Eintracht Frankfurt reverse two-goal deficit to beat Benfica and reach Europa League semi-finals

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Eintracht Frankfurt head coach Adi Hutter hailed his side after they reversed a two-goal first-leg deficit to beat Benfica and reach the Europa League semi-finals.

Goals from Filip Kostic and Sebastian Rode gave the German side a 2-0 win on the night which erased their 4-2 defeat from the first leg and sent them through to face Chelsea on the away goals rule.

Hutter told his club’s official website: “It was a perfect game and a perfect evening – Benfica went all out to score but we stood up and we certainly deserved to win.

“We have delivered great performances in the Europa League. At 1-0 we had the necessary luck. Our tactical discipline was important and we absorbed the emotions of the audience.”

Hutter also said he was relishing the prospect of facing Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea and stressed his own side’s underdog status for the tie.

“We are perhaps the least anticipated semi-finalists, and Chelsea will be the favourites,” Hutter added.

Benfica coach Bruno Lage, who was sent to the stands for protesting that Kostic’s effort should have been ruled out for offside, said his side were left to rue missed chances.

In an interview quoted by uefa.com, Lage said: “I believe that, although we weren’t as strong as we were in the first leg, we created enough opportunities to qualify.

“During the first half the pressure was not as strong as we wanted. In the second half we got better and we tried to go looking for the result, but unfortunately we failed.”

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Chelsea make life difficult but reach Europa League semis with see-saw 4-3 Slavia Prague win

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Maurizio Sarri admitted Chelsea made life difficult for themselves after they reached the semi-finals of the Europa League following a see-saw 4-3 win over Slavia Prague.

With Chelsea leading 1-0 from the first leg, the tie should have been over as a contest after only 15 minutes as they sliced Slavia apart three times.

But Chelsea have developed a nasty habit of conceding early in the second half and once again there were some hairy moments as the visitors hit back twice to trail by just one on the night.

“We played very well in the first half,” said Blues boss Sarri. “But as usual in the last two months we started very badly in the second half.

“We need a solution. In the last 10 matches we started like in this match, it’s a big problem.

“Probably at the end of the first half we thought we had qualified, but against this opponent it was not true. I have never seen something like these opponents physically, so it was clear the second half could be difficult for us.

“But we did something wrong in the first 10 minutes of the second half.

“At half-time I told them to start with the same application as they started the first, but we didn’t do it. It’s not easy to understand.

“I could try without going in the dressing room at half-time if I could solve the problem.”

Pedro opened the scoring following a flowing move involving Cesar Azpilicueta and Olivier Giroud, with the Spaniard applying the finish.

Pedro should have claimed the second but he somehow side-footed Eden Hazard’s inviting ball across goal on to the post.

Fortunately for the Blues the ball ricocheted into luckless defender Simon Deli and bounced into the net.

N’Golo Kante then set Pedro through to tee up Giroud for his 10th goal in the competition this season.

That should have been that, but Chelsea’s defence dozed off in the 26th minute to allow the unmarked Tomas Soucek to pull one back with a header at the far post.

Chelsea merely went straight down the other end and restored their four-goal cushion, Pedro pouncing on the rebound after Giroud’s close-range effort was saved.

Yet a 5-1 aggregate lead at half-time became 5-3 only 10 minutes into the second half, a quickfire double from Petr Sevcik raising the Czech side’s hopes of a staging remarkable comeback.

But Chelsea weathered the storm to set up a semi-final against Eintracht Frankfurt.

Hazard, the subject of a couple of clattering early challenges, was taken off midway through the second half, but Sarri hopes he will be fit to face Burnley on Monday.

“It’s nothing serious, I hope,” he added. “It’s only a strong knock. But I think we can recover him for the next match on Monday.”

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Unai Emery proud of players after Arsenal reach Europa League semi-finals

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Lacazette scored the only goal in Naples.

Unai Emery was proud of his Arsenal players after they reached the semi-finals of the Europa League with a victory away at Napoli.

Leading 2-0 from the first leg, the Gunners will now face Valencia in the last four after Alexandre Lacazette’s 36th-minute free-kick was enough to seal victory on the night and a much-deserved 3-0 aggregate win over a Napoli side far from their best.

For all the criticism often aimed at the Arsenal defence, they have now kept six clean sheets in their last seven games and not conceded in consecutive away matches across all competitions for the first time since January 2017.

And Emery was pleased with the performance of his team in what is often a hostile environment at the San Paolo Stadium in Naples.

“I am very proud of my players and of our work,” he said.

“We show the players have the habit to play matches against good teams, in a good atmosphere, and show big personality.

“We wanted to keep the ball more but we didn’t do all we wanted. Positioning we were very good and doing good pressing.”

The Gunners fell at the last-four stage to Atletico Madrid a year ago and La Liga opposition again stands in their way of reaching the final in Baku on May 29 with Emery’s former club Valencia up next.

Emery is once again proving he is the master of this competition – no manager has won more knockout games in the Europa League than the Arsenal head coach, who won three consecutive titles while at Sevilla.

“I grew up a lot in this competition,” added the Spaniard.

“The Europa League gives us a big opportunity to do something important, to play in the Champions League.

“It’s a title and gives us the possibility to play in the Champions League when in our domestic league a lot of teams are trying to take it.

“The Europa League is for us now with Premier League a very important competition.”

One sour note for Arsenal was an injury suffered by Aaron Ramsey just before Lacazette’s free-kick with Emery not drawn on whether the midfielder – who will join Juventus on a free transfer when his contract expires this summer – had played his last game for the club.

“It is a muscular injury,” Emery explained.

“Normally it is going to be some weeks outside the team. But he was in a very good moment and working very well but we have other players ready and waiting.”

Napoli threatened for a small part of the first half but, over the course of the two legs, were well-beaten – with Carlo Ancelotti praising Arsenal’s performance.

“Arsenal is an intelligent team,” he said.

“They play well in front and defend together. Not a team that play fantastic football but they are a really intelligent team. They did a good job, deserve the victory and I hope the best for them in the Europa League.”

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