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Bruno César helps Benfica beat Oţelul

FC Oţelul Galaţi 0-1 SL Benfica
A fine finish from Bruno César earned the Lisbon club three Group C points as Oţelul lost their first-ever home match in the competition.

Bruno César helps Benfica beat Oţelul
Bruno César helps Benfica beat Oţelul ©UEFA.com

Bruno César's goal near the end of the first half was enough for SL Benfica to win at FC Oţelul Galaţi and maintain their unbeaten start to Group C.

The Portuguese side had looked the most likely winners from the first whistle, although they will be disappointed not to have established a more decisive scoreline as they added to the point they gleaned against Manchester United FC. However in a furious rally, the Romanian champions almost snatched a point on what was their first home fixture in a UEFA competition proper for 23 years.

Technically superior, Benfica were more aggressive in attack, more adept at finding their man with a pass and they knew exactly how to keep their opponents fixed to the rack. In players of the calibre of Nicolás Gaitán and Javier Saviola, the Lisbon club had the means to make this an uncomfortable first home game among the European elite for Oţelul.

Axel Witsel struck Benfica's first shot of note on target but fortunately for the home team Milan Perendija was in the way and the ball deflected wide. Gaitán then bent his attempt just the wrong side of the upright.

By the half-hour mark the visitors could peer at a corner count showing 5-0 in their favour and wonder when the breakthrough would come, another chance sliding away when Bruno César snatched at his drive. But just when Oţelul thought they would make it to the break without serious damage, they fell behind.

Gaitán manufactured the opening with a wonderfully judged pass that picked out Bruno César's diagonal run. Controlling the ball in an instant with his left foot gave him the time to pick his spot with his right.

The home fans who had made the 300km journey to witness history in the making in the splendid setting of Bucharest's new National Arena never stinted in their support and hopes were raised when Ioan Filip took aim and stung Artur's palms.

However, Benfica finished as they had started – on the front foot with Óscar Cardozo planting a header straight at Branko Grahovac while substitute Rodrigo was perilously close to finding the net in added time. Just minutes before that, though, Sorin Frunză had unleashed a venomous volley which Artur did well to beat away. Perendija put the rebound wide.

Things are likely to not get any easier for point-less Oţelul when Manchester United visit Bucharest on 18 October, when Benfica travel to Switzerland to face fellow section pacesetters FC Basel 1893.