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UEFA Europa League
April 10, 2014
• Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica (da Luz), Lisboa
Referee: P. Kralovec
• Attendance: 35723
Rodrigo 39', 71'
Benfica win Aggregate 3 - 0
That's your lot from me tonight folks, it's been a pleasure and I hope you've enjoyed the coverage. Until next time...
The man of the match for me was the ever-improving Eduardo Salvio. The forward dazzled throughout and ended the game with two wonderful assists, even topping his performance from the first leg.
It wasn't a good night for AZ whatsoever. They barely looked like threatening Benfica's goal at any point and lacked any sort of creativity in the attacking third. After such a disappointing result in the first leg, I expected Advocaat to go for broke here tonight, but he just seemed happy to let his players make up the numbers.
Benfica dominated from the off tonight and continue in their quest to reach successive Europa League finals in confident fashion. Jorge Jesus will be please with his side's display, but will know that much tougher ties lie ahead for the club from Portugal.
90' + 1'
AZ wasting their own time here now, Esteban has held on to the ball for what must be 20 to 30 seconds. As much as the tie is over, it's never good to see a team do that.
What a run from Salvio! The forward takes the ball on the halfway line, skips past one, ghosts past another and lays the ball into the path of Cardozo on the edge of the box. The big man does well for once and works his way into the box, but Esteban rushes off his line and takes the ball away from Cardozo.
Another missed chance for Oscar Cardozo, he's been a real disappointment tonight and he'll need to do better in the next round. A lovely through ball from Salvio sees him bearing down on goal, but he fluffs his lines and can't bring the ball under control as Esteban rushes out to gather.
Benfica are knocking the ball about for fun now. They now their in control and it's become an exhibition match for them - trying audacious long balls every couple of passes.
Massive chance for Benfica to make it three! An amazing ball over the top goes straight over the head of Gouweleeuw and Salvio finds himself one a one-on-one with Esteban. You'd bet your house on him scoring given the form he's in, but his tame shot is easily blocked and cleared by the goalkeeper. Poor finish.
AZ chasing shadows out there now, they look completely out of their depth against this Benfica side who have dominated from the off. As much as they've been disappointing tonight, though, they never really gave themselves a chance after losing the first leg at home.
He's only been on the field for a matter of minutes, but Johan Gudmundsson has just had arguably AZ's best effort of the night. He gathered the ball in Benfica's half and stroled towards goal before trying to beat Artur at his near post - the goalkeeper is equal to it, but it was a decent effort from the substitute.
Jorge Jesus' men don't seem to be content with the two goals here. They've piled men forward since the second goal went in and something tells me that Rodrigo's second goal won't be the last here at the Stadium of Light.
The Benfica supporters are in fine voice now, gone have the fears of a possible upset if AZ grabbed a goal and their minds are surely focused on the next round.
Yellow Card André Gomes
Andre Gomes finally sees him self cautioned by the referee. The defender has been committing fouls left, right and centre tonight and the referee has finally had enough and books him for a poorly timed challenge on Berghuis.
Assist Toto Salvio
GOL GOL GOL GOL GOL! Rodrigo and Salvio combine once again to give Benfica a two-goal lead. It all came from nothing really - Salvio with a great first touch to control a wayward pass right on the touchline, out of nowhere he swings in a beauty of a cross and Rodrigo is there again to tap home.
That's unlucky for AZ. They manage to carve out a decent chance after good work down the right by Berghuis, but the ball falls to the last man they'd want it to in Gouweleeuw. The centre back fires his shot high & wide and will be disappointed that he didn't hit the target from 12-yards out.
Benfica need to calm things down here or face the risk of AZ finding a way through. They look to have switched off in the last few minutes and the game has opened up as a result, something that will not please Jorge Jesus.
Great save by Artur to deny AZ's right back Johansson. The defender drifts in side after a mazy run and fires in a pop shot that looks destined for the bottom corner, but Artur pulls off a terrific save to keep Benfica ahead.
