Thursday, 4 April 2013

UEFA Europa League Quarter-Final 1st Leg LIVE Coverage:

Last 8: This season's UEFA Europa League is down to the last 8, with 3 British teams still in the competition.

Hello again, and welcome to my latest blog post. Tonight, all 4 Europa League Quarter-Final matches are on show for everyone to watch and enjoy, with 3 British teams still in the competition.
  
Chelsea host Russian side Rubin Kazan at Stamford Bridge after sealing their place in the FA Cup semi-final with 1-0 win at home against Manchester United on Monday afternoon.
Newcastle take a break from the relegation troubles of EPL - where they are only 3 points off the drop zone to play in Portugal against tough side Benfica.
Tottenham Hotspur host Swiss side FC Basel at White Hart Lane after impressive wins over Inter Milan and Lyon in the last two rounds.
The other match tonight is between Italian side Lazio and Turkish club Fenerbache.   

But before these matches kick-off, here is a recap from the other two UCL matches that were played yesterday.

Real Madrid 3 Galatasaray 0
This match was played in the Bernabeu, as favourites Real Madrid hosted Turkish side Galatasaray. 

The hosts did not disappoint, with a solid comfortable performance throughout the match.
Winger Cristiano Ronaldo broke the deadlock within 10 minutes, before French striker Karin Benzema doubled the lead 20 minutes later.
Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain sealed the victory for Real in the 73rd minute with a diving header.   

Ronaldo breaks the deadlock in the 9th minute for the hosts with a cool chip over Muslera's head into the net.

Calm and collected: Ronaldo celebrates his goal for Real Madrid.
16 for the season: French striker Karim Benzema doubles the lead to make it 2-0.

The controversy however started in the 84th minute, when Real Madrid duo Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos both got yellow cards within 6 minutes of each other, which means that they will both miss the return leg in Turkey.

Apparently, they both got yellow cards because it means that their disclipinary record will be cleared for the semis, as they feel the match is won by the defending Spainsh champions.   

Malaga 0 Borussia Dortmund 0  

This match was played at La Rosaleda, as Spainsh side Malaga hosted German giants Borussia Dortmund in the first-leg of their CL tie.
Dortmund missed several chances to score, with Gotze, Reus and Lewandowski all having chances but were denied by the goalkeeper or failed to convert.

Malaga did well to hold on to a 0-0 draw at home, because if they conceded a goal then they would have to overturn a loss away from home at the Signal Iduna Park, which is a very hard place to score, let alone get a good result.

The second leg will be interesting however. Dortmund will have a home advantage, and Malaga will have their work cut out but it is certainly not impossible.    

20:05:

UEFA Europa League LIVE Coverage: 
Team Line-ups:

Benfica vs Newcastle United:

Benfica: Artur Moraes, Almeida, Luisao, Garay, Melgarejo, John, Matic, Gomes, Rodrigo, Cardozo, Gaitan.

Subs: Paulo Lopes, Roderick Miranda, Aimar, Lima, Maxi Pereira, Urreta, Perez.

Newcastle: Krul, Simpson, Steven Taylor, Yanga-Mbiwa, Santon, Perch, Cabaye, Gutierrez, Sissoko, Marveaux, Cisse.
Subs: Elliot, Williamson, Anita, Gosling, Ameobi, Obertan, Campbell.

Tottenham Hotspur vs Basel:

Tottenham: Friedel, Naughton, Gallas, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto, Dembele, Parker, Lennon, Bale, Holtby, Adebayor.

Subs: Lloris, Dempsey, Huddlestone, Dawson, Sigurdsson, Livermore, Caulker.

Basle: Sommer, Steinhofer, Schar, Dragovic, Voser, El-Nenny, Die, Salah, Fabian Frei, Stocker, Streller.
Subs: Vailati, Ajeti, David Degen, Alexander Frei, Cabral, Sauro, Zoua.

Chelsea vs Rubin Kazan:

Chelsea: Cech, Azpilicueta, Terry, Luiz, Bertrand, Ramires, Lampard, Moses, Benayoun, Mata, Torres.

Subs: Turnbull, Ivanovic, Oscar, Mikel, Hazard, Ferreira, Marin.

Rubin Kazan: Ryzhikov, Cesar Navas, Kuzmin, Kaleshin, Ansaldi, Sharonov, Orbaiz, Roman Eremenko, Karadeniz, Natcho, Dyadyun.
Subs: Arlauskis, Ryazantsev, Kasaev, Kisliak, Marcano, Tore, Rondon.

20:14: 8 minutes gone in all the 4 matches being played tonight, with Benfica vs Newcastle the main match that I will be focusing on... 

10: CLOSE! Benfica almost break the deadlock, with a swerving shot by Nicolas Gaitan, but Tim Kril parries the ball to his left. 

