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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Arsenal Pulls Ahead With St. Germain Draw

PARIS -- Arsenal emerged as the favorite to reach the European Cupwinners' Cup Final when it held Paris St. Germain to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their semifinal at the Parc des Princes.


The London side took the lead Tuesday through England international striker Ian Wright, who scored his 31st goal of the season after 35 minutes. French Footballer of the Year David Ginola equalized 15 minutes later.


In the other half of the Cupwinners' Cup draw, Portugal's Benfica took a 2-1 lead over Parma of Italy on Tuesday. In the first leg of the UEFA Cup semifinals Tuesday, Salzburg Austria was held to a scoreless draw by Germany's Karlsruhe, making the Germans favorite in the return match.


Arsenal not only defended resolutely but also created better chances and they now only need a 1-0 win, or even a goalless draw, at Highbury in two weeks to go through to the final on May 4.


Wright, left out of Arsenal's previous two away matches in Europe at Standard Liege and Torino gave Arsenal the advantage after the English side had battled grimly against the expected flying start from the French league leaders.


But after 35 minutes he glanced home with an excellently taken header.


Brazilian defender Ricardo fouled Alan Smith and when Paul Davis curled in the free kick, the French defenders inexplicably allowed Wright, Smith and Steve Bould to run beyond them. Wright applied the final touch beyond goalkeeper Bernard Lama's dive.


PSG leveled five minutes after the restart following a relentless opening burst to the second half.


Then, in the 50th minute, Ginola found the target. PSG's Brazilian midfielder Valdo struck his corner to the near post and Ginola nipped in to nod it home from an acute angle before goalkeeper David Seaman could react.


In Lisbon, midfielder Rui Costa celebrated his 22nd birthday with the winning tally in a goalmouth scramble as Benfica topped Parma in the first leg of their Cupwinners' Cup semifinal.


Benfica striker Isaias Soares opened the scoring after a perfect pass by Costa which put him alone at the edge of box and he hammered the ball into the net. Parma equalized soon afterwards through striker Gianfranco Zola.


The Portuguese league leaders almost regained the lead three minutes from halftime, but Parma goalkeeper Luca Bucci made a superb save from Joao Pinto's header.


Four players were shown yellow cards, Parma's Faustino Asprilla and Lorenzo Minotti and Benfica's Helder Cristovao and Abel Xavier.


Benfica coach Antonio Oliveira told reporters: "Everything is left wide open for the second leg."


In the UEFA Cup, Germany's Karlsruhe fought out a goalless draw against Salzburg of Austria but at the cost of having three of its players banned from the second leg of their semifinal.


Altogether five Karlsruhe players were booked and three, Valeri Shmarov, G--nther Metz and Michael Wittwer, along with Salzburg's Herbert Weber, will miss the second leg after picking up second yellow cards.


The Germans made it clear they had come to Vienna to defend and they defied Salzburg's continuous raids. Salzburg won nine corners against one for Karlsruhe but the closest they came to scoring were two headers by Heimo Pfeifenberger both of which went wide.