Benfica crushed injury-hit Everton 5-0 to end the English club’s perfect record in Group I of the Europa League on Thursday night.
The Portuguese side notched their second win in three outings to move top above their opponents on goal difference, as South American strikers Javier Saviola and Oscar Cardozo both scored twice. With Everton boss David Moyes missing 11 first-team regulars, it was little surprise when Argentina international Saviola opened the scoring in the 14th minute with a superb half-volley after a crossfield pass from Angel Di Maria split the defense. The visitors held out until halftime, but Uruguay international Cardozo netted twice in two minutes soon after the break. The first came from close range on 47 and the next was from a header also at the far post, with Saviola and Di Maria setting him up. Luisao made it 4-0 in the 52nd minute despite a valiant attempt to keep the ball out by debutant defender Seamus Coleman, and Saviola wrapped up the rout with his second seven minutes from time. In the other Group I match, Belarussian champions BATE Borisov came from behind to beat AEK Athens 2-1 at home to claim their first points. Aleksandr Alumona netted an 86th-minute winner after Alexander Pavlov leveled on 52 following Ismael Blanco’s 33rd-minute penalty for the Greek side.
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Salzburg claimed a third successive victory in Group G, with the Austrian team winning 1-0 at home to Bulgaria’s Levski Sofia thanks to Dusan Svento’s winner on the stroke of halftime. Italian club Lazio retained second after their second win, beating Villarreal 2-1 despite being reduced to 10 men. Striker Mauro Zarate put the home side ahead with a cool finish in the 20th minute, but Uruguayan midfielder Sebastian Eguren equalized five minutes before the interval with a powerful header from Joan Capdevila’s cross. Lazio had Brazilian midfielder Matuzalem sent off in the 69th minute for his second yellow card, harshly awarded for diving, but snatched victory two minutes into stoppage time as substitute Thomaso Rocchi stabbed home the winner from close range from a low cross. In Group H, Fenerbahce went top on six points with their second victory by winning 1-0 away to Romania’s Steaua Bucuresti as striker Kazim Kazim scored the only goal in the 58th minute. In the other game, Moldovan champions FC Sheriff Tiraspol ended the 17-match unbeaten run this season of Dutch high-fliers Twente Enschede with a 2-0 home victory, leaving both teams on four points. Burkina Faso midfielder Wilfried Benjamin Balima headed the opener four minutes before halftime, while Franca Jymmy sealed victory deep into injury-time as Steve McClaren’s side pressed in vain for an equalizer. Defending champions Shakhtar Donetsk moved five points clear in Group J, with the Ukrainian side winning their third successive game and scoring four goals for the third time, crushing Toulouse 4-0. Fernandinho opened the scoring with an eighth-minute penalty and also netted the fourth goal in the 56th minute, while Luiz Adriano and Tomas Hubschman also struck in the first half. Belgium’s Club Brugge left Partizan Belgrade without a point after winning 2-0 at home as Croatian midfielder Ivan Perisic scored in the fourth and 58th minutes. In Group K, unbeaten PSV Eindhoven went three points clear at the top with a 1-0 win at home to Denmark’s FC Copenhagen, as Jonathan Reis made up for having his first-half penalty saved by Johan Wiland when he fired in a 72nd-minute decider. Sparta Prague moved off the bottom into second on four points with their first group-stage win since 2003, as the Czech side defeated Romania’s CFR Cluj 2-0 with first-half goals from Juraj Kucka (15) and Roman Hubnik (32). In Group L, Werder Bremen stayed on top despite dropping their first points, with the German side held 2-2 away to Austria Vienna. Striker Claudio Pizarro put the visitors 2-0 ahead with goals in the 19th and 63rd minutes to take his tally to 12 from 13 games this season, while Per Mertesacker headed against the Vienna woodwork. But Emin Sulimani reduced the deficit on 73 and Thiago Schumacher equalized with a header from his cross with three minutes left. Athletic Bilbao moved into second place on six points, coming from behind to beat Portugal’s Nacional, who took the lead just before halftime through Ruben Micael. Veteran winger Joseba Etxeberria leveled on 66 before Spain striker Fernando Llorente held off the challenge of Nuno Pinto to strike an 86th-minute winner and end the Basque outfit’s poor run of one win from five matches.