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UEFA Champions League
October 2, 2012
• Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica (da Luz), Lisboa
Referee: C. Çakιr
• Attendance: 63847
A. Sánchez 6'
FULL TIME IN LISBON. Goals from Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas give Barcelona a relatively comfortable 2-0 away victory against Benfica in Champions League Group G. It is another three points for Tito Vilanova's men but they will be rocked by the horrendous injury to Carles Puyol, who looks likely to be missing for a while after suffering a suspected dislocated arm. Benfica face Spartak Moscow and Barcelona welcome Celtic in the next round of fixtures in Group G. I'm Martin Macdonald, thank you for joining us on Goal.com! See you next time!
90' + 1'
Benfica still look anxious to find a goal even if it ultimately means nothing. Goal difference does very often come into play in the group stage.
Yellow Card Jardel Nivaldo Vieira
Matic goes in with his elbow high on Dani Alves and the Brazilian goes down. Well if Busquets is sent off for nothing then that is at least a yellow card.
Red Card Busquets
Well, the referee has lost the plot here. Sergio Busquets is inexplicably sent off after blasting the ball in a tackle with Maxi Pereira. They both collided in the follow through but there was nothing in it whatsoever. Bemused by that decision.
Yellow Card Nemanja Matić
Three fouls in quick succession from Nemanja Matic earn the Serbian a yellow card. The last one was for a cynical block on Messi as the Argentine drifted by him.
Yellow Card Carlos Martins
Barca having fun with their short passing in and around the Benfica box at the moment. Each player in the attacking area of the park is testing their range, trying to find an opening.
Last change of the match for Barcelona as their weekend match winner against Sevilla, David Villa, comes on for the last 10 minutes in place of Pedro.
The injury to Carles Puyol has quietened the game down a bit now. Barcelona now look as if they want the game over as quickly as possible so they can go and check on their captain.
Thankfully, no oxygen was needed and Puyol is taken off on a stretcher. He could definitely be out for a while with that one. He will certainly be out of the Clasico at the weekend.
Some awful scenes now as Carles Puyol is currently down. The Barcelona captain attempted to header the ball inside the area and landed incredibly awkwardly on his shoulder. It looks very worrying as his shoulder looks to have popped out. The Barcelona players look traumatised.
Andres Iniesta drifts into the area and, with four players around him, attempts a couple of stepover and Marseille turns before somehow earning a corner. Outstanding.
Benfica follow suit and make their last change. Former Barcelona youth player Nolito has been introduced into the action in place of Nicolas Gaitain, who has looked bright down the left wing tonight.
First change of the match for Barcelona as Cesc Fabregas comes off to be replaced by Andres Iniesta, who is returning from injury. It would not be surprising if Tito Vilanova utilised all three of his substitutions tonight as the Catalans have El Clasico this weekend against Real Madrid.
A series of pacey passes inside the area see the ball find its way to Messi. He had three players around him but somehow managed to get a shot away! The attempt was just blocked on the six yard line but it was incredible the Argentine even got an attempt in!
Barcelona take it short and begin switching the play again.
Free kick to Barcelona in a great position after Pedro is hacked down by Maxi Pereira on the left-hand side.
Messi receives the ball from Fabregas inside the centre circle and Jardel rushes all the way out from defence to attempt to hustle the Argentine into surrendering possession. However, his attempts were slightly over the top and Barca get the free kick.
The Benfica crowd are showing signs of real frustration now as Barcelona coolly and calmly keep the ball in the middle of the park. They want their players to press ahead and attempt to win back possession.
Enzo Nicolás Pérez
Another change to report for Benfica now as Pablo Aimar comes on for Enzo Perez. Aimar is an old enemy of Barcelona having spent a few years at La Liga rivals, Valencia.
Well, Benfica are going to need to move 10 yards up the park now. They need to try and win the ball back and this can't be done if they are camped in their own half. Barca now looking comfortable
Goal Cesc Fàbregas
GOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAL FOR BARCELONA!!! They have doubled their lead! Messi drives forward at pace and slips a pass into the stride of Fabregas, who takes the ball forward a few yards before lashing a left-footed shot past Artur at the near post! Great finish! 2-0!
Shaky from Victor Valdes!! A ball is whipped into the area and the Barca goalkeeper fumbles the ball in the air! Luckily for him, Jordi Alba is there to clean up at the back post.
Benfica are given a free kick in their own half as Mascherano fouls Lima by putting an arm over his shoulder whilst jumping. A little respite for the hosts.
They have kept the ball for a good two minutes now. Benfica still look happy to let them have it but they will have to show a little more ambition at some point in the second half.
Much the same formula in the opening stages here. Barcelona dominant in possession. Benfica have been given a little more dynamism in the centre of midfield now however with the introduction of Martins.
No changes for Barca. Here's a stat for you: This is Barcelona's 10th official game this season and they have started every game with a different line-up. A true reflection of the quality that lies throughout the Barca squad.
A change to report for you at half time as Carlos Martins is introduced into the match in place of Bruno Cesar.
THE SECOND HALF IS UNDERWAY!
HALF TIME IN LISBON. Barcelona lead Benfica 1-0 at the break thanks to a solitary goal from Alexis Sanchez. It has been an extremely entertaining affair so far with both sides playing fluent pacey football. Don't miss the second half! Join us in 15 minutes!
