SL Benfica forward Nuno Gomes said that Nemanja Vidić's equaliser shattered his side’s confidence as they lost 3-1 at Manchester United FC last night to exit the UEFA Champions League.
Having survived a period of mounting pressure from United, Benfica - requiring a victory to pip the English team to the last 16 for the second year running - looked set to go into the break a goal ahead thanks to Nélson's spectacular strike in the 27th minute. However, Vidić wiped out the visitors' lead with a fierce header one minute into first-half stoppage time and United went on to dominate the second half, scoring twice more.
"I guess Manchester United's first goal was the decisive factor," Nuno Gomes told uefa.com. "If we'd got to half-time winning, maybe the second half would have been different. Everything was going to plan and maybe we were already thinking about how we were going to defend our lead in the second half but that didn't happen. The goal really affected our confidence and in the second half we didn't play as well. Once they'd got the second goal the match was over."
Nuno Gomes praised goalscorer Nélson for his "inspired moment" and added: "We're obviously disappointed as we could have got through. But we go out with our heads held high." Instead Fernando Santos's side will go into the last 32 of the UEFA Cup. Looking ahead, the Portuguese international said: "It's another big test. We had hoped to continue in the Champions League but now we have to try and go as far as we can in the UEFA Cup."
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