Live Commentary: Benfica 3-1 Fenerbahce (3-2 agg.) - as it happened

Benfica's Enzo Perez in action on January 6, 2013
© AP Photos
Sports Mole brings you live commentary of the second leg of the Europa League semi-final as Benfica book their spot in the final with a 3-1 win over Fenerbahce.

Benfica welcomed Fenerbahce in the second leg of the Europa League semi-final on Thursday needing to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg.

The Portuguese outfit had the lead in the early stages courtesy of Nicolas Gaitan, but a Dirk Kuyt penalty levelled on the night after 23 minutes.

Benfica regained the lead 10 minutes before the break, however, when Oscar Cardozo turned in the box before stroking an effort into the bottom corner.

The home side continued to press in the second period and they had their third after 66 minutes when Cardozo added his second of the night from close range.

Both sides had half-chances in the latter stages, but Fenerbahce could not add to their tally as the Portuguese outfit booked their spot in the final, where they will face Chelsea.

Read how it all unfolded in Sports Mole's minute-by-minute live commentary of the action below.


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7.02pmEvening all! Well, it was Germany that dominated the Champions League this week. But now our focus switches to Europe’s other premier competition as Benfica welcome Fenerbahce in the second leg of their semi-final tie. If last week’s first leg is anything to go by, then we will have an explosive encounter in Portugal.

7.05pmAs mentioned, a strike from Egemen Korkmaz secured a 1-0 win for the Turkish outfit in the home leg last week. Benfica had hoped to bring an away goal into the second leg, but in truth it was the home side that were left frustrated as they struck the woodwork on three separate occasions. Just a reminder that Chelsea and Basel also clash in the second leg of their semi-final this evening - which you can also follow with us.

7.08pmQuite remarkably, Benfica’s defeat in the first leg was just their third loss in all competitions this season. In addition, it was their first reverse since October in what has been an incredible season. For a team that is so used to winning football matches, it will be interesting to see how they respond this evening following the disappointment of last week. We are expecting the team news any moment.

7.11pmTEAMS:

BENFICA: Artur; Pereira, Luisao, Garay, Almeida; Perez, Matic, Gaitan, Salvio; Lima, Cardozo

FENERBAHCE: Volkan; Gonul, Yobo, Korkmaz, Ziegler; Cristian, Sahin, Ucan, Erkin; Kuyt, Sow


7.14pmSo there we have it. Oscar Cardozo does indeed come into the Benfica side this evening alongside Lima. Meanwhile, there are also starts for Maxi Pereira, Andre Almeida and Nicolas Gaitan. Fenerbahce are also as expected with former Liverpool midfielder Dirk Kuyt leading the line with Moussa Sow. However, former Chelsea midfielder Raul Meireles has been ruled out with a muscular injury.

7.17pmIt could yet be a sensational campaign for the Benfica with a four-point lead over Porto in the league and an upcoming Portuguese Cup final to contend with. Boss Jorge Jesus has suggested in recent weeks that his side are fatigued, but they certainly have the quality to secure a clean sweep of trophies this season.

7.20pmBenfica have only lost once at home this season in all competitions, with that defeat coming against Barcelona in the Champions League. They have also gone 13 Europa League matches unbeaten in this stadium, winning 12 of those encounters, while they have not lost a single game in the competition this season. A quite stunning record.

7.23pmFenerbahce will not have fond memories of facing Benfica at this stadium, however, having suffered a 7-0 loss to the Portuguese outfit in the 1975-1976 season, which is incidentally their biggest ever European defeat. It is also unchartered territory for the club as they bid to make their first-ever appearance in a European final this evening.

7.26pmThe Turkish outfit will certainly take heart from their performances in Europe this season. They are yet to lose in any of their six Europa League away matches this term, winning four and drawing twice. Of course, any draw would see them progress this evening following their 1-0 win in the first leg last week.

