SL Benfica are through to Monday's UEFA Youth League final after a Nuno Santos-inspired opening salvo overwhelmed Real Madrid CF in Nyon.
The forward scored two and set up the other in a frenetic opening 17 minutes during which Benfica established a 3-0 lead and Madrid's Jaime Sánchez was sent off. Hildeberto Pereira had opened the scoring on nine minutes, before Sánchez's dismissal resulted in a first penalty for Nuno Santos; he converted that one, then slotted in a rebound when his second spot kick was saved two minutes later. Rochinha added a fourth – also from the spot – in the second half.
Nuno Santos's pass for Benfica's opener was something to behold, Pereira reading the angle perfectly and darting past the goalkeeper before slipping his finish into the empty net. Benfica's No11 then raced inside from the right channel and was felled by Sánchez, who was shown a straight red card.
With confidence, Nuno Santos found the bottom left-hand corner with his penalty, a move he tried to repeat with Benfica's second spot kick soon afterwards. On that occasion, Sergio Rodríguez made the save but succeeded only in parrying the ball back into the path of the taker, who made no mistake with his second bite of the cherry.
The confidence deriving from both performance and scoreboard empowered Benfica to play more eye-catching football after the interval. Rochinha's dazzling feet opened up space in the penalty area and his dribbling run was only halted by a one-handed save from Sergio Rodríguez. However, he would not be denied for long, classily chipping in from the spot after Madrid had been penalised for handball.
Real Madrid worked hard in search of a consolation but goalkeeper Thierry Graça was well placed to deny substitute Agoney González from four metres, ensuring the Portuguese side's day received the gloss of a clean sheet.
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