Benfica Humiliate Barcelona, Compound Koeman’s Misery

Benfica’s Portuguese midfielder Rafa Silva (R) celebrates his goal during the UEFA Champions League first round group E footbal match between Benfica and Barcelona at the Luz stadium in Lisbon on September 29, 2021. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP


Barcelona suffered more European humiliation on Wednesday after a 3-0 defeat by Benfica left them in serious danger of failing to make it out of their Champions League group.

A hammering in Lisbon, which saw Darwin Nunez score twice, including a second-half penalty, also delivered another heavy blow to Ronald Koeman’s hopes of staying on as Barca coach.

Nunez’s double and a smart finish from Rafa Silva consigned Koeman’s team to a second consecutive 3-0 loss in Group E, after they were thrashed by the same scoreline at the hands of Bayern Munich earlier this month.

Koeman’s tactics will again come under scrutiny, with Gerard Pique substituted after just 33 minutes, seemingly to avoid picking up another yellow card, only for Eric Garcia to be sent off late on for a second booking.

Frenkie de Jong, Barcelona’s most creative player for the first half an hour, was also shifted into central defence to replace the departing Pique.

It is the first time since 2000 that Barcelona have lost back-to-back group games in the Champions League, which was also the last time the club failed to make the tournament’s knock-out stage.

They have a mountain to climb now to avoid the same fate, sitting bottom of the table, with Benfica four points ahead in second and a crunch game at home to Dynamo Kiev to come next month.

Whether Koeman is still in charge for that game remains to be seen given his future is not even secure for this weekend, when Barcelona play at Spanish champions Atletico Madrid in La Liga.

The club might view the upcoming international break as the more logical time to make a change but despite Koeman’s pleas for support, and perspective, his team have now won only one of their last five games and it appears a matter of when, not if.

Dire Financial Problems

Benfica’s Spanish defender Alex Grimaldo controls le ball during the UEFA Champions League first round group E footbal match between Benfica and Barcelona at the Luz stadium in Lisbon on September 29, 2021. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP


Earlier on Wednesday, La Liga had laid bare Barcelona’s dire financial problems by slashing their spending limit for this season to 97 million euros ($112.48 million), the seventh highest in La Liga. But even in adversity there is a base-line level of performance and Koeman is currently not managing to reach it.

Benfica were dynamite on the break all night but they needed only 135 seconds to take the lead as Nunez ran at Garcia from the left and was allowed to dart inside and strike the ball inside the near post.

Barcelona had chances to equalise as Pedri arrowed a brilliant through-ball for Frenkie de Jong, who squared for his teammate Luuk de Jong, but he was denied by a brilliant block six yards out.

Frenkie de Jong laid another chance on a plate for his namesake but again the opportunity went begging, with the midfielder’s attacking contributions suddenly cut short in the 33rd minute, when Pique went off.

Benfica looked the more likely to score again in the second half as Marc-Andre ter Stegen rushed out but failed to get to the ball first. Nunez rounded the goalkeeper but curled against the outside of the post from 40 yards.

Koeman brought on the 19-year-old Nico Gonzalez, Philippe Coutinho and Ansu Fati in the 67th minute but in the 68th, Benfica made it two. Joao Mario played a neat one-two with Roman Yaremchuk, who hit Ter Stegen only for Silva to sweep in the rebound.

A Sergino Dest handball was picked up by VAR, allowing Nunez to make it three from the spot, before Garcia completed a humbling night for Barcelona by being sent off with three minutes left.


Two-Time European Champions Benfica Crash Out Of Champions League

Benfica won the old European Cup twice in the 1960s. Photo: [email protected] Benfica.



Two-time European champions Benfica were dumped out of the Champions League in the qualifiers on Tuesday following a 2-1 defeat at PAOK Thessaloniki.

The Portuguese giants, who won the old European Cup twice in the 1960s, were knocked out by goals from Dimitrios Giannoulis and Andrija Zivkovic.

Benfica finished second in the Portuguese top division but had a tough draw at PAOK, who finished second in the Greek Super League.


They will not have a chance to overcome the defeat because the third qualifying round is being contested with single-leg ties.

Dynamo Kiev knocked out AZ Alkmaar with a 2-0 win while Gent saw off Rapid Vienna 2-1.


