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Benfica break Nürnberg hearts

1. FC Nürnberg 2-2 SL Benfica (agg: 2-3) Nürnberg led 2-0 in added time but substitutes Óscar Cardozo and Angel Di María guided Benfica through.

Angel Di María (left) and Óscar Cardozo (centre) came off the bench to turn the tie
Angel Di María (left) and Óscar Cardozo (centre) came off the bench to turn the tie ©Getty Images

As this tie entered injury time it seemed 1. FC Nürnberg had ended the hopes of SL Benfica but two last-ditch goals earned the former European champions a 2-2 draw and sent them into the UEFA Cup Round of 16.

Nürnberg heartbreak
Benfica had won 1-0 in Lisbon last week only to see that lead overturned when Angelos Charisteas and Ivan Saenko struck for Nürnberg in a seven-minute second-half period. But Óscar Cardozo came off the bench to put Benfica ahead on the away goals rule and fellow substitute Angel Di María sealed a 3-2 aggregate victory and a tie with UEFA competition debutants Getafe CF.

The visitors attacked right from the start knowing a goal would leave Nürnberg needing to score three times and home goalkeeper Jaromír Blažek was tested by Rui Costa in the very first minute. But Nürnberg began to settle and could have levelled the aggregate score on 40 minutes when Saenko crossed to Charisteas but the Greek striker's shot was blocked by Benfica defender Edcarlos. In first-half added time Marco Engelhardt streaked down the left wing before passing back towards the edge of the box for Saenko but he could not beat Benfica keeper Quim.

Nürnberg eventually got the breakthrough on 59 minutes as Charisteas ran onto a looping through ball before striking a volley through Quim's legs. The Bundesliga side continued to push forward and they were soon ahead in the tie as Benfica defender Luís Filipe allowed Saenko in to snaffle a backpass and beat Quim before chipping the ball into the net.

The visitors looked down and out but Cardozo silenced the Nürnberg crowd just as they thought they were through. An attempted clearance deflected off Jan Koller's head into the path of Cardozo and he sent a bouncing shot past Blažek's despairing dive. Cardozo then won the ball in midfield and sent a looping pass to Di María, who after a long run, rounded Blažek and completed the late turnaround.