Sporting come from behind to defeat Athletic; Atletico Madrid also win in Europa League semi-final first legs
Sporting Lisbon came from behind to defeat Athletic Bilbao 2-1 in Lisbon and claim a first-leg advantage in the Europa League semi-final.
Bilbao had been excellent in this season’s competition, notably knocking out both Manchester United and Schalke with relative ease.
However the Portuguese side, conquerors of Manchester City in the last 16, refused to roll over at the Jose Alvalade Stadium despite falling behind to Jon Aurtenetxe’s second half goal.
Ex-Liverpool man Emiliano Insua pulled the home side level with a terrific header before Spanish international Diego Capel won it for the Portuguese with a splendid low strike from 25 yards.
It leaves the second leg in a week’s time at San Mames delicately poised.
In the other all Spanish semi-final, Atletico Madrid were surprisingly comfortable 4-2 winners over Valencia at the Vicente Calderon.
The side from the capital had emerged victorious when these two met in the quarter-finals back in 2010, albeit after the referee had failed to award Valencia a blatant penalty.
Revenge had been talked about in the build-up to the game, but it was Atletico who were once again smiling at the final whistle.
Radamel Falcao headed the hosts into the lead before Jonas equalised from a corner for the visitors against the run of play.
The Rojiblancos were not to be denied though and three second-half goals from Miranda, Adrian Lopez and another from Falcao gave the home team a seemingly unassailable lead.
Ricardo Costa’s stoppage time header though gave Valencia their second away goal and gave them fresh hope ahead of the return game at the Mestalla.