André Almeida

Benfica’s disappointing start to their UEFA Champions League campaign continued as they were thrashed 5-0 by Group A opponents Basel at St. Jakob-Park on Wednesday night.

Following a surprise home defeat in their opening match against CSKA Moscow, the Águias were in search of their first three points in this season’s competition, but got off to the worst possible start when Michael Lang found the net after just three minutes. Dimitri Oberlin, who was making his Champions League debut, slotted home to double the Swiss side’s lead in the 20th minute, following a swift break from a Benfica corner.

Former Sporting striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel rubbed salt in the wounds when he made it three from the penalty spot, before André Almeida received a straight red card for a reckless challenge on Raoul Petretta. Oberlin netted his second of the night to make it four shortly afterwards. Substitute Blás Riveros then added a fifth to condemn Benfica to a third defeat in their last five matches.

The hosts started well and opened the scoring in the third minute when Júlio César smothered a through-ball for Renato Steffen into the path of Oberlin, who found the unmarked Lang, and the Swiss international fired the ball past two Benfica defenders on the line with César out of position.

Six minutes later, the Encarnados had a good chance to level the scores when Franco Cervi pulled the ball back to Jonas, but the Brazilian’s tame effort was deflected kindly into the path of Basel goalkeeper Tomáš Vaclík.

In the 20th minute, the Swiss side doubled their lead after a Benfica corner was cleared, allowing Steffen to surge forward before sending Oberlin through on goal, and the Cameroonian-born striker slotted home past a hesitant Júlio César.

Four minutes later, the visitors thought they should have had a penalty when Raúl Jiménez was nudged off the ball by Éder Balanta while attempting to latch onto a cross-field pass, but the referee was unmoved.

Soon afterwards, the Lisbon side felt they had a strong case for another penalty when an Andrija Živković corner was flicked on by Jiménez and the ball struck the arm of Lang, but again the referee waved away the protests.

Shortly before the interval, Benfica had a good chance to pull a goal back when Jonas’ wonderful long-range pass found Jiménez, but the Mexican fired the ball just over the bar on the volley.

Basel started the second half in the ascendancy, and could have made it three when Steffen found Petretta, who cut inside and drew Júlio César into a good save at his near post.

Three minutes later, the Swiss side nearly extended their lead when Luca Zuffi found Lang in space, but the wing-back fired the ball inches wide of the far post.

In the 55th minute, the hosts were fortunate not to be reduced to ten men when Taulant Xhaka grabbed the throat of Živković, but the Albanian international escaped with just a booking.

The RotBlau were then awarded a penalty after Ljubomir Fejsa bundled over Oberlin in the area. Van Wolfswinkel stepped up to fire home the resulting spot-kick, sending Júlio César the wrong way.

Matters got worse for Benfica four minutes later, when André Almeida was dismissed for a needless two-footed challenge on Petretta.

Basel made their man-advantage count, completing the rout 15 minutes later when substitute Riveros’ improvised strike beat Júlio César. The Paraguayan had been foiled by the post just two minutes earlier, following up after fellow substitute Mohamed Elyounoussi struck the woodwork.

The result means that Basel move into second place in Group A on three points, ahead of CSKA Moscow on goal-difference. Group leaders Manchester United have collected maximum points from their opening two fixtures, while Benfica slip to the bottom of the group, still looking for their first points of the campaign.

Benfica: Júlio César, André Almeida, Luisão, Jardel, Grimaldo, Živković (Samaris 74'), Pizzi, Fejsa, Cervi (Salvio 46'), Jonas (Seferović 67'), Raúl

Basel: Vaclík, Suchy, Akanji, Balanta (Dié 80'), Lang, Zuffi, Xhaka, Petretta (Riveros 68'), Steffen, van Wolfswinkel, Oberlin (Elyounoussi 74')

Goals: Lang (2'), Oberlin (20', 69'), van Wolfswinkel (60'), Riveros (77')



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