SL Benfica made it five wins from six in UEFA Europa League Group I and avenged their Matchday 2 defeat by AEK Athens FC thanks to two goals from Angel Di María.
Di María struck on 45 and 73 minutes in the Portuguese capital, his second an audacious finish which lit up an otherwise low-key encounter. Ismael Blanco reduced the arrears six minutes from time for the section's bottom-placed side, the only goal Jorge Jesus's team conceded at home in the group stage.
A quiet opening sprang into life after 13 minutes when AEK right-back Carlos Araujo conceded a penalty for bundling over Nuno Gomes as the striker attempted to get on the end of a cross from the right. Faced with the chance to register his first European goal of the season, Felipe Menezes, however, placed his spot-kick against the post.
The Eagles had rarely been troubled but they received a warning when Blanco forced goalkeeper Júlio César to shovel his effort against the woodwork just before the half-hour. Di María had been the leading assist maker in the competition prior to Matchday 6 without registering a goal of his own, a statistic which changed on the stroke of half-time. The Argentinian midfielder cut inside from the right and let fly a left-footed effort which skipped off the turf in front of goalkeeper Sebastián Saja and into the far corner.
Di María denied
Having opened his account, only the crossbar prevented Di María from adding a second with a deft lob nine minutes into the second half. AEK could not contain him for much longer, though, as he ran on to Carlos Martins' through ball, jinked inside Nikos Georgeas and beat the onrushing Saja with a cheeky piece of skill. Blanco's strike six minutes from time, finishing off Georgeas' cut back, prevented Benfica from ending the group stage with the best defensive record in the tournament.
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