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UEFA Champions League
November 7, 2012
• Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica (da Luz), Lisboa
Referee: F. Meyer
• Attendance: 36448
O. Cardozo 55', 69'
Thank you for joining us here at Goal.com for tonight's Champions League fixtures. Be sure to stick with us for all the post-match news and analysis from every one of this evening's games. My name is Tom Webber and it has been a pleasure, as always, to guide you through the action.
It is all over at the Estadio da Luz and Benfica have won 2-0 against Spartak Moscow to move up to third in Group C. A second-half double from Cardozo provided the difference for the dominant Eagles, but Celtic's surprise 2-1 win over Barcelona means they remain three points of a top-two spot.
90' + 4'
SO CLOSE!! Bruno Cesar is the man to take it with his left foot and he connects with the ball magnificently. Rebrov has no chance of reaching it but the shot only finds the side netting.
90' + 3'
A good run from Perez earns Benfica a free kick as Suchy brings him down on the edge of the area. A chance for Cardozo to yet get his hat-trick...
90' + 1'
We are into the first minute of an additional four.
JUST WIDE!! Bruno Cesar fires a ferocious effort at goal from distance which looks destined for the back of the net. Rebrov is scrambling to his left but breathes a sigh of relief as the shot sails inches wide of goal.
The young Georgian, Jano, has looked a decent little player since coming on as a substitute. Once again he looks to come inside from the left but he is tracked this time. Therefore, he puts a clever backheel into the path of Ari but Jardel comes across to win the ball.
Excellent movement from Jano as he turns Andre Almeida inside out before putting the ball onto his right foot. From the left, he looks to curl an effort past Artur and in at the far post but he cannot find the target.
Wasted opportunity from Perez. He runs at the heart of the Spartak defence but decides to go for goal from 25 yards despite having options on either side. He cuts across the ball and sends a poor effort over the bar and wide of the target.
WHAT A MISS! Well, Cardozo may have been brilliant in this half but he seems unable to find his hat-trick goal. He breaks past the defensive line, exposing the absence of Pareja, but sends an awkwardly-struck effort wide of the post.
Unbelievably, Celtic have managed to bag a second against Barcelona. Benfica will likely remain three points behind the Scottish side come full time.
Spartak look to have gained a bit of confidence following that save from Rebrov and they have begun to put a bit more pressure on the hosts. It is surely too little too late now though.
Missed PenaltyÓ. Cardozo
GREAT SAVE! Cardozo wastes a fantastic chance to complete his hat-trick as he rifles the penalty straight down the middle. Rebrov stays up and got fingertips on it to deflect it onto the woodwork.
Penalty saveArtem Rebrov
Red CardNicolás Pareja
HE IS OFF!! Cardozo absolutely skins Pareja and in his attempt to recover he scythes down the Paraguayan. He is dismissed for the challenge and Benfica have a penalty!
Jorge Jesus is remonstrating with his side on the touchline as they begin to open up and offer far too much space for the Spartak wide men. Fortunately for him, the Russians are unable to forge a chance to find the net.
FANTASTIC SAVE!! Spartak finally make Melgarejo pay for his adventurous play as Ari knocks the ball out wide to Kombarov. He puts it on a plate for Dzyuba but the he is unable to beat Artur, firing his low shot right at the feet of the keeper.
Finally the Eagles are playing with urgency. The confident John is the hub of the play and he surges down the left again as the hosts search for another goal. He cannot make it work this time though as he runs into a dead end and Spartak mop up.
GOOOOAAAALL!! CARDOZO GETS HIS SECOND!! Superb wing-play from John on the left as he burns past Kombarov and drives to the byeline. He cuts a cross back on to the penalty spot and Cardozo pulls off his defender to volley into the back of the net. Superb goal.
Unlucky for Jurado! The Spaniard shows a turn of pace to burst into the area but comes under pressure from Jardel. He is still able to pull a square pass into the area but he lacks any form of support and Benfica are able to clear.
OFF THE BAR!! Garay does brilliantly to flick a corner on at the near post. It finds Cardozo at the back of the area and he looks to send a header back where it came from. The direction is pinpoint but there is too much elevation and it drops on the top of the bar and goes behind.
JUST OVER THE BAR!! Cardozo has brought the best out of Lima this half. The Paraguayan feeds his strike partner and he takes on a shot from 25 yards. It has all the power it needs but flies above the goal and behind for a free kick.
The Russians desperately need to do something differently here or they risk falling to the bottom of the group. They are not stretching the Benfica full-backs and attacking the space in behind them. There is little sign of them turning this around.
JUST WIDE!! John, who has been very impressive tonight, does very well to come in off the left and create space for a shot. He hits it with the outside of his right boot but it lacks the curve to test Rebrov and the keeper is comfortable enough to let it crash into the side netting.
