Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Benfica drop opener in Champions League against Leipzig

Benfica Blog
Benfica opened their Champions League campaign at home against current German league leaders RB Leipzig. Benfica who were without manager Bruno Lage who was serving a one match ban came out with a very different starting eleven then what we have become accustomed to this season. Benfica started youngster Tomas Tavares at right back, while Franco Cervi got into his first action of the season. Benfica also decided to split the struggling strike pair of Raul de Tomas and Seferovic with the latter being replaced by another youngster in Jota. The first twenty minutes of the game was a scrappy affair with both sides looking a bit nervous, it wasn't until the 26th minute mark that the first real good scoring chance of the game fell to the feet of Leipzig's Timo Werner but Benfica netminder Vladchodimos was up to the task denying the striker with a low shot stop. Benfica would get their first shot and scoring chance on net as the first half came to a close when striker Raul de Tomas' peeled away at the far post and headed the ball towards the goal, but that effort was cleared safely away by Leipzig keeper Gulacsi. The first half ended as it started with both clubs scoreless.

Leipzig opened the second half in a frenzy with Benfica keeper Vladchodimos making a pair of stops in the first five minutes of the second half to keep the game scoreless. Raul de Tomas then fired a shot just wide after a solo run as he continues to search for his first goal in Benfica colours. As the half got to its midpoint Benfica debuted another academy player as David Tavares entered the game in place of Jota. Benfica then came oh so close to opening the scoring at the 68th minute mark when Pizzi burst in to the box to meet a cross, his first touch was outstanding but he fired just across the goal. Leipzig would then open the scoring just a minute later as Poulsen teed a pass for on coming striker Timo Werner who's low shot got pass Vladchodimos into the far left corner. Benfica would respond immediately as a Grimaldo curling free kick was tipped away for a corner by Gulacsi. Benfica kept committing more bodies forward looking to even the score but it would be Leipzig's Timo Werner who would find the back of the net again on a goal that was first called offside before being over turned by a VAR review. Benfica would cut Leipzig's lead in half at the 84th minute as Rafa Silva's cross was converted by Seferovic. The two substitutes would link up once again just a couple of minutes later but Rafa would see his shot go wide of the far post. Benfica would get one more chance to bring the game even in extra time but Taarabt's header from a set piece would end up over the bar. When the final whistle was blown Benfica would find themselves at the bottom of Group G suffering a 2-1 home defeat to RB Leipzig as the groups other participants Zenit and Lyon's drew 1-1. Benfica's next Champions League game will be played in Russia against Zenit on October 2.

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