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Last-gasp Rodrigo goal keeps Benfica in contention

RSC Anderlecht 2-3 SL Benfica
Substitute Rodrigo hit a 90th-minute winner that kept alive the visitors' hopes of progress from Group C and ensured Anderlecht will finish bottom.

Anderlecht 2-3 Benfica: the story in photos ©AFP/Getty Images

Substitute Rodrigo hit a 90th-minute winner as SL Benfica enjoyed a dramatic victory at RSC Anderlecht in UEFA Champions League Group C to maintain their hopes of reaching the round of 16.

Benfica fell behind in the 18th minute when Chancel Mbemba scored his first UEFA Champions League goal but another player opening his competition account, Nemanja Matić, levelled matters 16 minutes later. Mbemba then put through his own net early in the second half only for Massimo Bruno to equalise in the 77th minute. If Anderlecht now seemed set to earn just their second point in the section, Benfica and Rodrigo – who had come on three minutes earlier – had other ideas.

Though Benfica started at a crisp tempo, Anderlecht grew into the match and visiting goalkeeper Artur did excellently to tip over a Bruno shot. Seconds later Anderlecht notched their first goal of this continental campaign at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium, with 19-year-old Mbemba the unlikely author. The centre-half, who had stayed up after a corner, miscontrolled Fabrice N'Sakala's chip into the area but the rebound broke kindly off Benfica captain Luisão and the Congolese international slotted under Artur.

Anderlecht looked solid until Matić nodded in Enzo Pérez's free-kick from the left eleven minutes before the interval, flicking the ball beyond Silvio Proto as a number of Benfica runners were permitted to roam free. The home team could still have turned around in front as Cheikhou Kouyaté headed over after Artur had failed to claim a corner.

Seven minutes after the restart Mbemba found himself on the scoresheet at the wrong end, diverting a Nicolás Gaitán cross into his own net after a marvellously skilful turn inside by the wide midfielder. The game opened up in the final half-hour and Bruno deserved his equaliser for his vivacious display, finishing at the near post after latching onto a deflected Anthony Vanden Borre pass. 

There was to be a sting in the tail, however, Benfica replacements Miralem Sulejmani and Rodrigo combining and the latter getting enough on his shot for it to find the target despite Proto getting a touch. That means the Belgian champions will finish bottom of the group, just as they had in their previous six UEFA Champions League campaigns.

On the final matchday Benfica must take more points at home to group winners Paris Saint-Germain than Olympiacos manage at home to Anderlecht if they are to advance, as they trail the Greek club on head-to-head record.

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