SL Benfica will be confident of sealing a return to the UEFA Champions League group stage after holding FK Austria Wien to a 1-1 draw at the Ernst Happel stadium in the first leg of their third qualifying round tie.
Having reached the quarter-finals last season, where they were eliminated by the eventual winners FC Barcelona, the Lisbon side are hoping for another lengthy European campaign this time around. Things started superbly for coach Fernando Santos on the occasion of his first competitive match in charge of Benfica as Portugal striker Nuno Gomes capped a flowing team move with a back-heeled goal in the 16th minute from Paulo Jorge's cross from the right - evoking memories of Algerian Rabah Madjer's goal for FC Porto in the 1987 European Champion Clubs' Cup final.
That was to prove the high point for the visitors to Vienna as the home side struck back on 36 minutes from a set-piece. Midfielder Andreas Lasnik took a free-kick to the far post where Argentinian Fernando Troyansky was on hand to head it into the path of captain Jocelyn Blanchard who equalised with a low shot. Sebastian Mila and Nastja Čeh came on for Austria Wien at half-time yet failed to establish midfield control as Benfica worked the better of the second-half openings.
Out of form
Defender Arkadiusz Radomski prevented Nuno Gomes from scoring a second with goalkeeper Szabolcs Safar beaten, while Marco Ferreira fired a 76th-minute shot over the bar after more neat work from Paulo Jorge out wide. Frenk Schinkels' team have now drawn four and lost one of their five games this season, and must find form in time for their second-leg trip to the Estádio da Luz on Wednesday 23rd August.