Benfica President Caught In Tax Evasion Crosshairs

Luis Filipe Vieira.
Benfica President, Luis Filipe Vieira. Photo: Benfica website


Benfica president Luis Filipe Vieira is under investigation for tax evasion, the Portuguese club confirmed Wednesday.

Vieira, club administrator Domingos Soares de Oliveira and two companies that manage the club and own the stadium are suspected of having defrauded the taxman of 600,000 euros ($686,000) in 2016-17, Benfica said in a statement.

Portuguese public prosecutors told AFP of “the existence of an investigation… into facts likely to constitute an offence of tax fraud”, without giving further details.

According to local media, suspicions were raised over payments to suppliers for services which, in reality, had not been rendered.

Benfica are the reigning Portuguese champions but Porto are set to win the 2019-2020 title on Wednesday.


RB Leipzig Secure First-Ever Last 16 Champions League Spot

Benfica’s Portuguese midfielder Pizzi (C) vies with Leipzig’s German defender Lukas Klostermann (L) and Leipzig’s Austrian midfielder Konrad Laimer (R) during the UEFA Champions League Group G football match RB Leipzig v Benfica in Leipzig, eastern Germany, on November 27, 2019.
Ronny Hartmann / AFP


RB Leipzig qualified for the Champions League knockout stages for the first time on Wednesday after Emil Forsberg fired them back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Benfica.

The German outfit looked set to lose but Forsberg pulled a goal back from the penalty spot in the 90th minute before hitting the leveler five minutes into added time.

READ ALSO: Champion’s League: Lovren’s Equaliser Spares Liverpool’s Blushes Against Napoli

Leipzig are three points clear of Zenit St Petersburg and Lyon at the top of Group G with one match to play and cannot be removed from the top two due to a superior head-to-head record.


Thieves Burgle Lyon Forward Traore’s House During European Tie

Lyon’s Burkinabe forward Bertrand Traore (R) shoots and scores a goal during the UEFA Champions League Group G football match between Olympique Lyonnais and SL Benfica at the Decines Groupama Stadium, on November 5, 2019.


Burkina Faso striker Bertrand Traore was the victim of a burglary while playing for Lyon in their Champions League win over Benfica, police said Wednesday.

Police arrived at Traore’s home at around 9.20 pm (2020 GMT) Tuesday to discover the front door forced open and that thieves had broken into a safe before fleeing the scene.

Traore was brought on as a substitute in the game at Groupama Stadium and scored a late goal in a 3-1 victory for the French side.

READ ALSO: Europa League: Arsenal Held By Vitoria Guimaraes 1-1

According to the Lyon Mag website, a significant sum of money and luxury watches worth up to 300,000 euros ($332,000) were stolen from the property in the eastern Lyon suburbs.

Last February three Lyon players including Dutch forward Memphis Depay were burgled while their club was playing Barcelona.

Depay had already been robbed last September, while Lyon were playing Nice. On that occasion property worth, more than one million euros was taken.

Officials and players in Marseille and Paris have also been targets during games in recent years.


Benfica Sack League Winning Coach Rui Vitoria

Benfica fired their coach Rui Vitoria on Thursday after a series of poor results for the team he led to back-to-back Portuguese titles in 2016 and 2017.

Benfica came second in Portugal last year but in December failed to qualify for the Champions League knock-out rounds, and after defeats to modest clubs now sit fourth in the domestic league.

READ ALSO: Manchester City End Liverpool’s Unbeaten Run To Reignite Title Race

On Wednesday the side scored two own goals in a 2-0 defeat to Portimonense.

“Benfica have come to an agreement with Rui Vitoria for an immediate end to his contract,” the club said in a statement on Thursday.

Benfica’s ‘B’ team coach Bruno Lage, has been appointed as an interim coach.

Hapless Svilar Helps Man United To Brink Of Last 16

Benfica’s Belgian goalkeeper Mile Svilar (L) clears the ball under pressure from Manchester United’s English midfielder Jesse Lingard during the UEFA Champions League Group A football match between Manchester United and Benfica at Old Trafford in Manchester, north-west England on October 31, 2017. Oli SCARFF / AFP

Manchester United are on the brink of the Champions League knockout phase after more inadvertent generosity from Benfica goalkeeper Mile Svilar helped them to a 2-0 victory on Tuesday.

