Champions League: Benfica ease to first-leg victory in Round of 16

by IANS |

Bruges (Belgium), Feb 16 (IANS) Jo?o M?rio converted a penalty and David Neres made a cool finish which earned Benfica a comfortable win at Club Brugge in the first leg match in the Round of 16 stage of the Champions League.

Roger Schmidt's Benfica took a major step towards the Champions League quarterfinals following a 2-0 victory as they will take a two-goal advantage back to Lisbon.

Club Brugge started well, looking nothing like the team that has struggled in recent weeks. However, Benfica took control before the break and dominated after taking the lead, with the visitors looking at the stronger team.

The home side began the brighter and nearly took the lead with barely five minutes on the clock thanks to Tajon Buchanan's burst of pace down the left. However, visiting keeper Odisseas Vlachodimos was alert to the danger once the winger had cut into the area.

The Eagles took their time to regroup but ended the first period strongly, Rafa Silva's improvised half-volley with the outside of his foot striking the upright on the half-hour.

The visitors continued in the same vein after the restart and when Gon?alo Ramos was sent tumbling by Jack Hendry's outstretched leg, Jo?o M?rio somehow squeezed the resultant penalty into the net via a combination of Simon Mignolet and the woodwork.

The Blauw-Zwart had no answer and failed to test the visiting defence further. The task for Scott Parker's group in the return fixture was made tougher with just two minutes remaining.

Substitute David Neres capitalised on hesitation in the Belgian side's back line before applying a cool finish low into the far corner.

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