Soccer News of Friday, 2 May 2014
Kwadwo Asamoah’s dream of winning European title scuttled on Thursday night as his side Juventus drew 0-0 with Benfica at home to record an aggregate 2-1 defeat in the semi-final of the Europa League.
The Ghana international played the entire duration as the Old Lady dominated play but could not score the newly-crowned Portuguese champions.
The Bianconeri had to overturn a 2-1 first leg deficit if they were to play the Europa League Final on home turf.
Diego Armando Maradona was in the stands as a personal guest of Carlos Tevez, even though his representative claimed he would be supporting Benfica.
Leonardo Bonucci, on his 27th birthday, stood his ground for a great block on Rodrigo and Maxi Pereira did the same to stop Paul Pogba pulling the trigger moments later.
Fernando Llorente knocked down a Kwadwo Asamoah cross for Andrea Pirlo’s screamer, which was fingertipped over the bar. Vidal volleyed a Pirlo assist on to the roof of the net in an audacious finish.
An even more spectacular Tevez volley was just over from 12 yards, while Lichtsteiner drilled straight at Oblak when he should’ve passed on a counter.
Benfica went down to 10 men on 67 minutes, as Enzo Perellow card for bringing down Vidal.
Tevez aimed a weak effort straight at Oblak, so Antonio Conte threw on Sebastian Giovinco for Bonucci, then Daniel Osvaldo and Claudio Marchisio too. Lichtsteiner had the chance to win it when he sprung the offside trap to get on the end of a Pirlo chipped pass, but his first touch was awful.
Osvaldo had the ball in the net, but play was halted for Pogba’s offside position as he acrobatically volleyed a Marchisio cross back into the middle.
Conte furiously accused Markovic of time-wasting, as he wanted a stretcher before being replaced by Sulejmani.
After another bout of gamesmanship, a brawl broke out on the touchline between Mirko Vucinic and Markovic, who were both sent off from the bench and will therefore be suspended.
There was a significant period of stoppages when Pogba landed on Garay’s face with studs at the end of an overhead kick, leaving him bloodied and needing a stretcher, so Benfica went down to nine men.
English referee Mark Clattenburg awarded six minutes of stoppages and Tevez blasted straight at Oblak and a Salvio handling offence gave Pirlo a last-gasp free kick.
That deflected out for a corner, from which Buffon came up, but Caceres saw his header saved by some fantastic Oblak reflexes.