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Benefica stuns Spurs at home in Europa Cup

Saturday, March 15, 2014

PARIS - Tim Sherwood's prospects of remaining in the Tottenham Hotspur manager's job long-term were not helped as his side lost 3-1 at home to Benfica in their Europa League last 16, first leg yesterday.

Portuguese league leaders Benfica extended their unbeaten run to 24 matches and made it nine consecutive wins in all competitions with a victory that was given to them by a goal from Rodrigo and a Luisao brace, with Christian Eriksen pulling one back for the hosts.

Amid speculation that Spurs will move to bring in experienced Dutchman Louis van Gaal as coach in the summer, Sherwood saw his team suffer a defeat that leaves them in a very difficult position heading into next week's return leg in Lisbon.

The visitors, who lost last season's final to Chelsea in Amsterdam, took the lead half an hour in when Ruben Amorim released Rodrigo with a superb pass in behind the defence, and the Brazilian-born Spanish striker curled a fine finish around goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

Giant Brazilian defender Luisao then headed in a left-wing corner in the 58th minute, before Eriksen's free-kick from 25 yards raised spirits around White Hart Lane.

However, captain Luisao pounced on a rebound to ram home his second of the night and Benfica's third away goal, leaving the two-time European champions in an ideal position going back to the Estadio da Luz, with Spurs having to score at least three times now to go through.

Elsewhere, Juventus were held to a 1-1 draw by Italian rivals Fiorentina in Turin in a repeat of the 1990 UEFA Cup final.

There was an upset in the night's other big derby clash in Spain, as Betis won 2-0 away to city neighbours Sevilla at the Sanchez Pizjuan.

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