Round-up - Napoli hammer Salzburg, Villarreal pick up crucial Russia win
Napoli took control of their Europa League tie against RB Salzburg with a comfortable 3-0 win at the Stadio San Paolo on Thursday.
The home side took the lead after just ten minutes when Dries Mertens capped off a wonderful team move by threading through Arkadiusz Milik who rounded the keeper and tapped home.
Arkadiusz Milik of SSC Napoli celebrates after scoring 1-0 during the UEFA Europa League match between SSC Napoli and RB Salzburg at Stadio San Paolo Naples Italy on 7 March 2019.Getty Images
Carlo Ancelotti's side doubled their lead when Fabian Ruiz thundered home on the volley and just before the hour Jerome Onguene headed into his own net.
Villarreal and Dinamo Zagreb secured crucial first-leg wins on Thursday in the Europe League whilst two of the other early games, Sevilla v Slavia Prague and Eintracht Frankfurt v Inter Milan, ended all square.
Sevilla, who have won the Europa League three times, twice went ahead against Slavia Prague but were pegged back on both occasions in a pulsating 2-2 draw in Spain.
Europa League - Round of 16 First Leg - Sevilla v SK Slavia Prague - Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Seville, Spain - March 7, 2019 Slavia Prague's Alex Kral celebrates scoring their second goal with Ondrej Kudela and team matesReuters
Alex Kral put the visitors level again six minutes before halftime when he turned a corner into the net.
Fellow Spaniards Villarreal had a happier evening in St Petersburg and will take a solid 3-1 lead into the second leg at home.
Villarreal, third bottom of La Liga, went ahead against Zenit after 33 minutes when Vicente Iborra headed home from a free kick but the home side took only two minutes to level thanks to Sardar Azmoun, whose quick thinking allowed him to stab home from close range.
Europa League - Round of 16 First Leg - Zenit Saint Petersburg v Villarreal - Saint Petersburg Stadium, Saint Petersburg, Russia - March 7, 2019 Villarreal's Gerard Moreno celebrates scoring their second goal with team matesReuters
Bruno Petkovic scored a penalty for Dinamo Zagreb to give them a 1-0 home win over Benfica while in the only game between two former winners of the UEFA Cup, Eintracht Frankfurt drew 0-0 at home against Inter Milan.
It was the first time Eintracht, who have won seven of their eight Europa League matches this season, failed to score but at the other end they were thankful to their goalkeeper Kevin Trapp after he made a fine penalty stop from Marcelo Brozovic.
Valencia will take a 2-1 lead with them to Russia after beating Krasnodar at the Mestalla thanks to a first-half brace from Rodrigo.
Viktor Claesson scored the potentially crucial away match for the visitors.