Benfica and Sevilla grabbed vital first-leg leads in their Europa League soccer semi-finals on Thursday leaving Juventus and Valencia to try to claw back deficits next week.
Brazilian striker Lima struck a wonder goal with six minutes remaining as Benfica edged Juventus 2-1 in Lisbon while Sevilla hit two first-half goals to see off La Liga rivals Valencia 2-0.
After Carlos Tevez tucked away a brilliant equaliser for Serie A leaders Juventus with 17 minutes remaining at the Estadio do Luz, Lima smashed home an unstoppable drive to give the Lisbon outfit a precious advantage.
Juventus must score at home on Thursday to keep their bid on track to reach the final on May 14.
Benfica, beaten finalists last year against Chelsea and crowned Portuguese champions for the 33rd time last weekend, grabbed the lead after just three minutes when they forced a corner.
The ball was swung into the heart of the box and Argentine central defender Ezequiel Garay planted a sharp header past Juve’s veteran ‘keeper Gianluigi Buffon.
Jorge Jesus’ well-organised Benfica unit threatened to increase their advantage and a series of counter-attacks led to a clean chance that Serbian international Lazar Markovic failed to convert just before the break.
Argentine veteran Tevez grabbed the all-important away goal. A mazy run inside the box allowed the 30-year-old space to slip the ball under Artur’s flailing legs.
With time running out, Lima fired home his thunderbolt to put the Portuguese back in charge and set up a tantalising second leg.
Sevilla, the 2006 and 2007 champions, took a huge step towards the final as they beat Valencia 2-0 at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
The hosts went ahead in controversial circumstances as Stephane Mbia backheeled the ball into the roof of the net despite clearly being in an offside position before Carlos Bacca doubled Sevilla’s advantage soon after.
Valencia were thankful to goalkeeper Vicente Guaita for not falling further behind as he made fine saves from Federico Fazio and Bacca.
However, Los Che came within inches of a vital away goal three minutes from time when Eduardo Vargas’ header came crashing off the crossbar.
Sevilla came into the game having won 12 of their past 15 games in all competitions.
Juan Antonio Pizzi’s Valencia will have a mountain to climb on Thursday at the Mestalla, but can take inspiration from their quarter-final comeback against Basel as they overturned a 3-0 deficit with a stunning 5-0 win at home in the second leg.