UEFA Cup – Sporting chance

news: UEFA Cup – Sporting chance

Sporting Lisbon, trailing 1-0 to Newcastle from their quarter-final first-leg encounter in England, kept the dream of a ‘home’ final at the José Alvalade Stadium on May 18 alive with a scintillating second-half performance. Newcastle must have thought they were home and dry after Kieron Dyer opened the scoring in the 20th minute to put the Geordies two up, the away goal necessitating that Sporting had to score three without reply to turn the game around. But the lion roared, the men in green and white hoops poured forward, achieved the impossible and more. Five minutes before half-time, Niculae rose to head in a João Moutinho cross at the far post and only a world-class save from Shay Given, keeping out a Moutinho volley, prevented Lisbon from taking the lead before the interval. After the restart, Newcastle were no longer able to hold the rampant Lions. Sá Pinto made it 2-1 on the night in the 70th minute after a poor Given clearance and Beto applied the coup-de-grace only seven minutes later, powering in a header from a Rochemback corner. The Magpies were down and out and Rochemback added insult to injury in the final minutes racing clear to lob the helpless Given for a final 4-1 scoreline, 4-2 on aggregate.

Portugal’s sole representatives in European competitions will now face Dutch side AZ Alkmaar who overcame Villareal on 28 April. Leading 2-1 from the first game in Spain, AZ went further ahead through Perez after eight minutes, Villareal doing no more than equalising in a game that saw both teams reduced to ten men after twenty minutes.

The other semi-final will be contested by Parma and CSKA Moscow. The Italians held Austria Vienna to a goalless draw at home but go through by virtue of their 1-1 draw in the Austrian capital previously. Moscow had an easy passage following their comprehensive 4-0 first-leg thrashing of Auxerre. The French side won 2-0 at home to save some face but were never able to threaten the Russian team’s overall lead.