Rodrigo scored a goal in each half, set up both times by brilliant Eduardo Salvio balls, as SL Benfica made it past AZ Alkmaar to the UEFA Europa League semi-finals in some comfort.
A serious injury to right-back Sílvio got Benfica off to a miserable start, but with AZ offering little meaningful resistance, Rodrigo met a Salvio cross from the right on 39 minutes to put last season's beaten UEFA Europa League finalists in front. The 19-year-old forward then came up with a tidy far-post finish on 71 minutes as Salvio once more summoned up a sensational delivery.
Shaken after Sílvio's clash with team-mate Luisão inside the first minute caused the defender to be taken off on a stretcher, Benfica soon recovered, Óscar Cardozo's curling left-footed effort from just outside the box demanding a fine diving stop from Esteban. The AZ goalkeeper showed his class again, repelling Cardozo's close-range shot following good work from Rodrigo.
Salvio and Cardozo missed further opportunities as Jorge Jesus's team turned the screw, before Salvio finally carved AZ open, rampaging down the right and sending in a superb ball which Rodrigo converted at the far post, leaving Esteban with no chance. The best AZ had to offer in return before the break were blocked attempts from Steven Berghuis and Roy Beerens.
Things did not improve much for Dick Advocaat's men after the interval; Beerens tried his luck, and Artur had to make a low save from Mattias Johansson's strike from the edge of the area, but Benfica killed off any hope of a revival on 71 minutes. Salvio once more did splendid work on the right, then swung a centre across the face of goal for Rodrigo to plant low into the net.
The only disappointment for Salvio was that he failed to get on the scoresheet himself; the 23-year-old winger certainly had the opportunity to do so, Esteban blocking an effort from 'Mr Europa League' as he bore down on goal in the closing stages.
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