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Coentrão inspires Benfica revival

SL Benfica 4-3 Olympique Lyonnais
Two Fábio Coentrão goals and further strikes from Alan Kardec and Javi García sealed a crucial win for Benfica despite a late rally from the visitors.

Coentrão inspires Benfica revival
Coentrão inspires Benfica revival ©UEFA.com

SL Benfica breathed new life into their UEFA Champions League Group B campaign after holding off a late Olympique Lyonnais rally in a pulsating encounter.

No French side had defeated the former European champions in Lisbon in nine previous attempts, and after Alan Kardec had opened the scoring on 20 minutes, the writing looked to be on the wall for Claude Puel's men. Fábio Coentrão and Javi García extended the hosts' advantage before the break, and last season's semi-finalists were rocking when the outstanding Coentrão grabbed his second on 67 minutes.

Although Yoann Gourcuff, Bafétimbi Gomis and Dejan Lovren all then scored to set up a tantalising finish, OL failed to get the point they required to seal qualification. The French side remain top of the section, however, ahead of their trip to FC Schalke 04 on 24 November, when Benfica will look to continue their revival at Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC.

The visitors had the ball in the net in the fourth minute when Jimmy Briand slammed in Miralem Pjanić's cross, but Benfica's nemesis from a fortnight ago was flagged offside. Eagles coach Jorge Jesus hoped Coentrão's forward bursts would make up for the absence of the banned Nicolás Gaitán, and a determined run from the full-back brought him a shooting opportunity that he curved over the bar.

It was a brief reprieve as Kardec soon struck, powering a header past Hugo Lloris from Carlos Martins' free-kick. Lyon responded well, but were caught on the counterattack on 32 minutes. After the visitors had a free-kick cleared, Martins stormed down the right and delivered for Coentrão to hammer in a sumptuous volley at the back post.

Ten minutes later Jesus' side cemented their position of strength, Martins completing a hat-trick of assists by swinging in a corner for García to glance a header beyond Lloris. The Portuguese side continued to pick off Lyon on the break and confirmed their superiority with a fourth goal midway through the second period. Again Coentrão was the beneficiary of Martins' vision, racing onto his pass and lifting a delightful lob over the exposed Lloris.

Lyon finally made an impression as Gourcuff thumped in substitute Alexandre Lacazette's 75th-minute pull-back, and when Lacazette flicked on Gourcuff's corner for fellow replacement Gomis to stab in, a nervy last five minutes were set up for the home side. Lovren pulled another back with a looping header at the death but Benfica held on.

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