Well it is no less than Benfica deserve. They have dominated possession and kept Spartak on the back foot throughout. The visitors have been punished for some lax defending but Melgarejo has been magnificent up against Kombarov.
GOOOOOAL!! CARDOZO!! The Paraguyan makes the desired impact as he outmuscles Makeev at the back post to nod Benfica in to the lead from Melgarejo's cross. There it is, the Eagles' 350th European Cup goal!
Benfica are just one goal away from reaching a milestone 350 goals scored in the European Cup. They really should have got that tonight and they will be bitter if they do not come away from tonight having achieved that.
It is a goal...no, it has been disallowed! Cardozo almost makes an instant impact as he controls and slams home from John's cross but it is ruled out for offside. Once more the officials look to have made a poor decision as the Paraguayan was in line with the defenders.
ARTUR MAKES THE SAVE!! Yet again the visitors threaten on the break and after Kombarov runs into a dead end the loose ball falls to Bilyaletdinov. He powers a shot straight down the middle but Artur slaps it away from the goal.
The first chance of the half, unsurprisingly, goes the way of the hosts. Lima plumps for a shot from 25 yards but he pulls it wide of Rebrov's goal. He claims it took a deflection but the referee is deaf to his claims and awards a goal kick.
The second half is underway. Cardozo has indeed come on and he has replaced Rodrigo. Jorge Jesus clearly going for it now.
The teams are making their way back out onto the pitch now. The second half is just a few moments away. Oscar Cardozo has gone through a pretty strenuous half-time workout and looks set to enter the fray.
Join me in 10 minutes for the second half. In the meantime, send me your comments and predictions on Twitter @thwebber.
Half time at the Estadio da Luz and it remains Benfica 0-0 Spartak Moscow. The Eagles have been well and truly on top but having nothing to show for their dominance. They will need to push on even more after the break but must be wary of what looks like a potentially deadly Russian counterattack.
45' + 2'
Benfica think they have created a great chance as John slips a great pass in to the feet of Rodrigo. The referee's assistant raises his flag but the replays suggest the Spaniard was onside. Big error from the officials there.
Two minutes of added time to be played at the Estadio da Luz.
The hosts are almost caught out as Spartak break with pace. Kombarov pushes on to the byeline and drills a low cross into the area. Garay gets in front of the attacker and manages to divert the ball behind for a corner.
Good last-ditch defending from Insaurralde to poke the ball off the feet of John after the Dutchman broke into the area following another Benfica corner. The Eagles will be somewhat disheartened if they go into half time without a goal.
SO CLOSE FROM RODRIGO!! Lima does superbly to move the ball away from Pareja and win his side a free kick. The Spaniard is the man selected to take it and he looks to bend it past the wall and in on the goalkeeper's side of the goal. He misjudges it slightly and sees his effort drift wide of the goal.
Yellow CardNicolás Pareja
A rare counterattack for Spartak as Jurado drives forward into the Benfica half. He has two options and goes for the more difficult one, a diagonal through-ball into Ari. Once more his pass fails to find its target and the attack breaks down.
Over the bar! Perez's deep cross from the left byeline finds Salvio at the back post. The Argentine tries to take it on the volley, first-time, but strikes the ball into the floor and it bounces over the bar.
There is no challenge on Insaurralde as the defender loops a header from a Benfica corner out of the area. John is standing underneath it as it falls, anticipating scoring an historic goal for the Eagles. It does not come to fruition though as he only manages to knock the ball forwards a few yards with a dreadfully scuffed attempt.
Yellow CardEvgeniy Makeev
An awful challenge from Makeev as he scythes down Salvio provides Benfica with another chance to test the keeper from a set play. The left-back also earns a booking for his troubles and will need to be careful against the Argentine from now on.
Yellow CardArtem Rebrov
Not for the first time tonight Rebrov takes a bit too long to get his goal kick away. The referee has seen enough and runs over to book the keeper.
The game has become rather bitty now with there being little football played on the deck. Jardel rises highest to get on the end of a free kick but he fails to steer his header on target.
Yellow CardAndré Almeida
That is a waste for the visitors. A free kick from deep offers the chance to pump the ball into the box and test the Benfica defence. However, too much physical behaviour results in a free kick for Jorge Jesus' men.
Bad news for both of these sides as Victor Wanyama has given Celtic the lead against Barcelona. As things stand these two teams will remain in the same positions, but Spartak will be three points behind the Scottish outfit.
JUST WIDE!! Benfica are turning up the pressure and Lima comes out wide and beats the offside trap. His cross is only half cleared and Perez meets the loose ball at the top of the box. It is perhaps sitting a bit too high as he strikes it and, although he does well to keep it down, it flies narrowly wide of Rebrov's goal.
WHAT A MISS!! Melgarejo finds more space down the left and this time he does manage to pick out Lima in the box. The striker takes a touch and shoots but his effort is parried aside by Rebrov. Savlio follows it in but with the goal gaping he slices his shot into the side netting. Half the ground thought that had gone in!
