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Thursday, 10 April 2014 23:30

Europa League: Benfica waltz into semi-final, Porto crash out

Sílvio double fracture mars Benfica win

salvio-smiles-20130412.jpgTwo identical Rodrigo goals gave Benfica a comfortable win in Lisbon tonight to complete a 3-0 aggregate victory over AZ Alkmaar in the Europa League quarter-finals. It was a sad night for Portugal full-back Sílvio though, who fractured his tibia and fibula robbing him of a probable place in Portugal's World Cup squad.

FC Porto crashed out of the competition with a heavy defeat in Spain against Sevilla. An awful decision from the referee to award a penalty for a blatant dive gave the Spaniards the perfect start on 5 minutes, but the Dragons proceeded to fall apart. The tie was all but over on the half hour mark, with Sevilla 3-0 up, and the final 4-1 scoreline is one of Porto's heaviest defeats in Europe.


Benfica 2-0 AZ Alkmaar (agg. 3-0)

As expected, Benfica made it to the semi-finals of the Europa League for the third time in four seasons. The Portuguese side were always too strong for the limited challenge offered by the Dutch outfit. But it was an awful start to the match for the hosts. Sílvio attempted a clearance but only succeeded in smacking Luisão's leg with his shin, shattering two of his bones in the process. It is a huge blow for a player who has enjoyed a resurgence this season after a long history of injury problems. Needless to say, the full-back will be many months on the sidelines, ruining his genuine hopes of going with the Seleção to Brazil 2014.

As for the match itself, Benfica were always on top. Oscar Cardozo, perhaps boosted by his two-goal salvo on Monday against Rio Ave, looked far more dangerous than of late, waging an interesting battle with AZ Alkmaar's Costa Rican goalkeeper Alvarado, with the latter coming out on top with a series of fine saves.

But Benfica's star man was Salvio (pictured) who appears to be running into his best form just in time for the season climax. Two magnificent assists laid on two easy goals for Rodrigo. The first (39') involved a 50-yard run that left his markers for dust, before swinging over a perfectly weighted cross for the Benfica No19 to tuck into the net. Another pinpoint Salvio cross in the 73rd minute, after a sumptuous piece of control, paved the way for Rodrigo's second.

With Juventus, Valencia or Sevilla next up for Benfica in the semis, a far tougher opposition awaits Jorge Jesus' men than tonight's adversary, but given their form the Portuguese team will fancy their chances of making it to a second successive final.


Sevilla 4-1 FC Porto (agg. 4-2)

Porto travelled to Spain with legitimate aspirations of making it to the last four, but a nightmare opening 30 minutes left their hopes in tatters. It all started when the referee was fooled by an outrageous dive from Bacca and awarded a penalty that Rakitic coolly slotted into the corner of the net to level the tie at 1-1 on aggregate.

From that moment the Spaniards poured forward, with the Porto midfield of Steven Defour, Herrera and Carlos Eduardo completely overrun. Sevilla's ascendency was translated into further goals by Vitolo and Bacca to put the hosts in control.

Ricardo Quaresma did his best to swim against the tide, the Porto winger proving a constant menace for the Sevilla defence. Indeed, only Portuguese goalkeeper Beto and/or the woodwork denied the "Mustang" from scoring a goal earlier than he did, which may have got Porto back in the tie.

By the time Quaresma finally found the net - through an outstanding shot into the top corner from 20 yards - Sevilla were out of sight, having gone 4-0 up in the 79th minute through Gameiro.

A forgettable night in what has been a forgettable season for Porto, who were unable to cope with the absences two of their best players, Fernando and Jackson Martínez, who missed the game through suspension.

The Dragons will look for some crumbs of comfort in the domestic cups where they face Benfica in two semi-finals in the coming weeks.

by Tom Kundert

Comments (13)
If Mangala is worth 30+ mil...
13 Saturday, 12 April 2014 16:04
matt/nj/slb
Then something is seriously wrong with modern player valuations. He has some raw potential yeah, but he also makes way too many mistakes and is overly aggressive. On the second Sevilla goal he took a bad angle and then didnt even try to make a tackle.

