Finely-taken goals in either half from Bruno César and substitute Óscar Cardozo helped SL Benfica to a 2-0 win at FC Basel 1893 and the UEFA Champions League Group C leadership.
Nicolás Gaitán was behind the 20th-minute opener, his surging run and ball into the box getting the finish it deserved from Bruno César. Cardozo made the points safe 15 minutes from time, clipping in a free-kick, although there was late disappointment for the Eagles as Emerson and coach Jorge Jesus were sent off. However, a home win against Basel on 2 November will take Benfica through.
The early sparring was entertaining without any chance of note, Benfica goalkeeper Artur and Basel's Yann Sommer more than equal to attempts from Alexander Frei and Rodrigo. So it was something of a surprise when the visitors conjured a delightful breakthrough.
The excellent Gaitán surged through and played a neat one-two with fellow Argentinian Pablo Aimar on the edge of the area to make some space before passing to Bruno César – via a delightful jump and dummy by Rodrigo – and the Brazilian fired calmly past Sommer.
Despite the setback, the home side pressed for a quick equaliser. Xherdan Shaqiri, eager to impress on his first outing in the group stage after a two-match suspension, found space and then Marco Streller. The hero of Old Trafford on matchday two could not beat Artur with a low drive.
Yet Benfica almost went in two goals to the good, Gaitán fizzing an opportunity wide from the edge of the box. The first real opening of the second half also went the way of the Lisbon club, Sommer alert this time to deny Emerson one on one after a fine move.
While Gaitán was behind Benfica's most incisive play, the same was true of Shaqiri for Basel. The 20-year-old picked out Streller with a perfectly-weighted pass on 65 minutes, but Artur was well placed again to bravely deny the striker.
Jorge Jesus responded by introducing Cardozo for Rodrigo midway through the half. Within four minutes the Paraguay striker had picked himself up after being felled on the right of the area and planted a free-kick into the corner of Sommer's net.
Shaqiri continued to search for a way back into the game, shooting from range and running at the Benfica defence. He was too quick for Emerson late on, the defender dismissed for a second bookable foul on the Basel No17. He was soon followed down the tunnel by his coach.
©UEFA.com 1998-2016. All rights reserved.