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Benitez: Porto tie ´like a final´

18 March 2014 10:00

Napoli head coach Rafael Benitez has described Thursday's UEFA Europa League last-16 meeting with Porto as "like a final".

After losing the first leg 1-0 at Estadio Do Dragao, the Serie A outfit will look to overturn the deficit at Stadio San Paolo in the return clash.

Benitez is aiming to win Europe's second-tier competition for the second successive year after guiding Chelsea to the 2013 Europa League with a 2-1 triumph over Benfica.

Napoli head into the contest on the back of a morale-boosting 1-0 success at Torino on Monday, which came courtesy of a last-gasp winner from Gonzalo Higuain.

And Benitez says his side are in a buoyant mood ahead of the encounter.

"We reach this game (against Porto) with confidence, because we won a difficult test (against Torino)," he told Sky Sport Italia.

"We need to get everyone fit again and hope we are fresh for a match that will be like a final."

The Spaniard also praised the performance of midfielder Marek Hamsik, who has enjoyed a difficult period in Italy's top flight this term but put in an assured performance against Torino.

He added: "He did much better, as he helped out the team in attack and defence. I never thought of bringing him into a deeper role, as he is so good at the final ball and those runs forward.

"I said that I had faith in him and he replied with a good performance. I think he needs to have freedom to do what he wants on the field."

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Info

2 - 2

Porto

L W W L W
Competition
UEFA Europa League
Date
20 March 2014
Kick-off
21:05
Half-time
1 - 0
Full-time
2 - 2
On aggregate
2 - 3
Venue
Stadio San Paolo (Napoli)
Attendance
54145

Goals

G. Pandev 21'
(assist by G. Higuaín) 
1 - 0
1 - 1
69' N. Ghilas
 (assist by Fernando)
1 - 2
76' Ricardo Quaresma
 (assist by Josué)
D. Zapata 90'+2
(assist by José Callejón) 
2 - 2

Lineups

Substitutes

# Player Bookings
17
91 90+2'
7
2
5
15
20
# Player Bookings
8
11 69'
19
10
16
46
41

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