Goode guides relegated Saracens to Champions Cup semi-finals

London (AFP) –


Alex Goode scored 19 points as holders Saracens beat four-time winners Leinster 25-17 to reach the final four of the European Champions Cup on Saturday in a re-run of last season's final.

The English side, who will be relegated from the Premiership due to salary cap breaches, will travel next Saturday to the winner of Clermont's later tie with Racing 92.

Goode deputised at fly half for England captain Owen Farrell who is serving a five-match ban for a dangerous tackle.

Ireland's Johnny Sexton returned to Leo Cullen's starting lineup after being named on the bench for last weekend's Pro14 final victory over Ulster.

Goode had his side 9-3 ahead after 10 minutes with three penalty goals at an Aviva Stadium without fans due to coronavirus restrictions in Ireland.

Sexton kicked one of own after five minutes but two monster kicks from the tee by England full-back Elliot Daly stretched the Sarries lead to 15-3.

European Player of the Year Goode stretched the lead to 22-3 with a try and a conversion four minutes to go in the half.

Scotland centre Duncan Taylor burst through the Irish defend and off-loaded to Goode who crossed and then converted.

The home side improved in the second half and Ireland prop Andre Porter powered over after 48 minutes.

Sexton's extras cut the lead to 12 as the comeback attempt started.

Jordan Larmour scored from a smooth backline move and Saracens' advantage stood at 22-17 with a quarter of an hour to play.

Goode and Daly missed penalties within the closing five minutes to keep the hosts' hopes alive.

But with 25 seconds to go Goode made sure of a semi-final with a simple effort to knock-out the record four-time champions.

Later, Japan's Kotaro Matsushima returns for Clermont but the visitors will be without Australia's Kurtley Beale who is suspended.

On Sunday Cheslin Kolbe's Toulouse welcome Ulster and Exter Chiefs face Northampton.