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Benfica leave Trabzonspor up against it

SL Benfica 2-0 Trabzonspor
Two superb goals in the final 19 minutes have given Jorge Jesus's side a two-goal cushion to defend in Turkey next week.

Benfica's Nicolás Gaitán (third from left) celebrates after scoring two minutes from time
Benfica's Nicolás Gaitán (third from left) celebrates after scoring two minutes from time ©Getty Images

SL Benfica have one foot in the UEFA Champions League play-offs after completing a 2-0 home win against Trabzonspor AŞ.

The Eagles were in control for much of the match but not until the second half did they turn their dominance into goals. Debutant Nolito broke the deadlock after 71 minutes before Nicolás Gaitán gave the Portuguese side a two-goal cushion to defend next Wednesday with a delightful curling shot late on.

Benfica took this UEFA Champions League third qualifying round first leg to their opponents from the start and might have been ahead as early as the third minute when Trabzonspor goalkeeper Tolga Zengin rushed out to clear. The ball fell at Gaitán's feet but the Argentina midfielder's lob was not well executed and the visitors' captain recovered in time.

Eagles coach Jorge Jesus had started with four new faces in the side and he added a fifth nine minutes into the second half, when Nolito came on for his first competitive appearance since moving from FC Barcelona. However, it was an older head that should have given Jesus's side the lead, Pablo Aimar shooting wide from a good position before the hour.

Last year's Portuguese Liga runners-up continued to drive forward and served warning of what was to come in the 66th minute, when Javier Saviola hit a post with a low shot. Benfica were finally rewarded for their perseverance five minutes later when Nolito's acrobatic effort from just outside the penalty area flew past Zengin.

Though Trabzonspor reacted well to the setback and their hosts needed Artur to be at his best to deny Burak Yılmaz on 78 minutes, Şenol Güneş's team fell further behind with two minutes left as Gaitán struck a stunning left-foot shot into the top corner. To compound a miserable night for the Süper Lig side, Yılmaz was denied again by Artur at the death.