Benfica advances to Europa League semis

BY foxsports • April 14, 2011

Benfica reached the semifinals of the Europa League after holding PSV Eindhoven to 2-2 on Thursday. Benfica advanced 6-3 on aggregate.

Needing to win by at least three goals to keep its hopes alive, PSV made a strong start as Balazs Dzsudzsak converted Jeremain Lens' cross to put the Dutch side ahead then Lens doubled the lead seven minutes later off a fierce shot.

Luisao silenced the PSV supporters in the 45th when he pulled one back for Benfica, acrobatically hitting the ball between the PSV defense after goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson palmed a shot away from danger.

Oscar Cardozo converted a penalty to level for Benfica in the 63rd.

Benfica will play fellow Portuguese side Braga on April 28 and May 5 in a two-leg semifinal. The final is set for May 18 in Dublin.

''I think we played a very good first half. However, they are better than us,'' said PSV coach Fred Rutten. ''I have actually seen many positive elements from this game.''

Rutten asked his team to secure an early goal, which they did as Lens escaped from his marker on the right before flighting a dangerous cross into the Benfica area.

Dzsudzsak made no mistake firing inside the far post with a hard shot.

''The first goal was crucial,'' Lens said. ''I thought we were unlucky. We were leading 2-0. We should have finished them off in the first half.''

Lens then scored off his own rebound pouncing on some weak Portuguese defending, but Luisao's goal just before the break made PSV's task a lot more difficult.

With Ola Toivonen out injured, PSV's frontline was unimpressive with Dzsudzsak firing wide in the 75th after fine work again by Lens. Lens also missed a scoring opportunity in 33rd, sending his shot wide on a pass from Abel Tamata.

Veteran defender Wilfred Bouma sat out with an injury while youngster Tamata replaced the suspended Erik Pieters at leftback. Stijn Wuytens played in place of Orlando Engelaar, who was also serving a one-match suspension.


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