Four more elite Clubs’ European Championship dreams came to a crashing halt overnight as the second leg of the 2010 UEFA Europa Cup quarter finals showcased some fantastic soccer once again.
Following the UEFA Champions League dramatic matches on Tuesday and Wednesday in the northern hemisphere, the Europa Cup had a lot to live up to, and it certainly did not disappoint.
The second leg of the 2010 UEFA Europa Cup quarter finals showcased some fantastic soccer once again.
Over in Germany, VfL Wolfsburg saw Fulham FC travel to the Volkswagen Arena looking for just a draw – and the clash between the two most inexperienced sides left in the UEFA Europa Cup was anything but lacking in quality.
Within 25 seconds of the kick off whistle, the Cottagers were up in what was expected to be an all-German affair as they had the home ground advantage.
Once again Fulham’s in-form striker and dominant force Bobby Zamora was the culprit, with a fantastic turn in front of goal leaving the German centre-backs standing, Zamora struck the back of the net before the home side had even found their bearings.
Roy Hodgson’s underdog side then absorbed a barrage of threats from Wolfsburg as they attempted to crawl back into the clash to no avail, with the visitors deserving of their 1-0 win.
The Cottagers are now through to their first ever semi final in a European tournament with a 3-1 aggregate win over the German Champions.
Back in England, Anfield saw Liverpool FC go into their second leg clash against SL Benfica with a 2-1 disadvantage, but with the ever-passionate Kop supporting their home side as much as can be expected – Liverpool were unstoppable once they broke the visitors calm disposition.
With a two-goal turnaround within seven minutes from Dirk Kuyt capitalising on Steven Gerrard’s in bound corner and Lucas also set up by Gerrard – Liverpool were off and running, and cemented their lead in the 59th minute through Fernando Torres.
Torres managed the double adding to his tally after a fantastic free-kick by Benfica’s Óscar Cardozo – which gave the Portuguese side little consolation.
The English side came away 4-1 on the night, and go through to the semis on a 5-3 aggregate score.
Back over to mainland Europe, and in Belgium Standard Liège were host to Hamburg SV who travelled with a goal advantage from the 2-1 win in their first leg match.
The visitors started as they intended to go on after an opening strike from Mladen Petri? in the 20th minute, with the Croatian international adding a second to his stats barely two minutes after the home side equalised through Igor De Camargo.
Cementing their away win at the Stade Maurice Dufrasne Liège, José Paolo Guerrero struck the net in the tail end of the clash which see’s the German’s a step closer to a spot in the final of the UEFA Europa Cup to be played at their home ground.
Hamburg won the second leg 3-1, taking the aggregate score to 5-2 over Standard.
The last of the four second leg matches was an all-Spanish affair, as the Vicente Calderón Stadium saw Atlético Madrid at home to Valencia.
After a 2-2 first leg score line between the two La Liga title contenders, the home side only needed a draw, and it seemed they were quite content with that.
Neither clubs had the fierce edge to break the other, with the closest attempt coming from Diego Forlán in the 75th minute with a powerful strike skilfully tapped onto the post by César Sánchez.
Valencia gave the home side all they could in the dying minutes of the match, realising their European dream would be over without that crucial goal, but Atlético’s keeper David de Gea was solid on the line.
After a nil-all finish in the nation’s capital, Atlético go through to the semis with the away goal advantage.
The first leg of the UEFA Europa Cup semi finals will take place on the 22nd of April, with Fulham FC up against a consecutive German side – Hamburg SV, and Liverpool FC facing Atlético in their battle for a place in the final.