9/2 Home birds Newcastle can shock Benfica by earning qualification
Jorge Jesus’ Benfica were unlucky to depart the Champions League at the group stage and hold a useful two goal advantage going into their second leg of their Europa League quarter final with Newcastle, but their away goal will give the Magpies hope of turning things around. The Tyneside club are 13/8 to win at St James’ Park 9/2 to qualify.
Despite slipping out of the Champions League, Benfica are enjoying a rare season, with an unbeaten league campaign depositing them top of the Portuguese Liga. The Lisbon club currently riding the crest of an 12 match winning wave.
Since parachuting into the Europa League they’ve dispensed with Bayer Leverkusen and Bordeaux in convincing fashion. However, with the roles of host and visitor reversed there’s every reason to suggest that the Magpies can get their beaks back in front on Tyneside.
It’s at the the Stadio De La Luz where the visitors shine brightest, with 16 wins from their 19 continental contests across the last three campaigns.
Benfica have dropped points in just five away games this term, but telling they include all three of their Champions League away matches. In fact they’ve failed to win 14 of their last 19 European away games.
Conversely Newcastle have a woeful away record, winning just twice on the road all season and will be glad to have got back to what will be a sell out St James’s Park crowd with more than a shred of hope intact.
The Magpies created a decent helping of chances for themselves a week ago in Portugal, with Papiss Cisse, who seems to be returning to the boil in the season’s final furlongs, unlucky not have a hat-trick after striking the uprights on two occasions. Cisse who has notched in the ninetieth minute of his last three home games is 5/1 to score last and 5/4 to score any time tonight with Coral.
Alan Pardew’s men can rely on fervent home support at St James’s and having won five of their last six home games, they seem to be a better side in front of the massed regiments of the Toon Army making a 9/2 upset qualification seem more likely than the price might suggest against foes who are not at their bets on the road.