Europa League - Benfica hit three to sink Newcastle

Europa League quarter-final first leg, Estadio da Luz - Benfica 3 (Rodrigo 25, Lima 66, Cardozo 71 pen) Newcastle United 1 (Cisse 12)

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Benfica's Andre Almeida (R) fights for the ball with Newcastle's Davide Santon during their Europa League quarter-final first leg match at Luz stadium in Lisbon

Benfica produced a second-half masterclass as they came from behind to beat Newcastle 3-1 in the first-leg of their Europa League quarter-final in Portugal.

The Eagles fell behind on 12 minutes when Papiss Cisse finished off a flowing counter attack to give the visitors a deserved lead.

However, Rodrigo pulled the hosts level at the break when he tucked home a rebound just moments after Cisse had almost doubled the Magpies' advantage with a shot that cannoned back off the post.

Newcastle's Senegal star then struck the woodwork for a second time following the break and it proved to be a huge turning point in the game.

A misplaced back pass by Davide Santon gifted substitute Lima the chance to give Benfica the lead before Oscar Cardozo fired in a twice-taken spot-kick.

It leaves Alan Pardew's men with it all to do ahead of the second leg at St James' Park next week.

Benfica came into the contest as red-hot favourites to progress to the last four at the expense of a struggling Newcastle side still smarting from their weekend drubbing at Manchester City.

Indeed, many observers were expecting the hosts to claim an unassailable first-leg advantage at the Estadio da Luz but it was the Magpies who raced out of the traps.

The visitors carved out the first chance of note inside two minutes when Cisse charged into the right channel and fired in a low shot that Artur did well to smother.

Benfica responded and the returning Tim Krul showed an early sign of rustiness following his long absence when he took two attempts to gather Nicolas Gaitan's thumping shot.

Newcastle were looking lively on the counter attack and on 12 minutes they sprang forward and snatched the lead with a well-worked move.

Danny Simpson clipped a sublime ball in to the path of Moussa Sissoko on the right and he in turn fizzed in a low cross for Cisse to arrive and steer home from inside the six yard box.

It was the away goal Pardew had craved and it almost got even better soon after when they came within a lick of paint of doubling their advantage.

Jonas Gutierrez cut the ball across from the left for Cisse, whose deflected shot bobbled onto the post via the merest of touches from Artur.

It proved to be a pivotal moment as the hosts poured forward and levelled within two minutes.

Cardozo weaved some space on the edge of the box and drilled in a powerful shot that Krul could only parry into the path of Rodrigo, who gleefully tucked in the rebound.

Benfica had their tails up and Krul justified his manager's pre-match comments suggesting he is one of the world's best with a sensational double stop. The Dutch keeper did well to keep out Rodrigo's venomous shot and then got to his feet in time to deny Ola John.

And the Newcastle custodian was at it again just past the half hour mark when he showed great reactions to keep out Rodrigo's effort on the spin.

The visitors may have been under the cosh but they remained a threat on the break and were unlucky not to regain the lead within a minute of the restart.

Cisse was sent galloping clear once again but saw his effort strike the far post and bounce to safety after he had steered a sublime chip over the advancing Artur.

Cardozo then came within a whisker of turning home Rodrigo's cut back before a howler from Santon presented Benfica with their second of the night.

The full-back's blind back pass was seized upon by Lima, who rounded Krul and fired into the empty net from a tight angle.

The goal gave the hosts a huge lift and with their tails up they took command of the tie 19 minutes from time.

Steven Taylor was penalised for hand ball, and although Cardozo was forced to retake his well-struck first attempt, he kept his nervy to coolly place his second effort high into the left-hand corner.

It was the Paraguayan's 28th goal in 35 matches this season and proved to be the last significant action of the evening as a lively Newcastle performance ultimately ended in dismay.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Cardozo (Benfica): A constant menace in attack. Had a hand in Benfica's first goal and showed great composure to net a twice-taken spot-kick to put the Eagles firmly in control of the tie.

PLAYER RATINGS

BENFICA: Artur 6, Luisao 6, Garay 6, Andre Almeida 6, Gaitan 7, Matic 7, Andre Gomes 6, Oscar Cardozo 8, John 6, Rodrigo 7, Melgarejo 6. Subs: Maxi Pereira 5, Perez 5, Lima 7

NEWCASTLE: Krul 8, Simpson 6, Taylor 5, Yanga-Mbiwa 6, Santon 4, Perch 5, Cabaye 6, Marveaux 6, Sissoko 6, Gutierrez 6, Cisse 7. Subs: Gosling 4, Anita 5, Ameobi 5.

MATCHCAST: FULL COMMENTARY AND STATS

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