- Club Brugge had bright start on home soil
- Joao Mario converted penalty in second half
- Belgian side unable to find equaliser
TELL ME MORE: Club Brugge have not been at their best in the Jupiler Pro League - they are 20 points behind first place - but the Belgian side were fired up for the first leg of the last-16 tie against the Portuguese giants on Wednesday. Noa Lang and Tajon Buchanan looked dangerous for the home side, but Benfica enjoyed a bright spell later in the first half. The Eagles managed to revive that strong period early in the second period and ended up taking the lead through a Joao Mario penalty just six minutes after the restart. Despite their ability to get forward and around the box, Club Brugge could not make clear chances or pull themselves level and substitute David Neres went on to secure the win by capitalising on a defensive error before tucking past Simon Mignolet in the 88th minute. The Brazilian thought he had fired in another in the last few seconds of the match but was flagged for offside.
THE MVP: He may have been on the losing side, but Noa Lang was a constant thorn in Benfica's side throughout this match. It was somewhat controversial for coach Scott Parker to start this game without a centre-forward, but the Netherlands international's ability to give Club Brugge more bodies in deeper areas, pick up the ball and drive at the visitors' defence gave the home team more control and a real attacking threat. The ex-Ajax man was everywhere, always looking to take on defenders, pick out passes and rushing back to win the ball if he lost it. An admirable performance from by far the standout player for the home team. Benfica, taking the lead from a penalty, did not have many heroic performances to brag about from a tight encounter.
THE BIG LOSER: In a narrow match between two fairly even teams, it was no surprise that it took a costly error from one player to present the opportunity for the opposition to get the decisive goal. Unfortunately for Club Brugge defender Jack Hendry, he happened to be the one who got caught out when he committed the unfortunate foul on Goncalo Ramos that resulted in Benfica taking the lead from the spot. It proved a decisive mistake from the Scotsman and the Belgian hosts were not able to get back into the game.
MATCH IN THREE PHOTOS:Getty
WHAT NEXT? These teams will not meet again to play the reverse fixture until March 7. First up next for the Belgian team is a local derby against Cercle Bruges in the league, while Benfica take on Boavista in the Primeira Liga.
MATCH RATING (OUT OF FIVE): ⭐⭐