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Europa League last 16: Benfica punish sloppy Spurs

updated 7:19 PM EDT, Thu March 13, 2014
Rodrigo (center) opened the scoring for Benfica against Tottenham Hotspur in the first leg of their last 16 Europa League tie.
Rodrigo (center) opened the scoring for Benfica against Tottenham Hotspur in the first leg of their last 16 Europa League tie.
  • Benfica beat Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 in first leg of last 16 Europa League tie
  • Porto beat Napoli 1-0; Real Betis beat Sevilla 2-0
  • Valencia beat PFC Ludogorets Razgrad 3-0 in Bulgaria

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(CNN) -- Benfica has one foot in the quarterfinals of the Europa League after beating Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 in the first leg of their last 16 tie at White Hart Lane on Thursday.

After being thumped 4-0 by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the English Premier League last weekend, Spurs manager, Tim Sherwood bemoaned his players' lack of character and guts.

If he was hoping for a response after the public dressing down, he didn't get one as Spurs produced another error-strewn performance.

The visitors opened the scoring after 29 minutes when Ruben Amorim's through-ball set Rodrigo free down the right before the Spanish striker unleashed a clinical left-foot finish past goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

Amorim helped earn the Portuguese side's second of the night after catching Spurs striker Harry Kane in possession yards outside his own penalty area. The midfielder's snap shot was then tipped over the bar by Lloris.

But there was nothing the French keeper could do from the resulting corner as an unmarked Luisao headed home to double the lead with just under an hour played.

Christian Eriksen halved the deficit with a brilliant free kick in the 64th minute to give the home fans some hope of a revival, but it was Jorge Jesus' side who continued to look more threatening in attack.

Benfica's persistence paid off with six minutes remaining as former Brazilian international Luisao scored his second and his team's third of the night.

The defeat was Spurs' first at home in 11 European fixtures while last year's runners up stretch their winning run to five in the competition.

There was also joy for FC Porto who beat Rafael Benitez's Napoli 1-0 at the Estadio do Dragao.

Benitez, who guided Chelsea to glory in the competition last season, will require all his famed tactical nous in the return leg next Thursday after Colombian striker Jackson Martinez's 57th minute strike handed Porto the advantage.

Over in Bulgaria, Benitez's old club Valencia -- who he steered to the UEFA Cup success in 2004 -- has all but booked a place in the quarterfinals after a 3-0 against Ludogorets Razgrad in Sofia.

The visitors won convincingly despite having Seydou Keita sent off in the 25th minute for a foul on Roman Bezjak inside the penalty area.

Bezjak couldn't convert the spot kick and Valencia, who were already a goal to the good thanks to Antonio Barragan's fifth minute strike, made the most of the slip, despite the numerical disadvantage.

Fede Cartabia doubled the lead in the 33rd minute before Philippe Senderos put the match, and most probably the tie, beyond the Bulgarians with a third away goal.

Elsewhere, Switzerland's FC Basel drew 0-0 with Austrian side Salzburg while the all-Italian clash between runaway Serie A leaders Juventus and fourth-placed Fiorentina ended in a 1-1 draw.

In the all-Spanish tie, Real Betis, who are anchored at the foot of La Liga, recorded a fine 2-0 win at seventh-placed Sevilla.

French side Lyon has almost guaranteed passage through to the last eight with a comprehensive 4-1 win over Czech side Viktoria Plzen while Dutch side AZ Alkmaar will take a slender advantage into the second leg against Russia's Anzhi Makhachkala after winning the first leg 1-0 at the AFAS Stadion.

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