Reyes doesnt look much better. If some foolish English team comes in with a big offer for him (Mangala), Porto better take the money and run. Completely overhyped.
fernando/martinez left too much of a void
12 Saturday, 12 April 2014 03:39
NJ/USA
more so fernando, he protects the back line like no other cdm

next year might be just as hectic depending on how many players we have to let move on

Mangala and fernando are definitely leaving

Jackson i would say 90% he's leaving. Porto will act as if they don't want him to go but they do because he's around 27 or so and they always cash in, he also wants to leave and try a bigger league while in his prime.

Alex Sandro and Danilo are 50/50. Manchester United really need new wing backs and have been stalking these 2. it all comes down to whether or not Man U gives up the big bucks. Porto won't let these 2 go for cheap they are still really young.

Iturbe would've been nice to bring back but he's good as gone. he will leave never really playing a meaningful game for porto. kinda ridiculous considering the teams that are after him

Defour and Varela could make surprise exits. they're often in the transfer rumors but it never materializes. there's a low chance but who knows.
@Chris/canada
11 Saturday, 12 April 2014 00:00
justin/rochester
I have to admit I have not watched much of porto this year and I rarely watched braga play too. First and foremost though I don't think Helton is a good goalie either so I agree with you. I also think Fabiano like a lot of brazilian goalies are to acrobatic and they lose their mind in goal. Instead of making a basic save they dive around and force saves to make them look better. I have watched Beto play for sevilla a few games this year and he looks pretty good. He played well against madrid when I watched a few weeks ago too. Maybe I shouldn't have jumped to quickly to say he could replace Patricio. I havent watched Patricio at all this year because I no longer have RTPI anymore. Something I forgot to mention in my orginal post. Portos problem is that they have 7 dribblers and 3 team players. You can't win like that against major competition. Sure you can win a game here or there against a big time like Napoli and catch them while they arent playing well but that is rare. I couldnt even count how many times I saw porto outside backs trying to dribble the ball up the middle of the field only to lose it and let sevilla start a counter attack.
I have a personal rule I follow when I judge good teams. Its fairly obvious but the rule is basically their has to be significantly more team players than dribblers...pretty obvious right. I hope you guys understand what I mean by dribblers and you arent getting that confused with attack minded players. For example Benzema isnt a dribbler, postiga isnt a dribbler, ronaldo is a dribbler, quaresma is a dribbler, robben is a dribbler, sweinsteiger isnt a dribbler. Their has to be a ratio favoring the boring players who just want to spread the ball around and not do to much individually and porto has that problem. Honestly porto is only 2 or 3 guys away from being a world class team. I know it is easy to say but if you swap two porto dribblers with a steven gerrard, pirlo, xabi alonso etc someone who will slow down the game that would change a lot. I'm writing to much so I will end this with one last thing... I mentioned this earlier on the Paulo Bento contract article...ronaldo being hurt with a left hamstring injury and right knee tendonitis is very very scary for portugal. If ronaldo plays at 80-90% for portugal were done in brazil.
Porto
10 Friday, 11 April 2014 20:39
Gomes
I say bring on next year!
Keep Castro too. I feel if he has the chance to build his team the way he wants, he could really shine!!

PORTO até ao FIM!!!!!!
Mangala cant do it alone
9 Friday, 11 April 2014 18:42
Val/Canada
I dont blame the goalie at all, i watched the Porto match and the defending was brutal.

1st goal - penalty (Bacca dove and the ref fell for it), goalie no chance.

2nd goal - Vitolo walks through the Porto defense like he is on an afternoon stroll (2 guys at least he passed), nobody touches him and he has all day to put the easy goal past Fabiano.

3rd goal - Bacca again has all day to strike from just outside the box, dead centre of the pitch, what goalie has a chance at this?

4th goal - shot, rebound, apparently even with the extra man Gameiro beats all the Porto players to the ball? How??

The only guy defending was Mangala, the other 3 defenders and the happless Defour stood around like it was a union shop break time. Reyes gave up way too much space instead of closing down/fouling his man, Seville went down his side all evening.

The players cant take all the blame however, they really didnt seem prepared for this match and that falls on the coach. In the 2nd half, a man up and knowing they need 2 goals there was no plan. Can anyone tell me what the plan was? Random long range shooting, passing along the perimeter with no crosses into the box or anything, it was pass-pass-pass lose possession, try again....

Quaresma did score a brilliant goal tho and he almost fooled Beto with his cross which hit the crossbar.

