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Cardozo the saviour as Benfica hold Olympiacos

Published: Wednesday 23 October 2013, 23.20CET
SL Benfica 1-1 Olympiacos FC
Óscar Cardozo scrambled in a late goal for the hosts to leave the two sides locked on four points in the race for second in Group C.
by Andy Brassell
from Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica

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Published: Wednesday 23 October 2013, 23.20CET

Cardozo the saviour as Benfica hold Olympiacos

SL Benfica 1-1 Olympiacos FC
Óscar Cardozo scrambled in a late goal for the hosts to leave the two sides locked on four points in the race for second in Group C.

SL Benfica and Olympiacos FC battled to a hard-fought draw in a deluge in Lisbon to maintain both sides' realistic hopes of a place in the UEFA Champions League knockout phase.

Óscar Cardozo's scrambled late strike cancelled out Alejandro Domínguez's slick first-half opener – the Greek club's first goal in the Portuguese capital at the sixth attempt – to leave both teams on four points in Group C. With perfect Paris Saint-Germain FC pulling away at the top, the return encounter at the Stadio Georgios Karaiskakis in two weeks promises to be decisive.

Benfica started with the self-belief one might have expected from a side that had won seven successive home games in UEFA competition – and almost scored inside three minutes. Visiting keeper Roberto brilliantly denied his former employers, plunging low to his right to claw away a stinging free-kick by Cardozo. Luisão then headed over an inviting Ola John delivery from the right as the hosts pressed.

Yet the visitors were in confident form after their resounding matchday two victory at RSC Anderlecht, and began to venture forward with menace. Kostas Mitroglou, who scored a hat-trick in Brussels, powered through in the sixth minute but shot wide of Artur's near post. He came close again shortly after, nodding David Fuster's centre narrowly wide.

When Mitroglou did hit the target from outside the area in the 24th minute, Artur got down well to parry. However, when Míchel's men eventually found the breakthrough, it was from a different source. Mitroglou's neat flick afforded Domínguez just enough space, and he craftily stepped inside the sliding tackle of Ezequiel Garay to calmly slot into the corner.

With the rain now teeming down and fluent passing becoming more and more difficult, Benfica sought to fashion a direct route back into the game, sending long passes down the channels. Lima fired one free-kick centimetres wide and substitute Ivan Cavaleiro quickly got involved on the right-hand side.

Jorge Jesus's team continued to push on, though Olympiacos looked dangerous on the counter, especially after the introduction of Sambou Yatabaré, who brought calm and order to proceedings. Mitroglou was denied the second as the ball was held up in the rain-soaked goalmouth, wrong-footing the forward and enabling Garay to clear.

Yet with six minutes to go, the Eagles' perseverance paid off. Rodrigo's corner was headed down by Luisão and Cardozo bundled in his 34th goal in UEFA competition to leave things on a knife edge in the section.

Last updated: 03/12/13 20.14CET

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