THE pressure on Tim Sherwood and Tottenham cranked up a gear as their hopes of reaching the Europa League quarter-finals were made remote by Benfica’s comprehensive 3-1 victory in north London last night.
Sherwood criticised his players after Saturday’s 4-0 defeat to Chelsea. But there was to be no morale-boosting response against Benfica, who are now overwhelming favourites to progress ahead of next week’s second leg.
Benfica went ahead when Bolton loanee Rodrigo slotted home just before the half-hour.
Woeful defending allowed Luisao to divert home Benfica’s second on 58 minutes before Christian Eriksen reduced the deficit with a superb free-kick.
However, Luisao then smashed home his second of the night, with Sherwood and counterpart Jorge Jesus refusing to shake hands at the end.
Second-half substitute Mario Gomez struck a 79th-minute equaliser to earn Fiorentina a 1-1 draw with Juventus in Turin. Arturo Vidal has put Juve ahead in the third minute.
Real Betis stunned city rivals Sevilla with a 2-0 win. Leo Baptistao’s first-half header and Salva Sevilla’s well-taken second gave Betis victory.Jackson Martinez scored the only goal in the 57th minute as Porto claimed a 1-0 win over Napoli in Portugal while Valencia virtually assured themselves of a last-eight place after a 3-0 win at Ludogorets.
The Spaniards went 1-0 up through Antonio Barragan after five minutes and went on to add more goals through Federico Cartabia and Philippe Senderos
Lyon came from behind to claim a 4-1 win over Viktoria Plzen in France. Tomas Horava gave the Czechs an early lead before Lyon hit back through a Gueida Fofana brace, Alexandre Lacazette and Arnold Mvuemba.
A first-half penalty from Aron Johansson earned AZ Alkmaar a 1-0 win over Anzhi Makhachkala in Holland while Basel ended Salzburg’s 14-game winning streak in all competitions as they played out a goalless draw at St Jakob Park.
Uefa Europa League, round of 16, 1st legs: AZ Alkmaar 1 Anzhi Makhachkala 0; Basel 0 Salzburg 0; Juventus 1 Fiorentina 1; Ludogorets 0 Valencia 3; Lyon 4 Viktoria Plzen 1; Porto 1 Napoli 0; Sevilla 0 Real Betis 2; Tottenham 1 Benfica 3.
Kilmarnock v Celtic (7.45)