Benfica are into the UEFA Europa League final after turning around a first leg deficit in a 3-1 win over Fenerbahce at the Stadium of Light.
The Turkish side led the tie after a 1-0 win in the first leg, but Nico Gaitan levelled up the aggregate score in the ninth minute.
Two goals from Oscar Cardozo sealed the home side’s final berth despite Dirk Kuyt firing in a first half penalty for Fenerbahce.
Benfica came into the game looking to get back on level terms early on and managed to do so in the ninth minute. Lima beat the Fenerbahce offside trap on the right wing and pulled the ball back towards Gaitan, and the playmaker superbly curled in off the far post with the outside of his boot from 15 yards out.
The Turkish side failed to get into the game with the hosts dominating possession, but the game changed when Fenerbahce were given a soft penalty. The referee harshly ruled that Ezequiel Garay had handled in the box and Kuyt stepped up calmly to slam the ball into the bottom corner from ten yards.
That goal gave Fenerbahce a 2-1 lead on aggregate, but more importantly, they had an away goal their name leaving Benfica needing to score twice to go through.
The Portugese side kept coming though and nearly took the lead again in the 31st minute. Lima’s cross to the back post fell to Cardozo and the striker volleyed at goal from ten yards but it flew inches wide of the far post.
Four minutes later, Benfica did score and it was Cardozo who got the goal. He latches onto Nemanja Matic’s quick free-kick, turned past Joseph Yobo on the edge of the box and rifled in a powerful left-footed shot. It was a great finish and the momentum was back with the home side.
Benfica went searching for the important third goal and nearly found it five minutes into the second half. Cardozo came inside onto his left foot and was afforded enough space to curl a powerful shot towards the bottom corner, but it flashed wide of the far post.
That third goal came in the 66th minute and to nobody’s surprise, it was Cardozo again. Luisao’s deflected shot fell into the path of the lethal hitman and he controlled brilliantly before slamming into the bottom corner from six yards. It was his 30th goal of the season and left Fenerbahce with 24 minutes to score or they lose the tie.
In the end, Benfica held on to the win and proceed to the UEFA Europa League Final where they will play Chelsea at the Amsterdam Arena.
Match Report by Kyle Dixon (@kyledixon95)