No way i want Beto over Patricio, no f-in way!!! Rui Patricio is still the best option hands down, unless Paulo Lopes keeps developing i am very happy with Patricio in net.

if it wasnt for Patricio v Pacos, Bebe could of had 3 goals.

For Benfica, i had full confidence they would progress and Salvio is a machine!! My God, he ran all night at full tilt it seemed like, and his work on both goals was amazing! Those 3 Argentines Benfica have are fantastic, Salvio, Gaitan and Perez!!
@ Justin
8 Friday, 11 April 2014 15:55
Chris (Canada)
Justin, I don't know you that well, so I don't want to seem like I am picking on you, but how often have you watched Porto before? Or Braga for that matter?

I love Helton for his loyalty to the club, but much as we saw with Oblak/Artur in Benfica, Fabiano has gotten his chance to shine and proven better than Helton. He kept us in the 2nd leg Napoli game single-handedly in that first half.

He is a better overall keeper and he doesn't take chances with fancy footwork like Helton does.

As for Beto... have you seen his handy-work? You do know that he was shipped out of Braga for his consistent "frangos". Please observe:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dKjM6b7NmA

He is capable of being excellent, but he also tends to have mental lapses. Patricio is more consistent and deserves the number 1 shirt. I don't think there's any real debate around this.

Congrats Benfica! Really happy there's a Portuguese team in the semi's. Should be 2, but Porto needed another wake up call. Castro is a decent coach, but the club needs a major overhaul plus therapy if we are to get back on track.

Benfica should beat Juventus easily, especially if JJ remains his composed, tactically efficient self (he's been excellent this year). Juve really have nothing for Benfica. I hope to see the aguias lift their first Europa league title.

Best of luck boys.

Back to Porto... what can be said? 10 years of selling off your best players 2-3 at a time cannot be sustained. No matter how good your scouting network is. The club needs to re-evaluate.

I'd like to see certain players sold off, such as Defour, Lica, Varela, and Danilo. We need better quality on the wings, in that right back position, and in midfield. Porto need at least 3 quality signings, all above the $10 million category.

We need a new coach who understands the set up of the team and who can build confidence and cohesion. It was too much to ask that Castro salvage Paulo Fonseca's botch job.

The administration needs to re-evaluate and change philosophies, as Benfica has. I really have a lot of respect for JJ anf LFV this season. Great job only selling 1 player, but already having 2-3 ready replacements handy really solidifies the team. Well done.
Thoughts
7 Friday, 11 April 2014 15:15
NJ/USA/SLB
Happy to see Benfica continuing to roll. Benfica showed a great deal of patience in maintaining control of the pace of the match. AZ was unable to cope when we pushed the pace, and were clearly outclassed. Frankly the outcome was exactly what it was supposed to be.
Salvio has looked very lively and aggressive, which is a good sign. I'm thrilled to see Rodrigo get rewarded with his goals, due to the tremendous effort he's put in all campaign. Cardozo also looked capable. I will admit that I expected Sulejmani to have instilled more of himself in the match. Silvio's injuries is also very unfortunate.
"The Old Lady" is not an easy draw, especially with the final taking place at their new stadia. I would have preferred either of the Spanish clubs.

Porto wasn't robbed of anything. This club has had something missing all campaign long. Maybe people have overrated the talent or the managers were/are incapable. The defending for this match was awful. How you let in a fourth goal while being up a man, is inexcusable, even if you're pushing forward.
I guess that "preferred" 1-0 home win tally, didn't pan out. LOL.

On a side note, for all who feel that Benfica's youth program is dead, the Youth Squad (-19) defeated Real Madrid's 4-0 in the their Champions Semis. They are now waiting for the winner of Schalke and Barca.
Let me add that we've even pilfered other clubs youths.
Nuno Santos and Rochinha joined Benfica after Porto let them go. Rafael Ramos came from the Sporting Academy. If he becomes the real deal, I'm sure the Maca Podres will take credit.
Don't get too confident
6 Friday, 11 April 2014 14:52
Chuck/USA
First off, sorry Porto. Better luck next year.

Next, great job Benfica.

Finally, watch out fans. Benficas playing a game almost every 3 days for the rest of the season. Garay and Luisao have been playing a lot. We don't have the Liga wrapped up yet. A win Sunday will go a long way, but nothing is guaranteed. The sooner we win the league, the better.

