|Report: SL Benfica 3 - 1 FC Twente - 24 August 2011|
|Champions League Play-off 2nd Leg | Kick-off 19:45 BST|
3 - 1
|46' Witsel||85' Bryan Ruiz|
Benfica qualify for the Champions League group stages after a sounding 3-1 win over Twente at home, winning 5-3 on aggregate.
Jorge Jesus' side only needed a draw to qualify, but the manager opted to put a strong attacking side at the Luz in a 4-3-3 formation. Cardozo was the main target man with support from Nolito and Gaitán on either side. Aimar, Witsel and Javi completed a tight midfield and the usual back four returned to the side.
An early goal would settle Benfica and that is what the «encarnados» looked for in the first-half.
A dozen of chances fell in the hands of Nolito, Aimar and Cardozo, but none could break the deadlock and seemed to have left their shooting boots at home.
Benfica controlled possession and pressed hard when off the ball, leaving Twente with very little time to think and breaking up play as often as possible. Benfica's counter attack was smooth with lots of triangular passes, but the final shot was definitely missing in the first 45 minutes as both teams went to the tunnel at 0-0.
Twente's ambition to go forward was well managed by the «eagles» and only had a couple of efforts to show in the first-half.
There were no changes as the team's came back on, although Benfica's deserved luck turned up a minute later when Witsel opened the score with a superb overhead kick. Gaitán's free kick was played forward by Luisão and the Belgian midfielder found himself onside with lots of space and time to pick his spot out.
Benfica's captain would then get himself on the scoresheet on the hour when he headed Aimar's corner in from near post as Twente fell short again on a set piece.
With 20 minutes left on the clock Benfica were already 3-0 ahead. Witsel got the third goal after he penetrated the Dutch defence with the help of Cardozo's timely pass. Both Aimar and Witsel were pulling the strings in midfield for Benfica with their creative and scintillating football.
Twente pulled one back through Ruiz on the 85th minute when he headed an effort past Artur, who was unlucky not to keep a clean sheet as he came up with some amazing stops on the night to deny Co Adriaanse's side.
Benfica will join the top 32 European sides for this season's Champions League in the group stages proper. The draw is set to take place in Monaco on Thursday at 16:45 BST.
The squad will now travel to Nacional da Madeira as Liga Zon Sagres action returns this weekend.
|Possession||Shots (on target)||Corners||Offsides||Fouls||Yellows (reds)|
|46% | 54%||25(14) | 4(3)||4 | 3||4 | 5||21 | 13||1(0) | 1(0)|
Planet Benfica's Key Players: Aimar, Witsel, Artur and Luisão
Date: Wednesday 24th August 2011, 20:45 BST PT/UK (21:45 CET)
Venue: Estádio da Luz, Lisboa
Competition: Champions League Play-off 1st Leg
Referee: Felix Brych (GER)
Assistant Referees: Thorsten Schiffner, Mark Borsch
Additional Referees: Babak Rafati, Tobias Welz
Fourth Referee: Gunter Perl
Weather: Sunny/Clear 26°C - Humidity: 44% Wind: NW 16mp/h @ 19:00 BST
TV: RTP (Portugal), Sky Sports (UK), Sportsnet ONE (Canada)
BENFICA Artur; Maxi, Luisão (c), Garay and Emerson; Javi García and Witsel; Gaitán, Aimar and Nolito; Cardozo
Subs: Eduardo, Ruben Amorim, Jardel, Bruno César, Matic, Enzo Pérez and Saviola
Coach: Jorge Jesus
Twente Mihaylov; Cornelisse, Douglas, Wisgerhof (c) and Tiendalli; Brama (Landzaat 76'), Janssen and De Jong; Berghuis (Bajrami 60'), Bryan Ruiz and Janko (John 60')
Subs: Boschker, Bengtsson, Landzaat, Bajrami, Rosales, Buysse and Ola John
Coach: Co Adriaanse
Disciplinary action: Yellow card to Douglas (15') and Maxi Pereira (76')
Highlights: Watch match highlights here
Photos: High-quality images available here
|Moreira, the loyal goalkeeper|
In a country where a good, consistent, solid goalkeeper is hard to find since the days of legendary Vitor Baia, Jose Moreira was tipped by many to become the next Portuguese goalkeeping star. Click here to read the farewell article on Benfica's loyal goalkeeper.
|Nuno Gomes, farewell Legend|
Hard worker, team player, and humble. Those are the three words that describe Nuno Gomes, or what most fans called him, Nuno Golos. Click here to read the farewell article on Benfica's former captain.
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Benfica Magazine 'Mistica' interviewed Benfica SAD Administrator Domingo Soares de Oliveira in their May 2009 issue. The important figure reveals accounts and strategies for the club's future and gives a personal insight on the world of Benfica. Click here to read the extracts of the exclusive interview.
Get bored no more at half-time. The beautiful Benfica cheerleaders were a hot transfer in 2007/08 season and were present at every home Liga Sagres game until 2008/09. Did the average attendance go up slightly? Click here to see the gallery and find out for yourself!
|Estádio da Luz construction|
Inaugurated in 2003, Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica was built mainly during 2002/03 to replace the famous Estádio da Luz for the 2004 European Championships. With the finals in mind, the 5-star rated venue was designed for the greatest games and events, continuing the tradition of the biggest stadium in Portugal. Click here to see images of how the Cathedral was built.
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