• Point means Leverkusen pipped by Monaco at top of Group C
• Lima strikes crossbar early for already eliminated Benfica
• Ömer Toprak dismissed late on frustrating night for visitors
• Hosts end bottom of section; Leverkusen advance behind French winners
• Round of 16 draw takes place in Nyon at 12.00CET on 15 December
Bayer 04 Leverkusen slipped to second place in UEFA Champions League Group C as they drew at an inexperienced SL Benfica.
Leverkusen were left frustrated as they failed to secure the win that would have seen them advance as group winners. A draw left them at the mercy of AS Monaco FC who saw off FC Zenit to usurp the German side at the top. Benfica were condemned to finishing fourth whatever the outcome here, though the club's fringe players were keen to impress, stifling Leverkusen and enjoying the best opportunity of the match when Lima hit the crossbar early on.
Despite Jorge Jesus making numerous changes to his Eagles lineup Lima spurned a glorious opportunity to give the hosts the lead with 12 minutes on the clock. Ola John worked wonders down the left to dispose of Roberto Hilbert and the winger's cross was touched out by visiting goalkeeper Bernd Leno into the path of Lima. With Leno out of the picture, the Brazilian forward contrived to strike the top of the crossbar with the goal at his mercy.
Leverkusen – themselves with six alterations from the Bundesliga defeat at FC Bayern München – were kept at bay by stout defending from both César and Lisandro López .There was a flurry of activity late in the half with Lima dragging a left-footed effort well wide after more bright play from John, while Benfica goalkeeper Artur was finally called into action as he collected a Josip Drmić shot that was hit straight at him.
Artur went on to make a similar save early in the second half after Hakan Çalhanoğlu cut in from the left, while some last-ditch defending by Lisandro López was required to block a Drmić shot as Leverkusen improved. César got lucky just past the hour when his smashed clearance rebounded off the onrushing Hilbert and threatened to spin back into the goal.
Word reached Lisbon of Monaco taking the lead against Zenit and Roger Schmidt threw on Son Heung-Min – Leverkusen's top scorer in this season's competition – to bolster the attack. Yet the Werkself were unable to make the breakthrough – Artur beating away a late Karim Bellarabi try – and would have lost had César been able to direct a header on target approaching the final whistle. Leverkusen now run the risk of encountering the continent's big guns in the round of 16 draw and will be without Ömer Toprak for the first leg after the defender's late red card for two bookable offences.