Having carried a Marcus Rashford free-kick into his own net to gift United victory in the reverse fixture, 18-year-old Svilar scored an unwitting own goal when Nemanja Matic’s shot hit the post and went in off his back.

Daley Blind’s 78th-minute penalty completed victory, but with CSKA Moscow beating Basel in the other Group A game, United were left needing one point from their final two games to be certain of a last 16 berth.

Rui Vitoria’s Benfica remain bottom of the group with no points after their fifth successive European defeat — the worst run in the club’s history — and can no longer qualify for the knockout rounds.

Belgian youth international Svilar for one will be glad to see the back of United, particularly after he appeared to have atoned for his blunder in Lisbon two weeks ago by saving an early penalty from Anthony Martial.

With four wins from four games, United are six points clear at the top of the group and only a minor miracle will prevent them from reaching the knockout rounds for the first time since the 2013-14 season.

Jose Mourinho’s side visit Basel on November 22 before closing their campaign at home to CSKA next month.

Rewarded with a starting berth for his match-winning cameo in United’s 1-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, Martial won but then squandered a 15th-minute penalty.

In attempting to curb the Frenchman’s driving run into the box from the United left, Douglas lost his footing and handled the ball.

Martial took the penalty himself, steering it towards the bottom-left corner, but Svilar got down to turn the ball around the post.

– Woodwork thwarts Jimenez –

Benfica had been denied a penalty shortly before United’s spot-kick was awarded when Eric Bailly stepped across Pizzi and the hosts also had an appeal turned down following a challenge on Juan Mata by Ljubomir Fejsa.

It took a spectacular one-handed save from David de Gea to prevent Diogo Goncalves putting Benfica ahead with a swerving 25-yard effort.

Svilar denied United again on the half-hour, pushing Romelu Lukaku’s low strike behind, but fortune would desert the teenager once again on the brink of half-time.

From Lukaku’s lay-off, Matic let fly from 30 yards with a powerful drive that struck the base of the right-hand post and ricocheted against the prone Svilar’s left arm before bouncing into the net.

Svilar, who rushed out to thwart Lukaku moments later, wore an understandably rueful expression as he left the pitch at the break.

Jesse Lingard gave way for United at half-time after being unable to run off a blow to the side, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan taking his place behind Lukaku.

The Armenian was unable to add much zip to the home side’s play, however, and Benfica threatened to equalise on several occasions.

De Gea’s fingertips stopped Goncalves from levelling with an angled effort and the Spain international was grateful to his post for baling him out in the 65th minute after Bailly’s sloppy pass gave Raul Jimenez a clear sight of goal.

Blind soothed Old Trafford’s nerves with 12 minutes remaining by drilling a penalty down the middle of the goal after Andreas Samaris was penalised for felling United substitute Rashford.


Champions League: Mourinho Asks United Fans To Enjoy Benfica Clash

Champions League: Mourinho Asks United Fans To Enjoy Benfica Clash
File Photo:

Jose Mourinho urged Manchester United fans to enjoy Tuesday’s Champions League match against Benfica more than the weekend clash at Old Trafford in an apparent dig at sections of the home support.

“I hope that you enjoy the game more than some of you did against Tottenham,” Mourinho in his programme notes, referring to the 1-0 Premier League win, a day after defending striker Romelu Lukaku against apparent fan agitation after a five-game drought.

The game on Saturday was not a classic but Mourinho used his notes to compliment his players, adding: “It was an extremely tight game between two big teams, but I think we got what we deserved for our efforts.

“They gave absolutely everything, so even if we hadn’t won, then I would have been proud of them.”

Lukaku, 24, hit the ground running after completing a big-money move from Everton, hitting 11 goals in his first 10 matches for United.

The United boss said it was unfair that fans “don’t support him so much” as, whether he scores or not, the Belgium international makes a difference.

“The fans are the fans, and they pay their ticket and are free to express themselves however they want,” Mourinho said on Monday.

“But my job is when I feel they deserve, to protect my players and I feel Romelu is one of the players that should be untouchable in terms of the respect from everyone.”

