheffield United and Slavia, but he started the 3-0 loss to Liverpool on April 3 and was a second-half substitute in last week's first-leg against the Czech champions.

"When he wasn't involved against Sheffield United, two days before he wasn't feeling good, but nobody could expect that was the case," Arteta added.

"They did some more tests and that's when it came up and straight away the doctor realised very quickly what had to be done and they did a great job. He's safe and he's feeling good."

Aubameyang has not scored for Arsenal since the 1-1 draw with Burnley on March 6 in the Premier League - one of 14 goals he has managed in all competitions this season.

Arsenal host Fulham and Everton in their next two Premier League games, before the first leg of their Europa League semi-final with Villarreal on April 29.

Arteta is unsure when Aubameyang will be fit enough to return but is hopeful of having his captain back involved sooner rather than later.

"We'll see how he recovers," Arteta said. "I think he will need a few days to recover from that. He wants to back as soon as possible, that's what he said to me.

"But I don't know. If the treatment is efficient it shouldn't take too long."

Arsenal have won eight, drawn five and lost nine of the 22 Premier League games Aubameyang has started this term, compared to five wins, one draw and three losses in the nine games he has not started.

The Gunners also average more goals per game without Aubameyang in their line-up - 1.8 compared to 1.2 - while their average goals against figure rises from 1.0 to 1.2 when he is not included in the XI.

Unai Emery insists facing a former club is nothing new to him as he aims to steer Villarreal to a first European final at the expense of previous employers Arsenal.

Villarreal made it through to the last four of the Europa League thanks to a 3-1 aggregate triumph over Dinamo Zagreb, who were surprise conquerors of Tottenham in the previous round.

After converting a penalty in the first leg to put the LaLiga side in control of the quarter-final tie, Gerard Moreno was on target again in a 2-1 win on Thursday to make it six goals in his past five outings in the competition.

Next up will be Arsenal, a club where Emery spent 18 months in charge. He reached the Europa League final with the Gunners in May 2019 but was sacked before the end of the calendar year.

"First of all, I'm used to meeting former teams so playing Arsenal, where I coached, is nothing new as an experience. We'll face up to it with humility, pride and responsibility," Emery said.

"This is a chance to establish Villarreal on the top rung of European football.

"The key thing is for us to enjoy what we've done so far and enjoy the opportunity to break our record of reaching semi-finals but not then going on to the European finals."

Emery's current side did concede on home soil when Mislav Orsic pulled a goal back in the second half for Dinamo, though Villarreal comfortably held on to seal their progression.

The final margin of victory could easily have been greater, too; the impressive Samuel Chukwueze - who set up the opener for Paco Alcacer - twice hit the post.

"We tried not to lose the ball cheaply to allow Dinamo to counter," Emery said of the performance.

"We tried to be patient and control the game, to prevent Dinamo creating goal chances, and when it was 2-1, you could see what they were made of and how they knocked Tottenham out. 

"Across the two matches, justice was done and we deserved to be in the semi-finals."

The first leg against Arsenal will take place in Spain on April 29, with Emery's Villarreal then visiting Emirates Stadium the following week in the return fixture.

Roma are ready to step up to the challenge of taking on Manchester United in the semi-finals of the Europa League despite an unconvincing display against Ajax.

Serie A side Roma reached just their second Europa League/UEFA Cup semi-final with a 1-1 draw at home to Ajax on Thursday.

That result was enough to advance 3-2 on aggregate following an away win in the first leg, but Roma were made to work by the Eredivisie giants, who dominated 71.7 per cent of the possession.

Roma trailed to Brian Brobbey's second-half strike, although Edin Dzeko eased nerves slightly in the Stadio Olimpico with his equaliser 18 minutes from time.

Roma captain Lorenzo Pellegrini told Sky Sport: "We showed tonight that we're growing. We're happy but we can't get too euphoric; this is only the semi-final.

"We want to play three more games in this competition - we'll have to improve in order to do so.

"Now we face Manchester United. We realise that if we want to do something great, we have to beat those who are great."

Pellegrini has the Roma armband after Dzeko's row with head coach Paulo Fonseca saw him stripped of the captaincy.

Dzeko at least has his place back, though, and he became the fourth player to score 30 European goals for the same Italian club, following in the footsteps of Alessandro Del Piero (at Juventus) and Filippo Inzaghi and Andriy Shevchenko (both at Milan).

