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Saturday, 28 January 2012 23:34

Benfica comeback sees off Feirense

Feirense 1-2 Benfica

Cardozo leads the celebrations as Benfica take lead at FeirenseA highly entertaining match saw Benfica come from a goal down to beat Feirense 2-1 in Santa Maria da Feira tonight. Moments after the hosts had seen a perfectly good Ludovic goal erroneously ruled out, centre-back Varela did put Feirense ahead with a thunderous header.

That was as good as it got for the defender, as he proceeded to score an own goal and give away a penalty that Cardozo dispatched to earn a hard-fought three points for the Eagles.

With a full strength squad at his disposal, Jorge Jesus was afforded the luxury of leaving Nolito and Nico Gaitan on the bench, preferring to start Bruno Cesar and Aimar as his attacking midfielders, behind the solid base provided by Javi Garcia and Witsel, and both Rodrigo and Oscar Cardozo up front.

Feirense on top early doors

The Eagles came into the match on the back of an eight-match winning run, But it was Feirense who looked the better team in the first half hour. Luciano headed narrowly over the bar twice, Diogo Cunhal’s cross drifted over Artur’s head and struck the top of the bar and Buval shot just wide from distance.

Benfica’s only threat during this time came from a delightful through ball by Aimar to release Rodrigo. The Spaniard’s cross-shot brought the first of what would become a series of top-drawer saves out of Feirense goalkeeper Paulo Lopes.

As the game neared the interval Benfica enjoyed a spell of sustained pressure, with Rodrigo twice coming close to breaking the deadlock. First the Brazilian-born marksman hit a rasping volley just over the bar, then some fine wing play by Witsel resulted in a pinpoint cross onto the head of Rodrigo, with Lopes denying the striker again with a magnificent reaction save to tip the ball over the bar.

Legal goal ruled out

The second half started like the first, with Feirense on top. A well worked move set Ludovic bearing down on goal, and his firm finish low past Artur triggered wild celebrations among the Feirense faithful, which were quickly curtailed as the goal was chalked off for offside. TV replays showed the officials had got it badly wrong, with Ludovic a good two metres behind the last defender when the pass was played. 

Feirense did not spend any time dwelling on injustice, however, as from a corner moments later Varela thumped a powerful header past the helpless Artur.

The lead did not last long, as Varela went from hero to villain in two minutes. Maxi’s long throw-in was headed on by Cardozo and Varela was unlucky to see the ball ricochet off his head and into his own net.

What had been an evenly contested game for an hour was turned Benfica’s way by a double substitution as Nolito and Nico Gaitan joined the fray. The Liga leaders immediately looked a more potent threat, with Maxi’s foraging runs down the right flank becoming an increasing feature of the match.

Livewire Rodrigo

Gaitan headed a glaring chance wide and Lopes continued his personal battle with Rodrigo, denying the young striker with an instinctive save with his left foot. Rodrigo’s next piece of action was decisive as he drew a clumsy challenge from Varela in the box, and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

Oscar Cardozo stepped up and hammered the penalty straight into the middle of the net to put Benfica into the lead for the first time on the night in the 75th minute. The Paraguayan thus continues his incredible scoring streak, having now found the net at least once in each of his last eight appearances.

Ludovic was close to an equaliser on 78 minutes when only Emerson’s desperate lunge deflected his powerful goal-bound shot out for a corner.

Benfica saw out the last ten minutes without undue alarm, with Paulo Lopes saving well from Witsel and brilliantly from Rodrigo late on, but anything other than a one-goal differential would have been harsh on Feirense. Should Quim Machado’s team keep up this level of performance they will surely secure survival in the top flight.

As for Benfica, the Eagles can now sit back and watch how FC Porto will handle the fact they start tomorrow’s tricky away fixture at Gil Vicente five points adrift of the leaders.

Artur Moraes, Emerson, Garay, Maxi Pereira, Luisao, Witsel, Bruno Cesar (Gaitan, 60), Aimar (Nolito, 60), Javi Garcia, Rodrigo, Cardozo (Matic, 89)

[1-0] Varela, 49
[1-1] Varela (own goal), 51
[1-2] Cardozo (penalty), 74

by Tom Kundert

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Comments (11)
Club before country
11 Tuesday, 31 January 2012 02:51
365 days a year, no questions asked, dont think twice about it, and im proud of it. Maybe im a football elitest, but i think a proper football fan always supports his club first. But then again, if i were a Braga fan, I guess id really have nothing to cheer for and maybe I too would put the national team ahead of my club team.

