Home Sports EUROPA CUP: SEVILLA DOMINATE VALENCIA AS BENFICA DENT JUVE’S FINAL DREAM

EUROPA CUP: SEVILLA DOMINATE VALENCIA AS BENFICA DENT JUVE’S FINAL DREAM

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Sevilla took a commanding hold of their Europa League semi-final against Valencia as Stephane Mbia and Carlos Bacca scored in a first-leg victory.

After a frenetic opening half-hour, Mbia, on loan from QPR, flicked home following Ivan Rakitic’s free-kick.

With Valencia reeling, Bacca’s precise finish rounded off a swift counter-attack three minutes later.

The visitors’ Edu Vargas swept wide before heading against the bar, but his side have it all to do at the Mestalla.

Sevilla had won 12 of their last 15 games coming into the match, including a 2-1 success over Real Madrid, and are now unbeaten in their last 14 home meetings with Valencia.

However the hosts’ coach Unai Emery, who managed Valencia between 2008 and 2012, will remind his team that they lost 3-1 away to his former side in their league meeting in September.

And Lima’s powerful late strike gave Benfica a narrow advantage over Juventus in a high-quality Europa League semi-final first leg.

The hosts, who were crowned Portuguese champions on Sunday, went ahead early on as Ezequiel Garay’s header crept in.

They did not make more of their first-half dominance and Carlos Tevez levelled for Juventus after shimmying thorough a packed penalty box.

But Benfica recovered with Lima’s effort sparking wild celebrations.

Claudio Marchisio and Giorgio Chiellini both had chances to spoil the party, but Benfica just about escaped with their lead intact despite sitting back once again.

With the final to be played at Juventus Stadium, the visitors’ ambitions of ending an 18-year wait for European silverware in front of a ‘home’ crowd were dented by Garay’s early effort.

With less than two minutes on the clock, the Argentina defender rose above Leonardo Bonucci to head Miralem Sulejmani’s corner past an unconvincing Gianluigi Buffon.

The 27-year-old centre-back has long been linked with a move to Manchester United and, with his contract expiring at the end of next season, caught the eye with another polished performance.

His team matched those standards in the first half, pressing high and bristling with danger as they broke at pace,

Former Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba was Juventus’ most threatening player, but his energetic bursts down the right often left his team-mates behind as regularly as his opponents, reports the BBC.

Juventus were kept waiting on the pitch as Benfica took their time to emerge for the second half, but the gamesmanship seemed to backfire as the Italians dominated after the interval.

Stephan Lichtsteiner’s dangerous cross had been hacked clear by Maxi Pereira ahead of a lurking Claudio Marchisio before Tevez struck.

The former Manchester City striker’s first touch initially seemed heavy from Kwadwo Asamoah’s cutback but, as Luisao closed in, he feinted to shoot, skated round the defender and poked a finish between the goalkeeper’s legs.

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