7.29pmThis competition also takes on added importance for Fenerbahce based on their current standing in their domestic table. As it stands they are seven points off leaders Galatasaray with five matches remaining, even the most ardent of Fenerbahce supporters would admit that their chances of domestic glory are slim.

7.32pmRight, let’s take a look at how each side made it to this stage of the competition, starting with Benfica. The Portuguese outfit were surprisingly knocked out in the group stages of the Champions League after finishing third behind Barcelona and Celtic in Group G. They managed to win just two of their six matches, taking eight points in the process.

7.35pmAs a result, they entered this competition in the last-32 stage, where they were paired with Bayer Leverkusen. A 1-0 win in Germany set them up nicely for the return leg, where they secured their spot in the last-16 with a 2-1 in in Portugal. It was Bordeaux that awaited in the next round, but they triumphed 4-2 on aggregate.

7.38pmNewcastle United were the opponents in the quarter-final stage, but a 3-1 win in the first leg set them up nicely for the trip to England. Newcastle handed themselves some hope after taking the lead, but an away goal in the latter stages booked Benfica’s spot in the last four, where they were paired with their opponents this evening.

7.41pmFenerbahce, meanwhile, topped Group C ahead of Borussia Monchengladbach. They won four of their six matches, drawing one and losing the other. It was an impressive showing from the Turkish outfit, who were then paired with BATE. It proved to be a close affair between the two sides, but a 1-0 win at home was enough to ensure their progress.

7.44pmViktoria Plzen were the opponents in the last-16 stage. However, a 1-0 win in the away leg set Fenerbahce up for the return leg in Turkey. It was perhaps closer than expected as Viktoria secured a 1-1 draw, but it was not enough to take them into the quarter-finals, with Fenerbahce advancing once more.

7.48pmIt was expected that their journey would come an end against Italian outfit Lazio. However, an impressive 2-0 win in Istanbul followed by a 1-1 draw in Italy was enough to secure their spot in the final four. In truth, they are the surprise package of the semi-final stage, but they have given themselves a real chance of making the final.

7.51pmHere’s a word from Benfica boss Jose Jesus prior to the match. He told Eurosport: "Fatigue is our problem. We are fighting on all fronts. Fenerbahce have a gameplan, a system, and the only thing that changes game-to-game is some of the names on the team-sheet. We have some experience of these big European matches and we will not make any major changes – we need the fans behind us though. Fenerbahce have had some good away results this season but if we continue to show the form we have done at home this season, we will go through.”

7.55pmMeanwhile, Fenerbahce boss Aykut Kocaman added: “We will be playing one of the biggest matches of our history. We are one step away from the final. Before the first leg I said Benfica were closer to the final because of their experience. But after first leg and our win, we equalled the chances. Because we won the first leg, they say we played good football. I think it is more “the right football” than “good football.” Three of the players who played the right football that night will not be in our squad tomorrow. It will be decided tonight if we choose to change strategy, but it will be more appropriate if I leave my player choices to the match."

7.58pmRight, we are just about five minutes from kickoff, which can mean only one thing, time for my pre-match prediction. Both sides enter the match in good form, but it is difficult to look past the home team this evening. They have a fabulous home record, while they have lost just three times all season. I am backing a 2-0 Benfica victory, which would see them edge into the final.

8.02pmHere we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch. The pre-match handshakes have been undertaken and the flags have been exchanged. In addition, the eagle has been released inside this wonderful stadium. It is win or bust for the Portuguese outfit, while a draw would be enough to see Fenerbahce make the final.

0 minJust a reminder of the main team news this evening. Cardozo leads the line for the home team alongside Lima, but there is no place for Rodrigo, who takes his place on the bench. No real surprises in the Fenerbahce team, meanwhile, with Sow, Kuyt and Cristian all handed starting berths. Right, the home side get the action underway this evening.

2 minIt has been a wonderful afternoon in Lisbon, perfect for a game of football. Just about a full house in the stadium, meanwhile, with the home supporters making their voices known in the early stages. Half-chance for Salvio as he strikes an effort from close range, but it deflects into the waiting arms of Demirel.

