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HindustanTimes Thu,25 Dec 2014

Football

Juve keep Europa League dream alive
Reuters
Milan, April 12, 2014
First Published: 00:27 IST(12/4/2014)
Last Updated: 00:28 IST(12/4/2014)

Valencia turned the tables on a stunned Basel side to reach the Europa League semifinals on Thursday with a 5-0 win after extra time thanks to a Paco Alcacer hat-trick as they recovered from a three-goal first-leg deficit.

It completed a good night for Spain as 10-man Sevilla tormented a fragile Porto side to win 4-1 on the night and  secure a 4-2 aggregate victory while competition favourites Juventus and Benfica safely negotiated their quarterfinals.

Serie A leaders Juve beat Olympique Lyon 2-1 in Turin to go through 3-1 on aggregate with an Andrea Pirlo freekick and a Samuel Umtiti own goal while Benfica’s Rodrigo scored twice in a 2-0 home win over AZ Alkmaar to complete a 3-0 overall success.

Juventus fans were treated to the familiar sight of Pirlo curling home a trademark freekick after four minutes that increased their aggregate lead to 2-0.

It was the sixth goal Pirlo had scored in all competitions this season and every one came from a direct freekick. Juventus are hoping to make the final, which will be played in Turin on May 14.

Lyon, the first French side to get to this stage of the Europa League, gave themselves a faint glimmer of hope when Jimmy Briand headed past Gianluigi Buffon after 18 minutes.

However, that hope was extinguished midway through the second half when Claudio Marchisio’s long-range effort took a heavy deflection off Samuel Umtiti and beat Lyon keeper Anthony Lopes to restore the two-goal aggregate lead.

Basel busted
Basel, who were reduced to nine men in extra-time, went into the second leg 3-0 up and full of confidence at a highly-charged Mestalla stadium, but they came up against a Valencia side with the bit between their teeth.

No team had overhauled a three-goal deficit in a knockout tie since the Europa League started in 2009 but the hosts signalled their intent when Alcacer scored off Joao Pereira’s pinpoint pass in the 38th minute.

The impossible became faintly probable four minutes later when Eduardo Vargas headed home from Fede Cartabia’s corner and the deficit was then wiped out with 20 minutes remaining as Alcacer rifled the ball into the top corner to send the home fans into raptures and set up a thrilling finale.

The Swiss champions’ task was made even harder when Marcelo Diaz was then sent off for kicking out and Gaston Sauro was dismissed after picking up two yellow cards in two minutes.


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