Cardozo special lifts Benfica

Prolific Colombian striker Radamel Falcao scored four goals in FC Porto's 5-1 demolition of Villarreal in the other semifinal first leg in Porto.

Benfica had a goal disallowed and hit the post in the first half, while Braga also came close with a dangerous long-range shot from left back Silvio.

The hosts went ahead five minutes after the break when Cardozo headed against the post and centre back Jardel pounced to slide in from the rebound.

Braga levelled three minutes later when Hugo Viana sent in a curling free kick from the left and an unmarked Vandinho headed in with almost his back to the goal.

Cardozo earned Benfica the win on 59 minutes with a powerful free kick into the top-left corner that ’keeper Artur had no chance of making a save.

Jesus confident
Benfica coach Jorge Jesus said he was confident the Lisbon side could reach a first European final for 21 years.

"I believe we are going to the Dublin final. We will be in for a tough game in the second leg but this game also gives us the confidence to go and defend the result in Braga," he said.

Braga coach Domingos Paciencia, whose team knocked out Liverpool and Dynamo Kiev among others to reach their first European semifinal, was optmistic that his side could overturn the first-leg deficit.

Villarreal were dangerous in the first half and were rewarded in the closing seconds when Brazil forward Nilmar crossed for midfielder Cani to head the La Liga side in front.
The home side equalised on 49 minutes when Falcao converted a penalty after he rounded Diego Lopez and forced the keeper to bring him down.

Buoyed by the goal, Porto drove forward and went ahead on the hour-mark when Falcao's compatriot Fredy Guarin dribbled past Bruno Soriano on the right wing, cut in to fire a fierce shot against the post and headed in from the rebound.

Falcao added Porto's third in the 67th minute with a tap-in after Hulk led a counter-attack and then the fourth with a diving header from a curling free kick by Guarin that left the Spanish defence standing stunned.

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