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Benfica break Hapoel resistance in Lisbon

SL Benfica 2-0 Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC
Goals from Luisão and Óscar Cardozo won the day in Lisbon despite the best efforts of visiting No1 Vincent Enyeama.

Benfica break Hapoel resistance in Lisbon
Benfica break Hapoel resistance in Lisbon ©UEFA.com

SL Benfica made a winning return to the UEFA Champions League group stage after a two-season absence with a hard-fought 2-0 victory over competition debutants Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC.

Jorge Jesus' side were often stymied by an inspired Vincent Enyeama, but goals in either half by Luisão and Óscar Cardozo ensured that the Eagles will travel to FC Schalke 04 on Matchday 2 in good spirits, while Hapoel will attempt to get off the mark at home to Olympique Lyonnais.

Pablo Aimar stepped out in the UEFA Champions League in a Benfica shirt for the first time and created the game's first clear chance on 14 minutes, carving open the visitors' defence with an incisive through pass, with Enyeama spreading himself well to deny Cardozo.

At the other end, the lively Etey Shechter beat Fábio Coentrão only for his low cross to narrowly evade Ben Sahar, but that only stung the home side into action. After Aimar's 21st minute corner was cleared, Carlos Martins swung the ball back in and Luisão connected beautifully, his right-foot volley spearing past Enyeama and into the left-hand corner.

Eli Gutman's group stage first-timers continued to attack cleverly on the flanks and Roberto had to be at his best in the 24th minute to preserve Benfica's lead, reaching elastically to claw the ball away after Gil Vermouth's cross deflected goalwards off Javi García.

However, Aimar and Carlos Martins spelled danger for Hapoel every time they took possession, and Enyeama again came to the rescue in the 27th minute after the two combined, with the Nigerian blocking Aimar after he was freed by Martins' pinpoint pass.

Hapoel started the second period in bullish style, pushing forward from the off, but Cardozo reminded them of Benfica's forward potency, looping a header over from Nicolás Gaitán's cross.

In the 55th minute Vermouth guided a chip over the top when well placed, but Cardozo almost put The Eagles out of sight a minute later, when he poked over from close in after Aimar took out two defenders with a mesmerising dribble and set the striker up.

On 68 minutes, Cardozo finally got his goal after a flowing end-to-end move. Substitute Maxi Pereira played a clever one-two with Ruben Amorim, Enyeama kept him out again as he surged into the area, but the big Paraguayan was on hand to sweep in the loose ball.