Manchester United and Tottenham both suffered damaging losses away from home in the first leg of their last-16 matches, with Louis van Gaal’s side losing 2-0 away at great rivals Liverpool, and Spurs 3-0 in Germany against Borussia Dortmund.
United winger Memphis Depay was guilty of pulling back Philippe Coutinho inside the area in the 20th minute at Anfield, and Daniel Sturridge converted the resulting spot-kick, placing his shot high to David De Gea’s right-hand side.
Jurgen Klopp’s side were unlucky not to be two-up three minutes later, when De Gea smartly saved Coutinho’s shot after a cross from Sturridge, before the England striker then failed to beat the United keeper after latching on to Roberto Firmino’s chipped pass.
Van Gaal’s side had an early chance in the second half, but Morgan Schneiderlin’s low drive was not enough to beat Simon Mignolet on 51 minutes, before Coutinho replied with a fine half-volley from 20 yards three minutes later, but De Gea made another fine save, tipping it over the bar.
On 74 minutes, Roberto Firmino doubled the Reds’ lead after Adam Lallana’s pull-back, shooting high into the roof of the net.
Marouane Fellaini should have salvaged an away goal in the 85th minute, but could not direct his header on target, meaning Van Gaal’s men returned to Manchester empty-handed ahead of the second leg at Old Trafford next Thursday.
Tottenham’s hopes of reaching the quarter-finals of this year’s competition suffered a major blow as they were convincingly beaten 3-0 by Dortmund in Germany.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang should have put the hosts in front in the 11th minute, but was unable to control his volley after Marcel Schmeltzer’s cross from the left.
The Gabon striker made up for his miss 20 minutes later however, out-jumping Ben Davies at the back post to beat Hugo Lloris with a header to the bottom right corner.
Thomas Tuchel’s side should have been two-up five minutes after the interval, but Aubameyang’s dinked effort went just wide of the target with Gonzalo Castro hitting the post with the follow-up.
Son Heung-min had a penalty appeal turned down shortly after for Spurs, after a tackle from behind from Sven Bender was waved away by referee Cakir.
Dortmund’s domination of the game eventually brought a second goal, after Nevan Subotic’s header fell to Reus, who lashed the ball high into the net on 61 minutes.
The Germany international added a second nine minutes later, after wonderful build-up play from Aubameyang and Castro culminated in the winger volleying past Lloris from eight yards.
Son could have added an away goal for Mauricio Pochettino’s side a minute later, but his left-footed strike was comfortably saved by Roman Weidenfeller.
The result means that Spurs have a huge task to turn the tie around at White Hart Lane next week.
Shakhtar Donetsk took a big step towards the last-eight with a 3-1 home win at home to Anderlecht. Among the scorers were Taison and Eduardo for the Ukranian side.
Villarreal will travel to Germany next week with a two-goal cushion, after Cedric Bakambu’s double secured a comfortable 2-0 win against Bayer Leverkusen.
Gary Neville’s Valencia trail 1-0 to Spanish rivals Athletic Bilbao after defeat at the San Mames. Raul Garcia scored in the 20th minute to give Ernesto Valverde’s side the advantage going into the return leg at the Mestalla.
Sparta Prague will travel to Lazio in a week’s time with the possibility of progressing after a 1-1 draw at home. Martin Frydek scored for the home side in the 13th minute before midfielder Marco Parolo levelled the tie.
Fenerbahce hold a narrow advantage against Portuguese side Braga after a 1-0 home win. Mehmet Topal scored in the 82nd minute.
Basel and Sevilla played out a 0-0 draw in Switzerland, with the main talking point being former Premier League midfielder Steven N’Zonzi’s red card in the 87th minute.
Player of the Night: Cedric Bakambu (Villarreal)
Team of the Night: Borussia Dortmund