A disappointing display from Everton saw their European dreams dashed as they were knocked out of the Europa League following a 3-0 defeat to Sporting Lisbon, losing the tie 4-2 on aggregate at the Estadio Jose Alvalade.
The Toffees looked jaded throughout the night and they saw their 2-1 first leg lead go up in smoke as Sporting turned on the style, with Miguel Veloso opening the scoring with a powerful strike past Tim Howard at his near post.
David Moyes threw on Yakubu Aiyegbeni in an attempt to get back into the tie, but the hosts doubled their lead after 76 minutes when Pedro Mendes saw his deflected drive from outside the area fly into the net.
As the Toffees pressed for a goal that would take the game to extra time, Lisbon cantered down the pitch unopposed to add a third, this time substitute Matias Fernandez rounding Howard to put a gloss on the scoreline and end Everton's trophy hopes for another season.
Everton were stunned just like they were last October when Benfica recorded a 5-0 victory in the competition's previous incarnation as the Uefa Cup.
Moyes was forced to field a weakened side then but most of his top players were available tonight.
Everton were given a chasing and goalkeeper Tim Howard was forced into action after just four minutes when Marat Izmailov cut inside. The Russian cracked in a shot but Howard was equal to it and parried the ball to safety.
It was an early warning to Everton that Sporting were determined to turn this tie around after a string of indifferent results.
The home side had made a bright start and Liedson clipped his effort wide of the post in the 13th minute.
Sporting came within a whisker of taking the lead on the night when Phillipe Senderos, on loan from Arsenal, barged over Yannick Djalo on the edge of the area.
Skipper Joao Moutinho stepped forward and sent a sweet free-kick over Howard but saw his effort come back off the bar.
Liedson latched on to the rebound but snatched at his effort and it went wide.
This was a difficult spell for Moyes' side who went into the match on a superb run of form after losing only two of their last 13 games in all competitions.
Then Veloso sent a shot into Howard's body as Sporting maintained the momentum.
Everton woke out of their slumber a minute before half-time when Senderos found the net after getting on the end of a free-kick from Leighton Baines.
But Senderos' effort from inside the area was ruled out for offside as the player raised his arm in celebration.
Senderos needed treatment three minutes into the second half after taking a knock in a challenge.
He looked in some difficulty following his back problem and Djalo strode forward in the 51st minute and sent a shot narrowly over the bar.
Senderos came off a minute later and was replaced by Phil Jagielka, making his first appearance since April.
Given the pressure Everton had been under it was a test of character for Jagielka, following his recovery from a knee ligament injury.
He was drafted in without any reserve matches under his belt. He had been scheduled for a game on Tuesday but it was postponed.
Sporting stepped up the pace and Howard did well to turn away a close range shot from Izmailov in the 58th minute.
Then the goalkeeper showed even better reflexes to turn over a rasping drive from Veloso.
Everton responded and Steven Pienaar saw his effort go narrowly over the bar before Sporting made the breakthrough.
Veloso got clear inside the six yard area and from an acute angle drove a shot beyond Howard and into the corner.
Sporting went ahead on aggregate in the 76th minute through former Rangers midfielder Mendes.
He got on the end of a cutback from Izmailov to find the corner with his effort, although it appeared to take a deflection off substitute Jack Rodwell.
Fernandez then added a third in stoppage time with a superb run and finish to complete a night of misery for Everton.
|Sporting Lisbon||Team Statistics||Everton|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|9||Shots on Target||1|
|7||Shots off Target||1|
|Thursday 1st April|
|20:05||Benfica vs Liverpool|
|20:05||Fulham vs Wolfsburg|
|20:05||Hamburg vs Standard Liege|
|20:05||Valencia vs Atletico Madrid|
|Thursday 8th April|
|20:05||Atletico Madrid vs Valencia|
|20:05||Liverpool vs Benfica|
|20:05||Standard Liege vs Hamburg|
|20:05||Wolfsburg vs Fulham|
|Thursday 22nd April|
|19:45||Hamburg/Standard Liege vs Fulham/Wolfsburg|
|19:45||Valencia/Atletico Madrid vs Benfica/Liverpool|
|Thursday 29th April|
|20:05||Benfica/Liverpool vs Valencia/Atletico Madrid|
|20:05||Fulham/Wolfsburg vs Hamburg/Standard Liege|
|Wednesday 12th May|
|19:45||Winner SF2 vs Winner SF1|
|Thursday 18th March|
|Marseille 1 - 2 Benfica|
|Standard Liege 1 - 0 Panathinaikos|
|Fulham 4 - 1 Juventus|
|Werder Bremen 4 - 4 Valencia|
|Liverpool 3 - 0 Lille|
|Sporting 2 - 2 Atletico Madrid|
|Wolfsburg 2 - 1 Rubin Kazan|
|Anderlecht 4 - 3 Hamburg|
|Thursday 11th March|
|Hamburg 3 - 1 Anderlecht|
|Rubin Kazan 1 - 1 Wolfsburg|
|Atletico Madrid 0 - 0 Sporting|
|Lille 1 - 0 Liverpool|
|Valencia 1 - 1 Werder Bremen|
|Juventus 3 - 1 Fulham|
|Panathinaikos 1 - 3 Standard Liege|
|Benfica 1 - 1 Marseille|
|Thursday 25th February|
|Anderlecht 4 - 0 Athletic Bilbao|
|Marseille 3 - 1 FC Copenhagen|
|Galatasaray 1 - 2 Atletico Madrid|
|Roma 2 - 3 Panathinaikos|