Enzo Nicolás Pérez
Benfica go straight up the other end with a chance of their own. A long ball finds Cardozo 35-yards out - the striker is bearing down on goal but Johansson manages to get a tackle in just before the striker can pull the trigger. Great challenge.
CHANCE FOR AZ! But it's wasted. A long ball up top finds Beerens on the edge of the box and the forward brings it down and lashes a shot towards goal, but his effort doesn't threaten to hit the back of the net and trickles wide of the post.
Really late challenge by Siqueira on Berghuis. The midfielder cuts in side and Siqueira gets nowhere near the ball, but takes down the AZ man. He needs to watch out because he could find himself in the referees book if he persists with those challenges.
AZ try to attack down the right as Berghuis links up well with Johansson, but after the defender skips past Rodrigo, he's clattered by Gomes and their move is stopped before it began.
There's a really good shape to this Benfica side, who look completely comfortable letting AZ have the ball for a period of play. Their positional awareness is exceptional and AZ will struggle to break this side down.
AZ have completed 46 passes in the second half compared to Benfica's 50, and despite Benfica still creating the better chances, the away side are begining to see a little more of the ball. Let's hope they can score and give this tie an exciting finale.
Great move by Benfica's attacking trio who interchange passes at will on the edge of the box, but Cardozo's lovely through ball is played too late and Rodrigo is just an inch offside.
AZ have finally got the ball off Benfica and don't seem to want to give it back, and who can blame them? Esteban is strolling about in his own penalty area, seemingly happy to waste time for some reason.
It's as we were here, with Benfica making all the pressing in the first few minutes of the second half. They look absolutely rampant in attack now and are pushing plenty of players forward as they go in search of a second goal.
Back underway at the Stadium of Light. Can AZ find a way back into this game or will Benfica go from strength-to-strength in the second half? Let's find out...
Dick Advocaat has plenty of experience at this level, though, and will be doing everything in his power to inspire his players at half-time. Berghuis has been their best player, but he needs support from Beerens and company, otherwise their European adventure is over.
The star man from the first half has to be the sublime Salvio. The winger has left Viergever for dead down AZ's left, drifting inside and out and causing all sorts of problems, as well as grabbing a well deserved assist.
It's all going to plan for Jorge Jesus and his men so far, they've absolutely dominated out there and AZ have had no answer to the home side's attacking intent.
AZ seemed to have lost their way since the goal and look second best out there now. Their heads have dropped and aren't reacting fast enough to Benfica's quick passing moves. Advocaat needs to have words at half-time because his players are struggling out there at the moment.
Salvio is having an absolute stormer now. This time he forces Esteban into another cracking save after gathering the ball on the edge of the box, fooling his opponent and unleashing a great shot that looked destined for the top corner but for Esteban.
That goal rules out extra time, but means if AZ win this game then they will go through to the next round on away goals. They've got a massive task on their hands if they are to snatch victory though, with Benfica being on a 22-game unbeaten run at home in all competitions.
Assist Toto Salvio
GOOOOOOOOAL! Rodrigo gets his 14th goal of the season in all competitions with a simple tap-in at the back post after Salvio skips past two players and puts a lovely ball in that neither defender or goalkeeper can deal with. Great goal.
Confident stuff from Esteban there. Johansson passes the ball back to his goalkeeper at pace as Cardozo chases down the ball, but Esteban takes a touch and skins the enrushing striker like a seasoned winger. Top stuff.
Benfica pressing high up the pitch now and finally look like they want to get a goal in this game rather than just keeping possession. Both full backs are high up the pitch and forcing AZ into unusual errors, who aren't enjoying the change in tempo from the home side.
Massive chance for Benfica! Siqueira finds himself deep in AZ's half and bursts into the box and puts a low drilled cross into the box, Cardozo connects well but Esteban makes another fantastic save to deny the big man. You would have backed the striker to score there, but you can't take anything away from Esteban who was at full stretch.
Yellow Card Toto Salvio
Free kick to Benfica in AZ's half. Andre Gomes pumps the ball into the box, looking for the lanky figure of Cardozo, but Esteban comes out to claim and gathers at the second attempt after spilling the ball.