4 minJust a reminder that Benfica have won 12 of their last 13 European matches in this stadium, while Fenerbahce have not been beaten on the road in the Europa League this season. Something has to give surely?! Benfica continue to force the issue outside the penalty box, but Ziegler is on hand to clear the long throw from Pereira.

6 minNot too much for the away supporters to get excited about at the moment with the home side in control of the possession. Yobo attempts to force the issue with a long pass towards Kuyt, but the danger is cleared. Cardozo has an effort down the other end, but it is straight at the goalkeeper. Really bright start from the Portuguese outfit.

8 minSlightly scrappy period of the match in the last couple of moments with the referee forced to deal with a number of late challenges. Again Salvio is involved down the right for Benfica as the winger drives a low cross into the box, but Yobo is across to clear. Just a reminder that Benfica need to score at least once this evening to have a chance of making it through.

9 minFirst real sign of Sow as Korkmaz collects possession in his own half before feeding the striker, but Luisao is across to clear at the vital moment. A half-chance arrives for the home side moments later as Cardozo finds Lima in the box, but the Brazilian cannot find a finish from close range, while he is penalised for handball as he fell to the ground.

9 minGOAL! Benfica 1-0 Fenerbahce (Gaitan)

10 minBenfica have parity! It's wonderful from Lima as the Brazilian drives down the right before finding Gaitan, who flicks a fine effort into the bottom corner. Stunning finish from the Argentine. We are all square in the tie with just 10 minutes on the clock.

12 minFenerbahce just cannot get out of their own half at the moment as Benfica continue to force the issue with Gaitan and Salvio both causing problems down each wing. Another low cross comes into the box towards Cardozo, but this time Yobo is on hand to make the challenge. They really need to gain some sort of control here.

14 minDeafening noise in the stadium at the moment as the home side continue to utterly dominate possession of the ball. You just get the feeling that Kuyt needs to move closer to Sow, who has been isolated in the opening 14 minutes. Gaitan delivers another cross into the box moments later, but Gonul is back doing his defensive work. The one-way traffic remains.

16 minThe last time Benfica lost at home was in the Champions League against Barcelona in October. The Portuguese outfit are difficult to catch when they get their noses in front at this stadium. Couple of moments respite for the away side as Luisao receives treatment for a clash with Sow, but both players are deemed fit to continue. It has been a very impressive opening 16 minutes from the Portuguese outfit.

18 minThe away side just need to be careful here as Kuyt and Gonul both fly into challenges in quick succession, but the referee does not produce a card. Gaitan delivers a dangerous cross into the box from the resulting free kick, but it is just too long for Luisao. Still nothing for the away supporters to get excited about as Sow once more loses possession in the final third.

21 minStill Fenerbahce fail to retain the ball as the home pressure continues. Another half-chance for the home side as Cardozo meets a cross from Salvio, but he can only direct his header wide of the post. It's good work from Matic moments later as he combines with Salvio before striking an effort from outside the box, but it was always moving wide of the post.

23 minJorge Jesus looks very content on the sideline as he barks out his orders. Everything that he could have wanted has been delivered by his side in the opening 23 minutes of this match. However, as we have seen all too often, football is really straightforward. All it takes is one chance for the Turkish outfit. It remains 1-0 on the night, which as it stands, would leave the tie needing extra time to be decided.

23 minPENALTY TO FENERBAHCE!

23 minOh my word. The Turkish outfit have been given a penalty out of the blue here as Garay is adjudged to have handled in the area. For me, it is very harsh. What an opportunity for Kuyt to hand Fenerbahce a massive away goal.

23 minGOAL! Benfica 1-1 Fenerbahce (Kuyt)

24 minKuyt finds the bottom corner! Stunning from the Dutchman as he steps up before striking a fine penalty into the bottom corner. Where on earth did that come from? That is the first time they have been anywhere near the Benfica goal.

