Comprehensive Portuguese in the Champions League round-up
Renato Sanches came back to the Estádio da Luz and stole the show as Bayern Munich inflicted a 2-0 defeat on Benfica. The 21-year-old midfielder was involved in the first goal and scored the second. Porto got what could prove a crucial point as they began their Champions League campaign with a 1-1 draw in Germany at Schalke, Otávio scoring from the penalty spot. Matthew Marshall reports from Gelsenkirchen and Tom Kundert from Lisbon.
PortuGOAL also rounds up all the action involving Portuguese players and coaches as Ronaldo received a shock red card, Bernardo Silva scored in a losing effort and there were differing fortunes for coaches José Mourinho, Paulo Fonseca and Leonardo Jardim.
Schalke 1-1 FC Porto
It was far from spectacular, but Porto made a solid start to their Champions League campaign with a 1-1 draw in Germany at Schalke.
In a physical game of few chances, defences were always on top, and on his debut in the competition Porto centre-back Éder Militão gave another demonstration that the Dragons appear to have hit the jackpot with his signing. The Brazilian centre-back was excellent alongside compatriot Filipe at the heart of Porto’s defence.
Schalke and Porto will ultimately be satisfied with a point to start their Champions League campaigns. Final thoughts from Gelsenkirchen. pic.twitter.com/AmxjbrJGPU— Matthew Marshall (@noobzcorp) September 18, 2018
The Portuguese team had the chance to make the perfect start after Schalke centre-back Naldo handled in the box to concede an early penalty, but Alex Telles’ spot kick was superbly saved by Ralf Fahrmann. It would be the hosts who took the lead in the 64th minute after a quick break ended with Swiss striker Embolo beating Casillas.
Porto soon hit back though, as another penalty given away by Naldo was this time converted by Otávio. Both sides had half chances to claim all three points late on but a draw was a fair reflection on a game that will not live long in the memory. “If any team deserved to win, it was Porto,” said coach Sérgio Conceição after the match.
Add-ons from our man in Gelsinkirchen, Matthew Marshall
Éder Militão got the start in central defence and showed why he is so highly rated. Tall, strong and quick, the 20-year-old Brazilian displayed a willingness to bring the ball out of defence with confidence and exhibited a respectable passing range.
With approximately 50 top flight appearances to his name and most of them at right back, including his debut for the Brazil national team against El Salvador last week, his future might lay centrally. There is an abundance of right-backs in world football and many of them Brazilian, but a central defender with Militão’s skill set is hard to come by.
It is certainly worth a lot of money in the current market, and there is no doubt Porto pulled off a major coup by signing him for a mere €4 million from São Paulo. After failing to repeat the trick of finding young gems in South America in recent years, Porto appear to have found one they can polish and sell for a significant profit in the not too distant future.
Danilo Pereira is working his way back to full fitness after a long injury layoff and put in a solid performance against Schalke. His calmness and composure allowed Hector Herrera and Otávio the freedom to push forward.
Danilo displayed all the hallmarks of an experienced campaigner with more time to sum up the situation than those around him. He also produced a wonderful tackle on Breel Embolo who was racing through on goal and looked likely to score.
Napoli left-back Mário Rui followed up his recent good performances in a Portugal shirt with another good showing as the Italian side played out a goalless draw at Red Star Belgrade. Rui almost won it for Napoli with a direct free kick that left the goalkeeper standing but the ball whistled inches over the bar.
Elsewhere, it was a largely disappointing Tuesday for Portuguese players and coaches in the Champions League. A torrid start to the season for Leonardo Jardim’s Monaco got no better as the French outfit lost 2-1 at home to Atlético Madrid, for whom Gelson Martins did not get off the bench.
Starter Manuel Fernandes and second-half substitute Eder could do nothing to prevent a heavy Lokomotiv Moscow defeat in Turkey, Galatasaray running out 3-0 winners.
Benfica 0-2 Bayern Munich
After an even opening ten minutes Bayern struck with a devastating move. Renato Sanches surged through the middle of the park, spread the ball wide left where Ribery and Alaba combined to transport it into the middle for Lewandowski, and the Polish striker expertly shimmied past his marker before shooting unerringly into the net.
The goal unsettled Benfica as Bayern began to look dangerous from almost every attack, with Ribery in particular causing havoc with his direct running and dribbling. Robben spurned two clear chances to double the lead, with Benfica goalkeeper Vlachodimos doing well to deny him on both occasions. Towards half time Benfica began to get themselves back in the game, Neuer having to be alert to deny Salvio.
The complexion of the match did not greatly change in the second half, with Bayern’s crisp passing, speed of execution and impressive combination play often leaving Benfica chasing shadows.
In the 54th minute Renato Sanches, who did not look out of place for the slick German powerhouse, turned back the clock to his glory days that made him one of Europe’s top prospects two years ago. Picking up the ball deep in his own half, Sanches embarked on a tremendously powerful run from box to box, releasing James Rodriguez, who crossed low for Renato to finish off the move he started.
Sanches put his hands up in apology to the home fans and was visibly emotional, with the Benfica faithful reacting by applauding him. Quite a moment as over 60,000 fans at the Estádio da Luz gave the midfielder an ovation.
As the clock wound down, Bayern took their foot off the accelerator and Benfica started to apply pressure, Rúben Dias coming close to pulling a goal back from a corner but his header was tipped over the bar by Neuer. Bayern were in control however, and only another sharp save by the excellent Vlachodimos denied Robben from notching a third for the Bavarians.
Having got off the mark for Juventus at the weekend with a brace against Sassualo, there were high expectations ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo’s Champions League debut for Juventus. It could not have gone worse for the Portugal captain, however, as a trip back to Spain ended in a controversial red card after just 29 minutes after tangling with Valencia centre-back Murillo. Never one to hide his emotions, Ronaldo left the pitch in tears.
Despite playing for an hour with ten men, Juventus, with João Cancelo at right-back, won 2-0 thanks to two penalties, the first one earned by Cancelo. Portuguese duo Rúben Vezo and Gonçalo Guedes started for Valencia, but both were substituted in the second half.
Bernardo Silva continued his excellent form for Manchester City with a goal against Lyon at the Etihad Stadium, but it was not enough to prevent Pepe Guardiola’s team from falling to a surprise 2-1 defeat against the French team, for whom Anthony Lopes kept goal and made a number of important saves.
José Mourinho’s Manchester United continued their resurgence with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Young Boys in Switzerland on a night that Diogo Dalot won’t forget in a hurry. The former Porto right-back made his debut for the Red Devils, playing the full ninety minutes.
It was not such good news for another Portuguese coach, Paulo Fonseca, whose Shakhtar Donetsk side were held to a 2-2 home draw by Hoffenheim.
By Tom Kundert