Benfica hit back to down PSG

Franco Jara scored the winner in the 81st minute to give last

season’s quarter-finalists a slender advantage heading into next

week’s second leg. Despite resting a number of their key players,

PSG made a bright start and claimed their crucial away goal after

17 minutes through Peguy Luyindula. The French side could even have

had a second moments later when Mevlut Erdinc fired against the

post, but Maxi Pereira equalised just before the break before

Jara’s late match-winner. PSG coach Antoine Kombouare opted to take

a weakened team to Portugal after prioritising his team’s battle at

the top of the Ligue 1 table over European progress. That meant

Christophe Jallet, Ludovic Giuly, Claude Makelele and Guillaume

Hoarau were all left in Paris, but despite their absences the

visitors made a storming start. Erdinc forced Benfica goalkeeper

Roberto into action for the first time after five minutes before

recalled defender Sammy Traore headed a Nene corner narrowly over.

Brazilian midfielder Nene was at the centre of PSG’s best moves

early on and it was his craft that provided the opener in the 14th

minute when he laid the ball on for Luyindula to score from six

yards. The visitors were then denied a second goal by the woodwork

four minutes later when Nene again sliced open the defence with a

cross that Erdinc directed against a post. Mathieu Bodmer shot wide

from a Nene free-kick before Benfica finally started to bare their

teeth on the half-hour. Oscar Cardozo drew a pair of saves from

Edel Bete in the space of four minutes, the second of which saw the

best of the Armenia international as he tipped a 25-yard drive

wide. Benfica’s spirited response earned them an equaliser four

minutes before half-time when Maxi Pereira scored from 12 yards

thanks to a Carlos Martins assist. It was a rare period of pressure

from the hosts, however, and they were again on the back foot after

the break with Nene shooting wide before Erdinc saw a shot blocked.

But after keeping their hosts at bay for long periods, PSG were

again made to pay for a lapse late in the half when Argentinian

midfielder Jara found space to score with a right-footed shot from

just outside the area.