Benfica beat Zenit to seal first quarters berth after six years
Two injury-time goals courtesy of Maxi Pereira and Nelson Oliveira secured Benfica’s passage to the Champions League quarter-finals Tuesday with a convincing 2-0 win over Zenit Saint-Petersburg.
Jorge Jesus’s side had succumbed 3-2 in Russia in the first leg of the knockout phase after Roman Shirokov stunned the Portuguese by scoring the second of a brace of goals in the 88th minute.
Goals from Pereira, in first-half injury time, and Oliveira, at the tail end, capped a solid performance at the Stadium of Light and sent Benfica into the last eight of Europe’s premier club competition for the first time since 2006.
Jesus said: “We now go in to the quarter-finals with the same ambitions we had at the start of the season and, whoever we get in the draw, we can go far.” Benfica made their intentions clear from the outset, keeping visiting goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev on his toes throughout a lively first half which ended with the hosts 1-0 ahead.
The Russian was powerless to stop Pereira when the Uruguayan defender fired home from Axel Witsel’s smart backheeler after the Belgian had picked up his own rebound from an alert Malafeev.
Zenit came out fired up for the second half but despite show ing more purpose, the Russians could only watch as efforts by Jardel, with a free header that went wide of the post, then Cardozo were thwarted.
Viktor Fayzulin spurned a chance for a late equaliser when he sent his shot wide of the post in injury time. Moments later Oliveira sealed it when he shot past Malafeev from close range.