Benfica 3-3 Shakhtar Donetsk (aggregate: 4-5)

Benfica have followed all Portuguese sides out of the Europa League Round of 32 after drawing 3-3 to Luís Castro’s Shakhtar Donetsk at the Estádio da Luz, leaving behind a 5-4 aggregate loss.

The Eagles led the tie on the night on two separate occasions after Pizzi’s opener and an early Rafa Silva goal in the second half, placing Bruno Lage’s men 4-3 up over two legs.

Shakhtar were quick to snatch the advantage back off the hosts through Taras Stepanenko, paving way for the killer blow from Alan Patrick in the 70th minute, seeing the Ukrainian side through to the next round of the competition.

Like-for-like changes on Benfica’s side saw Dyego Sousa earn his first start for the Lisbon outfit and Rafa make his way into the XI ahead of Franco Cervi, meanwhile Shakhtar gained Primeira Liga experience in ex-Vitória de Guimarães full back Dodo and former Estoril man Marcos Antônio.

The game’s first chances fell the way of the hosts after Adel Taarabt’s back-post volley, emerging from Alex Grimaldo’s corner, was crucially blocked by Ismaily just moments before Pizzi brought the Luz to its feet with the opener in the 8th minute.

Unchallenged, the Benfica captain took his chance to drive at the penalty box from the left-hand side of the pitch before applying some much-needed bend behind a well-placed shot into the bottom-right corner, leaving Andriy Pyatov beaten.

Just like in the first leg, however, Shakhtar’s clap-back was prompt, levelling the game in the 10th minute via Rúben Dias’ own-goal, who’d turn the ball into his own net in a desperate attempt to avoid Junior Moraes from tapping home from close range.

Matters almost took a turn for the worse in the 20th minute after a Grimaldo-Ferro mix-up, pounced upon by Marlos down the right, before his attempt to lift the ball over Odisseas Vlachodimos took a nick off the goalkeeper and hit the outside of the post.

Rúben Dias made amends at the other end in the 36th minute to level the game on aggregate, as he rose highest to attack Pizzi’s corner and head low into the back of the net.

With the tie finely poised going into the break, Rafa Silva was on hand to edge the Eagles ahead on aggregate for a second time after Pyatov went missing, accepting Dyego Sousa’s assist to make it 3-1 in the 47th minute.

Again, Shakhtar required just a couple of minutes to issue a response and take an away-goal lead through Taras Stepanenko, heading in from a corner to reduce the score to 3-2 on the night.

Benfica’s search for a potential winner intensified with Haris Seferovic’s entry in the 67th minute, with the Swiss striker wasting no time in threatening the Ukrainian champions’ goal with a low header just wide, seconds after coming on.

Shakhtar never stopped searching for more goal joy either, landing a bitter blow to Benfica’s hopes of going through in the 70th minute via Alan Patrick’s volley in a prime position, bouncing into the far corner off the ground. 

Off the bench, Carlos Vinícius was set up with the chance to relaunch the Red & Whites’ revival, but the Brazilian did little to trouble Pyatov with a back-post header into the experienced goalkeeper’s grasp, condemning Benfica to elimination.

By Patrick Ribeiro

Benfica XI: Odisseas Vlachodimos - Alex Grimaldo, Ferro, Rúben Dias, Tomás Tavares - Rafa Silva, Adel Taarabt, Julian Weigl, Pizzi (Jota, 79’) - Chiquinho (Haris Seferovic, 67’), Dyego Sousa (Carlos Vinicius, 79’)

Shakhtar Donetsk XI: Andriy Pyatov - Ismaily, Mykola Matviyenko, Serhiy Kryvstov, Dodo - Taras Stepanenko, Alan Patrick (Davit Khocholava, 92’), Marcos Antônio - Taison (Yehven Konoplyanka, 84’), Junior Moraes, Marlos

 

Goals:

[1-0] - Pizzi (8’)

[1-1] - Rúben Dias O.G. (10’)

[2-1] - Rúben Dias (36’)

[3-1] - Rafa Silva (47’)

[3-2] - Taras Stepanenko (49’)

[3-3] - Alan Patrick (70’)

Comments (5)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

They all crapped out at the last minute, they just had to hang onto their lead but nope. There goes our co-efficient.

