Man of the match
Nélson, who collected the Fans' Man of the Match award for a swashbuckling display, was already thinking ahead to the Matchday 5 meeting with FC København after Benfica revived their hopes with a 3-0 victory last night. The result not only spared Benfica elimination, it left them two points behind second-placed Celtic with two games to play. With København also on four points after beating Manchester United FC, Group F is wide open again.
"This win was crucial for us," the 23-year-old told uefa.com. "Now we are going to play at home against København and although they beat Manchester United we need to focus on winning that match and then we'll wait and see what happens in the final games [when Benfica visit United]. Our goal is to get through and I think we can win both matches. We have a strong team, we've been improving and we're starting to play some good football."
Nélson made a key contribution as Benfica avenged their 3-0 loss at Celtic Park a fortnight ago to record their first success in the group stage. It was his cross that Gary Caldwell turned into his own net for Benfica's opening goal in the tenth minute, and Nélson reflected afterwards: "I picked the ball up and saw Nuno [Gomes] in space in the area. Although it was an own goal, it was great to see the ball in the net." Rampaging forward at every opportunity, he also supplied the ball for Andrei Karyaka to stroke in the third 14 minutes from time.
Improving all the time
A Portuguese Under-21 international, Nélson struggled to hold down a first-team place in his first season after arriving at the Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica from Boavista FC in summer 2005. On this evidence, he should have a significant role to play this term given his ability to break forward and deliver dangerous crosses. "Personally I started the season in bad shape but with a few games under my belt, I feel I am improving with each match," he said.
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