Socceroos' Europa League heartbreak

With the Caltex Socceroos about to play Tajikistan in Adelaide in a World Cup qualifier, keeper Mat Ryan and striker Robbie Kruse have had tough nights in the Europa League.

Ryan helped Valencia to a win in the Europa League overnight but it wasn’t enough to help his Spanish outfit progress to the last eight.

Trailing Athletic Bilbao 1-0 after the first leg at San Mames, Valencia got the tie back on level terms in just the 13th minute with Santi Mina slotting home a loose ball from close range.

And the hosts looked on track to progress after Aderllan Santos powered home a header just prior to half-time to put Gary Neville’s side ahead on aggregate.

But the competition’s leading scorer Aritz Aduriz pulled a goal back for Athletic with just 13 minutes remaining,  sending the visitors through on the away goals rule.

Ryan denied Aduriz with a smart save in just the 8th minute before producing a pair of stops just prior to the break to keep Valencia in the contest.

Ryan is set to face Celta Vigo in La Liga this Sunday (Monday AM Australian time) before joining up with the Caltex Socceroos for their two World Cup qualifiers in Australia. 

In other Europa League action, Robbie Kruse played the final 30 minutes as Bayer Leverkusen were held to a 0-0 draw at home to Villarreal in the second league.

But the Socceroo could do little as his side struggled to penetrate a well-organised Yellow Submarine defence, allowing the La Liga outfit to progress following last week’s 2-0 win at Camp El Madrigal.