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UEFA: Benfica Edge Through Zenith As Jonas Nets Stoppage-time Winner

UEFA Benfica Edge Through Zenith As Jonas Nets Stoppage-time Winner


UEFA: Benfica Edge Through Zenith As Jonas Nets Stoppage-time Winner

Jonas struck with a stoppage-time header to end 90 minutes of frustration for Benfica as they beat an ultra-cautious Zenit St Petersburg 1-0 at home in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday.

Nicolas Gaitan floated a free kick into the area and the Brazilian rose to break the deadlock.

Zenit defender Domenico Criscito was sent off for a second yellow card for the foul, which led to the free kick.

The first half was an unsightly slog with 16 fouls, seven offsides and four bookings.

Benfica came to life in the second half but still struggled to create chances against a tightly-packed, well-drilled Zenit, who were playing their first competitive match since December 9.

Jonas had the best effort of the first half when the Benfica forward unleashed a shot from the edge of the area but Zenit’s Nicolas Lombaerts just got his head to the ball and his touch forced it centimetres wide of the post.

Zenit had to wait until the 36th minute for their first shot on goal but Hulk, who got little change out of Benfica’s Eliseu, fired a low effort wide from 25 metres.

Benfica goalkeeper Julio Cesar finally made a save in the 52nd minute when he parried a dangerous shot from Axel Witsel.

He also had to stop a header from the Belgian midfielder from the resulting corner.

The hosts nearly went ahead in the 69th minute when Gaitan skipped past a defender, but saw his shot stopped at point-blank range by keeper Yuri Lodygin.

Benfica continued to dominate and Gaitan was foiled again by Lodygin before his team mate Jardel turned the ball wide after Victor Lindelof headed down Renato Sanches’s cross.

The match appeared headed for a draw before Jonas snatched the winner.


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