26 minSuddenly the away side have their tails up here as Sow collects a pass from Kuyt on the edge of the box before thumping an effort towards the bottom corner, but it was always moving wide of the post. What that goal means is that Benfica need to score twice more in order to make it through to the final. We can no longer have extra time.

28 minBenfica attempt to force the issue down the other end as Gaitan dances into the box before finding Cardozo, but the flag cuts the attack short. Oh how goals can change games. Sow attempts to combine with Ucan down the other end, but Garay is on hand to make the block. Little over 15 minutes of the first period remaining.

31 minMuch more of an even contest at the moment with both sides enjoying periods of possession. Another half-chance arrives for the away side as Sow meets a bouncing ball in the box, but his effort is straight at Artur from close range. Subdued atmosphere in the stadium at the moment, they know that their side needs to produce something special this evening.

33 minMaxi Pereira has just taken himself out of the final - should Benfica make it - after fouling Cristian. It was a really cheap free kick to give away. I am not certain he has realised it, but he will soon be told I am certain. Sow has another half-chance moments later, but once more the striker can only pull his effort wide of the post.

35 minCristian has also been ruled out of the final after picking up a booking for a challenge on Perez. Half-chance for Cardozo moments later as the powerful striker meets a high ball in the box, but his volley flashes over the crossbar. You just get the feeling that Benfica need to score before the interval. Little over 10 minutes of the half remaining.

35 minBenfica want a penalty this time as Korkmaz appears to handle in the box, but the referee is not interested. Replays have suggested that it would have been harsh. In the melee, Perez is also handed a yellow card. The home side really need to keep their discipline here. How can Fenerbahce be so comfortable having not had the ball in the opening 25 minutes. Sorry to use the old cliché, but goals change games.

35 minGOAL! Benfica 2-1 Fenerbahce (Cardozo)

36 minBenfica lead! It just had to be Cardozo as the striker collects possession in the box before stroking an effort into the bottom corner. The Portuguese outfit are so fired up here. What a semi-final we have on our hands.

38 minAnother half-chance for the home side as Lima combines with Cardozo before the latter thumps an effort from close range, but Yobo is across to make the block. Ucan has possession down the other end moments later, but he can only fire his effort over the crossbar, before Salvio is denied by Demirel.

41 minAnother penalty shout for the home side as Pereira hits the deck under a challenge from Ziegler, but the referee is not interested once more. Hardly time to take a breath at the moment as Benfica continue to force the ball into the opposing box. Someone is going to get sent off in the moment, it has that kind of feel as the challenges continue to fly in from both sides.

43 minCHANCE! Wonderful opportunity for the away side as Cristian finds Sow in the box, the striker cannot make contact, but it falls to Kuyt. The Dutchman has an open goal to aim at, but fires it against the side netting. Oh my word how has he not scored. What a sensational encounter between these two European rivals.

45 minBenfica have it down the other end moments later as Matic collects a pass from Salvio before stroking an effort towards the top corner, but it just moves wide of the post. Slight stoppage in play moments later as Kuyt receives treatment. I have no doubt that he is hurt, but it may be tactical here in an attempt to quell some of this constant pressure from the home side.

45 min+1Fenerbahce have been forced into making a change here with Sahin being replaced by Topuz. Meanwhile, the fourth official indicates that we will play an additional two minute at the end of the first period and we are indeed into the first of those.

45 min+2HALF-TIME: Benfica 2-1 Fenerbahce

8.54pmSo there we have it. The referee brings the first period to an end with Benfica leading 2-1 on the night, but as it stands they would exit the competition on away goals. In truth, Benfica should be out of sight here, with Fenerbahce's goal coming from a dubious penalty after 23 minutes.

8.59pmSTATISTICS: The home side have had more of the possession with 65%, while they have had 10 attempts to Fenerbahce's five. In truth, Benfica utterly dominated the opening 23 minutes of football, but the Turkish outfit have improved since they opened their tally. It is so delicately poised ahead of the second period.

