After 9 months of watching clubs toil through the Europa League, many relishing the rare opportunity to play in a European competition, it’s two Champions League dropouts who make it through to Amsterdam.
Chelsea defeated Basel 3-1 tonight at home in London, winning 5-2 on aggregate to make their second European final in under 12 months, on the heels of their Champions League victory last season. Down 1-0 to the reigning Swiss champions, the English giants splashed for three goals in nine minutes. Fernando Torres opening the scoring in the 50th minute and David Luiz capping off the treble with a cracking strike in the 59th, reminiscent of his wonder goal against Fulham last month.
Benfica made their way to the Europa League final via a much more exciting finish at home in their semifinal tie with Fenerbahce. With the score at 2-1 in favor of Benfica, the aggregate sat on 2-2 and it remained Fenerbache’s advantage thanks to the away goal, a Durk Kuyt converted penalty. It all changed in the 66th minute as a long throw into the box sat uncleared and Oscar Cardoza slammed it home for his second goal of the match, giving Benfica the 3-2 aggregate advantage and eventual winner.
Chelsea will be looking for their first piece of silverware under lame-duck manager Rafa Benitez. They’ve played in three competition finals this season and have lost them all. David Luiz told ITV after the match, “The second half was better and I am happy we are in the final. This is one more opportunity to win a title.”
The Europa League final will be played on May 15 at Amsterdam Arena in Amsterdam, Netherlands, which normally plays host to Ajax.
LIMA, Peru (AP) Peru has extradited the country’s former soccer boss to the United States for his alleged involvement in a multibillion-dollar FIFA bribery scandal involving marketing and broadcasting rights.
Manuel Burga was sent to New York on a commercial flight before dawn on Friday.
He has been in jail since December 2015 as part of the investigation. Peru’s Supreme Court in June cleared the way for his extradition and President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski signed a decree authorizing the move a week ago.
Burga oversaw Peru’s football federation for more than a decade until 2014. He has denied any wrongdoing.
While the battle for MLS Cup 2016 has been dwindled down to two sides, the rest of the league continues to make roster transactions in preparation for next season.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]
The San Jose Earthquakes announced on Friday that the club has exercised options on six players, including goalkeeper David Bingham, Fatai Alashe, Kip Colvey and Victor Bernardez.
Additionally, the Earthquakes have released nine players, including U.S. Men’s National Team defender Clarence Goodson, Marc Pelosi and Tommy Thompson, however, the latter two are reportedly in talks to return to the club in 2017.
NAPLES, Italy (AP) Napoli eased to a 3-0 win over Inter Milan in Serie A on Friday, with two goals in the opening five minutes.
[ MORE: Top 5 PL storylines heading into weekend ]
The home side got off to a lightning start as, following a wonderful team move, Jose Callejon headed back Marek Hamsik’s chipped pass for Piotr Zielinski to volley into the bottom left corner.
[ MORE: Ronaldo, Mourinho involved in massive tax evasion system ]
Zielinski turned provider moments later as Hamsik beat the offside trap to run onto his pass and fire into the bottom right corner.
It was Hamsik’s 104th goal for Napoli, moving him level with Edinson Cavani in third in the clubs’ goalscoring charts. The Slovakia forward needs 11 more to equal Diego Maradona’s record.
Inter started the second half aggressively but hopes of getting back into the match were scuppered six minutes after the restart when Lorenzo Insigne netted his fourth goal in three league matches after visiting goalkeeper Samir Handanovic only flapped at a corner.
Napoli moved level on points with Atalanta, which visits league leader Juventus on Saturday, and fourth-placed Lazio, which hosts Roma in the capital derby on Sunday.
Inter, which beat Fiorentina 4-2 on Monday for its first win under coach Stefano Pioli, remained eighth ahead of the rest of the weekend’s fixtures.
On a day where Atlanta United added another young talent, the 2017 MLS expansion side could be preparing to make a major splash for a South American playmaker.
According to numerous Argentine media outlets, Atlanta is closing in on signing Paraguay international Miguel Almiron for an MLS-record fee of $13 million from Lanus at the end of 2016.
Almiron, 22, has scored three goals in 34 appearances for Lanus since joining the Argentine club in 2015. The young winger began his professional career back in 2013 with Cerro Porteno, where Almiron also played for the club’s youth academy.
On the international stage, Almiron has already earned seven caps for Paraguay after previously representing the nation’s Under-17 and U-20 national teams.