SL Benfica 5-0 Everton FC
The Lisbon team shot to the Group I summit thanks to three rapid-fire second-half efforts which rewarded this commanding display.
Article top media content
SL Benfica returned to winning form in the UEFA Europa League with a crushing 5-0 defeat of Everton FC, scoring three rapid-fire second-half efforts to propel themselves to the Group I summit.
Beaten 1-0 at AEK Athens FC last time out, the Portuguese outfit made the most of a long list of absences from the Everton team-sheet to take a quick stranglehold on the game through Javier Saviola's 14th-minute strike. Their opponents slowly rallied after that but were taken apart in an explosive spell after the interval, Óscar Cardozo registering twice within two minutes and Luisão then adding to the Merseysiders' misery. With their appetite seemingly sated, Benfica struck again late on through Saviola.
Injuries had forced Everton manager David Moyes to travel with plans for a rejigged defence, and his blueprint took on an even more experimental hue with the last-minute withdrawal of Leighton Baines. Right-back Seamus Coleman was handed a senior debut at left-back and Benfica looked to exploit that fact early and often, threatening within five minutes when Luisão headed centimetres wide from a corner. Everton escaped that scare, yet there was no stopping Saviola's finish nine minutes later, the Argentinian volleying into the ground and beyond goalkeeper Tim Howard after Angel Di María had floated a cross over Coleman at the far post.
The influential Di María then almost caused Sylvain Distin to put through his own net with a dangerous low centre as the visitors struggled to settle. Aside from one spectacular yet harmless Diniyar Bilyaletdinov volley, they were relying on set-pieces to feel their way back, but within seven minutes of the restart the match had been wrested away from them completely. Cardozo turned in crosses from Saviola and Di María – first with his boot, then with his head – before Luisão nodded a corner inside the far post. Moments later, Di María connected with the crossbar, but if the Toffees thought their punishment was complete, Saviola had other ideas.