For all their possession, they aren't doing much with the ball bar a few brief moments of magic from Salvio. AZ are sitting deep - allowing the home side to keep the ball and hoping to grab something on the counterattack.
Benfica controlling the play and look the most likely to open the scoring here in Lisbon. They've had 61% of the possession so far and have spent more time in AZ's half than their own, but who can make the breakthrough?
Yellow Card Steven Berghuis
Berghuis is the first player to go into the referee's book with a late tackle on Salvio as Benfica were putting together a nice move inside AZ's half. Doesn't look like he was listening the referee's warnings earlier on in the match.
Benfica have been solid in the tackle so far, winning five of the six they have gone in for and AZ will need to be stronger in the tackle if they're to take anything away from this game and progress to the next stage.
Oooof. A big clash of heads on the halfway line leaves Ortiz in a bad way on the deck. It doesn't look good for the midfielder and he's ordered to leave the pitch so he can receive treatment for his injury.
Super play by Salvio there. The winger drifts in off the right flank and skips past two players before finding himself with a shooting opportunity on the edge of the box. He takes the chance, but can't hit the target and all his hard work is undone.
AZ get their first corner of the game and it causes all sorts of problems in the Benfica penalty area. It drops to the back post and Berghuis steams in with a shot, but Siqueira manages to get a block in.
Much better from AZ there. Berghuis breaks free down the left and dances past Almeida before swinging in a deep cross that evades everyone. They'll need to see more from him if they're to score tonight.
Really bright start by Benfica here - no wonder considering it's at the Stadium of Light - and it's surely only a matter of time before they extend their advantage in the tie. AZ sitting deep and struggling to get into the game so far.
Cardozo goes close with a cracking effort from outside the box! The striker links up well with Salvio again, playing a neat one-two on the edge of the box before unleashing a pile-driver that Esteban does well to turn round the post.
Benfica with the first real attack of the game. They break down the right and Salvio puts in a deep cross that's attacked by Cardozo, but Wuytens is there to clear.
Benfica looking comfortable in possession in the opening stages, spreading the ball around and controlling the play in AZ's half. They certainly look confident.
Benfica's Silvio is down with an injury already. The defender collided with Luisao as both players went to clear the ball and he won't be able to continue. It looks pretty serious as the stretcher comes on to take him off the pitch - he receives a warm applause from the crowd as he leaves the field of play.
KICK OFF! AZ get us underway here at the Stadium of Light, let's hope there's plenty of goals!
Benfica have won 12 of their last 13 games in all competitions at the Stadium of Light and will be hoping to continue that fine form this evening with the view to winning their first European competition in 52 years.
Benfica have scored a whopping ten goals in the five games they've played since entering the competition at the knockout stages and have a great recent history in the Europa League, losing out to Chelsea in last season's final.
The first leg was the only time that AZ have lost in the Europa League this season, winning five and drawing five of their previous ten fixtures in the competition and scoring 11 goals along the way.
The major absentee from tonight's Benfica side is Nicolas Gaitan who picked up a yellow card int he first leg and is forced to sit out of the match at the Stadium of Light. Sulejmani comes in to replace him, but they'll sure miss the Argentina international's creativity in the final third.
AZ subs: De Winter, Reijnen, Gorter, Henriksen, Haye, Gudmundsson, Avdic.
AZ starting XI (4-3-3): Esteban; Johansson, Gouweleeuw, Wuytens, Viergever; Gudelj, Ortiz, Elm; Berghuis, Jóhannsson, Beerens.
Benfica subs: Lopes, Jardel, Almeida, Djuričić, Pérez, Lima, Marković.
Benfica starting XI (4-3-3): Artur; Silvio, Luisao, Garay, Siqueira; Sulejmani, Gomes, Fejsa; Salvio, Cardozo, Rodrigo.
Firstly I'm going to take you through all the team news, then some stats, and then on to the showpiece - the match itself, and we should be in for an absolute cracker.
Good evening all! I'm Kevin Blundell and I'll be covering tonight's Europa League clash between Benfica and AZ. Sit back, relax and enjoy the show as two of Europe's finest go head-to-head...
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