Lisbon - Benfica pulled off a classic smash and grab job as
they beat Borussia Dortmund 1-0 in their Champions League last 16 first leg on
Greek striker Kostas Mitroglou scored the only goal of the
game, prodding home from close range at the second attempt just after half time
after Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Burki stopped his initial effort.
Benfica goalkeeper Ederson, who has relegated former Brazil
first choice shot-stopper Julio Cesar to the bench this season, was the star of
the show making a slew of crucial saves.
But Dortmund will have many regrets after a wasteful
performance, in particular from striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who had a
torrid evening, missing three gilt-edged opportunities.
Dortmund had the first clear chance of the night on 10
minutes as French youngster Ousmane Dembele slipped Aubameyang in on goal, but
the Gabon striker lifted his shot not only over Ederson but also the bar.
Dortmund were well on top in the early stages but poor
control cost Raphael Guerreiro and Erik Durm when well placed to shoot.
The visitors then fashioned a chance with Guerreiro picking
out Dembele 10 yards from goal but reported Manchester United target Victor
Lindelof bravely threw himself in front of the shot to deflect the ball behind
for a corner.
Dortmund should have gone in front on 38 minutes when
Benfica centre-back Ljubomir Fejsa dallied allowing Guerreiro to cross from the
byline. But with Ederson stranded, Aubameyang was inches away from converting
the ball into an empty net from two yards out.
Moments later, Ederson was a relieved man to see Italian
referee Nicola Rizzoli wave away Dortmund protests after the goalkeeper
clattered into Dembele on the edge of his box.
Having produced nothing in the first half, Benfica went in
front three minutes into the second after Mitroglou was left unmarked two yards
out to poke home Luisao's header from a Pizzi corner.
Thereafter, the one-way traffic continued heading towards
the home goal was relentless.
Ederson saved a point-blank effort from Dembele inside the
six yard box before Aubameyang lifted a carbon copy of his first half chance
again just over the bar.
Ederson made smart stops to deny Marco Reus and then Lukasz
Piszczek before Dortmund were given a lifeline when Fejsa handled a cross from
But Aubameyang's miserable night continued with a woeful
penalty stroked nonchalantly down the middle that the static Ederson merely
Aubameyang was put out of his misery a few minutes later as
coach Thomas Turchel replaced him with Andre Schuerle just past the hour mark.
Dortmund continued to press but Reus hooked a volley wide
before Ederson showed lightening reactions to save one-handed from a Christian
Pulisic volley that took a wicked deflection.