• Leverkusen off the mark in Group C with comfortable defeat of still point-less Benfica
• Son Heung-Min helps make first for Stefan Kiessling then scores second himself
• Eduardo Salvio pulls one back but straight away Leverkusen win a penalty
• Hakan Çalhanoğlu converts to make certain of deserved victory
• Next games: Leverkusen v Zenit, Monaco v Benfica (22 October)
Bayer 04 Leverkusen kick-started their UEFA Champions League Group C campaign with an impressive 3-1 victory at home to SL Benfica.
If Leverkusen had gone off the boil in recent weeks, they certainly seemed determined to rediscover their early-season form, forcing Benfica into a number of errors with their intense pressing. Inevitably chances materialised, with Son Heung-Min twice eliciting saves from Júlio César and Lars Bender seeing his effort deflected onto the post.
Júlio César, in goal for the suspended Artur, had spilled strikes from both Karim Bellarabi and Son, and again fumbled again on 25 minutes when the South Korean fizzed goalwards. This time it proved fatal as Stefan Kiessling sprinted in to tuck in the rebound.
Far from satisfied with their opener, Leverkusen continued to charge down their visitors and, not long after Bellarabi had again tested Júlio César from range, Roger Schmidt's men made it two. Son provided the end product on this occasion, sweeping into the top corner from Bellarabi's low centre.
It was hugely promising stuff from Leverkusen, with Benfica barely venturing out of their own half, let alone making Bayer No1 Bernd Leno work. Indeed it was Leverkusen who appeared more likely to get the game's third goal. Hakan Çalhanoğlu perhaps should have done when presented with an open goal from Roberto Hilbert's cross, yet the ball bobbled just in front of the young Turkish international, causing him to skew wide.
That miss looked as though it might prove costly when Eduardo Salvio cut in and finished neatly inside the near post to reduce the arrears for Benfica, but Leverkusen quickly restored their two-goal advantage as Kiessling went down in the box under the challenge of Jardel. Çalhanoğlu redeemed himself for his earlier wastefulness with a cool penalty into the corner.
Çalhanoğlu brought another stop from Júlio César as Leverkusen continued to attack into the latter stages. A fourth goal was not forthcoming, but Schmidt and his side will go into their double-header against FC Zenit on 22 October and 4 November with plenty of reason to be confident.