Summary

Manchester United will play current Belgian league leaders Anderlecht in the Europa League quarter-finals. José Mourinho’s side travel to Brussels on April 13, with the second leg at Old Trafford a week later.

A short trip will come as a relief to Mourinho, with his team having travelled to Istanbul, Odessa and Rostov already in this year’s tournament. Manchester United have faced Anderlecht six times previously, with a 10-0 European Cup win over the Belgian side in 1956 still their all-time record competitive victory.

Elsewhere in the draw, 1992 UEFA Cup winners Ajax face 1997 winners Schalke, who came from two goals down in the last 16 second leg to eliminate fellow Bundesliga side Borussia Mönchengladbach on away goals. Celta Vigo, who are aiming to become the sixth Spanish winner of the tournament in the last eight seasons, face Belgian side Genk.

Lyon, who overcame Roma in the pick of the last-16 ties, face Turkish league leaders Besiktas in a tie between the only remaining sides to enter the competition via the Champions League. The final will take place on 24 May at the Friends Arena in Stockholm.

Anderlecht v Manchester United
Celta Vigo v Genk
Ajax v Schalke
Lyon v Besiktas

Ties to be played on 13 and 20 April.

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Thoughts on that draw? United have a little history with Anderlecht – the sides have met six times in European competition, with United winning four and losing two. Their last meeting, in October 2000, saw the Brussels club win 2-1 – a result that helped them pip their opponents to top spot in their Champions League group. A more positive omen for United is that their record win in any competition came against Anderlecht – a 10-0 triumph way back in the 1956 European Cup.

The draw in full

Anderlecht v Manchester United
Celta Vigo v Genk
Ajax v Schalke
Lyon v Besiktas

Lyon v Besiktas

And finally, a tricky round trip for Lyon, second favourites for the trophy behind United.

Ajax v Schalke

Two former winners of the UEFA Cup – Ajax in 1992, Schalke in 1997 – are drawn together.

Celta Vigo v Genk

Celta, the only hope for Spain to continue their recent dominance of this competition, face Genk.

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Anderlecht v Manchester United

United will face the Belgian league leaders!

Here we go...

Niels Pedersen reckons “the only possible iconic final would be Manchester United v Ajax”. That would have a certain something that, say, Besiktas v Celta Vigo might not.

Some good old-fashioned optimism here:

The draw is moments away

Here are the eight teams again:

Ajax (Netherlands)
Anderlecht (Belgium)
Besiktas (Turkey)
Celta Vigo (Spain)
Genk (Belgium)
Lyon (France)
Manchester United (England)
Schalke (Germany)

Getting in there early, Genk’s record signing is Neeskens Kebano, a £3.4m striker signed from Charleroi who is now at Fulham.

Manchester United fans: what’s your preference? Genk, currently seventh in the Belgian league, are the bookies’ rank outsiders. Then again, they just came up against Gent, the team who knocked Spurs out, and walloped them 6-3 on aggregate. No easy draws here.

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Manchester United’s Europa League run has bubbled away on the back burner throughout the season, the team progressing step by step, with little in the way of real peril or drama. Now they’re into the last eight, favourites to lift the trophy and with it, a route back into the Champions League. It hasn’t stopped José Mourinho complaining about his lot, but – as he couldn’t resist pointing out – United are the only team in England’s top six still in Europe.

There are plenty of dangerous teams left in today’s draw, not least Lyon, who eliminated Roma in the last 16. Ajax, Besiktas and Schalke are also potentially thorny opposition in an agreeably cosmopolitan, old school draw. Only one nation has two teams in the last eight – it goes without saying that it’s Belgium. The draw is at 12.00 GMT.

The teams

Ajax (Netherlands)
Anderlecht (Belgium)
Besiktas (Turkey)
Celta Vigo (Spain)
Genk (Belgium)
Lyon (France)
Manchester United (England)
Schalke (Germany)

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