February 14, 2013
Benfica grab slim advantage
#INSERT type:image caption: Oscar Cardozo's goal in the second half gave Benfica a narrow win END#Oscar Cardozo's second-half strike was enough to ensure Benfica will take a slender advantage back to the Estadio da Luz in their Europa League last-32 tie against Bayer Leverkusen.
Cardozo tapped home an Andre Almeida assist the hour as Bayer conceded at home in Europe for the first time this season.
Victory extends Benfica's unbeaten run to 23 games in all competitions although the Portuguese, who dropped out of the Champions League, had to work hard to maintain that run.
Benfica goalkeeper Artur Moraes was busy early as he kept out a 20-yard tester from Andre Schurrle before holding on to Simon Rolfes' header.
Almeida responded at the other end by drilling a 20-yard shot over the crossbar.
Bayer looked the more likely to open the scoring, however, as Kiessling fired a shot wide from just outside the area.
Benfica were forced into a change on 42 minutes as Enzo Perez replaced Andre Gomes but there was still time for Schurrle to go close again.
Bayer had the opening shot of the second period when Rolfes' left-foot volley went over the crossbar.
The hosts failure to test Moraes enough was exposed on 61 minutes as Cardozo swooped for the decider.
Almeida found enough space on the right side of the area to slide in a pass that Cardozo put away from the middle of the six-yard box.
Bayer pot straight back on the front foot with Kiessling winning a free-kick in a dangerous position after drawing Luisao into a foul.
But they continue to frustrate the home fans as Jens Hegeler headed over Gonzalo Castro's inswinger before Lars Bender volleyed wide of the left-hand post.
Hegeler tried a more direct approach when he blasted a 20-yard free-kick only for Moraes to punch away as Benfica held on.
|Óscar Cardozo (61')|
|1 Bernd Leno||1 Artur|
|27 Gonzalo Castro||24 Ezequiel Garay|
|24 Michal Kadlec||4 Luisão|
|2 Daniel Schwaab||25 Lorenzo Melgarejo|
|4 Philipp Wollscheid||34 Andre Almeida|
|6 Simon Rolfes||21 Nemanja Matic|
|8 Lars Bender||15 Ola John|
|13 Jens Hegeler||20 Nicolas Gaitán|
|14 Hajime Hosogai||89 André Gomes|
|11 Stefan Kießling||7 Óscar Cardozo|
|9 Andre Schürrle||23 Jonathan Urretaviscaya|
|33 Michael Rensing||Paulo Lopes 13|
|17 Sebastian Boenisch||Maxi Pereira 14|
|5 Manuel Friedrich||Jardel 33|
|3 Stefan Reinartz||Enzo Perez 35|
|18 Sidney Sam||Eduardo Salvio 18|
|7 Junior Fernandes||Lima 11|
|16 Arkadiusz Milik||Rodrigo 19|
|Sidney Sam for Andre Schürrle (46)||Enzo Perez for André Gomes (42)|
|Arkadiusz Milik for Gonzalo Castro (70)||Eduardo Salvio for Jonathan Urretaviscaya (57)|
|Sebastian Boenisch for Hajime Hosogai (82)||Lima for Óscar Cardozo (72)|
|Lars Bender (52)||Enzo Perez (45)|
|Stefan Kießling (76)||Nicolas Gaitán (73)|
|Arkadiusz Milik (81)|
|· Squads: Bayer Leverkusen | Benfica|