12: GOAL! Newcastle have the crucial away goal within the first 15 minutes! A great through ball by full-back Danny Simpson finds Moussa Sissoko who runs down the wing before crossing into the box for Papiss Cisse who turns the ball into an empty net, with the goalkeeper looking on in disappointment.

Tap-in: Papiss Cisse latches onto a great low cross by Moussa Sissoko to break the deadlock in the 12th minute.

Nicely done: Papiss Cisse celebrates his 3rd goal in this season's Europa League after a nice passing move.

16: LATEST - Chelsea 1 Rubin Kazan 0
Fernando Torres has broken the deadlock for the hosts at Stamford Bridge! After a scrappy piece of play, the Spainard taps the ball past the goalkeeper into the net to give The Blues a 1-0 home lead. 

Scrappy, but it's a goal: Torres pokes the ball past the goalkeeper avoiding the defender to score for Chelsea.

18 for the season: Torres wheels away to celebrate his goal to put Chelsea 1-0 up at home.

19: Benfica are continuing to press Newcastle, not giving up but this is an end-to-end game now. The visitors are aware that they can expose the hosts down the wings with a good cross. 

22: CLOSE! Newcastle are turning the screw now! Another ball into the box, this time from Italian left-back Davide Santon falls to Cisse who turns well to have a shot towards goal, before it deflects off a Benfica defender before the goalkeeper tries to parry it away with his fingertips.  
He parries, but it spins into the post before he quickly gets up and picks the ball up! Almost 2-0 to the British side. 


24: GOAL! Benfica have equalised! Rodrigo follows up after Cardozo's shot is parried away by Tim Krul, and his tap-in slides underneath Krul into the net to make it 1-1. 

Equaliser: Striker Rodrigo celebrates his goal to put Benfica back into the match, making it 1-1.
Benfica are suddenly awakening...

28: CLOSE! Benfica almost go in-front, but are denied well by returning goalkeeper Tim Krul who does well to deny Ola John and Oscar Cardozo's shots with a good double save. 

30: GOAL! Tottenham 0 Basel 1
Spurs have been playing poorly so far tonight, and this goal just proves it. 
Marcos Streller hits the post with a good shot after an excellent counter attack, and midfielder Valentin Stocker slots home the rebound to give the Swiss side a crucial away goal.   

Shock lead: Valentin Stocker celebrates his opener to give Basel a 1-0 lead away from home.

33: GOAL! Chelsea 2 Rubin Kazan 0
Chelsea are cruising at the moment at home, as Nigerian winger Victor Moses finishes an impressive strike into the top corner from 20 yards out.  

Bullet: Victor Moses hits a great strike from 20 yards out to double Chelsea's lead at home.

36: Benfica are continously dominating Newcastle now, as they find their rhythm at home and make themselves comfortable.
Meanwhile, Fabian Frei took advantage of not being marked inside the box from a corner to head the visitors 2-0 up away from home.

40: GOAL! Chelsea 2 Rubin Kazan 1
The Russians have got an important away goal! Defender John Terry is booked for a handball inside the box, and Bebras Natcho scores from the resulting penalty.

Important away goal: Natcho scores from the penalty spot to give Rubin Kazan a goal to take back to Russia.

Still a chance: Natcho celebrates his penalty strike with his team-mates at Stamford Bridge.

41: GOAL! Tottenham 1 Basel 2
Spurs are suddenly back in the match with a flash, after Togo striker Emmanuel Adebayor pokes the ball high into the box from inside the box after avoiding challenges from the defenders. 

Reaching: Adebayor halves the Basel lead just before half-time with a high strike into the top corner

Back in it: Adebayor wheels away to celebrate his goal, giving Spurs hope of equalising.

42: Newcastle will be hoping that the half-time whistle comes very soon; Cardozo, Matic and Rodrigo are all pressurising the Newcastle defence and it is quite tense now.

44: Benfica fail to communicate with a free-kick in a dangerous position and Newcastle are let off again, meanwhile defensive midfielder Scott Parker misses a open goal to equalise for Spurs from six yards out.

45: The fourth official has signalled for just the one minute of stoppage time to be added on at The Stadium of Light in Portugal.

45+1: The referee has blown his whistle to end the first-half in Portugal. Newcastle started the first 25 minutes well, with a goal from Cisse and they could have been 2 or 3-0 up.

Benfica woke up suddenly and equalised thanks to Rodrigo's strike, before dominating the rest of the first half.

Meanwhile, in the other matches:

Chelsea 2 Rubin Kazan 1
Tottenham 1 Basel 2
Fenerbache 0 Lazio 0

21:10: The second half has started in all 4 matches, with Newcastle coming close again after the restart with Papiss Cisse looking dangerous on the counter attack before having a placed effort on goal hit the post AGAIN.
Still 1-1, and 50,000 people were holding their breath for about 4 seconds there. Very tense in Portugal.

