Benfica seal last-gasp top spot on away goals scored

Goncalo Ramos

Mueez Ajao

– A Benfica have claimed first position in Group H ahead of Paris Saint-Germain courtesy of a 6-1 victory over Maccabi Haifa in their final Champions League group-stage fixture on Wednesday night.

– The Portuguese giants have finished level on points (14) with PSG, who recorded a 2-1 win over Juventus, while the two teams had an equal head-to-head record and goal difference at full time in both games.

– Benfica’s 6-1 victory has seen them win the section on overall group away goals, with the visitors scoring five times in a brilliant second-half performance in Haifa.

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– The home side had a huge chance to take the lead in the fifth minute when Dean David found himself inside the Benfica penalty box, only to direct his effort wide of the post.

– Four minutes later, Benfica struck the post through Goncalo Ramos, who met a low cross from Fredrik Aursnes, with both sides having their moments during a lively start.

Goncalo Ramos

– Rafa then came close with a curling effort, as the hosts started to take control, and the breakthrough arrived in the 20th minute through Ramos.

– Nicolas Otamendi was the provider, with the defender collecting a pass from Alexander Bah before finding Ramos, who headed into the back of the net.

– However, Maccabi had a penalty in the 24th minute when Bah was penalised for handball, and Tjarron Chery stepped up to send his spot kick past Odysseas Vlachodimos.

– Alejandro Grimaldo fired one wide of the home side’s goal shortly before the interval, with the two teams heading down the tunnel at 1-1 after an entertaining opening 45 minutes.

– Benfica also had the first chance of the second half in the 52nd minute, with Chiquinho firing wide of the post after smart work from Bah in a wide position.

– The Portuguese giants managed to regain the lead just before the hour, though, when Petar Musa headed a Bah cross into the back of the net.

– The visitors then took the match away from Maccabi, scoring a third in the 69th minute through Grimaldo, who curled a brilliant free kick into the back of the net, before Rafa added a fourth in the 73rd minute with a clever chip over the onrushing goalkeeper.

– Henrique Araujo made it five in the 88th minute, leaving Benfica one goal away from winning the group, and it came in the 92nd minute, with Joao Mario drilling the ball into the bottom corner from distance.

– Benfica have therefore finished at the top of the section ahead of PSG, with Juventus claiming third ahead of Maccabi to drop into the Europa League despite only picking up three points from their six matches.

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