Tottenham’s hopes of winning a trophy are over for another season, yet they will return from Portugal with renewed optimism after Nacer Chadli’s brace ended a three-match losing streak in a battling 2-2 draw with Benfica.
Following a 3-1 defeat in the first leg of their last-16 tie, Spurs’ task was made all the more difficult by the absence of 11 first-teamers. But they did not wilt despite their uphill struggle becoming even steeper when Ezequiel Garay powered home a first-half header.
It looked to have effectively ended the tie in which there were no repeat of the fireworks between Spurs manager Tim Sherwood and Benfica counterpart Jorge Jesus, only for summer signing Chadli to turn the match on its head. The Belgium forward netted a quickfire brace which was followed up by Aaron Lennon, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Harry Kane efforts, as well as a strong penalty claim before Lima tucked away a spot-kick for the hosts in stoppage-time.
In other ties, Andrea Pirlo kept Juventus on course for a home Europa League final after a superb second-half free-kick gave Juve a 1-0 away win over Italian rivals Fiorentina and a 2-1 aggregate success to send the Serie A leaders into the quarter-finals.
Pirlo’s strike came after Fiorentina were reduced to ten men two minutes earlier after Gonzalo Rodriguez was sent off for tripping Fernando Llorente just outside the box.
Porto struck twice in the space of seven second-half minutes to progress after a 2-2 draw with Napoli gave them a 3-2 aggregate success. The Italians led through Goran Pandev’s 20th minute goal but Porto hit back through Nabil Ghilas and Ricardo Quaresma before Duvan Zapata’s injury-time consolation.
Valencia, Olympique Lyon and AZ Alkmaar also progressed to the last eight.
Lyon eased through 5-3 against Viktoria Plzen despite a 2-1 second-leg defeat in the Czech Republic while a second-half goal from Paco Alcacer earned Valencia a 1-0 win at home to Bulgaria’s Ludogorets for a 4-0 aggregate win.
UEFA Europa League Round of 16. Second Leg: Anzhi Makhachkala 0 AZ 0 (agg: 0-1); Benfica 2 Spurs 2 (agg: 5-3); Fiorentina 0 Juventus 1 (agg: 1-2); Napoli 2 FC Porto 2 (agg 2-3); Plzen 2 Lyon 1 (agg: 3-5); Real Betis L Sevilla L; SV Red Bull Salzburg v Basel (8.05); Valencia 1 Ludogorets 0 (agg: 4-0).
TONIGHT’S FIXTURES (7.45)
Scottish Premiership: Hearts v Dundee United.
Sky Bet League 2: Bristol Rovers v Southend. Oxford Utd v Hartlepool.