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Miccoli leaves Benfica buoyant

Published: Thursday 15 September 2005, 17.04CET
Fabrizio Miccoli made a dream start to this season's UEFA Champions League with the winning goal for SL Benfica against LOSC Lille Métropole.
by Hugo Pietra
from Lisbon

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Published: Thursday 15 September 2005, 17.04CET

Miccoli leaves Benfica buoyant

Fabrizio Miccoli made a dream start to this season's UEFA Champions League with the winning goal for SL Benfica against LOSC Lille Métropole.
Fabrizio Miccoli made a dream start to this season's UEFA Champions League with the winning goal for SL Benfica against LOSC Lille Métropole.

Frustrating day
The Group D opener was only the 26-year-old's second game for the Lisbon club having made his debut in the 2-1 derby defeat by Sporting Clube de Portugal last Saturday. Playing as a lone forward in that contest, Miccoli had found it tough to find a way through the Sporting defence. Mindful of that, Benfica coach Ronald Koeman changed tactics for the visit of Lille last night.

Imposing performer
The Dutchman opted for a 4-4-2 formation with Italy striker Miccoli, on loan from Juventus FC, paired with the experienced Nuno Gomes, who spent two seasons in Serie A with ACF Fiorentina. With a partner in crime, Miccoli was an imposing performer, despite his slight stature, and posed a constant threat to Lille goalkeeper Tony Sylva.

New star
With his fast movements, short dribbles, and tricky feet, Miccoli had no troubling lighting up the Estádio da Luz. And when he scored the solitary goal in the second minute of added time - with a header - a new star was born for Benfica, with all corners of the ground chanting "Miccoli! Miccoli!".

'Very touched'
"I am very happy because this goal is very important to me and to the team," said Miccoli. "We wanted to win after the derby against Sporting. We intended to play well and to win. I am very touched by the support of the fans because this was my first game at home. We should continue to play like we did against Lille."

United test
However, the attacker is well aware that this was only Matchday 1. "We have to keep our composure," he said. "The next Champions League match will be at Old Trafford against Manchester United [FC]. They are a very strong team and it will be a hard game, but we'll do our best."

High praise
It was not just the home fans who were crowing about their new hero. Benfica midfielder Petit said: "Miccoli is a great player and he is already integrated in the team. We are very united and it is easy to see that." Koeman, perhaps the most important observer of all, added: "It was a great goal. He proved he is a great goalscorer."

Last updated: 15/09/05 16.47CET

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