Benfica and PSG play out 1-1 thriller | OneFootball

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·5 October 2022

Benfica and PSG play out 1-1 thriller

Article image:Benfica and PSG play out 1-1 thriller

Ever since the Champions League draw was made it was one of the most keenly anticipated fixtures of the packed pre-World Cup schedule for Benfica fans, and the clash versus PSG in Lisbon tonight was no let-down.

Benfica started strongly but a moment of genius from Lionel Messi gave the visitors the lead, before a Danilo own goal made it all square at the break – a scoreline that flattered the Parisians.

It was a different story in the second half, PSG dominating most of it and creating the better chances, but with both goalkeepers on top form the points were shared.

Benfica lined up with what has become their settled strongest XI, with emerging star António Silva taking his place alongside Otamendi at the heart of the defence and facing another testing examination in his fledging career – just the simple task of stopping Mbappe, Messi and Neymar. For PSG the Portuguese trio of Nuno Mendes, Danilo and Vitinha all started.

Benfica straight on the attack

Any thoughts Benfica would be overawed by the occasion quickly vanished as the confident hosts took the game to the visitors and created three big opportunities to score in the first 20 minutes.

In the 8th minute António Silva launched an accurate long ball that set Gonçalo Ramos racing through on goal. The young striker did everything right, escaping Marquinhos and hitting a firm low show that Donnarumma instinctively kept it out brilliantly with his outstretched left foot.

Ramos had another shooting opportunity soon afterwards, this time from range that stung Italian goalkeeper’s hands. PSG then threatened when Mbappé won a free kick in prime Messi territory, but the Argentine struck his effort into the wall.

Benfica were straight onto the attack again, with Donnarumma once again coming to PSG’s rescue. Enzo Fernández threaded a perfect ball through to Neres whose lifted effort was somehow kept out by the outstretched arm of the goalkeeper.

Messi magic

The crowd were loving Benfica’s courageous approach to the game, but were then given a rude reality check of exactly what they were facing. The away side suddenly clicked into gear, a swift passing move allowing Neymar to roll an inviting pass to Messi, the Argentine doing the rest with a wonderful angled curling effort into the top corner from 20 yards out.

The goal knocked Benfica out of their rhythm, PSG starting to enjoy long periods of possession, with the busy Vitinha at the heart of most of their play.

But Benfica rallied as half time approached, and a sustained spell of pressure ended with a huge chance for António Silva in the centre of the box. He hit his effort powerfully but too close to Donnarumma who pulled off another stunning save.

Just when the home fans must have started thinking nothing would get past the giant goalkeeper, Benfica grabbed a timely and richly deserved equaliser just before the break. Enzo’s inviting cross was a whisker too high for Ramos but his marker Danilo did his job for him as the ball slid off his chest and into the net.

Half time, 1-1, and time to take a breath.

PSG click into gear

Roger Schmidt probably told his players to produce more of the same in the second half, but whatever his opposite number Christophe Galtier said to his team had more effect as PSG came out a different proposition after the interval.

With Verratti and Vitinha seeing more and more of the ball and pinging it around the final third with intent, the chances started coming for the French outfit.

Hakimi’s shot forced Vlachodimos into a sharp save, with Neymar latching onto the rebound and acrobatically sending an overhead kick onto the crossbar. Some sloppy defending by Otamendi then seemed to have opened the door for PSG, but Vlachodimos was alert to bail out his captain.

Neymar then sent a 30-yard free kick hurtling towards the net, a flying Vlachodimos pushing it over the bar, and the overworked goalkeeper had to in quick succession save a header from Danilo and keep out a fierce effort by Hakimi who had been set up by some lovely approach play by Messi.

Having weathered the storm, Benfica at last managed to create danger at the opposite end. Grimaldo’s free kick was met by Otamendi with a mixture of his head and shoulder sending the ball just wide.

The non-stop action continued, Messi setting up Mbappé who hit a sweet shot from distance that looked like mirroring Messi’s goal, only for Vlachodimos to produce a stupendous full-length save.

Rafa on the rampage

Rafa, who had a relatively quiet match, then almost brought the house down with a typically exhilarating high-speed dribble, bursting between Sérgio Ramos and Marquinhos, only to be denied by that man Donnarumma again.

It was the last chance of a thoroughly entertaining evening in the Portuguese capital.

Analysis: Benfica’s confidence booster, Portuguese shining at PSG

Enzo Fernández, João Mário, António Silva and Odysseas Vlachodimos especially all shined in an extremely cohesive all-round performance, but what was even more impressive was the positive approach Benfica adopted throughout, looking to hurt the opposition at every opportunity rather than looking to protect themselves against a constellation of superstar players.

Benfica clearly rattled PSG, as was shown by the bad-tempered way in which Donnarumma and his team-mates reacted at the final whistle.

Tonight’s game was another demonstration that Roger Schmidt is getting the very best out of a talented squad and should Benfica maintain their form they can aspire to at least equal last season’s Champions League run to the quarter-finals.

After playing second fiddle in the first half, PSG showed the quality that makes them one of the favourites to win the competition outright, incisive attacking from a range of avenues causing Benfica all sorts of problems.

It is great to see three Portuguese players rubbing shoulders with the likes of Neymar, Messi and Mbappé and making every bit as much of a contribution as the celebrated trio. Nuno Mendes, Danilo and Vitinha all had excellent games and Fernando Santos will be hoping all three maintain this form going into the World Cup in less than two months from now.

[0-1] Messi, 22’

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