Personally, I would rather have Benfica win the Liga then the Portuguese Cup then the Europa League then the Taca da Liga. If we can win the Liga early, I hope JJ shifts big time and puts on the weaker line ups in the Liga, and to beat Porto at home on April 16th!

Forca Benfica
Great
5 Friday, 11 April 2014 09:04
Andre/UK
Great to get to the semis without too much fuss, and even with rotating heavily over both legs. In fact for the entire EL campaign so far, JJ has rested many players and clearly (correctly) given it second preference to the Liga...yet we've coasted through the three rounds. Great stuff!

What a shame for Silvio, great to see the team dedicating the win to him, nice gesture. He was having a great season, arguably the best Portuguese fullback this season anywhere, and would've surely made it to Brasil. Hope he has a speedy recovery and I hope the club sign him permanently for next season.

Salvio played a really good match and is finally looking close to his best again. With him in this form, we can rotate nicely on the the wings between him, Gaitan and Markovic, for the remainder of this season. Cardozo also getting better, and was impressed again with Almeida, this time at right back, and he can cover for the absence of Silvio now.

Very poor from Porto, what a disappointing result for their fans. I knew they were up against a tough task away to Sevilla who are very strong at home, but I didn't expect such a heavy defeat. I saw the highlights of the goals and the defending was shocking. It seems like the club is really in a transitional phase at the moment, I expect quite a few key players to leave this summer, and probably a new coach will arrive too.

As for SLB we await the draw now, and I don't mind who we get, all 3 will be tough opponents, but I'm also confident of beating any of them, such is the form and confidence of the team at the moment.
EL
4 Friday, 11 April 2014 05:20
SupremoGino
Comprehensive win for Benfica. I didn't see the Sevilla-Porto match but by all accounts it appears they've been robbed.. interesting how Valencia overturned a 3-goal deficit as well. Referees always leaving their footprint in matches involving La Liga teams.

Speaking of Quaresma, what a goal.. he's definitely back to his best and has earned a ticket to Brazil in my book. If Bento doesn't choose him.. It'd have to be the biggest snub since Ronaldinho.

Benfica can go toe-to-toe with any of the remaining teams. Bring on the draw!
?
3 Friday, 11 April 2014 05:17
justin/rochester
I have only a couple thing to say about the porto game. Fabiano is terrible and he lost the game for them as well as a few defensive lapses in concentration. Truthfully the porto goalie is terrible. Am I the only one who thinks Beto might be better than Patricio too. Beto looked good all year for sevilla.
forca
2 Friday, 11 April 2014 01:00
patrick/canada
Benfica just keep on putting in solid efforts game after game. Glad to see salvio back to his productive self. Its amazing that no matter who we rotate into the starting 11, we still manage to fight hard and hardly miss a beat. The rotating has been a key to this successful season, but without a deep bench the rotating would be pointless. Seeing as the league is almost wrapped up, benfica will soon be able to put their full focus on the euro league and other cups.
Sad to see another portuguese team drop out but since its porto it doesn't hurt too much haha. They really just layed down this game. No fight in this team today. They played and looked nervous and never looked like a team capable of getting the win. Everyone hammered the guys on this cite for saying that they shouldn't have said porto only had a slight edge going into the second leg. This was the reason why, sevilla are a team that can play big when they want, and with the way porto have played this year nothing was guaranteed.
In the end I hope benfica get to the finals and I do feel they can. As strong as the remaining teams are, I feel confident that benfica can win a 2 game series. Preferably I'd like to avoid juventus but the thought of facing them doesn't scare me as I know that this team can get it done. I just feel more confident in a one game final against them over a 2 game series. Forca benfica!
Forgot to mention, sad to see silvio go down again with another bad injury very unlucky. Hope to see him back to full strength sooner rather than later.
Grande Benfica !
1 Friday, 11 April 2014 00:09
Bruno / Canada
Since the month of January this Benfica side has been the best one I've seen in my young life (16 years) so dominant and amazing depth. Jorge Jesus is also not being as stubborn as last year and is fully rotating his squad, the only game I will like to see Benfica go all out for in the Europa league is the finals ofcourse unless we are champions before the semi-finals tie *fingers crossed*. I'm hoping this year we can actually win the treble and have tears of joy instead of the other way around but first we must take it one game at a time, Força Benfica !

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