Benfica beats PSG 2-1 but exits Champions League

Benfica failed to reach the Champions League knockout stage

despite coming back to beat Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 on Tuesday.

Benfica finished in third place behind Olympiakos in Group C.

Both clubs had 10 points, but the Greeks advanced due to a better

head-to-head record against the Portuguese side.

Benfica will drop into the Europa League, as it did last season

when it reached that tournament’s final, losing against

Chelsea.

PSG had already clinched top spot in Group C whatever the result

in Lisbon, and coach Laurent Blanc opted to rest key players Alex,

Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Nicolas Gaitan poked in Maxi Pereira’s cross for Benfica’s

winner in the 58th, adding to Lima’s first-half penalty after

Edinson Cavani gave PSG a 27th-minute lead.

Benfica went into the game knowing even victory may not be

enough to send it into the knockout stage.

Both goalkeepers were called into action in the energetic

opening minutes.

Enzo Perez gave Salvatore Sirigu an early test with a curling

shot that had the PSG goalkeeper leaping high to his left. Then

Silvio forced Sirigu to dive sharply low to his left as Benfica

pressed forward. Cavani set up Jeremy Menez for a low shot from the

left that Artur was at full stretch to keep out.

The game cooled as PSG held onto possession, though Gaitan’s

shot just beyond Sirigu’s post in the 27th looked to be going

in.

Benfica’s push forward occasionally left it exposed at the back,

and Ljubomir Fejsa made a last-ditch tackle to deny Lucas Digne

inside the home team’s penalty area.

Benfica wasn’t giving up, and Gaitan’s winner capped a period of

renewed pressure as the home team repeatedly pierced the visitor’s

defense.

PSG still threatened, though, and Romuald Lacazette’s shot

scraped the post in the 68th.