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Holders Sevilla through to Europa semis, Italians too

Holders Sevilla through to Europa semis, Italians too

LONDON: Sevilla’s Kevin Gameiro grabbed a late equaliser in a 2-2 draw at Zenit St Petersburg on Thursday to send the Europa League holders into the semi-finals after woeful goalkeeping had threatened to ruin their night.

Sevilla went through 4-3 on aggregate, but only after a 1-0 lead in Russia turned into a 2-1 deficit following two terrible errors of judgment from Portuguese stopper Beto.

Italy will have two representatives in the semi-finals after Napoli and Fiorentina both sealed their progress. Napoli advanced by easing past VfL Wolfsburg 6-3 on aggregate after a 2-2 draw at home while Fiorentina beat 10-man Dynamo Kiev 2-0 for a 3-1 aggregate win.

Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk completed the semi-final lineup as a late goal from substitute Yevhen Shakhov sealed a 1-0 win over Club Brugge after the first leg ended goalless.

In St Petersburg, French striker Gameiro, whose penalty in the shoot-out against Benfica in last season’s final secured the trophy for Unai Emery’s side, beat Yuri Lodygin with a crisp strike to silence the Petrovski Stadium with five minutes remaining and take Sevilla through.

Having won 2-1 in the first leg in Spain a week ago, Sevilla were in a fantastic position in the tie after Carlos Bacca converted a penalty in the sixth minute for his 22nd goal of the season after Vitolo went down under the slightest of contact from Luis Neto.

Danny hit Sevilla’s post before the Russian side equalised in the 48th when Beto fumbled a cross from Oleg Shatov, and Jose Rondon tapped the ball home from close range.

The unfortunate keeper was then caught hopelessly off his line by Hulk, whose effort from 40 metres had Beto furiously back-peddling in vain as the Brazilian’s shot came down off the bar and dropped over the line but Gameiro emerged to send Andre Villas-Boas’ Russian Premier League leaders packing from European competition.

After a 4-1 win in Germany last week, Rafa Benitez’s Napoli went up 2-0 before Wolfsburg struck back with two goals in quick succession to level at the San Paolo.

Jose Callejon opened the scoring soon after half-time when he fired from just outside the area and the shot took a deflection off Ricardo Rodriguez and left goalkeeper Diego Benaglio helpless before Gonzalo Higuain set up the second in the 65th for Dries Mertens.

The visitors salvaged some pride, however, with headers from Timm Klose in the 71st and Ivan Perisic in the 73rd.

In Florence, the Ukrainians’ hopes of upsetting Fiorentina were hit when Jeremain Lens received a dubious second booking for diving and was dismissed in the 40th minute.

Fiorentina took the lead three minutes later with a goal from Mario Gomez before substitute Juan Manuel Vargas made it 2-0 deep into stoppage time.

Dnipro ended Brugge’s 15-match unbeaten run when Shakhov’s deflected effort found the back of the net after 82 minutes in Kiev to send the Ukrainians to their first semi-final in the competition.

Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2015

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