The Bosnian striker netted with his only shot on target and created a further chance for Pellegrini, who led Roma in attempts (three) and key passes (two).

"There have been many ups and downs," Dzeko said. "This season wasn't my best on a personal level for many reasons.

"I don't like looking at the past; what happened has happened, we have to look to the future.

"There are many players here playing their first semi-final and we've got to enjoy it, because playing at Old Trafford doesn't happen every day."

Dzeko at least has some experience of the Old Trafford arena, having won on two of his three Premier League trips as a Manchester City player.

Indeed, the 35-year-old scored four league goals away to United, as well as providing two assists.

Now, Dzeko will return to Manchester with Roma, believing his current side have nothing to fear against the tournament favourites.

"If we're in the semi-final, then of course we can [be at the same level]," he said. "It certainly hasn't been an easy path, as Braga, Shakhtar Donetsk and Ajax were basically the toughest draws we could get.

"Now we are facing another big name, but Roma are a big name, too, and we must give everything to reach the final."

Mikel Arteta was delighted with Arsenal's clinical victory over Slavia Prague but has warned his side face a tough test against former boss Unai Emery's Villarreal in the Europa League semi-finals.

The Gunners entered Thursday's quarter-final second leg with the tie delicately poised at 1-1, but they produced one of their best displays under Arteta to win 4-0 at Sinobo Stadium and advance 5-1 on aggregate.

Nicolas Pepe added to his first-leg strike by opening the scoring in the Czech capital, setting Arsenal on their way to a straightforward win as an Alexandre Lacazette penalty and long-range Bukayo Saka strike followed inside the first 24 minutes.

Lacazette rounded off the scoring in the second half to confirm a semi-final tie with Villarreal - 3-1 aggregate winners over Dinamo Zagreb - and a reunion with Emery, who was sacked by Arsenal in November 2019 and replaced by Arteta.

Emery has previously won the Europa League three times with Sevilla, while also losing the 2018-19 final against Chelsea during his time at Arsenal, and Arteta is aware of the size of the task now facing his side over two legs.

"It will be really tough and Unai Emery is probably the most successful manager in this competition," he told BT Sport. "There is still a lot to do and things we can improve on, but we have a real desire to improve and be better every day."

Arsenal are effectively relying on the Europa League to salvage their campaign and secure a place in Europe next season, the Gunners sitting ninth in the Premier League with seven games to play.

Arteta was particularly pleased with the way his side responded to having an Emile Smith Rowe goal chalked off at 0-0 on the day as his side held on for back-to-back clean sheets, and a first shutout in eight European games

"We started really well in a convincing way, aggressive in our high press," he said. "We looked a threat all the time. 

"I really like the reaction of the team to the goal being disallowed. We scored some great goals. The clean sheet is important as well, the second one in two games.

"It helped the way we played against Sheffield United. The players were in high confidence, when performances are so high the collective improves. The boys were really at it from the start.

"It is a really important win in a crucial moment. We won in a convincing way, so credit to the players."

Smith Rowe may have been denied a goal by VAR, but he set up Pepe for the opener - his seventh assist in all competitions this season, which is the joint-most of any Arsenal player alongside Willian.

With his strike later in the first half, meanwhile, Saka became Arsenal's joint-top teenage scorer in major European competition, matching the four goals scored by Charlie George and Ray Kennedy.

"For me it's a joy to watch them play to watch them every day in training," Arteta said at his post-match news conference when asked about the young pair's performance. "The passion and the commitment they have for the club is special.

"I'm really happy with all of the players. We came to a tough place to face a team that hasn't lost at home in almost two years.

"I think when we demanded efficiency from them and today is a good example of the efficiency you need in Europe to win matches."

Saka, who now has seven goals to his name in all competitions this season, added to BT Sport: "It shows everyone how exciting we can be. When we play like this it is so amazing to be involved in. 

"We have a chance of going to the final and winning this competition - now it is up to us. We look forward to the next opponent."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer conceded it was not worth the risk for him to keep Paul Pogba on the field as Manchester United ran out comfortable winners over Granada en route to the Europa League semi-finals, a move which the midfielder agreed with.

United booked their place in the Europa League semis with a 2-0 win on Thursday, sealing a 4-0 aggregate victory over the Spanish side.

Edinson Cavani scored his 50th European goal – his first for United in Europe – before Jesus Vallejo headed into his own net in the closing stages as the Red Devils set up a showdown with Roma.

