First-half goals in the space of five minutes by Pedro Pauleta and Pierre-Alain Frau earned Paris Saint-Germain FC a narrow first-leg lead over SL Benfica in the UEFA Cup Round of 16.
In the balance
Captain Simão had nodded the Portuguese visitors ahead in the ninth minute at the Parc des Princes, but Pauleta equalised against his compatriots when his speculative cross ended up finding the bottom corner. Frau's classy winner four minutes before half-time leaves the tie in the balance going into next week's return in Lisbon.
Simão's opener owed much to the foraging of right-back Nélson, who sped down his flank and sent a teasing ball into the centre. The Portugal winger arrived at pace between David Rozehnal and Bernard Mendy to head unerringly beyond Mickaël Landreau. Indeed, Simão, given licence to roam by coach Fernando Santos, ran the show early on, creating chances for Derlei and Anderson.
These were spurned, however, and once Benfica lost centre-back Luisão to injury on the half-hour, PSG suddenly clicked into gear and scored twice in quick succession. The first was somewhat fortunate, Pauleta's curling delivery from the left evading everyone and somehow finding the far corner - via the post - past the bemused Quim. The second, five minutes later, could not have been more different. Neat footwork allowed Bonaventure Kalou to wriggle free of two challengers inside the area and he cut the ball back for Frau to guide home a left-footed finish at Quim's near post.
Frau should have made it 3-1 moments before the break but nodded a Jérôme Rothen cross over from close range. Just after the resumption, substitute David Luiz had a header from Simão's corner cleared off the line, before team-mate Fabrizio Miccoli fired just wide. At the other end, Pauleta curled an effort narrowly off target but PSG were mostly happy to sit on their advantage and keep the Liga outfit at bay.
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