Guedes marks homecoming with debut goal as Benfica overcome Santa Clara test

Gonçalo Guedes has marked his return to Benfica with a goal in his first outing for the Eagles, helping Roger Schmidt’s side onto a 3-0 away win against Santa Clara, this Saturday.

The Lisbon giants eased into the fixture with a 9th-minute opener from Frederik Aursnes, excelling in the air to give Benfica a much-needed advantage.

Benfica’s dominance ensued with a second goal shortly after being supplied by the in-form Gonçalo Ramos, meanwhile his namesake, Guedes, secured the victory with goal number three in the second period.

Despite the anticipation, new boy Guedes was made to wait for his second debut in a Benfica shirt as Schmidt handed Julian Draxler a rare start in Rafa Silva’s absence.

The German’s side looked as comfortable as ever, however, coming into the potential banana-skin fixture as Enzo Fernández and midfield partner Aursnes set the tone. Inside the first ten minutes, the coveted Argentine playmaker picked out the Norwegian’s run into the box with an in-swinging cross, enabling Aursnes to head home and gift Benfica an early lead.

The Eagles didn’t take long to double up and take control of the game with Enzo again in the mix, spreading play wide for the marauding Alex Grimaldo to pick out Gonçalo Ramos for his trademark one-touch finish in the 16th minute, making it 2-0.

Santa Clara’s Gabriel Silva tested that grip on the game with a dangerous effort just wide of the mark in the 20th minute, breaking free down the right channel before striking across goal. Following the scare, Benfica sought to increase their two-goal lead with a handful of flashes, led by the goal-hungry Gonçalo Ramos.

The young striker was able to dance his way into a valuable inch of space before working Gabriel Batista between the sticks, meanwhile moments later in the 46th minute, there was no goalkeeper to deny the number 88 on the follow-up to Draxler’s initial effort, but the acute angle would see Gonçalo Ramos fire wide across goal instead before the break.

A new fresh half was in place but it counted on the same old protagonists to write its story as Gonçalo Ramos, again the danger man, raced away behind the Santa Clara defence before poking a shot just wide under pressure.

For the hosts, Silva continued to lead the charge and almost affected proceedings with a purposeful strike heading for the back of the net in the 68th minute, denied only by António Silva on the line.

Still in need of a killer goal, Benfica looked no further than new signing Guedes to re-introduce himself in grand circumstances and the ex-Wolverhampton Wanderers forward didn’t disappoint. Cutting in from the left in the 81st minute, the Portuguese winger took aim at goal on his favoured right foot, benefitting from a cruel deflection to secure a goalscoring return for Benfica.

Guedes could’ve had another as late as the 91st minute as a low Alexander Bah cross was missed by both the January loanee and  Petar Musa, with the Eagles signing out with a 3-0 victory.

By Patrick Ribeiro

Matchday 17

Arouca 4-0 Portimonense

Sporting 2-1 Vizela

P. Ferreira 1-2 Sp. Braga

S. Clara 0-3 Benfica

Saturday 21st January

Vitória vs. FC Porto

Sunday 22nd January

Marítimo vs. Estoril

Casa Pia vs. Gil Vicente

Famalicão vs. Rio Ave

Monday 23rd January

Boavista vs. Chaves