FC Spartak Moskva kept alive their hopes of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League knockout stage with a narrow victory against SL Benfica.
With Spartak hampered by injuries, coach Unai Emery was forced to send out a makeshift side for their third match in Group G. They got off to the perfect start nonetheless thanks to Rafael Carioca's third-minute strike, and while Lima equalised midway through the half, an own goal just before the break by Jardel gave the Russian team an all-important win which lifts them off the foot of the section.
Spartak began at a tremendous pace, taking the lead through Carioca. The midfielder was played in by the industrious José Manuel Jurado and slipped a left-footed shot beyond the outrushing Artur. Ari then went close as Spartak continued to dominate, but his shot hit the underside of the crossbar and was cleared to safety.
Artem Rebrov, making his European debut, had hitherto been untroubled in the Spartak goal. However, there was little he could do to prevent Benfica from levelling on 33 minutes, as Eduardo Salvio whipped in the ball from the right and Lima, unmarked at the near post, headed in the Eagles' first goal of the group stage.
Dmitri Kombarov and Nicolas Pareja both threatened to score with half-time approaching yet, with two minutes remaining, Spartak regained the advantage when Jardel turned Evgeni Makeev's dangerous right-wing cross into his own net.
The second period continued in a similar vein to the first, with Spartak enjoying the majority of the possession. Jano Ananidze produced a wonderful piece of skill on the left-hand side of the penalty area before trying to find Ari. The ball was just behind the No9 and his improvised back heel was easily repelled by Artur.
With time running out, Benfica started to take the initiative, coach Jorge Jesus sending on Óscar Cardozo and Nicolás Gaitán. Salvio nearly got in after latching onto a weak back pass, but could only send his effort wide of the upright. Lima was then denied a second by a superb last-ditch tackle by the excellent Pareja.
Yet although Spartak withstood a late barrage of pressure from the Lisbon team, Rebrov was largely untroubled as the home side held firm to record their first points in the group following defeats by FC Barcelona and Celtic FC.
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