Benfica v Ajax facts

Ajax left it late to get the better of Benfica, who will be looking to turn the tables in the reverse fixture in Portugal.

Benfica's Gedson Fernandes (left) pressure Frenkie de Jong of Ajax on matchday three
Benfica's Gedson Fernandes (left) pressure Frenkie de Jong of Ajax on matchday three ©AFP/Getty Images

A late Ajax goal on matchday three has left Benfica's Group E hopes hanging in the balance as the teams reconvene in Portugal.

• Noussair Mazraoui's deflected effort two minutes into added time was the only goal at the Johan Cruijff ArenA on 23 October, giving Ajax seven points in the section – four more than their opponents.

• Ajax will be through if they win while Benfica will be unable to finish in the top two if they lose and Bayern win at home to point-less AEK Athens in the section's other matchday four fixture.

Previous meetings
• The sides had played in five previous contests before this season – all in a three-year period between 1969 and 1972.

• It took a replay to separate the clubs in the 1968/69 European Cup quarter-finals, Benfica winning the first leg 3-1 in Amsterdam – still their only victory against Ajax – but losing by the same scoreline in Lisbon. Even in the Paris replay, extra time was needed for a victor to finally be decided, Ajax running out 3-0 winners with Inge Danielsson scoring twice to make it four goals in the tie.

• Ajax's victorious 1971/72 European Cup campaign featured another tight tie with Benfica, Sjaak Swart scoring the only goal of the semi-final in the Amsterdam first leg.

Highlights: Ajax 1-0 Benfica
Highlights: Ajax 1-0 Benfica

Form guide
Benfica
• Benfica lost their first home game in Group E 2-0 to Bayern, but bounced back by defeating AEK 3-2 in Athens on matchday two.

• Victory in Greece ended Benfica's eight-match losing run in the UEFA Champions League, group stage to final – a Portuguese record.

• Benfica have still won only three of their last 14 continental fixtures (D2 L9).

• Portuguese Liga runners-up in 2017/18, Benfica are in the UEFA Champions League group stage for the 14th time – and the ninth season in a row.

• The Lisbon giants have reached seven European Cup finals, winning the trophy in 1961 and 1962.

• Benfica kicked off this season in the third qualifying round with a 2-1 aggregate win against Fenerbahçe (1-0 home, 1-1 away). The first leg ended a run of seven successive European defeats – the Eagles failing to score in six of those, including the last five. Greece's PAOK were then defeated 5-2 over two legs in the play-offs (1-1 home, 4-1 away).

• Despite the victory against Fenerbahçe, Benfica have won only two of their last eight European games in Lisbon (D1 L5).

• Benfica finished bottom of their section in 2017/18, losing all six games – the 20th time a club has gone through a UEFA Champions League group stage without picking up a point.

• The Eagles have won their last six home games against Dutch visitors – most recently beating AZ Alkmaar 2-0 in the 2013/14 UEFA Europa League quarter-final second leg (3-0 aggregate) – and have lost only twice against Eredivisie clubs in Lisbon, winning eight of their 11 matches.

Di María's stunner and the rest of the best matchday three goals
Di María's stunner and the rest of the best matchday three goals

Ajax
• After a 3-0 victory against AEK Athens in Amsterdam on matchday one, Ajax produced another creditable performance on matchday two to earn a 1-1 draw at Bayern.

• Second in the Eredivisie last season, Ajax are in the UEFA Champions League group stage for the 14th time, but the first since 2014/15. Then their campaign ended in the group stage, for the fifth year in a row; they finished third on each occasion and have not progressed from their section since 2005/06.

• Ajax's 2017/18 European campaign lasted only two ties, losing to Nice in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round before a 4-2 aggregate defeat against Rosenborg (0-1 home, 2-3 away) that extended their winless run in continental competition to six matches (D2 L4).