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Not much to say, all 4 teams crashing out is unacceptable. Porto a shadow of former glory, given the quality of the opponent no surprise. You would think the other 3 clubs would advantage. The Portuguese League is probably at its lowest...

Not much to say, all 4 teams crashing out is unacceptable. Porto a shadow of former glory, given the quality of the opponent no surprise. You would think the other 3 clubs would advantage. The Portuguese League is probably at its lowest history in terms of quality

Glad I don't watch Portuguese League games on weekends, nothing to celebrate or get excited about winning a weak league. I know the reasons will start coming out, but where are the young Portuguese players on these teams? Either they are not ready (no good) or not getting developed. Time to rethink and re-engineer the league.

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Our coefficient reflects our level. Let's not worry about coefficients at this point. Let's just worry about getting better. Sell, sell, sell just doesn't work.

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The moment I saw the starting lineup, I knew we were going to have problems, as it was so different to what I thought was the best lineup for the match and the situation we were in. Bruno Lage screwed up yet again in his selection and tactics in...

The moment I saw the starting lineup, I knew we were going to have problems, as it was so different to what I thought was the best lineup for the match and the situation we were in. Bruno Lage screwed up yet again in his selection and tactics in a big match! First of all, it was so bleeding obvious after the first leg that we needed to play a 3 man central midfield to make us more solid defensively and more competitive in the middle against Shakhtar's high intensity play. Lage instead opted for a 2 man CM, with the increasingly innefective Chiquinho starting again in a big match. Against Gil Vicente the other night, Lage opted for a 3 man CM, and we looked so much more solid and compact, why on earth did he not repeat it again last night against much more demanding opposition? Either Samaris or Florentino should have obviously played in a 3 man CM to give more protection to our fragile back 4. We only needed to win 1-0 last night to go through, had we been more solid in the starting lineup the match could have gone so differently.

Furthermore no Cervi again in a big match in which we needed to be more solid defensively. Every single Benfica fan in the world can see the problems we have been having defensively, particularly on our left side, with Ferro and Grimaldo badly out of form lately. Cervi offers a lot of defensive assistance, the way he runs up and down that left flank, he acts almost as an extra left back. Yet in the two biggest games we have played in recent months: Porto the other week and again last night, Cervi doesn't play a single minute, and surprise surprise the bulk of the goals conceded in both matches came from assists or play from the opposition's right side of attack. Also starting Dyego Sousa last night in such an important match, when he'd only previously played a total of mere minutes from the bench since joining us, over our top scorer Vinicius in a match to save our season in Europe?

Bruno Lage did fantastically well to win us the Liga last season given the situation we were in when he took over. But it has to be said that this season he has looked pretty poor, certainly in the big matches. Benfica fans are not impressed with merely smashing the weaker Liga teams on a regular basis, what we want to see above all is good performances and competitiveness in the bigger matches and against stronger opposition. But the fact is, Lage hasn't been much of an upgrade on Rui Vitoria in regard to performance in the big matches. He really has to win the Liga this season now, or else I will be of the opinion that it's already time for a new coach, with more experience and ambition. Because frankly our performances in Europe, and in 3 of the 4 Classico matches against Porto since he took over, have simply not been good enough. And for a club like SLB, these are the matches that matter the most.

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Oh no, Bruno Lage again with another fantasy base lineup against Shakhtar, just like in the CL against Leipzig. To me it seems he is so afraid of injuries or players getting too tired for the competition that he leaves our Liga NOS-topscorer...

Oh no, Bruno Lage again with another fantasy base lineup against Shakhtar, just like in the CL against Leipzig. To me it seems he is so afraid of injuries or players getting too tired for the competition that he leaves our Liga NOS-topscorer Vinicius on the bench, and in stead not even brings Seferovic. He focuses too much on the campeonato, that's the one and only (personal ?) prize to him, while SLB-fans finally desire more positive results in Europe. This way the image of, and respect for Benfica in Europe gets (and is already) really damaged. I would like to see another coach as soon as possible, smarter in tactics against strong(er) teams. I guess Lage would never escape from any escape-room....

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