Four matches made for an eventful day in the quarter-finals of the 2014 Europa League.
Basel had the biggest win of the day, earning a 3-0 victory over Valencia. It will take a superior effort in the return match for the Swiss club to be eliminated.
Meanwhile, Benfica, Porto and Juventus each earned 1-0 wins to gain an early advantage in the two-legged competitions.
Here is a complete look at the scores with a recap of each match. The return leg for each will be on April 10.
via ESPN FC
Benfica 1, AZ Alkmaar 0
Benfica are running away with the Portuguese Liga title, but they would like to add a Continental trophy as well, especially after finishing runners-up in last year's Europa League.
They certainly put themselves in good position to advance with a 1-0 victory on the road. The only goal came on this impressive volley by Eduardo Salvio:
AZ Alkmaar had a number of good chances with six shots on goal, but they were unable to get anything past Artur in net. The Benfica goalkeeper finished with seven saves to help his side get the win.
With the win, Benfica now have a lead heading home, where they have had plenty of success all season. Although the deficit is a small one, Alkmaar will have a hard time getting any goals on the road in the second leg.
Basel 3, Valencia 0
This match had a weird feel due to the fact that no fans were allowed at the competition. UEFA ordered the ban after supporters created dangerous conditions in previous matches, according to the Associated Press (via ESPN).
As a result, this is what the stadium looked like at the start of competition:
Despite this, Basel got off to a great start thanks mostly to Matias Delgado. The forward got the home team on the scoresheet in the 34th minute with a drilled shot from just outside the box.
Delgado then doubled the lead with a second goal just four minutes later on a close finish. Basel added to the lead with a third score in stoppage time.
Valencia are clearly the toughest challenge for Basel after getting knocked out of the Champions League at the group stage. However, the Swiss squad proved that it has the mental toughness necessary to win in a unique environment.
If this group can maintain its focus, it should be able to do enough in Valencia to advance to the semi-finals.
FC Porto 1, Sevilla 0
Sevilla came into the match playing extremely well, winning six of their last seven matches. Unfortunately, the Spanish club provided very little offense in this competition.
Porto were excellent defensively, holding the ball for long durations and preventing too many quality opportunities near the net. Sevilla were then sloppy in the final third and only took four shots.
Meanwhile, the home squad were able to get the advantage in the first half. Ricardo Quaresma provided a cross into the box, and Eliaquim Mangala headed it home in the 31st minute.
Things got interesting late in the competition when Fernando was given a red card in the 86th minute. Tom Kundert of PortuGOAL.net provided the details of the situation:
Porto midfielder gets yellow for a foul, protests vigorously and gets a red. Porto without Fernando and Jackson for second leg.— Tom Kundert (@Portu_Goal) April 3, 2014
Jackson Martinez picked up a yellow card earlier in the match and will be also suspended for the next leg.
With two key players out for Porto and the match returning to Sevilla, this tie is still very much up in the air.
Juventus 1, Lyon 0
The two teams were locked in a scoreless battle for most of the match, but Juventus finally came through with a 1-0 victory. Leonardo Bonucci scored the game-winner in the 85th minute for the Italians.
Lyon manager Remi Garde did not seem to have too much confidence heading into this two-legged tie. He told told reporters before the match:
We have a mountain to climb, we have two steps to climb it. I think Juve should be in the Champions League. In this kind of game we have nothing to lose. This game can make us grow. I want my players to give their all.
Our game plan will be different to normal in the Europa League. For us it is a great reward to play against Juve.
Despite this, his side played extremely well at the start with a great defensive effort. Juventus had plenty of chances, but they never got a good look at the goal until the very end.
Lyon will now have the tough task of going on the road to the current Serie A leaders with an attempt to make up the 1-0 deficit.
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