vendredi 2 mai 2014

 Benfica kept alive their dream of a first European trophy in 52 years after a goalless draw with Juventus in Turin on Thursday helped the newly-crowned Portuguese champions win their Europa League semi-final 2-1 on aggregate.

Jorge Jesus's side will return to Turin on May 14 to take on Sevilla in the final after restricting the Serie A leaders to a handful of chances, despite having to play for 23 minutes of the second leg clash with 10 men after Enzo Perez was sent off.

They will be hoping to win their first continental title since 1962's European Cup triumph, since when they have lost seven European finals, including last season's Europa League final to Chelsea.

Juventus failed to take advantage of their territorial superiority in the first half or the extra man after the sending-off and their exit is a blow for Italian football, whose teams have struggled on the continent in recent years.

Benfica came roaring out of the blocks looking for the goal that would have left their hosts with a mountain to climb, with Rodrigo's stinging close-range strike well blocked by defender Stephan Lichtsteiner in the opening minute.

Juve slowly gained control as the first half wore on and Vidal was unlucky not to give his side the lead seconds before the break when he met Kwadwo Asamoah's fizzing cross with a header that was cleared off the line by Luisao.

The away side gave Juve a scare two minutes after the break when Rodrigo ballooned the ball over the bar from close range and with the goal at his mercy.

Perez was sent off after receiving a second booking for a silly foul on Arturo Vidal and his dismissal encouraged Juve to push forward in search of the goal that would have sent them into the final.

The home fans were celebrating with nine minutes remaining when Osvaldo tapped home Paul Pogba's headed knockdown, but their joy was short-lived, with officials correctly ruling Frenchman Pogba offside.

The bad-tempered match ended with Juventus substitute Mirko Vucinic and Benfica's Lazar Markovic, who had been taken off with minutes remaining, both receiving red cards for an off-pitch altercation.
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