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Europa leads for Atletico and Sporting

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20 Apr 2012 06:46:59

Europa leads for Atletico and Sporting

Atletico Madrid moved a step closer to their second Europa League final in three years as two goals from Radamel Falcao and further strikes from Miranda and Adrian Lopez gave them a 4-2 win over Spanish rivals Valencia in their semi-final first leg.

Adrian set up Falcao for the easiest of headers to open the scoring on 18 minutes but Valencia gained a foothold in the game and equalised in first-half stoppage time as Jonas swept home Adil Rami's knockdown.

However, 2010 Europa League winners Atletico scored twice in nine minutes through Miranda and Adrian, before Falcao looked to have all but sealed Atletico's place in the final in Bucharest with a sensational strike. Ricardo Costa headed home with virtually the last touch of the game to give Valencia some hope heading into the return leg at the Mestalla.

Sporting Lisbon netted twice in the last 15 minutes to overturn a deficit against Athletic Bilbao and win 2-1 to earn themselves a narrow lead to take across the Iberian peninsula for the second leg of their semi-final.

Athletic, looking for their first major trophy since 1984, took a 54th-minute lead through Jon Aurtenetxe but Sporting drew level through Emiliano Insua before the impressive Diego Capel - a Spain international - drilled home the match-winner 10 minutes from time to down his countrymen.

The Portuguese outfit pushed hard for a third goal late on but Athletic managed to keep them out to leave the tie firmly in the balance ahead of next week's second leg in the Basque country.


PA

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