PIX: Juventus draw with Sevilla; Roma, Basel win
Images from the Europa League semi-final first leg matches on Thursday.
Federico Gatti scored with a header seven minutes into added time to earn Juventus a 1-1 home draw against Sevilla in their Europa League semi-final first leg on Thursday.
Europa League kings Sevilla ignored the heavy rain and the pressure of the Italian crowd at a packed Allianz Stadium to dominate the game and looked well on course continue their bid for a record-extending seventh title before Gatti’s last-gasp effort left the tie evenly poised.
Sevilla started strongly and Juve goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny made a brilliant save to stop Youssef En-Nesyri’s close-range header.
Lucas Ocampos missed a sitter for the visitors but Morocco striker En-Nesyri scored with a tidy finish from close range in the 26th minute after a quick counter-attack led by Ocampos.
Sevilla could have extended their lead before the break but En-Nesyri and Ocampos wasted good chances and Szczesny denied a thunderous strike from distance by Ivan Rakitic with a superb diving save.
Toothless Juventus recorded their first shot on target in the 65th minute when substitute Samuel Iling Junior tried his luck from distance with a tame strike that Sevilla goalkeeper Yassine Bounou easily held.
Juventus were energised by substitute Federico Chiesa, who is still working his way back from a long injury layoff, and equalised with the last play of the game.
Chiesa won a corner, Paul Pogba headed the ball into a crowded six-yard box and Gatti jumped high to head home the equaliser.
“We made some wrong choices up front and Sevilla knew how to stand against us tonight with a good mentality,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri told Rai.
“It was good that we held-on for some time and didn’t end up 2-0 down. Now in Seville there is a chance to get a result.”
The teams meet again at Sanchez Pizjuan stadium next Thursday with the winners to meet AS Roma or Bayer Leverkusen in the final on May 31 in Budapest.
Roma take narrow lead over Leverkusen
AS Roma grabbed a 1-0 home victory over Bayer Leverkusen in their Europa League semi-final first leg on Thursday thanks to 20-year-old Edoardo Bove’s second-half goal.
Roma youth product Bove stabbed in the winner on the rebound in the 63rd minute for his first European goal.
Roma, bidding to win back-to-back European titles under coach Jose Mourinho following last season’s Europa Conference League triumph, travel to Leverkusen next week for the return leg.
The winners will face Juventus or Sevilla, who drew 1-1 in their first leg, in the final.
“I’m especially happy with the result,” Bove said. “It was essential to win this first half and go there on Thursday with the same desire.
“Today we put great intensity into our game and we are happy. At first they made it difficult for us and it took us a while to adjust but then we controlled the game very well.”
It had all started according to plan for Xabi Alonso’s Leverkusen, who have not made a European final since their 2002 appearance in the Champions League showpiece.
In a lively start they came close twice, with Robert Andrich’s shot saved after 40 seconds and Florian Wirtz wasting a golden chance when he fired wide.
The hosts, missing several players through injury and with Paulo Dybala and Georginio Wijnaldum not fully fit yet and on the bench, responded with Roger Ibanez’s powerful header which Hradecky palmed wide with a superb reflex save.
They broke the deadlock just past the hour when Bove started a move and stabbed in on the rebound after Hradecky had saved Tammy Abraham’s shot.
The visitors almost bagged an unexpected equaliser towards the end of a scrappy second half but Jeremie Frimpong’s 87th-minute shot was blocked on the line.
Basel strike late to secure victory at Fiorentina
A stoppage-time goal from Zeki Amdouni earned Basel a 2-1 win at Fiorentina in the first leg of their Europa Conference League semi-final on Thursday.
The Swiss Super League side are now in a solid position to become the first team from their country to reach a European final.
Fiorentina’s semi-final curse continued as they remain winless in their last nine European last-four matches and ending that streak will be tough as Basel have only lost two of their last 13 European matches.
“In my opinion, we played a good game. Teams like Basel can take advantage of their chances,” Fiorentina manager Vincenzo Italiano said.
“Our main problem was not scoring the second goal when we were dominating the game.”
Basel thought they had taken an early lead but the effort was ruled out for offside following a VAR check.
Arthur Cabral headed Fiorentina into the lead after 25 minutes with his seventh goal of this season’s competition but he did not celebrate out of respect for his former club Basel where he played from 2019-2022.
Fiorentina dominated the possession but Basel slowly established a foothold in the game and became more threatening as it wore on.
Andy Diouf equalised after 71 minutes with a well-placed low shot from just outside the box and Amdouni silenced the Italian fans three minutes into added time when he fired home from 10 yards after a free kick was floated towards the back post.
“We knew that they’re dangerous from set-pieces and they punished us twice from those situations,” Italiano said.
“They’ll defend with low blocks, we will have to avoid the mistake we made today in allowing them to counter-attack.”
The return leg will be played in Basel next Thursday with the winners to face West Ham United or AZ Alkmaar in Prague on June 7.
West Ham fight back to win first leg against AZ
West Ham United came surging back with goals from Said Benrahma and Michail Antonio to beat AZ Alkmaar of the Netherlands 2-1 after trailing at halftime in the first leg of their Europa Conference League semi-final on Thursday.
The Premier League side are now in a strong position to reach a first European final since 1976 as they head to the AZ Stadium in Alkmaar for the return next Thursday.
Benrahma equalised with a 67th-minute penalty and Antonio poached the winner nine minutes later after Tijani Reijnders had thrashed home a long-range effort to give the Dutch visitors a shock 41st-minute lead.
West Ham produced a dominant second-half performance and might have won by more as they finished much stronger against a tiring Dutch side.
AZ begun brightly and Reijnders scored with a rasping shot from well outside the penalty area that caught out West Ham goalkeeper Alphonse Areola with a difficult bounce as it skidded across the surface.
The goal was awarded despite home protests that West Ham midfielder Lucas Paqueta had been fouled and lost possession in midfield, allowing AZ to move the ball swiftly upfield and tee up Reijnders for his shot.
West Ham’s second-half pressure put the Dutch in difficulty, although the equaliser came from a mistake by AZ goalkeeper Matt Ryan, whose timing as he came out to for an aerial challenge on Jarrod Bowen was off, and instead of getting a touch to the ball, he punched the West Ham forward in the face.
There was little disputing the award of the penalty and Benrahma made no mistake from the spot.
West Ham forced the win after more uncertainty from Ryan at a corner, as he failed to come off his line and allowed Declan Rice to chip the ball into the danger zone where Nayef Aguerd’s header was cleared off the line by Yukinari Sugawara, only for Antonio to poke the rebound into the net.
“We knew AZ were a decent team,” Antonio said. “We made it difficult by conceding the first goal. But we’ll take the 2-1 to their place and hopefully get the win.”
There were further chances for Benrahma, Bowen and substitute Danny Ings in the closing stages as West Ham looked for a larger lead to take to the return leg, knowing that AZ have won all eight home matches in this season’s Europa Conference League.
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