Benfica top Borussia Dortmund 1-0

Lisbon, Feb 15 (IANS) Benfica took an important step towards reaching the Champions League quarter-finals with a 1-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the first leg.

Kostas Mitroglou’s 48th minute close-range finish following a corner on Tuesday gave the Portuguese capital football club a 1-0 lead in the first leg of the Champions League pre-quarterfinal.

The first 10 minutes were all Benfica, thrilling the 55,000-plus at the Estadio da Luz. Eduardo Salvio, who rejoined the side recently after missing weeks due to injury, had a chance to put the hosts ahead early but his shot sailed into the stands, reports Efe.

Dortmund weathered the storm and gradually took control of the flow of play, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ousmane Dembele harrying Benfica goalkeeper Ederson.

The German side should have scored in the 38th minute, when a miscommunication between Ederson and the Benfica defenders allowed Dortmund’s Raphael Guerreiro to deliver a perfect ball to Aubameyang, alone in front of the goal, but his shot was just off the mark.

Benfica started the second half on the front foot and a run by Salvio resulted in a corner kick, taken by Pizzi, who found Luisao, playing his 500th match for the club. Mitroglou stopped a header meeting Dortmund’s goalkeeper Roman Bürki and smashed the ball into the net to give Benfica a 1-0 lead in the 49th minute.

The visitors pushed hard for the equaliser and their zeal was rewarded when Benfica’s Ljubomir Fejsa was called for hand ball, but Ederson made an easy stop on Aubameyang’s unimaginative shot from the spot.

Confident in their keeper, Benfica were content to look for a chance on the counter-attack to put the match away.

Late substitute Christian Pulisic nearly scored in the 84th minute when his shot deflected off Benfica’s Raul Jimenez and looked bound for the back of the net, only to see Ederson react in time to preserve the lead.

“We knew that we needed to have this suffering capacity and we were untiring, always available to put everything into the pitch. We dad a tasteful result against a good team, with high quality players,” Benfica chief coach Rui Vitoria told his club’s website after the win.

“We scored a goal in a play that we use to practice and we had a huge Ederson saving our goal.”

Meanwhile, Dortmund chief coach Thomas Tuchel lamented his team’s finishing. “If we’d taken the lead, then we’d have probably have gone on to secure a deserved victory,” he told his club’s website. “We were so, so good. That was a brilliant performance.”