United, second in the Premier League, are top of Champions League Group A with three wins out of three while Benfica are winless.

Mourinho’s team started off the season scoring freely but they have found goals harder to come by in recent matches.


Barcelona Agree Deal To Sign Benfica Defender Nelson Semedo

Barcelona have agreed a deal to sign Benfica defender, Nelson Semedo on a five-year contract, pending a medical.

The Spanish giants released a statement on their website saying the 23-year-old will undergo a medical on Friday.

Semedo was a key player in Benfica’s treble-winning campaign in two seasons.

He played 63 games, scoring two goals in the Portuguese League and one more in the Champions League.

Reports in Spain say the Catalans will pay a transfer fee of more than £26m for the Portuguese international.

Read Also: Messi Vows To Do ‘Best’ Under New Barca Coach Valverde

Ederson Will Join Manchester City – Benfica

Benfica Say Ederson To Join Manchester CityPortuguese Club Benfica have confirmed the sale of Brazilian goalkeeper Ederson Moraes to Manchester City.

The 23-year-old, who is yet to make his debut for his country, is joining the English side for 40 million euros (£34.9 million).

The deal makes him the second summer recruit at the Etihad, following the arrival of Bernardo Silva from Monaco.

City are yet to confirm the deal as they are still resolving third party ownership issues which they are optimistic would be solved in the coming days.

Ederson is set to challenge Claudio Bravo for the starting spot in goal, with England stopper Joe Hart who returns from his loan spell in Italy out of favour.

Barcelona To Play PSG In Champions League Round Of 16

Barcelona-UEFA Champions League, Europa League, PSGBarcelona will again face Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in the round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League.

The European football governing body unveiled the ‘Round of 16 draw’ on Monday.

Bayern Munchen would play Arsenal while league title holders, Real Madrid once more take on Napoli.ucl

Benfica were also paired with Borussia Dortmund while Manchester City would face Monaco.

Bayer Leverkusen take on Atletico Madrid, Porto against Juventus and Sevilla are expected to play Leicester City.

Similarly, Manchester United will play St-Etienne while Legia Warszawa face Ajax in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 draw.europa

Barcelona Shatter Guardiola’s Hope Of Victory With Man City

Pep Guardiola, Barcelona, Manchester City, Bayern Munich, ArsenalIn the face of three games without victory, Barcelona have yet again truncated Pep Guardiola’s hope of victory, as Manchester City lost to the Spaniards on Wednesday night.

Five-time Ballon d’Or winner, Lionel Messi netted the opener for the Spanish giants in a much expected tough UEFA Champions League showdown at the Camp Nou.

Efforts by the English side to balance the scoreboard in the first half proved abortive, but led to David Silva and Fernandinho getting a yellow card apiece.

As City’s Claudio Bravo bagged a straight red card, Messi showed his former coach that he was ready for the face-off, as he netted a brace in the second half (making it a hat-trick for the football legend).

Despite Guardiola’s familiarity with the hosts, Barcelona took their stand to maintain their home unbeaten record in the Champions League since 2013, as the match ended 4 – 0 with Neymar’s late goal.

The former Barcelona player and coach took the helm of the Sky Blues last summer.

Barcelona defender, Gerard Pique had expected a completely different Manchester City, now that the British side was being managed by Guardiola.

Pique believed his former coach had tried to make Manchester play in a similar way to the Spanish side.

Arsenal Shine

In England, Arsenal recorded huge success as they humbled Bulgaria’s Ludogorets Razgrad 6 – 0 at the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners took the lead right from the first half with a brilliant goal each from Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

It was an all Arsenal affair, as the English side had another reason to celebrate with Mesut Ozil netting a hat-trick in the second half.

Meanwhile, Bayern Munich have finally broken the jinx of ‘no victory’ since their last three games in all competitions.

The German side recorded a 4 – 1 win while playing host to PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday night.

League One champions, Paris Saint Germain (PSG) also displayed a brilliant performance, defeating Basel 3 – 0 on the French soil.

Elsewhere, FC Rostov lost 0 – 1 to Atletico Madrid, Celtic lost 0 – 2 to Borussia Moenchengladbach, Dynamo Kyiv lost 0 – 2 to Benfica while Napoli lost 2 – 3 to Besiktas.