9.04pmBENCH WATCH: The home side have a host of attacking options on the bench in the shape of Jardel, Lorenzo Melgarejo, Rodrigo and Carlos Martinez. Meanwhile, Fenerbahce have the likes of Miroslav Stoch, Semih Senturk and Beykan Simsek in reserve. There are certainly goals in that list of players.

46 minHere we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch for the second period. No changes for either side at the interval, which is not a surprise at this stage of the match. Just a reminder that as it stands, Fenerbahce would advance to the final on away goals. Right, the away side get the half underway.

48 minScoring has certainly not been a problem in this stadium for Benfica this season. As it stands, they just need the one goal to book their spot in the next round. However, you just get the feeling that it isn't going to be that simple. Bright start from Benfica as Lima whips a dangerous cross into the box, but Yobo is once more on hand to head clear.

50 minAgain it's bright work from Lima as the Brazilian drives past two challenges before finding Cardozo on the edge of the box, the striker decides to find Almeida down the right, who delivers a cross towards Salvio, but the Argentine just cannot make proper contact. Not too much from the away side in the early stages of the half.

52 minSow attempts to force the issue down the other end as he combines with Kuyt before spinning in behind, but Garay is across to quell the danger. A dangerous cross comes into the away side's box moments later, but Lima cannot make contact before Cardozo fires wide from outside the box.

54 minJust a reminder that Benfica still have three substitutions remaining should Jorge Jesus wish to alter proceedings. Fenerbahce have already made one change in the first period, however. Still Benfica force the issue with a host of long balls into the box, but it is playing into the hands of Yobo and Korkmaz, who have been aerially dominant thus far.

56 minAnother half-chance for the home side as Gaitan attempts to find a delicate pass towards Lima, but it just would not fall for the Brazilian. Cardozo continues to threaten outside the box, but he has two defenders on his case each time he has possession. Little under 35 minutes of football remaining in Lisbon. Benfica need to score.

58 minCardozo wants a free kick outside the box as the powerful forward appears to be pulled down by Ziegler, but the referee is not interested. Replays have shown that the Benfica striker did indeed have a chase. It would have been a set piece just outside the box and a red card. Fenerbahce continue to struggle, meanwhile, with Sow and Kuyt isolated in attack.

61 minGaitan attempts to produce the spectacular as Gaitan lines up a volley at the back post, but he strikes Gonul in the face. It does not look pleasant for the Turkish defender here, who has caught flash in the face. The stretcher is on, it does not look good. Let's hope that he does return to his feet, but his night is over.

63 minGonul's night is indeed over as the defender, who was incredibly brave in making that challenge on Gaitan, is replaced by Irtegun. I wonder whether that incident will change the flow of this match. Let's hope that he makes a full recovery this evening. Right, play is resumed with a free kick to Fenerbahce.

65 minHalf-chance for the home side once more as Lima bursts into the box before finding Cardozo, the striker rounds the goalkeeper, but the angle just goes against him at the final moment. In truth, that stoppage in play has not stopped the Benfica pressure. I suspect that we will have at least five minutes of added time, which means we still have the best part of 30 minutes to play here.

66 minNot the best of nights for the away side on the injury front with the Turkish outfit forced into making two changes thus far. I suspect that we could see former Chelsea attacker Stoch as the third change in the latter stages. Just a reminder that as it stands, Fenerbahce would advance to the final on away goals.

66 minThe crosses continue to come into the Fenerbahce box with Gaitan and Salvio threatening down each wing, but the away side have been defensively sound in the second period. Lima has a half-chance moments later, but it just found not fall for the Brazilian, who was immediately surrounded. Little over 20 minutes of normal time to play in Lisbon. But it is all one-way traffic.

66 minGOAL! Benfica 3-1 Fenerbahce (Cardozo)

67 minBenfica have their third of the night! It's fairly fortunate for the home side as Luisao's effort falls straight to Cardozo, who turns in the box before finding the bottom corner with ease. That is his 30th goal of the season.

