Football: Champions League, Europa League games moved out of Spain

Manchester United's Edinson Cavani celebrates a Premier League goal against Everton.
Manchester United's Edinson Cavani celebrates a Premier League goal against Everton.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

PARIS (AFP, Reuters) - Manchester United and Arsenal's first leg matches in the last 32 of the Europa League have been moved to Italy, Uefa announced on Tuesday (Feb 9), as coronavirus restrictions hit travel across Europe.

United will face Spain's Real Sociedad in their away leg at Juventus' Allianz Stadium in Turin, while Arsenal will travel to the Stadio Olimpico in Rome to face Benfica.

In a statement, Uefa said that both matches would take place as originally scheduled on Feb 18, with United kicking off at 1755 GMT and Arsenal 2000 GMT.

Molde's home leg with Hoffenheim, also scheduled for 2000 GMT on the same day, has been moved to Villarreal's Estadio de la Ceramica.

United's match was moved to the home of the Italian champions after the Spanish government on Tuesday extended a ban on flights from Britain, Brazil and South Africa from Feb 16 to March 2, in an attempt to stem the spread of new Covid-19 variants.

Only legal residents or nationals of Spain and the neighbouring micro-state of Andorra are currently allowed in on flights from these countries.

This is the fourth time that Spain has extended its restrictions on arrivals from Britain, which were initially put in place at the end of December.

Arsenal, meanwhile, cannot make their way to Lisbon as Britain has ruled that only essential travel to and from Portugal is permitted.

The restrictions in Spain will also see Atletico Madrid play Chelsea in their Champions League first leg, last-16 tie in Bucharest.

The match will kick off at the National Arena in the Romanian capital at the scheduled time of 2000 GMT on Feb. 23.