United have sealed their place in the semi-finals of a European competition for the 18th time in total, with Liverpool (19) the only English club to have managed more in that regard.

Pogba, however, was taken off at half-time during the contest. He teed up Cavani's opener with a clever flick, but received a yellow card shortly after and committed a total of three fouls, including one on Yangel Herrera which resulted in Granada's players crowding the referee demanding a second booking.

Solskjaer was left reeling after deciding not to take Fred off while the midfielder was on a booking in a Champions League defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in December, only for the Brazilian to then see red, and took no chances on this occasion.

He told BT Sport: "I think sometimes in a game, Paul wants to win so much, he went into a couple of tackles after his yellow card, I thought no, I don't want to risk that. Even though he played well.

"We missed three [players] today, the season's been hard enough as it is anyway."

For his part, Pogba had no issue with the reason for his substitution.

"Some tackles, a yellow card. I had to come off obviously," he told BT Sport. "The yellow card was unfortunate. It wasn't a yellow card for me but you have to accept it. We won the game, that's the most important thing.

"I know the foul just after it, I saw all the players trying to get me out. [The manager thought] It's better I come off before red card."

Solskjaer also suggested United created their own problems to an extent, saying: "[Granada] do give you a game, a physical game. You do have to defend.

"When you can't keep the ball as long as you should do, it's more difficult."

Serie A side Roma – boasting former United players Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Chris Smalling – await in the final four after they overcome Ajax in the quarter-finals.

"I've not seen too much of Roma," Solskjaer continued. "They've had two good games against Ajax, they defend well, as Italian teams always do, experienced team, and we all know [Edin] Dzeko, so any ball in the box is a dangerous one.

"We're looking forward to it of course, we're in the semi-final, it feels like a proper European tie, Roma is a club with lots of tradition, history, but we've done well against Italian teams."

United reached the semi-finals last season, only to lose to Sevilla.

They have reached four semis previously under Solskjaer, twice in the EFL Cup, once in the FA Cup and once in the Europa League, though they are yet to win a trophy during the Norwegian's tenure.

"I don't think there's any," Solskjaer responded when asked if his team were scarred by previous defeats.

"You just go into every game wanting to win. We're going into them hoping to get to the final. If we can finish this season with a final and a trophy, great."

Unai Emery will face former employers Arsenal in the Europa League semi-finals after his Villarreal side eased past Dinamo Zagreb, with a 2-1 result at home clinching a 3-1 aggregate triumph.  

Gerard Moreno's penalty in the first leg gave the LaLiga side a slender advantage and the in-form striker was on target again on Thursday, taking his tally for the season in all competitions to 25.

Paco Alcacer scored the opener as Villarreal made it eight successive wins in the competition - they will host the Gunners in the first leg on April 29, with the return fixture a week later.

Zagreb had stunned Tottenham with a second-leg comeback in the previous round and while Mislav Orsic did pull a goal back, the Croatian champions saw their involvement in the tournament come to an end.

Villarreal had already seen Samuel Chukwueze clatter a left-footed volley against the post before eventually opening the scoring in the 36th minute.

Alcacer rewarded the home team's dominance with a tap-in finish, though the goal was only awarded after the involvement of the video assistant referee as Chukwueze - who squared the ball for his team-mate to score - had initially been ruled offside.

Moreno added a second prior to the half-time interval, quickly reacting to a sharp save by Dinamo goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic to impressively convert the rebound on the turn.

Orsic - Dinamo's hat-trick hero against Spurs - had twice gone close before eventually beating Geronimo Rulli, slotting home on the angle after exchanging passes with Bruno Petkovic.

However, it was Villarreal went the closest to scoring again, Chukwueze striking the woodwork for a second time before Livakovic denied him a goal his performance deserved with a superb save.


What does it mean? Emery gets Gunners reunion

Villarreal have never made it to a final in a major European competition but Emery is the ideal man to see them end that wait.

The Spaniard lifted the Europa League trophy three times while in charge of Sevilla, plus also made the final in 2019 with Arsenal – a game that ended in a 4-1 defeat to London rivals Chelsea in Baku.

Emery was sacked by the Gunners in November of that year following a seven-game winless run. In contrast, he is set to make a return to Emirates Stadium with his current team in fine form.

