Benfica, Chelsea, Fenerbahce and Basel take an advantage into the second leg after a pulsating night of Europa League action. Read on for our review of the Europa League quarterfinal first leg:
Benfica 3 – 1 Newcastle
Papiss Cisse opened the scoring after 12 minutes to give Newcastle the advantage in the tie, but Rodrigo levelled things up after 25 minutes. If the scores had stayed the same this would have been a good result for the Magpies, but sadly a second half collapse saw them concede two more goals; Lima punishing some poor defending before Oscar Cardozo converted from the spot after a handball from Steven Taylor.
Newcastle now have it all to do in the second leg; their one crumb of hope coming from the away goal they managed to secure. It’s a tough ask for the team in black and white, and they’ll have to hope that Benfica don’t travel too well next week.
Chelsea 3 – 1 Rubin Kazan
We said in the preview that we were all awaiting the Fernando Torres of old with bated breath, and he duly obliged; netting two goals to ensure a comfortable Chelsea victory at Stamford Bridge. Victor Moses also contributed to Chelsea’s goal haul, and they will be feeling very confident of progressing to the last-4 next Thursday. Bebras Natcho struck back for the visitors to ensure that Kazan will at least take an away goal into next Thursday’s clash.
It will be interested to see how Benitez chooses to play the next couple of games, and what he does will most likely go a long way to determining what his priorities are. If he plays a weakened side on Sunday afternoon when the Blues face Sunderland, it’s a fair enough assumption that Rafa is prioritising cup wins over a Champions League place.
Fenerbahce 2 – 0 Lazio
Fenerbahce struck twice late on to make things very difficult for Lazio in the ?ükrü Saraco?lu Stadium. Goals from Webo and Kuyt in addition to the absence of an away goal means that Fenerbahce certainly go into the deciding leg next Thursday with the clear advantage. Lazio had Ogenyi Onazi sent off just after half time, and struggled with the one-man deficit.
Lazio have no choice but to really go for the Turkish side next week, but as always, it’s very difficult to play a balanced game when you know you have to score two goals. If Fenerbahce manage to score at the Stadio Olimpico, this tie is as good as over.
Tottenham 2 – 2 FC Basel
Tottenham dragged themselves back into this tie with goals from Adebayor and Sigurdsson after Basel had taken a two-goal lead through Stocker and Frei. Given that Tottenham had the privilege of hosting the first leg at White Hart Lane, Spurs fans will be very disappointed to have conceded two away goals, as they will have wanted to put themselves in as strong a position as possible.
Perhaps of more concern to Tottenham fans is the injury to Gareth Bale that looks capable of ruling him out of the next few games at the very least. Bale has been the catalyst for so much good this season, and Spurs will be desperate to have their talisman back as soon as possible. With Bale sitting out the next couple of games due to the injury, Tottenham really need to rally now to avoid their season unravelling before their very eyes.