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UEFA Champions League

  • December 7, 2011
  • • 19:45
  • • Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica (da Luz), Lisboa
  • Referee: M. Gräfe
  • • Attendance: 35155

Benfica 1-0 Otelul Galati: Early Cardozo goal sees Portuguese through as Group C winners

Benfica 1-0 Otelul Galati: Early Cardozo goal sees Portuguese through as Group C winners

The Paraguay internationals early strike was enough to ensure, Benfica top Group C above Basel to progress to the knockout stages

Benfica defeated Otelul Galati 1-0 at Estadio da Luz in Wednesday night's Champions League encounter, a sixth-minute goal from Oscar Cardozo proving to be the winner as the hosts top Group C with their unbeaten record intact.

The Paraguayan struck early to condemn Otelul to a winless campaign, and now they can look forward to a favourable draw after topping the group.

The match began with the hosts dominating possession, and it was no surprise when they took the lead in the sixth minute. A neat ball from Axel Witsel found Nicolas Gaitan on the right side of the area; the Argentina international produced some neat footwork before sliding the ball across goal, to leave Cardozo with a simple finish.

The game commenced slowly after the goal, with chances at a premium. However, the visitors missed a good opportunity to level the tie when Laurentiu Iorga found himself in space on the edge of the box, but the Romanian’s tame effort was easily stopped by Artur.

The hosts were still controlling the play, and just over half an hour in, Cardozo almost doubled his tally, but the Paraguay international’s powerful drive flew just past the post.

Galati were starting to impose themselves on the game, and on the stroke of half-time they almost found the equaliser. Liviu Antal picked up the ball on the right flank before cutting past Emerson, and forcing Artur into a good save with a low drive.

The second half began at a pulsating pace, with Branko Grahovac pulling off a great save to deny Bruno Cesar’s powerful volley just three minutes after the restart.

The game had began to slow down again, with no real chances created, until the 60th minute, when Javi Garcia almost doubled Benfica’s lead with blistering strike from the edge of the area, but the former Real Madrid youth’s effort went inches past the post.

With just over 15 minutes to go, substitute Nolito missed a glorious opportunity to kill the game off; a neat one-two with Cardozo put the former Barcelona forward through on goal, but his first-time effort flew straight at Grahovac.

This result ensures that Benfica top Group C unbeaten to progress to the knockout stages, while Otelul Galati exit the competition bottom of the group, with no points from their six matches played.