Dinamo undone by Moreno

Moreno has now scored nine times in his past seven outings, a red-hot run that includes a goal for Spain against Kosovo. Only Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski have been involved in more goals in all competitions in 2021 than the former Espanyol forward (17 goals and six assists) in the top five European leagues.

Chukwueze stars for hosts

Alcacer and Moreno scored but Chukwueze was Villarreal’s star performer. The only thing missing was a goal, though it was not for a lack of trying – he had six shots, albeit only two were on target.

What's next?

Villarreal - who sit seventh in the LaLiga table, just a point behind fifth-placed Real Sociedad - travel to Levante on Sunday, while Dinamo host Istra 1961 in domestic action on the same day.

Roma survived a second-leg scare in their Europa League quarter-final against Ajax, advancing 3-2 on aggregate after a scarcely deserved 1-1 home draw.

The last remaining Serie A representatives in European competition this season held a commanding position heading into the return fixture, having won 2-1 in Amsterdam a week earlier.

But Roma largely lacked ambition at the Stadio Olimpico and invited Ajax to chase the two away goals they required, the first arriving when substitute Brian Brobbey beat Pau Lopez four minutes after half-time.

A second soon after was disallowed, though, and Edin Dzeko struck to restore parity on the night and set up a semi-final against Manchester United.

Roma might have quickly taken the tie away from Ajax when Lorenzo Pellegrini ran from halfway following Dzeko's pass and easily skipped past Sean Klaiber, only to send a tame shot into the hands of Maarten Stekelenburg.

Jordan Veretout then had the ball in the net but was flagged offside, before Ajax secured a foothold with the help of some nervy Roma goalkeeping.

Lopez's kick was intercepted by Antony, who teed up Davy Klaassen for an effort that was well blocked by Amadou Diawara. From a similar position, Dusan Tadic shot too close to the keeper.

Lopez was punished for his next mistake, as he was beaten to Perr Schuurs' long and searching pass by Brobbey, who smartly knocked the ball beyond the Spain international into an open goal.

Only a VAR review denied Ajax a swift second, with a foul on Henrikh Mkhitaryan identified before Lopez parried Brobbey's shot straight to Tadic for a simple finish.

But Roma belatedly responded and Ryan Gravenberch inadvertently deflected Riccardo Calafiori's cross into the path of Dzeko, who made no mistake.

Unai Emery will face former employers Arsenal in the Europa League semi-finals after his Villarreal side eased past Dinamo Zagreb, with a 2-1 result at home clinching a 3-1 aggregate triumph.  

Gerard Moreno's penalty in the first leg gave the LaLiga side a slender advantage and the in-form striker was on target again on Thursday, taking his tally for the season in all competitions to 25.

Paco Alcacer scored the opener as Villarreal made it eight successive wins in the competition - they will host the Gunners in the first leg on April 29, with the return fixture a week later.

Zagreb had stunned Tottenham with a second-leg comeback in the previous round and while Mislav Orsic did pull a goal back, the Croatian champions saw their involvement in the tournament come to an end.

Villarreal had already seen Samuel Chukwueze clatter a left-footed volley against the post before eventually opening the scoring in the 36th minute.

Alcacer rewarded the home team's dominance with a tap-in finish, though the goal was only awarded after the involvement of the video assistant referee as Chukwueze - who squared the ball for his team-mate to score - had initially been ruled offside.

Moreno added a second prior to the half-time interval, quickly reacting to a sharp save by Dinamo goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic to impressively convert the rebound on the turn.

Orsic - Dinamo's hat-trick hero against Spurs - had twice gone close before eventually beating Geronimo Rulli, slotting home on the angle after exchanging passes with Bruno Petkovic.

However, it was Villarreal went the closest to scoring again, Chukwueze striking the woodwork for a second time before Livakovic denied him a goal his performance deserved with a superb save.


What does it mean? Emery gets Gunners reunion

Villarreal have never made it to a final in a major European competition but Emery is the ideal man to see them end that wait.

The Spaniard lifted the Europa League trophy three times while in charge of Sevilla, plus also made the final in 2019 with Arsenal – a game that ended in a 4-1 defeat to London rivals Chelsea in Baku.

Emery was sacked by the Gunners in November of that year following a seven-game winless run. In contrast, he is set to make a return to Emirates Stadium with his current team in fine form.

Dinamo undone by Moreno

Moreno has now scored nine times in his past seven outings, a red-hot run that includes a goal for Spain against Kosovo. Only Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski have been involved in more goals in all competitions in 2021 than the former Espanyol forward (17 goals and six assists) in the top five European leagues.

