The North London club were among several heavyweights who slumped out as the Portuguese trio of Benfica, Sporting and Porto as well as Ajax Amsterdam and Celtic were also eliminated from Europe’s second-tier competition in the Round of 32. Manchester United breezed to a 6-1 aggregate win over 10-man Bruges after a 5-0 return-leg rout of the Belgians at Old Trafford, while Wolves advanced with a 6-3 overall victory against Espanyol despite a 3-2 second-leg defeat in Spain.
* Inter Milan came from behind to beat Bulgarian side Ludogorets Razgrad 2-1 to reach the Europa League last 16 at an eerily quiet San Siro on Thursday where spectators were banned because of the coronavirus outbreak in northern Italy. The shouting of the players echoed around the 70,000-capacity stadium on a cold night as Inter completed a 4-1 aggregate win in the second leg of their Round of 32 tie.
* Italy’s Serie A soccer league has confirmed that five matches will be played behind closed doors at the weekend because of the coronavirus outbreak in the country, including the clash between leaders Juventus and third-placed Inter Milan on Sunday. Serie A said in a statement on Thursday that the other games to be played in empty stadiums would be Udinese-Fiorentina, AC Milan-Genoa, Parma-Spal and Sassuolo-Brescia.
* The finals of the computer games world cup in Poland will take place without an audience on site after the regional governor decided to revoke its permit due to coronavirus fears. Intel Extreme Masters attracts thousands of people to the southern Polish city of Katowice every year.
* Novak Djokovic used a dizzying array of drop shots to make short work of Karen Khachanov at the Dubai Open on Thursday, reaching the semi-finals with a dominant 6-2 6-2 win over the Russian seventh seed. Victory extended the Serbian world number one’s unbeaten start to the season to 16 matches and took his winning streak to 19 matches in a row stretching back to the ATP Finals in November.
* Manchester United forward Anthony Martial was a last-minute absentee from their Europa League last-32, second leg tie against Club Bruges on Thursday due to injury and is doubtful for the Premier League clash at Everton on Sunday. United coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said the French international, who has scored in his last three games including last week’s 1-1 draw in Bruges, felt a muscle injury in the final training session before the return at Old Trafford.
* The MLS debut of LA Galaxy’s new Mexican goal machine Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez and the long-awaited arrival of the David Beckham-owned Inter Miami expansion team highlight the start of the league’s 25th anniversary season this weekend. The campaign, which kicks off with all 26 clubs in action, will also see defending champions Seattle Sounders seeking a third title in five seasons and Los Angeles FC eager to build on a record-breaking 2019 regular season.
* The annual Engadin ski marathon, one of the world’s largest cross-country skiing events with around 14,000 participants, has been cancelled because of concerns over the coronavirus outbreak, organisers said on Thursday. Switzerland confirmed three new cases on Thursday, taking the total to four, including a couple in the canton of Grisons where the 42-kilometre race was due to take place on March 8.
* The International Olympic Committee is “fully committed” to holding the Tokyo Olympics on schedule despite the coronavirus outbreak, IOC President Thomas Bach told Japanese media in a conference call on Thursday.
* The Asian Football Confederation will hold an emergency meeting next week to discuss contingency plans for holding World Cup and Olympic qualifiers as well as the Asian Champions League as the coronavirus outbreak wreaks havoc across the continent.
* West Ham United defender Ryan Fredericks has undergone right shoulder surgery that will keep him out for around six weeks, the Premier League club has said. The 27-year-old sustained an injury in their 2-0 league defeat to Manchester City last week, his second match since returning from a hamstring problem that had ruled him out for nearly a month.