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Spanish clubs to the fore in Europa league

Three Spanish clubs showed the quality of La Liga extends beyond Barcelona and Real Madrid by cantering into the semi-finals of the Europa League on Thursday night.

sports Updated: Apr 06, 2012 22:58 IST

Three Spanish clubs showed the quality of La Liga extends beyond Barcelona and Real Madrid by cantering into the semi-finals of the Europa League on Thursday night.

Spanish legend Raul may have won honours in his Real Madrid days but he was unable to keep Germany's Schalke on the route to Europa League glory despite a goal at Athletic Bilbao. The veteran striker's best efforts could not prevent the conquerors of Manchester United reaching the semi-finals following a 2-2 second leg draw at the San Mames stadium, enough to send the Basque side through 6-4 on aggregate after their 4-2 success in Germany.

A 20-metre effort shortly after the restart from Raul gave the visitors, winners of the Europa League's forerunner the UEFA Cup in 1997, renewed though brief hope.

But those hopes were dashed when Iker Muniain found Markel Susaeta and he drove home past Lars Unnerstall in the Schalke goal to set up a tie with Sporting Lisbon, who drew 1-1 at Metalist Kharkhiv of Ukraine as the Portuguese advanced 3-2 on aggregate.