SL Benfica took a big step towards the UEFA Europa League semi-finals after coming from behind to beat Newcastle United FC 3-1 in a high-intensity tussle.
Looking to banish unhappy memories of their previous quarter-final trip to Lisbon, a 4-1 defeat by Sporting Clube de Portugal in 2004/05, the visitors took an early lead through Papiss Cissé. Rodrigo quickly equalised for the hosts, however, and two goals in the space of six second-half minutes – from substitute Lima and Óscar Cardozo – ultimately handed Jorge Jesus' side a healthy lead to defend on Tyneside next Thursday.
Newcastle were rewarded for a bright start when full-back Danny Simpson opened up Benfica on the left-hand side with an exquisite pass to release Moussa Sissoko. The France midfielder sent a low ball across the face of goal and, with 12 minutes gone, Cissé tapped in.
The Senegal striker then went close to a second in the 23rd minute, as his shot from Jonás Gutiérrez's cross deflected off Ezequiel Garay and hit the far post. Benfica quickly made the most of the reprieve, equalising when Krul could only parry Cardozo's powerful drive, with Rodrigo reacting quickest to snaffle the rebound.
The volume inside the stadium rose and almost inspired the home side to a quick second, but Krul's magnificent double save kept out André Gomes and Ola John. The goalkeeper then denied Rodrigo and Nemanja Matić as Jesus' side piled on the pressure.
Alan Pardew's men regained their composure and Cissé was again unlucky soon after the restart, watching his chipped finish rebound off the upright after Sylvain Marveaux's excellent through pass had split Benfica's defence.
Jesus brought on Lima and Enzo Peréz to shake things up, and the former made an almost instant impact, latching onto Davide Santon's misplaced back pass, rounding Krul and stroking home from an acute angle. Moments later, Steven Taylor handled John's corner and Cardozo scored from the spot to set Newcastle a tough task for the return leg.
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