Skip to main content

Juventus cruises, Valencia rallies to reach Europa League semifinals

updated 7:00 PM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Juventus players celebrate after reaching the semifinals in the Europa League.
Juventus players celebrate after reaching the semifinals in the Europa League.
  • Juventus completes a two-leg victory over Lyon in the Europa League quarterfinals
  • It's Juventus' first European semifinal since 2003 in the Champions League
  • Valencia makes history as it rallies to overcome Basel 5-3 on aggregate
  • Sevilla and 2013 finalist Benfica also advance to the last four in the competition

Follow us at @WorldSportCNN and like us on Facebook

(CNN) -- There was a time when Italian teams dominated European football's second-tier competition, winning the UEFA Cup in six of seven seasons starting in the late 1980s. But the last Italian outfit to win the event, now the Europa League, was Parma in 1999.

No one would bet against Juventus ending the drought this campaign and how sweet it would be for the Turin giant since the final will be held at Juventus' own stadium.

The runaway leader in Serie A, Juventus reached the semifinals Thursday after beating Lyon 2-1 in Turin and 3-1 on aggregate.

For the 'Old Lady' of Italian football, it marked a first European semifinal since the club lost the Champions League final to AC Milan in 2003 -- before the 'Calciopoli' match-fixing scandal that resulted in Juventus being stripped of two Serie A titles and demoted.

Juventus was joined in the last four by Valencia -- which made history in overturning a 3-0 first-leg deficit against Basel -- Sevilla and 2013 finalist Benfica.

"This season, even though the competition is different, we are still having an important journey in Europe," Juve manager Antonio Conte, whose men were ousted in the Champions League last fall, was quoted as saying by the Football Italia website. "Juventus hadn't reached this phase in Europe for 10 years.

"We've got to keep our feet on the ground and not forget three years ago this team wasn't even in the Europa League.

"We have won a great deal over the last two years and are protagonists this season, too. The fans must stay close to the team for 90 minutes and I hope this can happen, so we never forget the past. We cared about reaching this objective and hope all of Italy can be happy with it."

Andrea Pirlo struck early for Juventus before Jimmy Briand leveled in the first half as the visitor enjoyed a good spell. Samuel Umtiti's own goal settled the affair in the 68th minute.

"It's not that just because we are called Juventus we are greeted by a red carpet ushering us through to certain victory," said Conte. "Anyone who thinks everything is easy just because we are Juventus is deeply wrong."

Iberian teams have been the ones doing well lately in the Europa League, lifting the trophy in three of the four previous years, and Thursday's results ensured at least one more Iberian side would feature in the May 14 finale.

No club had ever rallied from 3-0 down in a tie to advance since the Europa League was introduced but Paco Alcacer's hat-trick inspired Valencia in its 5-0 extra-time victory. Basel had two men sent off in extra time.

Sevilla, the two-time UEFA Cup winner, trailed FC Porto 1-0 after the first leg but three goals in the first 30 minutes at home were enough to see off the 2011 champion.

Even a red card to Coke Andujar in the 54th minute wasn't enough to help Porto, which fell 4-1 on the night.

Benfica, beaten by Chelsea last year in the final, got a double from Rodrigo to defeat AZ Alkmaar 2-0 Thursday and 3-0 on aggregate.

The semifinal draw takes place Friday.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:23 AM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
After 20 years, more than 300 goals and a host of major honors, Thierry Henry has called time on his glittering football career.
updated 5:14 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
They do things differently at Sociedad Deportiva Eibar, up in the mist-cloaked valleys of the Basque country. And it is working.
updated 8:53 AM EST, Wed December 10, 2014
He might be struggling to score goals for Liverpool, but Mario Balotelli's cheeky tweet about the British monarch hit the spot during the World Cup.
updated 8:53 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
How Real Madrid's new stadium will look
They splash the cash on the world's best players, now Real Madrid are giving the Bernabeu the same treatment with a bling makeover.
updated 9:09 AM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Football world mourns South African captain Senzo Meyiwa who was shot and killed during a botched robbery in a township near Johannesburg.
updated 9:48 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
A man as a Roman centurion and who earn his living by posing with tourists gestures in front of the Colosseum during a protest where some of his colleagues climbed on the monument on April 12, 2012 in Rome. The costumed centurions are asking for the right to work there after they were banned following a decision by local authorities.
From the ancient ruins of Rome, a new empire rises. But the eyes of the city's newest gladiator light up at thoughts of the Colosseum.
updated 12:22 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Once part of Germany's largest Jewish sports club, now he's the first ISIS suspect to stand trial in a country left shocked by his alleged radicalization.
updated 10:11 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
One goal in eight matches for new club Liverpool, and dumped by the Italian national team -- Mario Balotelli has yet to shine on his English return.
updated 2:19 PM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
Ched Evans smiles during the Wales training session ahead of their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against England on March 25, 2011 in Cardiff, Wales.
Should a convicted rapist, who has served their time in prison, be allowed to resume their old job? What if that job was as a high-profile football player?
updated 8:47 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
After 10 years of golden glory, it's easy to see how Lionel Messi has taken his place among the football gods.
updated 6:34 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
A football fan wipes a tear after Inter Milan's Argentinian defender Javier Zanetti has greeted fans following the announcement of his retirement before the start of the Italian seria A football match Inter Milan vs Lazio, on May 10, 2014, in San Siro Stadium In Milan
When will the tears stop? A leading Italian football club is pursuing a new direction -- under the guidance of its new Indonesian owner.
updated 6:41 PM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Norwegian 15-year-old Martin Odegaard is the youngest player ever to feature in a European Championships qualifying match.
updated 9:10 AM EDT, Fri October 10, 2014
After revolutionizing cricket with its glitzy Twenty20 league, India has now thrown large sums of money at a new football venture.
updated 10:53 AM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
Get ruthless. That is Rio Ferdinand's message to soccer's authorities in the fight to tackle the scourge of racism.
updated 9:28 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
A picture taken on May 16, 2014 shows 15-year-old Norwegian footballer Martin Oedegaard of club Stroemsgodset IF cheering during a match in Drammen, Norway. Oedegaard is set to become Norways youngest player ever in the national football team.
He's just 15 and the world is seemingly already at his feet. Norway's Martin Odegaard is being sought by Europe's top clubs.