LONDON: The Premier League maintained its retreat from Europe as Tottenham went down 3-1 at home to Benfica in the first leg of their third round tie in the Europa League.
After the Champions League exits of Arsenal and Manchester City earlier this week, Spurs slipped to the brink of elimination after being comprehensively outplayed.
Manager Tim Sherwood’s angry words after the weekend defeat by Chelsea had no significant effect and he finished up in an unseemly touchline squabble with Benfica coach Jorge Jesus.
Rodrigo’s goal on the half-hour gave the Portuguese visitors a lead which was doubled by Luisao after 58 minutes. Christian Eriksen pulled a goal back from a free-kick but Luisao struck again to put the result beyond doubt.
Second-half substitute Mario Gomez struck a 79th-minute equaliser to give Fiorentina a slight edge over Serie A rivals Juventus. Gomez, who came off the bench in the 67th minute, cancelled out Arturo Vidal’s third-minute opener as Thursday’s first leg in Turin finished 1-1.
Betis stunned city rivals Sevilla with a 2-0 win despite being outplayed for much of the derby. Sevilla had won their previous four games in all competitions and were six unbeaten, and they dominated Thursday night’s game.
Yet they somehow came away facing an imposing second-leg test next week after Leo Baptistao’s first-half header and Salva Sevilla’s strike gave Betis victory.
Valencia have one foot in the quarter-finals after a 3-0 win at Ludogorets. The Spaniards went 1-0 up through Antonio Barragan after five minutes but looked in trouble when Seydou Keita was sent off in the 25th, giving away a penalty in the process.
Diego Alves kept out Roman Bezjak’s spot-kick, though, and the visitors went on to add more goals through Federico Cartabia and Philippe Senderos.
Ludogorets then had Juninho Quixada dismissed to cap a dismal night.
Lyon will be expected to reach the last eight following a 4-1 win over Plzen. Tomas Horava took advantage of some poor defending from the Ligue 1 side to claim an early lead before the score was levelled by Gueida Fofana 10 minutes later.
Alexandre Lacazette gave Lyon the lead early in the second half before Arnold Mvuemba and Fofana wrapped up the win.
Jackson Martinez scored the only goal in the 57th minute as hosts Porto claimed a 1-0 first-leg advantage over Napoli.
AZ Alkmaar put themselves in the driving seat in their tie against Anzhi Makhachkala, nicking a 1-0 lead in Holland thanks to a first-half penalty from Aron Johansson.
Basel ended Salzburg’s 14-game winning streak in all competitions as they played out a goalless draw in the first leg at St Jakob Park.