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Espanyol ride luck to reach semis

Published: Friday 13 April 2007, 0.55CET
SL Benfica 0-0 RCD Espanyol (Agg: 2-3)
A combination of goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz and the woodwork denied Benfica as Espanyol went through.
by Matthew Spiro
from Estádio da Luz

Match statistics

BenficaEspanyol

Goals scored0
 
0
Attempts on target7
 
3
Attempts off target7
 
3
Corners9
 
3
Offsides3
 
2
Fouls committed18
 
24
Yellow cards2
 
5
Red cards0
 
0

Standings

 
Published: Friday 13 April 2007, 0.55CET

Espanyol ride luck to reach semis

SL Benfica 0-0 RCD Espanyol (Agg: 2-3)
A combination of goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz and the woodwork denied Benfica as Espanyol went through.

RCD Espanyol withstood a barrage of second-half pressure from SL Benfica to claim a goalless draw in Lisbon and book their place in the UEFA Cup semi-finals.

Resolute defending
Leading 3-2 from the first leg, Espanyol produced a resolute defensive display to eliminate the two-time European champions and maintain their hopes of claiming a first continental prize. After a quiet opening period, Benfica sprung to life and created enough chances to run out comfortable winners, but Nuno Gomes was foiled by a wonder save from Gorka Iraizoz and the woodwork denied both Fabrizio Miccoli and Rui Costa as the Spanish team hung on to set up a semi-final meeting with Werder Bremen.

Pandiani hits post
The Espanyol goal had been under threat as early as the first minute when Miccoli narrowly failed to connect with Nuno Gomes's right-wing cross. However, visiting coach Ernesto Valverde had made it clear he did not want his players to sit back and they closed down tenaciously, restricting Rui Costa and Georgios Karagounis to speculative long-range efforts as the Portuguese side's initial pressure petered out. At the other end, Walter Pandiani, leading the line in the absence of injured captain Raúl Tamudo, came close to scoring his eleventh goal in the competition after jinking inside Anderson on the left and curling a sumptuous shot on to the outside of the far post on 12 minutes.

Few chances
As in the first leg, Benfica struggled to find their attacking fluency in the first half. Moisés Hurtado kept a close eye on Simão whose whipped shot flew wide of the far post on 16 minutes, but the best opportunities for Fernando Santos's men were coming from set-pieces. On 28 minutes, Nuno Gomes met Simão's corner with a powerful header, parried by Iraizoz, which David Luiz was unable to turn in on the rebound. With seconds remaining before the break, Benfica at last carved out a chance from open play, Simão threading a pass through for Miccoli but the Italian was beaten to the ball by the onrushing goalkeeper.

Iraizoz to the rescue
Benfica began the second half with more urgency and almost grabbed the goal they craved on 48 minutes. Simão's raking ball down the left found Miccoli who held up play before crossing for the Benfica captain, yet Simão could not trouble Iraizoz with his strike. Just as Espanyol seemed to be regaining control in midfield, a moment of inspiration from Rui Costa on 66 minutes almost broke their resistance. The veteran burst into the penalty area and drilled a low centre to the far post where Nuno Gomes appeared destined to score before Iraizoz pulled off a miraculous stop.

Dramatic finale
That proved the cue for a dramatic finale as Benfica poured forward in waves. Espanyol's luck seemed to be in on 72 minutes when Miccoli crashed a low effort against the post and the rebound hit Iraizoz but did not go in. Two minutes later Rui Costa bent a delightful free-kick against the same upright. Benfica's anguish continued as Mantorras nodded wide from close range on 85 minutes, and Espanyol, UEFA Cup runners-up in 1988, held on to keep alive their dream of going one better this year. Yellow cards for Francisco Chica, Luis García and Pablo Zabaleta – ruling them out of the semi-final first leg against Werder Bremen - were the only blemishes on a famous night for the Catalan outfit.

Last updated: 13/04/07 10.29CET

Related information

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http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuropaleague/season=2006/matches/round=2368/match=300123/postmatch/report/index.html#espanyol+ride+luck+reach+semis

Lineups

benfica

Benfica

espanyol

Espanyol

12
QuimQuim (GK)
1
Gorka IraizozGorka Iraizoz (GK)
3
AndersonAnderson
7
PandianiWalter Pandiani
Substitution71
5
LéoLéo
8
ZabaletaPablo Zabaleta
Yellow Card84
6
PetitPetit
9
De la PeñaIván de la Peña
Yellow Card62
Substitution78
10
Rui CostaRui Costa
Yellow Card30
10
Luis GarcíaLuis García
Yellow Card55
20
SimãoSimão (C)
11
RieraAlbert Riera
21
Nuno GomesNuno Gomes
Substitution70
14
ItoIto
Yellow Card37
Substitution54
22
NélsonNélson
Substitution81
19
TorrejónMarc Torrejón
23
David LuizDavid Luiz
21
JarqueDaniel Jarque (C)
26
KaragounisGiorgos Karagounis
Yellow Card67
Substitution82
22
MoisésHurtado Moisés
30
MiccoliFabrizio Miccoli
30
ChicaFrancisco Chica
Yellow Card84

Substitutes

31
MorettoMoretto (GK)
25
KameniCarlos Kameni (GK)
8
KatsouranisKostas Katsouranis
Substitution82
4
LacruzJesús María Lacruz
9
MantorrasMantorras
Substitution70
6
Eduardo CostaEduardo Costa
Substitution54
11
MiguelitoMiguelito
12
VelascoJuan Velasco
18
ManúManú
16
JônatasJônatas
Substitution78
27
DerleiDerlei
Substitution81
17
Mohamed El Yaagoubi Moha
28
João CoimbraJoão Coimbra
20
CoroCoro
Substitution71

Coach

Fernando Santos (POR) Ernesto Valverde (ESP)

Referee

Claus Bo Larsen (DEN)

Assistant referees

Bill René Hansen (DEN), Anders Nørrestrand (DEN)

Fourth official

Emil Laursen (DEN)

Legend:

  • GoalsGoals
  • Own goalOwn goal
  • PenaltiesPenalties
  • Missed PenaltiesMissed Penalties
  • reds_cardRed Cards
  • yellow_cardsYellow cards
  • yellow_red_cardsYellow/red card
  • SubstitutionSubstitution
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