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Portuguese Trio Joined by Villarreal in Europa League Semifinals

April 15 (Bloomberg) -- The Portuguese trio of Porto, Braga and Benfica advanced to the Europa League soccer semifinals, where they’ll be joined by Spanish club Villarreal.

Porto, the favorite with U.K. bookmakers to win European soccer’s second-tier competition, beat Spartak Moscow 5-2 last night for a 10-3 victory over two matches. It was the biggest quarterfinal aggregate win in the tournament’s history.

Braga’s goalless home draw with Dynamo Kiev sent it through on the away goals rule after the teams finished 1-1. Benfica’s 2-2 tie at PSV Eindhoven gave it a 6-3 total win, and Villarreal completed an 8-2 victory by beating FC Twente 3-1.

Hulk, Cristian Rodriguez, Freddy Guarin, Falcao and Ruben Micael had the goals in Moscow for 2003 champion Porto, which has won all seven of its away games in the Europa League this season. Falcao now has 11 goals to lead the tournament.

Braga knocked out Dynamo Kiev after playing the final 61 minutes with 10 men following Paulo Cesar’s red card for a late challenge. Braga advanced to its first European semifinal by virtue of scoring more away goals, after a 1-1 draw in the opening game.

Dynamo Kiev also finished with 10 men after Goran Popov received his second yellow card with two minutes remaining.

Braga will play Benfica, which rallied for the away tie at PSV. Balazs Dzsudzsak and Jeremain Lens scored in the opening 25 minutes for the Dutch side, before Anderson Luisao and Oscar Cardozo answered for Benfica.

Giuseppe Rossi and Marco Ruben scored with penalty kicks, and Cani added a late goal to lead Villarreal past FC Twente in the Netherlands. Emir Bajrami scored for Twente, which had Dwight Tiendalli sent off for a foul that led to Rossi’s spot kick.

The two-game semifinals will be played April 28 and May 5, with the final May 18 in Dublin.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Bensch in London at bbensch@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net.

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