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Jittery Benfica rebuff Newcastle comeback

Newcastle United FC 1-1 SL Benfica (agg: 2-4)
Papiss Cissé's 71st-minute effort set up a frenetic finale but Benfica held on, Eduardo Salvio sealing a last-four place for the second time in three years.

Jittery Benfica rebuff Newcastle comeback
Jittery Benfica rebuff Newcastle comeback ©UEFA.com

SL Benfica are through to the UEFA Europa League semi-finals for the second time in three seasons, but not without a stern examination from a spirited Newcastle United FC.

Papiss Cissé's header midway through the second half gave Alan Pardew's side hope, and they came close to a second that would have put them ahead in the tie following last week's 3-1 first-leg defeat. Benfica held on, finally killing off the challenge in stoppage time when Eduardo Salvio converted substitute Rodrigo's cross.

The Portuguese visitors had also made the early running. Tim Krul reacted sharply to parry Lima's back-heel but the goalkeeper then almost handed the visitors the lead, misjudging a long through pass. Lima cut the ball back to the edge of the area and Nicolás Gaitán, whose firm drive towards the gaping net was blocked by Massadio Haïdara.

The Magpies struggled to create, though they did have the ball in the net just before half-time. Gael Bigirimana's looping cross from the right was swept in by Cissé at the back post, but the forward had strayed offside. Alan Pardew sent on Shola Ameobi for Bigirimana at half-time to try and give his side attacking impetus, and the forward soon forced Artur into a sprawling save.

Benfica continued to threaten, though, and Ola John fired over before Gaitán sliced a good chance wide. On came Hatem Ben Arfa as Newcastle strived to get back into the tie and they did so on 71 minutes. Ben Arfa took advantage of hesitation between Nemanja Matić and Ezequiel Garay to feed Ameobi, and his deflected cross was nodded in by Cissé.

The home support cranked the volume up several notches and their players responded, but when Ben Arfa drove over after a jinking run, the game was up. Salvio made sure.