• However, Ajax are unbeaten in Europe in 2018/19, beating Sturm Graz home (2-0) and away (3-1) in the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round and Standard Liège 5-2 on aggregate in the third qualifying round (2-2 away, 3-0 home) before overcoming Dynamo Kyiv 3-1 in the play-offs (3-1 home, 0-0 away) and then defeating AEK and drawing at Bayern.

• The 3-1 win at Sturm ended Ajax's eight-match run without a European away win (D4 L4); they have drawn all three away games since.

• Ajax have not won away in the UEFA Champions League group stage since a 2-0 success at Dinamo Zagreb in October 2011; their subsequent record is D5 L6.

• Ajax have lost four of their last five away games in Portugal, where they have won only twice in seven trips (D1 L4).

Sensational matchday three skills
Sensational matchday three skills

Links and trivia
• Ajax coach Erik ten Hag was assistant as PSV Eindhoven lost 6-3 on aggregate to Benfica in the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League quarter-finals. Zakaria Labyad scored PSV's goal in a 4-1 first-leg defeat in Lisbon.

• Has played in Portugal:
Zakaria Labyad (Sporting CP 2012/13 & 2015)

• International team-mates:
Eduardo Salvio & Nicolás Tagliafico (Argentina)
Facundo Ferreyra & Nicolás Tagliafico (Argentina Under-20)
Andrija Živković & Dušan Tadić (Serbia)

• Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has two goals in three appearances against Benfica, scoring in Heerenveen's 4-2 defeat in the 2004/05 UEFA Cup group stage and in Schalke's 2-0 home win at the same stage of the 2010/11 UEFA Champions League.

Latest news

Benfica
• Matchday three marked Eduardo Salvio's 250th Benfica appearance.

• Having lost at Ajax, Benfica went down 2-0 at Belenenses on 27 October – the first time they had suffered consecutive defeats since September 2017.

• The Eagles then suffered a 3-1 home defeat against Moreirense on Friday; they had not lost three in a row in all competitions since August 2010. They last lost four in a row in 1997.

• Benfica will face second division Arouca in the last 32 of the Portuguese Cup.

• Jardel returned at Ajax having been out since 27 September with a thigh injury.

• Cristián Lema (adductor) has been sidelined since 15 October.

• Filip Krovinović has been sidelined by a knee injury since January.

• On 25 September 37-year-old defender Luisão ended his contract by mutual agreement and announced the end of his playing career after 15 seasons at Benfica.

Ajax
• Ajax's 15-match unbeaten run (W12 D3) in all competitions stretching back to 15 April was ended by a 3-0 Eredivisie defeat at PSV Eindhoven on 23 September, halting a four-match winning league streak. That is their only defeat of the season in all competitions (W17 D4); they were 2-0 victors at home to Willem II on Saturday.

• Frenkie de Jong scored Ajax's second goal at the weekend, just his second in the Eredivisie and the first since May 2017.

• Ajax have kept six successive clean sheets in all competitions, winning every match and scoring 18 goals in the process. The Amsterdam club have conceded only once in their last nine fixtures in all competitions.

• Erik ten Hag's side have kept 16 clean sheets in 22 matches this season.

• Hakim Ziyech had scored in four successive Eredivisie games and Dušan Tadić three before both drew a blank on Saturday.

• On 31 October Ajax reached the Dutch Cup last 16 with a 3-0 home win over second division Go Ahead Eagles. Forward Václav Černý made his first Ajax senior appearance since 25 October 2017 after recovering from a cruciate ligament injury.

• Ryan Gravenberch – who had become the club's youngest player with his appearance against PSV three days earlier – became Ajax's youngest ever scorer at the age of 16 years 133 days with his Dutch Cup goal against Te Werve on 26 September. The teenager succeeds Clarence Seedorf, who was 16 years 361 days when he scored on 28 March 1993 against Vitesse.

• Ajax's new signing Hassane Bandé is expected to be out until the winter break after suffering a calf injury in a friendly against Anderlecht in early July. Joël Veltman has not played since suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury on 19 April.

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