Cardozo dashes Bordeaux's hopes
By S. Willis
Bordeaux are out of the Europa League after falling 3-2 to Benfica in the return leg of their last-16 tie, the Portuguese side too solid at the back and too clinical up front for Les Girondins to overhaul the 1-0 first-leg result.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
UEFA Europa League, round of 16 second leg
FC Girondins de Bordeaux 2 - 3 SL Benfica (Benfica through 4-2 on aggregate)
The odds were stacked against Bordeaux qualifying after losing the first leg, but Francis Gillot's men fought to the bitter end, but twin strikes from Paraguayan striker Oscar Cardozo - each one coming directly after Bordeaux has pulled one back - kept the result beyond Les Girondins' reach, sending the Portuguese side through 4-2 on aggregate.
Buoyed by their recent league success against Bastia - not to mention the fact that they had won all five of their home fixtures in the Europa League this season - Bordeaux came out swinging and created a host of chances.
Cheick Diabaté, who scored the winner against Bastia, had the first opportunity but his header skimmed the bar and flew out (4'). Henri Saivet came close to converting on two occasions (8', 12') but Artur Moraes saved sharply on both occasions to pave the way for Jardel to use his imposing physical presence and head home in front of Cédric Carrasso, leaving Bordeaux with a mountain to climb (29').
Despite needing to score three times to qualify, Gillot's men kept their heads up, and Diabaté had them level on the night in the 74th minute when he latched onto a mistake from Jardel to tuck home past Moraes.
Dominant in possession, Bordeaux looked to be turning the tie around when Cardozo, alone on the edge of the area, dazzled the entire home defence with a series of neat touches before slotting clinically past Carrasso (76').
Still Bordeaux wouldn't give up, and pulled another one back at the beginning of injury time when Jardel turned the ball into his own net while trying to clear Saivet's powerful header (90'+1). 2-2 on the night and Bordeaux's hopes - which involved scoring another two goals - were hanging by a thread.
The thread was snipped, however, just a minute later. Cardozo once again brought his skill, trickery and clinical finishing to bear as he skinned Biyogo Poko and sent his side definitively through to the quarter-finals of the competition.
Bordeaux now turn their attention to May's Coupe de France semi-final against Lens in their bid to reach Europe again next season.