By Berend Scholten at Constant Vanden Stock
The attacking intentions of RSC Anderlecht coach Hugo Broos paid off as he watched his charges overturn a first-leg deficit against ten-man SL Benfica to book their place in Thursday's UEFA Champions League draw with a 3-1 aggregate victory.
Broos employed three strikers in a bold formation and all three of them - Mbo Mpenza, Aruna Dindane and Nenad Jestrovic - made an impression in a convincing 3-0 win.
The Belgian side surged forward from the first whistle and went close after just five minutes when Mpenza played a high ball into the area and Christian Wilhelmsson narrowly failed to make contact.
The close shave shook Benfica into life and on eleven minutes Simão Sabrosa put Carlos Alves García free on the right, but he shot narrowly wide of the left-hand post. Anderlecht goalkeeper Daniel Zitka was twice called into action to stop long-range efforts, notably Tomislav Sokota's swirling effort.
The home side got what they wanted in the 34th minute when Dindane beat the visiting defence in the air to meet a free-kick from Besnik Hasi and head it into the net to tie the scores on aggregate and set up a pulsating second half. The Belgian side took the lead when Anderlecht captain Walter Baseggio laid on a fine pass for Dindane on the hour and the striker shot the ball into the corner for his second of the night.
Fearing an away goal that might have put Benfica through, the majority of the 20,107 crowd breathed a sigh of relief 13 minutes later when Jestrovic's shot was handled in the area by Argel, who was duly sent off. Jestrovic himself converted the penalty to settle the tie.