Europa League - Paulo Dybala - Roma
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Europa League last 16: Five players who impressed

The Europa League last 16 proved engrossing action following a fantastic round of first-leg ties. Liverpool, Brighton and West Ham were all in action with mixed success, as the European season approaches its business end.

Here are five players who impressed in the latest round of Europa League action.

Darwin Nunez – Liverpool

Liverpool took a giant step towards the last eight after thrashing Sparta Prague 5-1 in the Czech Republic this week.

Jurgen Klopp fielded a strong side despite a looming clash with Manchester City in the Premier League this weekend and was rewarded with a convincing win from his side.

Darwin Nunez was the star of the show on his return to the team, with the Uruguayan scoring Liverpool’s second of the evening with a thumping 30-yard effort that dipped in under the crossbar.

He added a second before the break after lashing in a bouncing ball on the run, extending his record this season to 16 goals and 11 assists in all competitions. Klopp said Nunez has ‘quality coming out of his ears’ post-match and the Uruguayan appears to have found his feet in English football.

A real threat, he will take on title rivals City this weekend in red-hot form.

Paulo Dybala – Roma

Roma’s resurgence under Daniele De Rossi continued with a fine performance to beat Brighton 4-0 at the Stadio Olimpico, an emphatic result which left the Seagulls’ first European adventure all but over.

Paulo Dybala was the most influential player on the pitch for the Italian side, exuding calm in possession and opening the scoring after beating the offside trap to round Jason Steele.

After squeezing through the play-off round on penalties, last season’s Europa League runners-up are almost certain of a place in the quarter-finals after running riot in Rome.

It was an impressive display from Roma’s forward line and Dybala was the pick of the bunch. He has 14 goals in all competitions this season, with Juventus’ decision to allow him to leave on a free transfer in 2022 a puzzling one. The Argentine has been rejuvenated in Rome.

Juninho – Qarabag

Qarabag produced one of the performances of the week to draw 2-2 with Bayer Leverkusen, as the Azerbaijan side threatened to end the German’s unbeaten run in all competitions this season.

The two teams had met in the group stage with Qarabag losing both games, though lessons appeared to have been learned as the underdogs made an electric start to the tie.

Juninho was the thorn in the Leverkusen side with the Bundesliga team unable to cope with the forward’s scintillating speed in behind. An early warning sign saw the 27-year-old skip down the left flank to set up a chance, before he robbed Jonathan Tah of possession to set up the opening goal for Yassine Benzia.

Tah struggled up against Juninho’s pace all evening and the forward burst in behind to double Qarabag’s lead. After leaving the Leverkusen defender in his wake, he showed exquisite composure and confidence to bounce the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper and turn home.

Leverkusen fought back to rescue a draw in stoppage time, but Xabi Alonso’s side – showered with plaudits this season – have had fewer tougher tests than this.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Marseille

The all-time record goalscorer in the Europa League added two more to his record-breaking total as Marseille stunned Villarreal at The Stade Vélodrome.

After Jordan Vertout and a Yerson Mosquera own goal had put Marseille two ahead inside the opening 28 minutes, Aubameyang stepped up to confidently convert from the spot for the third before half-time.

Former Watford winger Ismaila Sarr had been brought down inside the box and the Gabon international fired home despite Pepe Reina guessing right in goal.

The 34-year-old saved the best for last with a fantastic fourth for the home side, as he lifted an audacious chip over Reina that kissed the far post before dropping into the goal.

Aubameyang has found his groove again after swapping Chelsea for Marseille in the summer, moving to 21 goals for the season in all competitions.

Jack Butland – Rangers

Rangers have given themselves a great chance of reaching the Europa League quarter-finals after battling to a 2-2 draw at Benfica.

Jack Butland was required to make some important interventions on an impressive night for the goalkeeper, beating away an early drive from David Neres moments before Tom Lawrence headed the Scottish side in front.

Neres was twice denied again before the break, including an excellent stop with his feet on the brink of half-time. The 30-year-old has been a superb signing on a free transfer from Crystal Palace, with his performances in Scotland having prompted talk of a surprise England recall.

Read – Premier League weekend: Eight talking points

See more – Fantasy Premier League: Five transfers to target for GW28

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