GROUP C – Tuesday 17th September 2013
BENFICA 2-0 ANDERLECHT
Serbian playmaker Filip Djuričić and Brazilian defender Luisão’s first half goals to fire Benfica to a 2-0 opening group game victory against Belgian visitors Anderlecht.
Luisão, the captain of the Portuguese giants, led by example with a goal as Benfica enjoyed a comfortable win. Djuričić’s early opener sent the Eagles on their way and Luisão’s fine finish on the half-hour left Anderlecht with a mountain to climb. Despite a marked second-half improvement the champions of Belgium were unable to find a way back.
With the final being played at Benfica’s Stadium of Light next May, the hosts had every incentive to perform and things began perfectly for coach Jorge Jesus. Djuričić, signed from Eredivisie side Heerenveen this summer, was one of two players brought into the starting line-up and the Serbian made an instant impact, tapping in the fourth minute after Anderlecht veteran ‘keeper Silvio Proto had spilled Enzo Pérez’s shot. Benfica had found plenty of space to pop the ball around, Pérez exchanging passes with the lively Óscar Cardozo before firing at goal.
Another Serbian, Aleksandar Mitrović, a striker only 19 years old, scored a double against KV Mechelen at the weekend, that encouraged Anderlecht coach John Van den Brom to hand the forward his European debut.
Signing from Partizan Belgrade for a club record €5 in the summer, was largely starved of service, although he did manage a looping header in the 18th minute that was comfortably dealt with by Artur.
Paraguayan international striker Oscar Cardozo delighted the home fans with his strong-minded play, firing in a powerful shot from range midway through the opening period.
The Portuguese giants were content to allow the Belgians have the majority of possession and, having soaked up the pressure, doubled their lead on 30 minutes thanks to Luisão’s accomplished finish. Anderlecht failed to clear a Pérez corner and right-back André Almeida headed it back into the danger zone, Luisão controlling with his chest and slamming the ball beyond Proto.
The visitors changed to a straight 4-4-2 for the second period with Ghanaian international winger Frank Acheampong shaking up the resolute Benfica defence with his speed. Argentine striker Matías Suárez had a shot beaten away by Artur as the Belgians threatened and the game opened up.
Artur saved well from a late Suárez header and the same player was then crowded out as he tried to dribble through, Benfica duly recording their first clean sheet of the season.
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