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Lima puts Benfica in control against PAOK

PAOK FC 0-1 SL Benfica
Brazilian forward Lima settled this hard-fought UEFA Europa League round of 32 opener by scoring shortly before the hour.

Benfica players celebrate Lima's winner
Benfica players celebrate Lima's winner ©AFP/Getty Images

A predatory finish from Brazilian striker Lima proved sufficient for SL Benfica to beat PAOK FC 1-0 in their UEFA Europa League round of 32 first leg. 

Featuring in this competition for the first time since succumbing to Chelsea FC in last season's final, Benfica had toiled in vain to prise open a PAOK defence without a clean sheet in ten European home games. That was until Lima pounced on 59 minutes, edging Jorge Jesus's men a step closer to a last-16 meeting with FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk or Tottenham Hotspur FC.

Opportunities were slow to materialise in Salonika, with Sekou Oliseh's long-range effort the closest either side came to breaking the deadlock in a tense opening half-hour. At the other end, Sílvio concluded a lung-bursting run by slashing wide on the angle after taking receipt of Jardel's incisive pass.

Midfielder Costin Lazăr personified the Greek team's enthusiasm at the start of the second half, pickpocketing Maxi Pereira and curling a shot centimetres past the far post. An even contest then changed dramatically shortly before the hour. Enzo Pérez's hopeful centre was cleverly brought down by Filip Djuričić and Lima – on the periphery for long periods – rifled the ball past Panagiotis Glykos.

The breakthrough sparked a sustained spell of pressure from the Portuguese outfit, who almost doubled their lead when Lazar Marković's goal-bound effort was expertly tipped over by Glykos. From then on Benfica looked in little danger of conceding and their victory was confirmed when Artur repelled Kostas Katsouranis's header at the death.

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