Benfica's responsibility is to win, not supply the national team. Winning ahead of selfish arrognant portugese players anyday...next
Love the haters
10 Monday, 30 January 2012 21:25
Bryan must be a underachiever or something always trying to find excuses so he puts his blame on Benfica to make himself feel better.
9 Monday, 30 January 2012 19:38
some comments that are put on this site makes u wonder how old some people are
If Portugal dont win the Euro Blame Benfica
8 Monday, 30 January 2012 15:19
Simply put.
What a disgrace, 0 portuguese in the 11,
7 Monday, 30 January 2012 15:17
Id rather my country win the euro, then my club win a championship. Too bad you dont feel the same NJ.
orlando i agree with you
6 Monday, 30 January 2012 15:05
i was pissed at the selection couldnt believe nolito didnt start
Like Bryan... JJ's good run comes to an end..
5 Monday, 30 January 2012 13:30
One game of good player selection.. in a row ended.. I praised JJ last week but clearly have to question how he did not have a winger in the game..

No Nolito.. no Gaitan..

Cesar is an AM.. anyways.. he was trying to show his genius.. in the past that would've backfired and we would have lost.. fortunately their is so much talent coming from the benches that has us with another win.

This could've been worse if the officials hadn't screwed up the first goal.

Fortunately you need some luck and the ship was righted in time.

After a few smart performances I have to bring the "Making Everything Look Difficult" tag back.. no need for that game with a full squad.

Anyways Bryan as well was on a much longer streak of not posting repetitive lame comments on Benfica threads.. and unfortunately that came to an end too.. it was a good run while it lasted.
Not Pretty
4 Monday, 30 January 2012 13:11
Last time I checked this was a club match in league play, Not a friendly for the Seleccao.
Now that that's out of the way, Benfica was very fortunate in this one. We just can't let some of this stuff happen because a better squad will make us play.
Lopes was outstanding in goal for Feirense, and if not for him it could have been a drubbing. I'm loving Rodrigos current run in form.
I've always liked Javi, since be is our hammer in the middle. Yes it will hurt us at times. Although I am a huge Matic fan, who I believe will be great with time. This guy has been wanted by huge clubs.
I know Javi is being linked to Man United, but unless we get a ton, I rather have him for the CL run.
0 portuguese in the 11 LOL
3 Monday, 30 January 2012 00:45
Big help for the national team.
another 3 points
2 Sunday, 29 January 2012 19:37
Didn't see the match and only caught the highlights on youtube. We weren't at our best again apparently but still got the 3 points, and this is what's giving me the confidence that we will take the title this year. We have learned to win ugly which is a vital ingredient in winning championships. Pressure on Porto tonight to cut the deficit back to 2 points. I'm sure Porto will keep on pushing us, but at the moment we are clearly the favourites for the title. Forca SLB!!!
Hear this from a Benfiquista...
1 Sunday, 29 January 2012 16:27
Feirense played an excellent game yesterday, and gave Benfica all they could handle in the midfield. They finished with almost 50% possession, much better than anyone else has done against Benfica this year. And, more important in my eyes, they did it without resorting to goon tactics like Maritimo and Beira Mar did. Quality teams find a way to win tight games, and find a way to persevere when they are not at their best. That is why Benfica is able to continually win these tight games. This is a better win for me than a 4-0 spanking!
BTW, while I do not share the opinions that some on this sight share about Javi Garcia, he played a terrible game yesterday and should have been thrown out for a second yellow on a high boot in the opening minutes of the second half. That could have been catastrophic for Benfica in such a close game. Javi seems to regularly play an absolute stinker of a game about once a month; his consistency has been terrible this season. If Benfica can really get 20 mil for this guy (which they will all day long with their recent track record, just as soon as he gets a cap or two for the NT...) they should cash in and let Matic (or Witsel) play at DM. I like Javi, but he continually leaves me shaking my head. Can the guy go up for a header without committing a foul? Sheesh!!

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