Superb challenge by Puyol. Gaitain looked to be driving into the penalty box with the Barca captain hooks the ball away from the feet of the Argentine before he could pick out a cross or attempt a shot.
Awful goalkeeping by Artur! The Benfica clears the ball straight to the feet of Fabregas around 25 yards from goal! The former Arsenal man then picks out Pedro on the right and looks for the return pass but the Benfica defence squeeze things at the back to cut out the ball inside.
Jordi Alba drives down the left wing at pace before floating a cross to the back post for Pedro. The 25-year-old then attempts to pick out Messi inside the area but Benfica manage to scramble the ball away!
Yellow Card Bruno César
The free kick is whipped in at pace towards the near post where it is flicked on but the ball whizzes agonizingly past the far post! No takers for Benfica there!
Free kick to Benfica in a great position down the right-hand side. Ohhh that is never a free kick! Perez dives straight up in the air as Mascherano slides in beside him! The Argentine didn't even touch him!
A small break in play at the moment as Enzo Perez is currently down with an injury. He fell awkwardly on his shoulder under the challenge of Fabregas. The Barca man will need to be careful as he is on a yellow card.
Having said that, when Benfica burst out of defence and come forward at pace, they do look a danger. Gaitan in particular looks like their most potent weapon.
Barca continue to implement their neat passing in the middle of the pitch. Their patience is truly remarkable. They wait for the perfect moment to strike.
Yellow Card Pedro
Pedro picks up the second yellow card of the match after going down far too easily on the edge of the box. Benfica defender Jardel just stood and the Barca man ran into him before dramatically falling to the grass. Booked for simulation.
Alexis counterattacks this time down the left wing and cuts inside before sliding a pass in to Xavi. Messi and Dani Alves then exchange superb one-two's on the edge of the area and the result is a corner kick to Barca.
Alexis passes up a golden chance! Xavi picks out the Chilean with a delightful ball over the top and he latches on to it put his attempt goes flying over the bar! With Artur dashing out from goal, perhaps a lob was the better option?
Fantastic save from Artur!! Messi attempts a first time shot on the edge of the box as he looks to guide the ball into the far corner but the Benfica goalkeeper somehow gets a fingertip to the ball to turn it round the post.
The gameplan of the home side is clear for all to see. They are quite happy to let Barcelona enjoy possession far out from goal but when they sniff an opportunity their aim is to counterattack at pace down the wings through Gaitan and Salvio.
Yellow Card Cesc Fàbregas
Benfica burst out of their own half and counterattack at pace down the right-hand side but a late challenge from Cesc Fabregas on Eduardo Salvio but the breaks on any attack. The Barca man receives a deserved booking.
The game quietening down slightly as Barcelona spray the ball around the park at will. They are playing their patient waiting game at the moment.
Messi looks to latch on to a pass over the top of the Benfica defence but a combination of Garay and Artur clear away the danger for the hosts and Benfica look to attack.
Benfica growing in confidence here. To their credit, they do not look to be too disheartened by going a goal down. Their passing, particularly through the middle, has been incisive and pacey.
Brilliant save from Valdes after a great move from Benfica! Gaitan slips a lovely pass through the middle for Lima who takes the ball in his stride before attempting a left-footed strike at goal but the Barca goalkeeper remains solid!
Well it has been a cracking match so far. Both teams look incredibly sharp and the passing has been slick through the middle. We are in for an entertaining game.
Goal Alexis Sánchez
GOOOOOOAAAAAAL FOR BARCELONA!!! The Catalans strike early! Messi shows superb speed and strength down the left and drives a fantastic cross into the six-yard-box for Alexis who slides home!! 1-0!
Benfica looking a lot more up for it now. They were sitting incredibly deep in their own half for the opening two minutes but now they are getting in the faces of the Barca midfield.
But they still manage the first shot of the match! Benfica counterattack and the ball comes to Bruno Cesar who unleashed a swerving shot at goal that is saved by the legs of Valdes!
Well, we are two minutes into the match now and Benfica have had a grand total of one second in possession. Barca playing keep-ball at the moment.
AND WE ARE OFF!
The teams have took to the field now and with the pre-match formalities out of the way, we are just a minute or so away from kick-off.
Benfica have a bit of a chip of their shoulder when it comes to Spanish sides coming over to Portugal. They have not won on home turf for 30 years against teams from Spain.
Whenever these two clubs have met, the winners have gone on to lift the European Cup, starting with Bela Guttmann's Benfica in the 1961 final in Berne. An omen perhaps? Well, perhaps not, but we all enjoy stats!
This is the starting XI of Barcelona: (4-3-3) Valdes; Alves, Puyol, Mascherano, Alba; Xavi Busquets, Cesc; Pedro, Messi, Alexis.
THE TEAMS ARE IN. This is how Benfica will be lining up tonight: (4-3-3) Artur; Maxi Pereira, Garay, Jardel, Melgarejo; Bruno Cesar, Matic, Perez; Salvio, Lima, Gaitan.
Celtic and Spartak Moscow have already played the other game in Group G this evening, and Neil Lennon's side came away with a superb 3-2 away victory in the Luzhniki Stadium.
I'm Martin Macdonald, and I'll be taking you through the action this evening. Lets hope we are in for an entertaining match tonight, and with the attacking talent on show, I'm sure we wont be disappointed.
Good evening folks! Welcome to Goal.com's LIVE coverage of the Champions League Group G match between Benfica and Barcelona at Estadio da Luz in Lisbon.
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