Porto, Villarreal set Europa semi clash


PARIS – FC Porto led an Iberian lock-out of the Europea League semi-finals on Thursday, Jose Mourinho’s former charges brushing aside Spartak Moscow. Under Mourinho, Porto captured the 2003 UEFA Cup and the Champions League the following year, and they edged closer to claiming Europe’s second tier club competition again with a 5-2 drubbing of Spartak Moscow for a 10-3 aggregate win.
Porto, now in the care of Andre Villas-Boas, strolled into the last four with first half goals from Brazilian forward Hulk and Cristian Rodriguez. Colombian midfielder Fredy Guarin added to the Portuguese side’s tally shortly after the break before Spartak’s Artem Dzyuba reduced the deficit on 52 minutes.
First leg hat-trick hero Falcao produced Porto’s fourth on the night, a close range header, for the Colombian’s 11th in the competition two minutes later. Spartak’s Ari scored with 20 minutes remaining but Porto were not in the mood to capitulate, substitute Ruben Micael rounding off the lopsided tie with Porto’s fifth one minute from time.
Porto are the last Portuguese team to claim Europe’s second club competition, lifting the 2003 UEFA Cup, Mourinho’s men beating Celtic in the final. And if they are to have a shot at claiming their second, in Dublin on May 18, they must first overcome Villarreal, the Spanish club who eased past Dutch league champions FC Twente.
Villarreal put one foot in the semi-finals last week with a 5-1 first leg win at home, and cruised into the last four with a 3-1 second leg success in Enschede, 8-2 on aggregate. Twente gave themselves a glimmer of hope with Emir Bajrami’s 32nd minute tap in but their Spanish visitors levelled on the hour when Giuseppe Rossi scored from the spot after Twente’s Dwight Tiadealli was sent off for felling Wakaso Mubarak.
Marco Ruben added a second penalty on 84 minutes with Cani underlining the visitor’s supremacy with a superb left-footed volley on the whistle. The second semi-final, an all-Portuguese affair, pits Sporting Braga against Benfica. Braga, who knocked out Liverpool in the last round, went through on the away goals rule after a goalless stalemate at home in the second leg to follow last week’s 1-1 draw in Ukraine.
The northern Portuguese outfit had made life difficult for themselves with the 29th minute sending off of Brazil forward Paolo Case for a late challenge on Dynamo striker Andriy Yarmolenko. Kiev were also down a man three minutes from time when Popov picked up a second yellow card.
While Braga wee made to sweat to the end their last four rivals Benfica secured their ticket after a 2-2 draw at PSV Eindhoven for a 6-3 aggregate win. The Lisbon side were living dangerously when PSV raced to a 2-0 lead on the night to make it 3-4 on aggregate in the first half an hour but the visitors ensured their European adventure continued with goals from Luisao and Oscar Cardazo from the spot.