Benfica comeback ends City challenge
Tuesday, 18 March 2014
Manchester City 1-2 SL Benfica
Goals in the last 16 minutes from Gonçalo Guedes and Estrela took João Tralhão's side into a Nyon semi-final against Real Madrid CF.
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SL Benfica completed the field for next month's UEFA Youth League semi-finals in Nyon thanks to a comeback victory at Manchester City FC.
Benfica had won all three away games in the group stage but João Tralhão's charges had to earn this latest success the hard way after falling behind to Seko Fofana's early goal. They eventually found an equaliser through Gonçalo Guedes in the 74th minute before Estrela sealed the turnaround with eight minutes remaining, setting up a semi-final against Real Madrid CF in Nyon on 11 April.
Playing in front of a 4,014 crowd at Ewen Fields, City had the better of the first half and had already gone close through Kean Bryan and Benfica old boy Marcos Lopes when Fofana put them ahead in the 12th minute. The French midfielder strode forward to unleash a lovely left-foot shot high to goalkeeper Thierry Graça's right.
Patrick Vieira's City would have had a second but for a superb save by Graça, one of the game's standout performers, who flew across his goal to claw a Jason Denayer effort away from the top corner. By contrast Benfica were slow to test home keeper Billy O'Brien. They improved in the second period, however, and Guedes fired a warning shot when flashing a strike across goal after O'Brien's wayward clearance midway through the second period. Guedes then equalised in spectacular fashion as he latched onto the ball some 20 metres from goal and lashed past O'Brien.
The goal actually re-energised City and Devante Cole threatened three times in quick succession, notably with a dart across the box and shot against the post. However, the winner came at the other end as the home defence failed to deal with Rebocho's low cross and Estrela buried the loose ball past O'Brien. Even then Benfica had to ride their luck – Graça making a series of late stops and Lopes rattling the crossbar – before the final whistle allowed them to celebrate joining Madrid, FC Barcelona and FC Schalke 04 in the last four.