Benfica 5-2 Real Madrid: Mourinho's men outclassed in seven-goal thriller
The Portuguese outfit made their home advantage count, with an inspired and energetic performance to best Los Blancos and capture their third Eusebio Cup
By Keeghann Sinanan
An entertaining clash saw Jose Mourinho's men fall prey to defensive weakness, as the Portuguese side ruthlessly carved them apart to win the pre-season tournament for the third time in five years.
Benfica stormed into the lead through the head of Javi Garcia after only five minutes, but a quickfire double from Jose Callejon turned the game on its head with 20 minutes gone.
However, the home side would restore parity moments later with another headed goal from Alex Witsel, before taking control of the match in the second half. A well-taken pair of efforts from Enzo Perez and a fine finish from Carlos Martins put the home fans in ecstasy, and the result firmly out of Madrid's reach.
Both teams were handed a pre-match treat with an on-pitch greeting from Eusebio, the Portuguese legend in good spirits as he continued his recovery from a stroke suffered during Euro 2012.
Mourinho fielded a mix of reserves and regulars, with Antonio Adan and Nacho lining up alongside the likes of Gonzalo Higuain and Angel Di Maria. Luis Filipe Vieira, meanwhile, named a strong XI, with Oscar Cardozo, Garcia and Witsel all playing from the start.
It took the hosts only five minutes to break the deadlock, after Cardozo was fouled just outside the box. Martins took charge of the delivery, which was met by Garcia, who guided a superb header past the outstretched arms of Adan.
The setback did little to faze Madrid though, as they quickly began to monopolize possession and control matters in the middle of the park, which kept Benfica on the back foot.
One dangerous through ball from Di Maria forced Artur into an eccentric head-first clearance, but the Brazilian keeper was left helpless by the Argentine’s enterprise in the 18th minute.
Di Maria’s marauding run down the right flank saw him find space to cross, and the winger did not disappoint, delivering with the outside of his boot to Callejon, who drove home with little hesitation.
Callejon was not done, and two minutes later, he latched onto a slipped pass from Gonzalo Higuain to bury another finish past Artur to put the Spanish giants into the lead.
It was a rapid turnaround from Madrid, but they were brought back down to earth almost immediately after the restart, with their set-piece frailties costing them once again.
Martins again was the instigator, whipping in a set-piece towards the back post, where Witsel was waiting to nod the Portuguese side back onto terms.
To say Adan looked uncomfortable in the air would be an understatement, and the Madrid reserve keeper was nearly beaten again after some incisive wide-play from Nolito.
The Spanish winger’s delivery bent past two Madrid defenders and found Cardozo rushing in from point blank range, but somehow, the big striker fired well over the bar after connecting with his favoured left foot.
Adan’s aerial deficiencies would come to the fore again eight minutes into the second-half, as the home side surged ahead in outrageous fashion. A short corner was worked to Perez near the right byline, who bent a speculative effort past the despairing fingertips of the Madrid keeper and into the top corner.
Mourinho did not look amused on the touchline, and his displeasure would increase further after Benfica scored again just before the hour mark.
A surging move forward saw Witsel, on the overlap, tee up Martins in the area, who blasted home with aplomb to open up a two-goal Benfica lead.
The home fans were in full voice, and their spirits were kicked up a notch with the introduction of former player Fabio Coentrao, who swapped Estadio Da Luz for the Santiago Bernabeu in a big-money move last summer.
Substitute Karim Benzema had a chance to reduce the arrears in the 66th minute after finding himself unmarked at the back post, but he could not make clean contact with the ball as Artur collected with ease.
However, by that point the writing was on the wall for Madrid, and Benfica would pile on further misery with a fifth goal, Perez lifting a neat finish over Adan from close range to clinch the pre-season trophy for the hosts.
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