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Benfica ease past ten-man Trabzonspor

Published: Wednesday 3 August 2011, 23.30CET
Trabzonspor AŞ 1-1 SL Benfica (agg: 1-3)
Benfica took full advantage of their two-goal cushion from the first leg and a costly sending-off for the Turkish side.
by Türker Tozar
from Atatürk Olimpiyat Stadium
Benfica ease past ten-man Trabzonspor
Benfica's Nolito (right) celebrates his goal with Axel Witsel ©AFP
Published: Wednesday 3 August 2011, 23.30CET

Benfica ease past ten-man Trabzonspor

Trabzonspor AŞ 1-1 SL Benfica (agg: 1-3)
Benfica took full advantage of their two-goal cushion from the first leg and a costly sending-off for the Turkish side.

A comfortable away draw was enough to take SL Benfica through to the UEFA Champions League play-offs at the expense of a Trabzonspor AŞ side who were reduced to ten men in the second half.

The writing was on the wall for Şenol Güneş's team from the moment Nolito increased the Eagles' aggregate lead to 3-0 on 19 minutes. Paulo Henrique responded with a first-half equaliser but the hosts' hopes of a recovery were effectively extinguished when Adrian Mierzejewski was shown a red card shortly before the hour.

Two goals down from the first leg, Trabzonspor elected to take the game to their opponents from the start, a ploy which left them exposed at the back, where summer signing Axel Witsel carved out an early opening for Javier Saviola. The lively Witsel was a menace throughout and Tolga Zengin had to be at his smartest to deny him after 17 minutes. However, the visitors were soon ahead, Saviola controlling Emerson's throw-in and setting up Nolito to score with a crisp shot.

The Turkish Super League outfit responded on 32 minutes when Ondřej Čelůstka raced upfield and picked out Paulo Henrique, who showed good skill to control before beating Artur. The impetus briefly with Trabzonspor, Burak Yılmaz threatened an unlikely comeback with an effort that whistled wide after 52 minutes. Six minutes later, though, the home side found themselves a man down after Mierzejewski was dismissed for a raised elbow.

Thereafter, Benfica controlled possession cleverly, and Witsel came close to the goal he deserved when he sent a powerful shot against the crossbar. There would be no further goals, though, the visitors having done enough to ensure their name will be in Friday's draw for the play-offs.

Last updated: 04/08/11 1.15CET

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