Schalke's Christian Fuchs lies in the goal during last night's 4-2 Europa League defeat at home to Athletic Bilbao. Martin Meissner/AP/Press Association Images

Europa League wrap: Inspired Bilbao sink Schalke, AZ power past Valencia

Marcelo Bielsa’s Bilbao took a huge step towards the semi-finals with a 4-2 win away to Schalke.

ATHLETIC BILBAO CONTINUED their dream run in the Europa League with a 4-2 away win over Schalke in their quarter-final first leg.

Late goals to Oscar de Marcos and Iker Muniain ensured the La Liga side will take a major advantage into the second leg against their Bundesliga opponents.

Braces from Bilbao’s Fernando Llorente and Schalke’s Raul saw the game level with few minutes remaining, before de Marcos and Muniain scored to give the visitors victory.

The opening breakthrough for Bilbao arrived on 20 minutes, when Llorente knocked home a dropped ball from Schalke goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand.

But the hosts at Veltins-Arena managed to respond in the 22nd minute when young Japanese defender Atsuto Uchida played a direct ball to the front post, where Raul got a little touch to beat Gorka Iraizoz to make it 1-1.

In the second half, Kyriakos Papadopoulos appeared to have earned the hosts the advantage off a set piece, heading on a cross from Jose Manuel Jurado from the middle of the box, but the Greek player’s effort just slid by the right post.

Moments later, Raul – the top scorer in the history of UEFA competition – gave the hosts a slim advantage when he controlled the ball from 30 yards out, looking to play Klaas-Jan Huntelaar into the box, where Fernando Amorebieta got a touch on it, sending it into the air.

Raul followed up, drilling a volley from outside the box into the right side of the goal with thunderous power, leaving the Bilbao custodian Iraizoz with no chance, and cementing a fantastic double with his 76th goal in Europe.

Llorente would match his fellow Spaniard’s effort, heading home at the front post off a corner 17 minutes from time to make it 2-2, using his strength and height to rise above Schalke’s Joel Matip.

De Marcos then tapped home a rebound from a few yards out after Mathias Schober could not control a shot from Susaeta in the 80th minute, before Muniain drilled Bilbao further in front in the tie with an easy finish.

First blood

The other three quarter-final first legs saw each of the hosts claim 2-1 victories on Thursday.

Atletico Madrid snuck past Hanover courtesy of an 89th-minute winner to Eduardo Salvio, after Radamel Falcao and Mame Biram Diouf traded first-half goals.

AZ Alkmaar produced a stirring late rally to beat Valencia and increase the pressure on Los Che coach Unai Emery.

Australia international Brett Holman opened the scoring against the run of play from a corner, but the hosts were pegged back early in the second half through a Mehmet Topal header.

Maarten Martens struck the winner late in the game, leaving the Spanish side needing a victory at the Mestalla to make the semi-finals.

Metalist Kharkiv could not avoid defeat away at Sporting Lisbon, but managed to earn a late away goal which could prove vital.

The Portuguese outfit led 2-0 after goals to Marat Izmailov and Emiliano Insua shortly after the interval, but a Cleiton Xavier penalty gave the Ukrainians hope heading to their home second leg.

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