Benfica snatch the advantage at home

Substitute Lima strikes to help Benfica to victory over Juventus, while Sevilla down Valencia in the Europa League.

    Benfica are unbeaten in their last 12 European home games [AFP]
    Benfica are unbeaten in their last 12 European home games [AFP]

    Substitute Lima scored six minutes from the end to give Benfica a 2-1 win over Juventus in the Europa League first-leg semifinals.

    Central defender Ezequiel Garay put the home side ahead in the second minute with a header from a corner which Gianluigi Buffon, diving low to his left, reached with both hands but couldn't keep out.

    Rodrigo Lima came on in the 62nd minute to revive Benfica's fading challenge and soon made a difference.

    The Brazilian striker received a pass inside the area and fired into the top corner, restoring Benfica's lead after Carlos Tevez's 72nd minute equaliser.

    Portuguese champions Benfica lost in the Europa League final to Chelsea last year and are unbeaten in their last 12 European home games.

    Juventus are pursuing their first continental trophy in 17 years and this year's final will be at their home stadium.

    The once dominant Turin club is making its first appearance in the final four of a European competition since finishing runner-up in the 2003 Champions League.

    Sevilla down Valencia

    Sevilla will take a solid lead to the Mestalla next week after toppling La Liga rivals Valencia 2-0 in the first leg.

    Sevilla's Federico Fazio and Daniel Carrico headed narrowly wide from Ivan Rakitic corners, before the opener arrived on 33 minutes.

    Rakitic's free-kick from the left was met by Mbia, who lashed into the top-right corner from close range.

    And the home fans had hardly finished celebrating when Bacca doubled their advantage, latching onto Machin Vitolo's pass and dispatching a low shot past Vicente Guaita.

    Juan Antonio Pizzi's side should have halved the deficit in the 66th minute when Carrico's poor clearance fell for Eduardo Vargas just inside the box, but his curling attempt drifted inches wide with Beto beaten.

    The visitors were looking determined to get at least an away goal to show for their evening's work and finished the match on the front foot, but were unable to find a way past Beto.

    Substitute Jonas' close-range effort was parried by the Portuguese and then the impressive Vargas headed against the bar.

     

    SOURCE: AP


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