Benfica got their title defence off to a near-perfect start by defeating Braga 3-1 at the Estádio da Luz on Wednesday night, in what was their opening league game of the 2017/18 season.
Haris Seferović and Jonas looked to have set the Encarnados on their way to a commanding 2-0 half-time lead, but Ahmed Hassan’s finish two minutes prior to the interval gave the Arsenalistas hope, before Eduardo Salvio’s second-half finish extended the Águias' lead and sealed all three points for Rui Vitória’s men.
The hosts started well and went close to opening the scoring in the 11th minute when an André Almeida cross was met by Seferović's header, but his effort was tame and Matheus made a comfortable save.
Four minutes later, the Águias took the lead when a terrific delivery from Jonas was diverted in by Seferović on the slide.
Benfica soon went close to a second goal when Seferović latched onto a lofted through-ball from Pizzi, firing an effort at goal from a tight angle that Matheus palmed behind. The champions again went close from the resulting corner, with Jonas' header drifting inches wide of the far post.
The home side doubled their lead on the half-hour mark when a cross-field pass from Pizzi was not dealt with by Raúl Silva; the Brazilian defender miscued his header and the loose ball fell to Jonas, who volleyed home in emphatic fashion.
The visitors pulled a goal back two minutes before the break, when former Sporting full-back Ricardo Esgaio surged forward before sending Hassan through on goal, and the Egyptian dinked the ball over the onrushing Bruno Varela from close to the byline.
The Águias almost responded a minute later, going close to a third goal when Pizzi played in Eduardo Salvio, but the Argentine fired just wide from an acute angle.
The hosts extended their lead in the 57th minute when Franco Cervi’s teasing delivery was diverted goalwards by Lazar Rosić, allowing Salvio to convert into an unguarded net from a yard out.
Six minutes later, Benfica went close to a fourth when Pizzi put Seferović through on goal with a delightful backheel, but the Swiss striker’s powerful strike was palmed behind by Matheus.
The Encarnardos nearly struck again in the 80th minute, when Cervi pulled the ball back to Jonas, but the Brazilian fired the ball just wide of the far post, with Matheus rooted to the spot.
The result means that Benfica occupy second place in the embryonic league table, behind Porto on goal difference, while Braga sit 16th with just Chaves and Guimarães still to play on Matchweek 1.
Benfica: Bruno Varela, André Almeida, Luisão, Jardel, Eliseu, Salvio (Filipe Augusto 75'), Pizzi, Fejsa, Cervi (Diogo Gonçalves 91'), Jonas (Raúl 83'), Seferović
Goals: Seferović (15'), Jonas (30'), Salvio (57')
Braga: Matheus, Ricardo Esgaio, Rosić, Raúl Silva, Jefferson, Ricardo Horta, Vukčević, Fransérgio (Danilo 73'), Xadas (Pedro Neto 83'), Rui Fonte, Hassan (Paulinho 66')
Goal: Hassan (44')