Bryan Ruiz scored a valuable late goal to earn FC Twente a draw against SL Benfica in a pulsating UEFA Champions League play-off first leg.
The hosts made the perfect start as Luuk de Jong gave them an early lead with a fine strike, but by the 35th minute Óscar Cardozo and Nolito had turned the match in the Eagles' favour. Twente stepped up the pressure in the second period, however, and got their reward with ten minutes remaining when Ruiz headed in to set up an intriguing second leg in Lisbon next Wednesday.
Both sides participated in the 2010/11 group stage and the visitors were first to threaten, Nicolás Gaitán bursting through three challenges and only the legs of Nikolay Mihaylov sparing Twente. The home side's gratitude deepened in the sixth minute when they took the lead, De Jong controlling a long pass on his chest and holding off Maxi Pereira to drill a lot shot into the corner of Artur's net from the edge of the penalty area.
Twente were given a rude awakening 15 minutes later when Benfica suddenly drew level. Axel Witsel won possession on the halfway line to set Cardozo away and the Paraguayan was allowed to advance to within 25 metres of the Twente goal before curling a precise shot beyond Mihaylov.
Although Artur had to block a Denny Landzaat effort within 60 seconds, the tide had turned and Benfica struck again on 35 minutes. Gaitán and Cardozo worked space for Witsel inside the area and he unselfishly squared for Nolito to tap in.
Before the break Artur had to make diving stops from Ruiz and Landzaat and the hosts continued to press after the break. They found Artur a formidable barrier, the goalkeeper bravely blocking Willem Janssen's thunderous close-range effort, but the Benfica's No1 was beaten again in the 80th minute. Substitute Ola John raced down the left and checked back to deliver a cross which Ruiz headed in.