Milan versus Manchester United lights up Europa League last 16 draw

The ties will be hosted in Poland next month

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is returning to Old Trafford after Manchester United were drawn against AC Milan in a mouth-watering Europa League last-16 tie. PA
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is returning to Old Trafford after Manchester United were drawn against AC Milan in a mouth-watering Europa League last-16 tie. PA

Seven-time European champions AC Milan will play Manchester United in the standout tie of next month's Europa League round of 16 following Friday's draw.

Ajax Amsterdam, the four-time European champions, will take on Swiss club Young Boys, while Arsenal face Greek side Olympiakos Piraeus and Tottenham Hotspur, the third English club to reach the last 16, will tackle Dinamo Zagreb.

Slavia Prague's reward for knocking out Leicester City is a tie against Scottish champions-elect Rangers.

European debutants Granada of Spain will play Norwegian club Molde, while AS Roma face a tough assignment against seasoned European contenders Shakhtar Donetsk.

Three-time semi-finalists Villarreal take on Dynamo Kiev.

No German or French clubs made it to the last 16.

The ties will be played on March 11 and 18 with this season's final hosted in Gdansk where the eventual winners will take a place in next season's Champions League.

A clash between Milan and three-time European champions United will loom large over the last 16 for several reasons.

The clubs have met in three European Cup semi-finals, Milan winning them all, but have not faced each other since 2010 when United won 7-2 on aggregate in the last 16 of the Champions League. It will also mean Milan's veteran Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be up against his old club.

"We do have the tradition of making it hard for ourselves in draws," United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told reporters on Friday. "It's one of the those draws again that you feel could be a Champions League game.

"It's good for us to have these games to look forward to. This team needs challenges and we enjoy challenges and we embrace them."

United, second in the Premier League, reached the last-16 with a comfortable 4-0 aggregate win over Real Sociedad while Milan, second in Serie A, struggled past Red Star Belgrade, winning on away goals.

For Tottenham and Arsenal, the Europa League offers their most likely routes into the Champions League as they are ninth and 11th respectively in the Premier League.

Arsenal needed a late goal by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on Thursday to see them past Benfica 4-3 on aggregate while Spurs convincingly beat Austrian side Wolfsberg.

"Dinamo, they beat Krasnodar twice. Krasnodar is a Russian team and it's never easy to play them. I played Russian teams many times and it's never easy," Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho, who won the Europa League in 2017 as Manchester United manager, said after his team were paired with Dinamo Zagreb.

Arsenal will return to Athens for the second round in succession after the "home" leg of their tie against Benfica on Thursday was played at Olympiakos's stadium because of COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Updated: February 27, 2021 06:23 AM

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