A goal by substitute Franco Jara tips the balance of the tie into Benfica's favour after a tight Round of 16 tie at Estadio da Luz.
Substitute Franco Jara completed a come-from-behind 2-1 win for Benfica over Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of the Europa League last 16.
PSG had earlier gone ahead when Peguy Luyindula beat the offside trap to turn in a precious away goal for the Parisiens. Maxi Pereira equalised for the home side just before half-time after Carlos Martins' assist, before Jara’s late winner.
In a bright opening at the Estadio da Luz, it was Benfica who threatened early on when Nicolas Gaitan failed to capitalise on a poor clearance by Apoula Edel. Moments later, it was Les Parisien’s turn to attack as Mevlut Erding, back in the starting line-up, was set free by Clement Chantome but Benfica ‘keeper Roberto was equal to the shot, diving to his right as both teams fought for dominance in the early exchanges.
The breakthrough came in the 14th minute when Peguy Luyindula latched onto a superb through ball from Nene which opened the home defence, and Luyindula brushed aside Fabio Coentrao to slip the ball past Roberto and hand his team a priceless away goal to send the travelling support into raptures.
It was a brilliant attacking spell for the visitors, as Mevlut Erding struck the post three minutes later to leave Jorge Jesus bemused at his team’s lapse in concentration. Benfica continued to live dangerously when a poor defensive clearance fell invitingly to Clement Chantome but he failed to increase the lead.
PSG were dealt a blow as scorer Luyindula was stretched off after a collision with Coentrao who lay on the floor after Marcos Ceara’s challenge. He returned briefly, but was substituted when it became apparent he couldn’t continue.
Benfica were counting themselves lucky that they weren't three or four down after the first half an hour, but they didn’t need to be told twice. After a vicious Oscar Cardozo freekick was superbly saved by Edel, and further goalscoring opportunities spurned, the home side finally took their chance three minutes before half-time when Carlos Martins lifted the ball over the PSG defence, and with a quick look at the referee, Maxi Pereira struck the ball into the roof of the net to bring his side level.
Fabio Coentrao then failed with a glorious chance on the stroke of half-time, cutting inside the penalty area, but his wayward shot didn’t even result in a goal-kick.
In a low-key second half, Erding missed an opportunity to strike an early blow as a high ball was sent over the Benfica defence, yet the Turkish striker went for accuracy and not power, thus sending the ball into the grateful arms of Roberto.
PSG didn’t capitalise on their strong first-half showing, and were lucky not to concede a penalty when Tripy Makonda brought down Javier Saviola, but referee Pavel Kralovac thought otherwise.
However, Benfica's comeback win was complete in the 81st minute when Pablo Aimar fed the ball to substitute Franco Jara who lashed in a low shot on the edge of the area to put the home side in the driver's seat.
Benfica take a slender 2-1 win to Paris in the return leg next week, but Antoine Kombouare’s men have the vital away goal.