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Ederson and Luisão attract Benfica plaudits

On a night when captain Luisão was showered with tributes for reaching 500 Benfica appearances, Ederson was lauded in equal measure after saving a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang penalty.

Ederson denies Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Ederson denies Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ©Getty Images

Greece striker Kostas Mitroglou scored the crucial goal that defeated Borussia Dortmund, but it was the boys from Brazil who were the toast of Benfica following the Portuguese side's 1-0 first-leg win.

With the injured Jonas forced to sit out the Eagles' UEFA Champions League round of 16 opener, Rui Vitória's side appeared unbalanced during a first half dominated by the visitors.

After surviving several Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scares, however, Benfica's belief was bolstered and they took the lead when Mitroglou poked in Luisão's headed assist three minutes after restart.

Luisão leads the Benfica celebrations at full time
Luisão leads the Benfica celebrations at full time©Getty Images

"We spend more time together than we do with our families," an emotional Luisão told his team-mates after the game. A day after turning 36, the Benfica captain set up the winning goal on his 500th appearance for the club. "I'm so very proud to form a part of this group with you," the former Brazilian international said as applause reverberated around the home dressing room during a special tribute.

There was praise too for Ederson, the 23-year-old from Sao Paulo State whose acrobatic stops and second-half penalty save from Aubameyang were vital to the hosts establishing a slender lead ahead of the return leg in Germany on 8 March.

"It was a beautiful exhibition from Ederson, but that's what he's here to do; he's a great goalkeeper who is at a very high level," Vitória said of the 23-year-old. "He was undoubtedly the man of the match after that great showing," Ederson's compatriot and UEFA Champions League debutant Filipe Augusto added.

Highlights: how Kostas Mitroglou gave Benfica the edge
Highlights: how Kostas Mitroglou gave Benfica the edge

"I have the same importance as the other players," said the Benfica No1. "We all did a good job and the entire team deserve the congratulations. I pulled off several good saves but I don't think I was the hero; the entire team were heroes and that was key to our success."

Ederson's spot-kick save was his second in this season's competition, the erstwhile Rio Ave man having previously denied Dynamo Kyiv's Júnior Moraes in the group stage. "The secret is to remain focused and to study the penalty taker closely," Ederson explained when asked about his technique.

With Brazil assistant coach Sylvinho and goalkeeper trainer Claudio Taffarel at the match to monitor Ederson, both will have left the scene with a glowing report. "He has enormous potential and a great future ahead of him," Taffarel previously said of the shot-stopper, who now wants to follow in Luisão's footsteps.

"I want to have a story just like his at Benfica, even if that's a difficult thing nowadays," Ederson said. "I can't promise anything, but that's my objective."