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Monday, 09 November 2009 22:31

Benfica move back into tie for first place

Benfica 1-0 Naval

javi_garcia.jpgIt went down to the wire, but Benfica managed to squeak out a precious victory against Naval. Spanish sensation Javi Garcia found the back of the net in the 89th minute with a sublime header, but credit must go to Naval goalkeeper Peiser, who had an outstanding match for the visitors.

After sweeping all before them and scoring goals galore in their previous home matches, Benfica were not expected to have much trouble in getting past Naval at the Estadio da Luz. Nobody had counted on a super-human display by the visiting goalkeeper Peiser, however.
Benfica ran out on the pitch determined to take advantage of weekend losses by Braga and FC Porto in the title race. After a slow start the Eagles gradually wound up the pressure and before the break Di Maria and Javi Garcia were both denied twice each by outstanding saves from Naval’s French keeper.
Saviola also hit the woodwork and Peiser somehow managed to claw away a deflection from defender Daniel Cruz. Without playing particularly well, Benfica’s players must have been scratching their heads as they trooped down the tunnel for the half-time break with the deadlock yet to be broken.

Non-stop attack

The second half was more of the same, only more so as Benfica clicked into overdrive and cut through the Naval midfield and defence with some outstanding attacking football. Another big Monday night crowd of over 40,000 urged Benfica on as time and again an imminent goal was prevented by the inspired Peiser.
Chance after chance went by and the home fans must have feared the worst as Nuno Gomes, enjoying a rare start for the suspended Cardozo, contrived to miss an open goal, before Peiser produced yet another world-class save as he deflected a sensational Di Maria cross-shot onto the post.
Just when it seemed Naval would escape with a point, midfield anchorman Javi Garcia was in the right place at the right time – the 89th minute to be precise. Di Maira, who again produced an exhilarating individual performance, won a free-kick near the touch-line and swung over a firm cross from which the Spaniard powered a perfect header into the corner of the net. Indeed, only a perfect strike would have beaten Peiser on a memorable night for the 30-year-old goalkeeper.
Watch Javi Garcia’s all-important goal:

Benfica coach, Jorge Jesus:

“Our effort was rewarded. With the quality of play we produced it would have been unjust had we not won. Today we only won by one goal but the points we won were exactly the same as in our previous thrashings.
“In the first half the Naval goalkeeper produced a brilliant display. Afterwards we also had a bit of bad luck. The team never lost its way, despite the pressure of the 0-0 scoreline. Benfica deserved the victory, and deserved to win by more goals.
“It was a great goal by Javi Garcia. The fans helped push the team to victory.”

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