Europa League - Pirlo masterpiece sends Juventus into last eight

Andrea Pirlo kept Juventus on course for a home Europa League final after his superb free kick settled their battle with Italian rivals Fiorentina to send the Serie A leaders into the quarter-finals on Thursday.

Reuters
Europa League - Pirlo masterpiece sends Juventus into last eight
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Juventus' Andrea Pirlo celebrates with his teammates after scoring against Fiorentina (Reuters)

Pirlo's dead-ball accuracy on 71 minutes, caressing the ball high into the far right of the net, handed Juve a 1-0 victory in Florence and a 2-1 aggregate success.

His strike came after Fiorentina were reduced to 10 men two minutes earlier after Gonzalo Rodriguez was sent off for tripping Fernando Llorente just outside the box.

Valencia, Olympique Lyon and AZ Alkmaar also progressed to the last eight from the early kickoffs.

Lyon eased through 5-3 against Viktoria Plzen despite a 2-1 second-leg defeat in the Czech Republic while a second-half goal from Paco Alcacer earned Valencia a 1-0 win at home to Bulgaria's Ludogorets for a 4-0 aggregate win.

Dick Advocaat guided Zenit St Petersburg to the 2008 UEFA Cup title and his AZ Alkmaar side progressed to the last eight following a goalless draw in Ramenskoye with Anzhi Makhachkala.

Anzhi, bottom of Russian Premier League with a solitary win in 21 games, lacked the firepower to overturn a 1-0 first-leg defeat and their frustrations boiled over in stoppage time when Karlen Mkrtchyan was shown a straight red for a poor challenge on Steven Berghuis.

Ten-man Basel ended the impressive campaign of Austria's Salzburg but their 2-1 away win, after a goalless first leg, was marred by a first-half interruption of about 12 minutes after fans of the Swiss side threw objects on to the pitch.

Sevilla beat Liga rivals Real Betis 4-3 on penalties to complete a remarkable comeback.

Los Rojiblancos reversed a 2-0 first leg deficit to force extra time, before clinching victory in a tense shootout.

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