Soccer

Reds paired with Sparta Prague in Europa League round of 16

The Anfield club will travel to the Czech capital for the first leg on March 7.

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool face Sparta Prague in the last 16 of the Europa League
Jurgen Klopp celebrates on the touchline Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool face Sparta Prague in the last 16 of the Europa League (Peter Byrne/PA)

Premier League leaders Liverpool will face Sparta Prague in the last 16 of the Europa League, while Brighton face another glamour tie against Roma.

The Reds will travel to the Czech capital for the first leg on March 7, before a return at Anfield a week later in a competition Liverpool have won three times in the past.

Brighton’s maiden European campaign takes them to the Italian capital after they topped Group B containing Marseille, Ajax and AEK Athens.

Europa Conference League holders West Ham face German team Freiburg, while Rangers are up against two-time European champions Benfica from Portugal.

The Europa League final will take place in Dublin on May 22.

Liverpool reached the knockout phase of Europe’s second-tier competition by topping Group E.

Sparta are the reigning Czech champions and qualified for the knockout round play-off by finishing second in Group C. The clubs met in this competition back in 2011.

Brighton face a Roma side which reached the last 16 with a penalty shoot-out victory over Feyenoord in a play-off on Thursday night. The Giallorossi are in transition following the decision last month to sack Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho.

West Ham will feel confident of overcoming Freiburg, having beaten them home and away in the group stage earlier this season, while Scottish Premiership Rangers met Benfica in the Europa League group stage in 2020-21.

Aston Villa were drawn to face Dutch giants Ajax in the last 16 of the Europa Conference League.

Aston Villa topped Group E of the Europa Conference League
Aston Villa topped Group E of the Europa Conference League Aston Villa topped Group E of the Europa Conference League (Joe Giddens/PA)

Villa progressed as Group E winners and now face the Amsterdam club, who have been champions of Europe four times.

Ajax signed England midfielder Jordan Henderson last month, although he did not feature as they beat Norwegian side Bodo Glimt in extra time to progress from the knockout play-off round.

The first leg will be played in Amsterdam on March 7, with the return at Villa Park on March 14. The Conference League final takes place in Athens on May 29.