Miklos Fehér scored the only goal of the game at the Bessa stadium to send SL Benfica through to the second round of the UEFA Cup. The only surprise of the night was that RAA Louviéroise were able to keep the scoreline down in a match the Portuguese side bossed from start to finish.
Benfica in control
Benfica dominated from kick-off but could not make their possession tell. Inspired by the Portuguese international Simão Sabrosa, Jose Antonio Camacho's side attacked at pace and on five minutes worked their first significant chance. The right-back George Blay mis-kicked his clearance to allow Simão to collect and square for Tomislav Šokota, only for the striker to slice wide from the edge of the area.
Simão comes close
The match was played at Boavista FC's Bessa stadium while work continues on the Benfica's new ground ahead of EURO 2004™, but Benfica supporters were made to feel at home as their side pushed forward in numbers. The chance of the half fell to Simão. His run through the middle was picked out by Šokota, and after shaking off Michaël Klukowski's challenge, the 23-year-old put his shot low and beyond La Louvière keeper Sylvio Proto, only for the ball to bounce back off the post.
Argel in charge
At the other end, Benfica were rarely troubled thanks to the strength of Argel. On the rare occasion that La Louvière pushed forward he was there to clear, and the one time Michaël Murcy did get in ahead of the Brazilan, the striker skied his first-time shot high over the bar.
La Louvière started the second half much as they had spent the first, pinned back in their own half. This time the pressure was relentless, with Proto coming under a barrage of shots.
Šokota breaks through
Something had to give and eventually it did on 58 minutes, Fehér finally forcing the breakthrough with a powerful shot in off the crossbar after he had been picked out on the edge of the area by Tiago.
Nuno Gomes returns
The celebrations for the goal were matched only by the introduction of Nuno Gomes from the substitutes' bench on 72 minutes, the Portuguese international marking the end of his lengthy injury lay-off with his return to the side. By then, the outcome had been all but decided, and the Belgian side's frustrations were summed up by Mamar Mamouni's last-minute dismissal.