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Sevilla 2, Valencia 0, in Europa League semis

Sevilla celebrates win
Sevilla celebrates win
Photo by Denis Doyle

Today, Spanish Football's Sevilla FC played poor hosts to Valencia FC, beating them 2-0 in their first leg Europa League semifinal at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

The game between La Liga rivals was fast-paced and the first half went decidedly Sevilla's way as they accumulated a 2-0 lead thanks to two goal plays in the span of four minutes.

The first was a free kick to the left of the Valencia goal which Croatian captain Ivan Rakitic sent from left to the far right post where he found a floundering striker, Cameroonian Stephane Mbia, who miss hit the ball ended up facing away from the goal with the ball behind him and yet managed to heel the ball in for the opening score at the 33rd minutes.

At the 36th, a beautiful give and go found Colombian striker, Carlos Bacca, first-touching the ball to himself and into open space inside the box. He then coolly placed a right-footed stroke wide to Valencia goalkeeper Vicente Guaita's right for the 2-0 advantage.

The half was played with intensity but with much too much rough play, again, and Slovenian referee Damir Skomina was allowing all types fouls to go unsanctioned without handing out a single card. The legitimizing officiating allowed the rough play to continue and the players simply took the offer at face value, making the unsporting play flourish.

As the first half came to a close Benfica was leading Juventus 1-0 in the other semifinal being played simultaneously.

The second half was a copy of the first with Sevilla having several opportunities to extend their lead while Valencia seemed unable to make most of their counters reach the critical mass to make a difference. The first half's score became final as Benfica was pulling out a 2-1 victory in their home stand first leg against Juventus.

A big difference emerged between the matches. In the all-Spain semifinal Sevilla seemed the stronger side while Valencia seemed either out of sorts or out of their depth. They will have to reach another gear at home if they are to pull out a result. In the Portugal-Italy semifinal it was the Italians who left with the advantage. Juventus will be playing for a chance to remain at home for the final of the Europa League and Carlos Tevez's away goal may well be the reason they get to eat a home cooked meal come May 14th.

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