Skip to main content

Juventus cruises, Valencia rallies to reach Europa League semifinals

April 10, 2014 -- Updated 2300 GMT (0700 HKT)
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
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 1151 GMT (1951 HKT)
Last season Jose Mourinho wrote off the title of hopes of his "little horse" -- but now he has a squad primed to dethrone Manchester City.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1858 GMT (0258 HKT)
Luis Suarez will have to wait until late October to make his competitive Barcelona debut his ban for biting an opponent was partially upheld.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1649 GMT (0049 HKT)
Can Louis van Gaal cut it at Manchester United? Will Bayern conquer all in Germany? Is this PSG's year to win the Champions League?
August 7, 2014 -- Updated 1012 GMT (1812 HKT)
It's been a difficult year for Barcelona on and off the pitch, and the signing of Luis Suarez has only increased the prospect of more controversy.
August 11, 2014 -- Updated 1435 GMT (2235 HKT)
Germany striker Miroslav Klose, who scored a total of 16 goals at four World Cup finals, has announced his retirement from international football.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
Cultural y Deportivo Leonesa line up in their tuxedo kit.
When celebrating an important anniversary, it's always good to look your best. At least that's theory for a Spanish football team's preseason tuxedo kit.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1103 GMT (1903 HKT)
While many top European clubs are targeting the U.S. market, French football is setting its sights on expanding into Asia -- with China playing a key role.
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 1229 GMT (2029 HKT)
Major League Soccer has snared another big name from England with former Chelsea star Frank Lampard committing his future to New York City FC.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1656 GMT (0056 HKT)
Europe's top clubs have booked a summer holiday to the U.S. -- but this is business not pleasure as they look to cash in on the World Cup afterglow.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1828 GMT (0228 HKT)
Brazil's new coach Dunga won the World Cup as a player in 1994.
Former World Cup-winning captain Dunga is appointed coach of Brazil's national team for the second time, charged with restoring national pride.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1420 GMT (2220 HKT)
Colombia's World Cup star James Rodriguez continues Real Madrid's long tradition of signing "Galacticos."
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1007 GMT (1807 HKT)
Germany's World Cup-winning captain Philipp Lahm has decided to go out at the top by announcing his retirement from international football.