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Benfica's Luisão and Witsel eye Zenit win

Luisão and Axel Witsel told UEFA.com that two away goals and a change of scene to Lisbon could be decisive in their round of 16 decider against FC Zenit St Petersburg.

Luisão hopes Benfica can keep the dream alive against Zenit
Luisão hopes Benfica can keep the dream alive against Zenit ©Getty Images

SL Benfica conceded a late goal to lose the first leg of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie 3-2 at FC Zenit St Petersburg, but with two away goals – and some less inclement weather – Luisão and Axel Witsel are confident of turning the tables.

Óscar Cardozo equalised with three minutes to go at the Stadion Petrovski on 15 February, only for Roman Shirokov to find an even later winner for the Russian champions. "After the game we rued conceding that goal at the death," Belgium midfielder Witsel told UEFA.com. "But we are well aware of what we need to do in the return leg."

"The players are not used to playing in those conditions – the weather, the state of the pitch, and facing a tough team playing in their own country," defender Luisão added. "But we know that was just the first half of the cup tie, and even though they are leading, we still have a chance of going through."

The contrast in conditions between balmy Lisbon and chilly Russia certainly struck Witsel. "I think it was -14, -17, so it wasn't easy, but we still threatened and scored two goals so the second leg is going to be completely different," the 23-year-old said. "I don't think they're going to come here and attack. I think they'll more likely look to defend and hit us on the break."

Luisão told UEFA.com that he was anticipating a less hectic return fixture. "I think we will try to show something else, try to show our technical skill, play some more football, because the first game was more physical than anything," said the Brazilian international centre-back. "It was two teams fighting, so for this game we will try to show more skill, and they will too."

If all goes well, the last eight will beckon for Jorge Jesus's side. Witsel, though, is wary of making predictions, the former R. Standard de Liège man explaining: "It's important to take one game at a time and not to start looking too far ahead."

The 31-year-old Luisão, however, knows it is key to have ambition. "The important thing is to have a dream," he said. "What's important is that we are in the competition and now we have a decisive game coming up. If we make it to next round, we'll be making a dream come true, and so long as we keep on dreaming of going further, it doesn't really matter who we take on next."


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