69 minAnother half-chance for the home side as Salvio delivers a deep cross into the box, but it just would not fall for Cardozo, who has been a menace all evening. You just get the feeling that Benfica need to score again to be sure of making the next round. There is always a chance for Fenerbahce while they need just one.

72 minErkin tries his luck from distance as he thumps a free kick from outside the box, but I think that has landed somewhere in Lisbon. The look from his teammates tells the whole story. In truth, if the Turkish outfit are eliminated this evening, they can have no complaints. Little under 20 minutes of normal time remaining.

74 minKuyt attempts to force the issue moments later as he collects a pass from Ucan before thumping an effort towards the top corner, but it was always moving high and wide of the crossbar. That is just about as close as they have come in the second period. Lima has a half-chance down the other end, but his effort is straight at the goalkeeper.

76 minNot too much to report in terms of chances in the last couple of moments with both sides guilty of a host of late challenges. Just a reminder that Benfica still have three changes remaining if Jorge Jesus should wish to look at his bench, while the away side have one substitute left. Little under 15 minutes of normal time, but I suspect we will have a fair chunk of added time.

78 minFenerbahce do indeed make the change as Stoch enters in place of Yobo. If that is not an attacking chance then I don't know what is. It really is all or nothing for the Turkish outfit at this stage of the match. Another goal for them would leave Benfica with a mountain to climb.

81 minSow attempts to fashion a chance for the away side as he combines with Stoch before darting behind Garay, but the ball just never arrived. He has been utterly starved of service this evening. It is a surprise that Jorge Jesus has not yet looked to his bench, he does have the likes of Pablo Aimar and Rodrigo available. One to hold the ball, one to stretch the Fenerbahce defence.

83 minIt's better from the away side as Stoch collects possession outside the box before striking an effort towards goal, but Artur is on hand to make the save. All it takes is a moment of inspiration and Fenerbahce will be in charge of this tie. All the play-acting is coming out here as Cardozo hits the deck holding his calf. It would not be a surprise to see 10 minutes of additional time at the end of the match.

85 minThe match just has not got going in the last five minutes or so as the Benfica players continue to waste time with various antics. A free kick from Gaitan threatens to cause problems in the away side's box, but Demirel is out to collect under pressure from Cardozo, who is on a hat trick.

88 minThe free kicks continue to arrive for the home side, with the latest allowing Cardozo to find the head of Salvio in the box, but the Argentine just cannot make proper contact. Half-chance for the away side moments later, but Luisao manages to thump clear at the vital moment. Meanwhile, first change for the home side as Cardozo is replaced by Urreta.

90 minNot too much to report in terms of chances in the last couple of moments with the referee forced to deal with a number of challenges. Although it must be said that the official has made some strange decisions this evening. The fourth official indicates that we will play an additional five minutes of stoppage time.

90 min+2The away side are not happy with the amount of time that has been added. How is it only five minutes? We have had an incredible amount of stoppages, while Gonul was down for some time receiving treatment. Stoch tries his luck from distance for the away side, but it was always moving wide of the post.

90 min+4The away side just cannot get the ball at the moment as Benfica continue to dominate possession. Meanwhile, they make their second change of the match as Gaitan is replaced by Roderick, who will just provide an extra number in defence. Little over one minute of stoppage time remaining.

90 min+5Chelsea have booked their spot in the final courtesy of a 3-1 win over Basel this evening. Benfica are close to joining them. The Portuguese outfit have the ball in the corner as we edge ever closer to the final whistle. Is there one last chance? They are so close.

90 min+6FULL-TIME: Benfica 3-1 Fenerbahce (3-2 on aggregate)

10pmBenfica secure their spot in the final courtesy of a 3-1 win on the night. They will face Chelsea in Amsterdam later this month. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for the action and be sure to stick around for all the reaction. Good evening!

Benfica players celebrate a goal by Oscar Cardozo on February 14, 2013
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