Lisbon, April 20 (IANS) Sporting Lisbon defeated Athletic Bilbao 2-1 in the first leg of the UEFA Europa League football semifinals here.
For Sporting the win in the first leg of the semifinal here Thursday night is the opportunity to return to an European final seven years after losing the final match in the UEFA's Cup. This year, Sporting did not lose any European matches at home, with seven wins and four draws.
Enroute to the semifinal Athletic Bilbao had a strong record on the out game, defeating Manchester United in England and Shalke 04 in Germany.
The first half ended with no goals. Sporting started the game pressing high and Athletic faced many difficulties to organize the attacking moves.
The first Athletic shot on goal was on the 32nd minute. Athletic had more ball control, 56 percent, but Sporting had more speed in the transitions from defense to attack and more goal opportunities.
The second half was thrilling, with well played soccer from both sides. In the 54th minute, after a free kick, on a faulty relief by Insua, Aurtanetxe received the ball in front of the goal and just touched to score.
After the goal, Sporting lost the focus and Athletic had more opportunities for a larger score. The turnaround started in the 76th minute. After a cross by Capel, Athletic defense tried to deviate, and the ball was bouncing in the box. Insua with a header scored the equalizer.
In the 79th minute, Capel from out of the box scored with a strong shot in the lower left corner of the goal.
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