MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 19: Radamel Falcao of Atletico Madrid celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Europa League Semi Final first leg match between Atletico Madrid and Valencia at Vicente Calderon stadium on April 19, 2012 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)

UEFA Europa League 2012: Atletico, Sporting Earn Home Wins

Atletico Madrid have one foot in the Europa League final after demolishing Valencia 4-2 at home, while Sporting Lisbon managed to come from behind against Athletic Bilbao, earning a 2-1 victory that leaves that tie very much in the balance.

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Sporting Lisbon Vs. Athletic Bilbao, 2012 Europa League Semifinal: Final Score 2-1 Sporting After Comeback Win

Sporting Lisbon took advantage of a mediocre Athletic Bilbao to win 2-1 at home at set up a fascinating return leg at the San Mamés next week. Neither side looked entirely at the top of their game, with Athletic sloppy and Sporting lacking a cutting edge, which made the whole affair rather interesting because it was difficult to predict how things would turn out.

As it transpired, it was the visitors who took the lead in the 54th minute, with Jon Aurtenetxe latching onto a free kick following Fernando Llorente's flick, slamming past Rui Patrício with his left foot to give Athletic a vital away goal. They probably didn't deserve it, but hey, Sporting weren't looking great, and if they were going to hand their opponents the tie, I'm sure Marcelo Bielsa would have been perfectly happy with that.

He wasn't so lucky, however. With 15 minutes to go the hosts struck, with Emiliano Insúa taking advantage of a missed clearance to nod home the equaliser. Diego Capel made it 2-1 four minutes later when he found the bottom corner from 20 yards. Both sides tried to get a fourth goal as time wound down, but couldn't manage it and the match ended at 2-1.

So the tie remains up in the air. A 2-1 win for the hosts in the first leg is, thanks to the away goal, a pretty much neutral result, and both sides will feel pretty confident in their chances of reaching the final.


Atlético Madrid Vs. Valencia, 2012 Europa League Semifinals: Final Score 4-2 Atlético, Falcao Inspires Thrashing

Atlético Madrid look on course to reach the Europa League final following a 4-2 home win against Valencia. The hosts are seven points behind their opponents in the league, but that form didn't seem to count for much at the Vicente Calderón, where a steady stream of second-half shots overwhelmed an unimpressive Los Che side.

The opening spell was much tighter, and although Atlético struck first, they did so in rather strange fashion, with Radamel Falcao nodding home a cutback that Valencia's defence appeared to assume had gone over the byline. The visitors were very much in the tie and came roaring back with a goal of their own in first-half stoppage time when Adil Rami flicked on a corner for Jonas to tap in at the far post.

They say that just before halftime is a bad time to concede, but the hosts showed no signs of a wobble and came out firing as soon as Craig Thomson sounded the restart. It took five minutes for Atlético to regain their lead, thanks to a mix-up in the Valencia defence, which saw Miranda left unmarked on a free kick and gave the defender an easy header past Diego Alves to make it 2-1.

Adrian scored shortly thereafter with a neat run and cool finish, but the goal that really killed off this match (and probably tie) was Falcao's second, a screamer from outside the box that bounced off the bottom of the crossbar on its way into the goal. Valencia looked like they were going to melt away under a flurry of good chances, but in the fourth minute of injury time, the visitors grabbed a corner and then struck back via Ricardo Costa, following a slip from Thibaut Courtois.

A two-goal lead is nothing to sneeze at as far as Atlético are concerned, but they'll be peeved that they allowed that last-minute Costa goal -- it could be a vital one for Valencia, who now only have to win by two at the Mestalla. Still, Atlético will be the happier side today.

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