21:20: 60 minutes played in Portugal, with the match just expanding slightly as the players get tired. 

It is end-to-end still, with both sides looking to get in-front.
Meanwhile in London, Tottenham have completed their comeback and now it is 2-2 thanks to Icelandic midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson who replaced English winger Aaron Lennon after just 25 minutes after an injury. 

Comeback: Gylfi Sigurdsson equalises for Tottenham with a blistering strike to make it 2-2 on the night

61: Benfica SUB:
Rodrigo OFF
Andre Gomes OFF

Lima ON
Enzo Perez ON

Newcastle SUB:
James Perch (injury) OFF
Vurnon Anita ON

Prolific goalscorer Lima replaces the man who scored the equaliser, Rodrigo. He has played very well during his time in the Europa League at Braga, and he has experience also.

65: GOAL! I said that he was prolific, and substitute Lima has gifted Benfica the lead in the 65th minute to score his 25th goal in all competitions this season.
The home crowd have gone wild, after full-back Davide Santon's attempted back pass is intercepted by Lima who goes around Krul before slotting the ball nto the bottom corner of the net to make it 2-1.

67: STAT -
Corners: Benfica 10, Newcastle 0 

68: This match has completely turned on its head, with a Benfica corner hitting English defender Steven Taylor on his hand. Initally, the referee waved play on, but the official on the goal-line spoke to him on the headset and he has called a penalty.
Replays show that it is a blatant penalty, good decision.

69: Oscar Cardozo steps up to take the penalty.... GOAL!! He smashes the ball the opposite direction to where Krul dives after a good run-up. 3-1 to Benfica, and it looks like Newcastle have to rely on their away goal in the second leg in Newcastle.
Wait.... the referee has called Cardozo back. He has to take it again!!

70: Replays show that Krul was not on his line with Cardozo took the shot, another chance for Krul.

Cardozo steps up again.... GOAL! Calm and collected, slotting into the top corner of the net, past Krul. 3-1, and the referee cannot make him retake it again.
That makes 52 goals in all competitions between Cardozo and Lima.     

72: GOAL! Chelsea 3 Rubin Kazan 1
Fernando Torres scores his 19th goal in all competitions (not bad for a "flop") after heading Mata's cross past the goalkeeper into the net. 
Eden Hazard has replaced Victor Moses, as Benitez is eager to wrap this match up and take a 3-1 lead up to Russia next week. 

75: 15 minutes left in the 4 Europa League matches, with Chelsea the only team looking comfortable with their 3-1 lead.

Newcastle are getting dominated, while Spurs cannot get the ball off Basel as they look to take the 2-goal away advantage home to Switzerland.
Fenerbache vs Lazio is the only match that is yet to have a goal tonight, but I doubt that will be the case in 15 or so minutes.
  
80: Newcastle SUB:
Sylvain Marveaux OFF
Shola Ameobi ON 

81: Benfica striker Nicolas Gaitan has two attempts on goal, but Krul is equal to the second after the first is blocked.

83: Newcastle full-back Danny Simpson is limping uncomfortably with a knock, and Alan Pardew is looking to his bench as he has one substitution left.

84: Newcastle SUB:
Danny Simpson OFF
Dan Gosling ON

85: Santon has a shot towards goal, but it is off target and hits the side netting.

87: Shola Ameobi is given a yellow card after clashing with Gaitan. It is not a nice thing to see, as Gaitan tried to get him sent off despite hardly any contact between the two, but the referee gives him a yellow instead of the other colour... 

90: The fourth official has signalled for 4 minutes of stoppage time to be added on.

90+1: Newcastle are looking to score another away goal which will put them in a better position for the return leg in Newcastle next week. They have a free-kick near the centre circle, Krul has everyone up in the box before he boots the ball towards the area.  

90+3: Krul is trying to move his team-mates forward, but Benfica are still pressing and will not let them off easily.

90+4: The referee has the whistle in his mouth..... and he blows it! Benfica win 3-1 at home in an exciting, fascinating match-up between two good sides where Newcastle were dominated in the second half, despite starting off well and they should have scored 3 or 4, but were unlucky because of the post.  

Chelsea also win 3-1 at home, and have a comfortable lead to take to Russia next week.
Tottenham complete a good comeback to make it 2-2 on aggregate, despite playing poorly throughout the first-half. The worry for the hosts will be talisman winger Gareth Bale, who was stretchered off towards the end of the second half.

Fenerbache ended up 2-0 winners in the end, with goals from Pierre Webo and former Liverpool forward Dirk Kuyt.  

Thank you all for joining me and reading my Blog tonight. I will speak to you all soon, and hopefully you watch the highlights from all of these great matches on TV! 
Please help spread the word to your friends and family that are interested in football (or soccer) so that this can improve and develop even further. Thank you once again everyone, stay safe. 

(MORE TO FOLLOW SOON!)