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Apr 19, 2012

Falcao stars, Sporting stun Bilbao

Colombian striker Radamel Falcao continued his impressive goalscoring record in the Europa League with a brace as Atletico Madrid claimed a 4-2 victory over Valencia in their semi-final first leg at the Vicente Calderon.

• Atletico Madrid 4-2 Valencia
• Falcao's golazo against Valencia
• Europa League gallery Photo Gallery

Falcao, who scored 17 goals to help Porto win the competition last season, netted after just 17 minutes but his strike was cancelled out by Brazilian forward Jonas as the scores remained level at half-time.

But Madrid were much the better side and they moved ahead through Miranda and Adrian after the break, before Falcao scored a wonderful solo effort. The €40 million summer signing is now level with Schalke's Klaas-Jan Huntelaar as the top scorer in the main phase of this season's Europa League, with ten goals.

Madrid looked set for an easy second leg but Ricardo Costa's header deep into injury-time handed Valencia a lifeline. However, La Liga's third-placed side still have plenty to do when they host Atletico at the Mestalla.

Portuguese side Sporting Lisbon, the only team that can prevent an all-Spanish final in Bucharest on May 8, fought back from a goal down to beat Manchester United's conquerors Athletic Bilbao 2-1 at the Estadio Jose Alvalade.

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 ten 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.

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