Barcelona, Spain:Raul Tamudo and Walter Pandiani scored a goal each Thursday to give Espanyol a 3-2 win over Benfica in the first leg of the UEFA Cup quarterfinals.
Trailing by three by the 58th minute, Benfica rallied with goals from Nuno Gomes and Simao Sabrosa to improve its chances of reaching the last four in next Thursday's return game in Lisbon.
"When we were 3-0 up it seemed that we were well on the way, but their two goals in two minutes have done us some harm," Espanyol coach Ernesto Valverde said. "Yet looking at the overall situation, they still need to beat us in the second leg."
Tamudo scored the first goal at Lluis Companys Olympic Stadium in the 15th minute when he raced onto Luis Garcia's flick, took the ball past Benfica defender Moreira Morinho and angled a rising shot past goalkeeper Quim.
The hosts doubled their lead in the 32nd when Benfica defender Nelson attempted to clear Albert Riera's volley but only succeeded in heading the ball into the net.
Benfica tried to react and Espanyol goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz tipped Gomes' goal-bound flick around his left post in the 44th minute.
Tamudo left the field in the 53rd minute and was replaced by Pandiani, the leading scorer in this season's competition. The Uruguayan took just five minutes to score his 10th goal when he stooped to head home Riera's corner.
Benfica's comeback began in the 63rd when Gomes slid the ball into an empty net from a pass across goal from substitute Fabrizio Miccoli.
Simao scored the visitors' second goal two minutes later when he embarked on a mazy run around Espanyol's penalty area before firing home with the aid of a deflection off Espanyol defender Daniel Jarque.
"It's all open again," Simao said. "Benfica is in good position to advance although Espanyol has a good side."
Benfica pressed hard for an equalizer with Gomes, Miccoli and Giorgios Karagounis all coming close, although Espanyol substitute Ito Alvarez and Pandiani then forced late saves from Quim.
Both sides have reached the final of Europe's second club competition, with Benfica losing in 1983 and Espanyol five years later.