Atletico crush Che, Lisbon joy
Atletico Madrid overpowered Valencia 4-2 in their Europa League semi-final first leg, while hosts Sporting Lisbon beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1.
Atletico Madrid moved a step closer to their second Europa League final in three years as two goals from Radamel Falcao and further strikes from Miranda and Adrian Lopez gave them a 4-2 win over Spanish rivals Valencia.
The hosts started brightly and could have been ahead even earlier as Diego Alves saved from Diego and Adrian before the latter showed great persistence to set Falcao up for the easiest of headers to open the scoring on 18 minutes.
After that initial burst from Atletico, though, Valencia started to gain a foothold in the game and equalised in first-half stoppage time as Jonas swept home Adil Rami's knockdown.
However, 2010 Europa League winners Atletico started the second period in even stronger fashion and scored twice in nine minutes as Miranda took advantage of some slack marking to head home Diego's free-kick before Adrian slotted past Alves from a narrow angle.
Falcao looked to have all-but sealed Atletico's place in the final in Bucharest with a sensational strike from outside the area that went in off the bar 12 minutes from time, but Ricardo Costa headed home from another corner with virtually the last touch of the game to give Valencia some hope heading into the return leg at the Mestalla next week.
Sporting Lisbon netted twice in the last 15 minutes to overturn a deficit against Athletic Bilbao and earn themselves a narrow lead to take across the Iberian peninsula for the second leg.
Athletic, looking for their first major trophy since 1984, took a 54th-minute lead through Jon Aurtenetxe but Sporting drew level through Emiliano Insua before the impressive Diego Capel - a Spain international - drilled home the match-winner 10 minutes from time to down his countrymen.
The Portuguese outfit pushed hard for a third goal late on but Athletic managed to keep them out to leave the tie firmly in the balance ahead of next week's second leg in the Basque country.