Chukwueze stars for hosts

Alcacer and Moreno scored but Chukwueze was Villarreal’s star performer. The only thing missing was a goal, though it was not for a lack of trying – he had six shots, albeit only two were on target.

What's next?

Villarreal - who sit seventh in the LaLiga table, just a point behind fifth-placed Real Sociedad - travel to Levante on Sunday, while Dinamo host Istra 1961 in domestic action on the same day.

Edinson Cavani scored his 50th goal in European competition as Manchester United saw off Granada 2-0 to claim a 4-0 aggregate win in the Europa League quarter-finals.

Cavani's milestone strike, and his first in Europe for United, was an expertly controlled volley into the bottom-right corner after six minutes at Old Trafford.

Yangel Herrera – on loan from United's rivals Manchester City – could have cancelled out United's lead on the night, while Cavani missed a great chance to add further gloss in the second half.

Donny van de Beek was then inches away from his first United goal since September, though the misses mattered little as United eventually got their second in the 90th minute, Jesus Vallejo heading into his own net as a semi-final clash with Roma was confirmed.

United wasted no time in extending their advantage in the tie – Cavani firing home from Paul Pogba's flick.

Herrera could have restored parity within two minutes, only to head wide from close range, and the Granada attacker squandered a similar opportunity in the 20th minute.

His second opportunity came from a free-kick conceded by Pogba, whose earlier booking for a foul on German Sanchez had made him something of a target for Granada, and the Frenchman was sensibly taken off at half-time.

Jorge Molina was the next to test United's resolve but headed straight at David de Gea, before Pogba's replacement Van de Beek centred for Mason Greenwood, who was unable to direct a looping header beyond Rui Silva.

Cavani could only get a shoulder to Bruno Fernandes' delightful cross, with Van de Beek then arrowing a foot wide from distance.

German dragged wide from inside United's area soon after – just another missed opportunity which Granada were left to rue as Vallejo's late own goal compounded their exit.

 

What does it mean? Liverpool's record in United's sight

United are into their 18th semi-final in all European competitions – only Liverpool (19) have appeared in more among English sides.

The Red Devils fell to eventual winners Sevilla at the last-four stage last season, and they will be determined to go one better against Roma, who just about overcame Ajax.

Half-century up for Cavani

Cavani has now scored in European competition for the 11th consecutive season, with this being his first goal in the Europa League since December 2012 (for Napoli v PSV).

It was a landmark 50th goal in UEFA competition for the striker and once again proved his importance to United as rumours circulate over his future.

No risks taken with Pogba

Perhaps scarred by the repercussions of not taking Fred off while on a booking as United suffered a damaging defeat to Paris Saint-Germain, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took no gamble with Pogba's ability to avoid a second yellow.

Pogba's flick-on for Cavani's strike was an exceptional one, and from a free role on the left the France star created two chances and registered 51 touches. However, he also conceded three fouls, and it was just not worth the risk to keep him on.

What's next?

United are at Old Trafford again on Sunday, hosting Burnley, while Granada are not back in LaLiga action until they face Eibar on April 22.

Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been in hospital this week after being diagnosed with malaria, he has announced.

The Gabon striker said he picked up the virus during the recent international break.

Aubameyang was absent as Arsenal travelled to face Slavia Prague in the Europa League on Thursday.

Manager Mikel Arteta said ahead of the game that Aubameyang was being monitored due to illness, and the player himself has now revealed he has been seriously unwell.

Aubameyang wrote on Instagram: "Hey guys, thanks for all the messages and calls. Unfortunately I contracted Malaria whilst being on national team duty in Gabon a few weeks ago.

"I've spent a few days in hospital this week but I'm already feeling much better every day, thanks to the great doctors that detected and treated the virus so quickly.

"I wasn't really feeling myself the last couple weeks but will be back stronger than ever soon! Will be watching my boys now, huge game for us! Let‘s go and get it @arsenal."

The 31-year-old posted a picture of himself, seemingly in a hospital bed and wearing a gown.

Aubameyang was used as a substitute in last Thursday's first leg of the quarter-final tie with Slavia, but he missed the 3-0 win at Sheffield United on Sunday.

He has not scored for Arsenal since the 1-1 draw with Burnley on March 6 in the Premier League.

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