Since that early scare, Benfica have significantly improved. Yet the visitors look relatively tight at the back, other than in behind the right back. The Eagles are focusing their attacks down that side and getting a lot of joy.
Some brilliant interplay involving Melgarejo sets the left-back in behind the defence. He puts in a cross which looks to be bouncing for Salvio to lash a shot on goal from the far side but Makeev intercepts and powers the ball to safety.
NO CHANCE!! The ball falls to Kallstrom about 40 yards from the goal and the Swede clearly fancies his chances with an ambitious long-range effort. He fails to catch it neatly, though, and slices his shot which swerves away from goal and goes out of play by the corner flag.
Maxi Pereira pushes forward down the right flank for the first time this evening and centres a cross. He fails to find Lima and it is dealt with by the Spartak defence.
Well Benfica may have been the more urgent of the two sides, but it was the visitors who threatened first. The Eagles were carved apart with ease their which suggests their undefeated record at home to Russian opposition could come under threat tonight. They have not lost in five fixtures against sides from the eastern-European nation.
GREAT SAVE!! Good football from Spartak as Kombarov drifts in field and threads a lovely reverse-pass into Bilyaletdinov. The former Everton midfielder is through one-on-one but Artur rushes out and gets his body in the way of the effort. Top save.
The Russians are looking to ebb the positive start of Jorge Jesus' side by keeping the ball at the back. They look composed in possession but will not threaten Artur from inside their own half. Benfica are certainly looking more of a threat when in possession.
Feel free to let me know your thoughts and comments on tonight's match. You can send them to me via Twitter, @thwebber, or get involved by placing a comment in the chat box in the Live Match Centre. I'd love to hear from you.
The hosts are looking extremely dangerous from set pieces at the moment. A short corner routine catches Spartak out and the cross finds Lima on the far side. He nods the ball back into the danger area but Ari is back to assist his defence. Decent start to this one.
Just behind the attacker! Salvio gets a chance to stretch his legs this evening and he tears away from the defender. He plays a low pass into the area but he fails to anticipate the run of Lima and fails to find the striker in the area.
Perez flights it too the back post but it is an extremely deep delivery. Jardel awaits it and tries to nod it back across the goal, but the height of the ball makes it difficult to generate power and the Spartak defence clear it away.
Yet another free kick in a dangerous area already. Insaurralde runs through the back of Lima and the hosts have a chance to get the ball into the box again.
A very bright flick from Ari puts Jurado through down the left flank. He lacks the pace to stretch the Benfica defence and has to try and pick out the Brazilian in the area. His cross is poor and slams straight into the first man. Bright movement up front from the visitors.
JUST WID! With no more than 30 seconds played Rafael Carioca gives away a free kick for reckless challenge on Perez. John whips the ball in from wide on the left and Garay looks to get on the end of it at the back post. He falls just short of meeting it but claims to have been pulled by Kallstrom and he may have a point.
We are off at the Estadio da Luz! Benfica are wearing their traditional red shirts while Spartak are all in black.
The Champions League anthem rings around the stadium. The stadium is not quite full, but these are the nights that football is really about!
In the reverse of this fixture a fortnight ago, Spartak ran out 2-1 winners at the Luzhniki. A Jardel own goal handed the hosts the win after Lima had cancelled out Rafael Carioca's third minute strike. Lets hope for a similarly explosive start this evening.
The Russians have only played in Portugal on four occasions before tonight. They have a 50 per cent record with two losses and a pair of victories on their visits to the Iberian coast. They will be looking for a positive result tonight in order to leapfrog Celtic, who face Barcelona, into second.
Spartak (4-2-3-1): Rebrov; Kombarov, Pareja, Insaurralde, Makeev; Rafael Carioca, Kallstrom; Bilyaletdinov, Jurado, Kombarov; Ari. Subs: Dykan, Bryzgalov, Suchy, Makhmudov, De Zeeuw, Ananidze, Dzyuba.
Benfica (4-4-2): Artur; Maxi, Garay, Jardel, Andre Almeida; John, Perez, Melgarejo, Salvio; Lima, Rodrigo. Subs: Lopes, Vitor, Cesar, Nolito, Gaitan, Gomes, Cardozo.
The Portuguese side are yet to pick up a win in Group G and in order to help his side secure their maiden win, coach Jorge Jesus has plumped for an attacking line-up tonight. However, Paraguayan striker Oscar Cardozo only makes the bench. Here are tonight's teams in full.
Good evening ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Goal.com's LIVE commentary on tonight's Champions League Group G clash between Spartak Moscow and Benfica. Both teams currently sit outside of the qualification spots, making this match a must-win for both sides. My name is Tom Webber and I will be guiding you through what should be a cracking encounter.
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