GD Chaves 0-2 Benfica
Benfica have bounced back from last week’s 1-1 draw to Casa Pia with a 2-0 victory away to Chaves, this Saturday, taking the Eagles top of the Primeira Liga momentarily.
The Lisbon giants were made to wait until the hour-mark before breaking the deadlock under chilly conditions in Trás-os-Montes, secured by Frederik Aursnes in the 59th minute.
João Mário made it 2-0 from the penalty spot with just ten minutes of normal time to go, easing the pressure on Roger Schmidt’s men and redirecting it to city rivals Sporting, due to face Estrela da Amadora on Sunday.
The German manager stuck to his guns on the road, opting for three central defenders and a fluid attack comprised of Angel Di Maria, Rafa Silva and Gonçalo Guedes for the encounter versus 15th-placed Chaves.
It was far from an established performance from Benfica, however, who were offered a scare early on from Leandro Sanca before producing an uninspiring chunk of first-half football.
A speculative effort from Nicolás Otamendi and a ballooned strike from compatriot Di Maria from the edge of the box was as good as it got for the Eagles, staring at a goalless draw going into the break.
Sanca was there to deliver Benfica a warning once more coming into the second half of the game, unleashing a low strike that whispered just past Trubin’s far post.
In the 59th minute, João Neves stood up to be counted, carving himself a lane down the right flank prior to firing the ball into the mix and enabling Aursnes to bundle in the visitors’ opener.
Benfica’s first goal was met with an immediate response, coming from the improbable Bruno Langa slamming a strike against the crossbar and making Schmidt’s men sweat over their slender lead.
Langa would pop up again, but this time to his own side’s detriment as an accidental flailing arm caught Neves, in pursuit of the defender, in the face for a fiercely-contested penalty in the 80th minute.
Benfica looked no further than João Mário for the spot-kick, with the Portuguese midfielder slotting coolly with ten minutes left to play, excluding stoppage time.
The clock gave Benfica more time to increase their lead, via second-half substitute Petar Musa, but the VAR was quick to chalk the striker’s goal off and conclude the game at 2-0.
By Patrick Ribeiro
Chaves XI: Hugo - Sandro Cruz, Bruno Langa, Bruno Rodrigues, João Correira (Carraça, 68’) - Kelechi Nwakali, Cafú Phete (Jô Batista, 86’) - Leandro Sanca (Issah Abass, 68’), Rúben Ribeiro (Guima, 85’), Rúben Lameiras (Paulo Victor, 58’) - Héctor Hernández
Benfica XI: Anatoliy Trubin - Morato, Nicolás Otamendi, Antonio Silva - Frederik Aursnes, João Mário (Chiquinho, 83’), Florentino Luis, João Neves - Angel Di Maria (Casper Tengstedt, 71’), Rafa Silva (Petar Musa, 83’), Gonçalo Guedes (Artur Cabral, 45’)
0-1 - Frederik Aursnes (59’)
0-2 - João Mário (80’)