Benfica hosted Borussia Dortmund at the Estádio da Luz on Tuesday night, in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie. The German side came into the game off the back of a 2-1 defeat to the Bundesliga’s bottom club, SV Darmstadt, whereas Benfica were buoyant after their 3-0 victory over Arouca.
Rui Vitória made two changes to his starting eleven relative to that match, with the fit-again Eduardo Salvio replacing the suspended Andrija Živković, and Rafa Silva taking the place of Jonas, who failed a late fitness test due to a neck injury. Portugal boss Fernando Santos was present in the stands, along with Brazil’s goalkeeping coach Cláudio Taffarel, who had come to observe Ederson.
Benfica started brightly, winning an early corner before Salvio skewed an effort wide on five minutes. After that, the game settled into a familiar pattern, with the visitors dominating possession and creating a steady stream of attempts on goal. In the 10th minute, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang blazed over from close range after he was put through by Ousmane Dembélé.
Dortmund had another golden opportunity in the 37th minute, when Raphaël Guerreiro got the better of Ljubomir Fejsa on the byline, but Aubameyang was unable to connect with his tantalising cross. Minutes later, Ederson was lucky to avoid punishment after clattering into Dembélé just a few feet outside of his box.
At the interval, Vitória opted to bolster his midfield by sacrificing André Carrillo for Filipe Augusto. The Brazilian was making his Champions League debut. Three minutes after the restart, Benfica took a scarcely-deserved lead from a corner-kick. Luisão met Pizzi’s cross with a towering header, before Kostas Mitroglou pounced, taking three touches to scramble the ball past Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Bürki.
From that point onwards, the game was all about Ederson, with the 23-year old producing a miraculous display to keep Thomas Tuchel’s side at bay. In the 51st minute, he spread himself well to deny Dembélé, before Aubameyang wasted another gilt-edged opportunity in the 53rd minute. Soon afterwards, Ederson made two saves in a minute, proving himself equal to Marco Reus’ left-foot volley and Łukasz Piszczek’s long-range effort.
With just over half an hour left to play, Dortmund were awarded a penalty after Fejsa inadvertently handled Marc Bartra’s cross. Aubameyang struck his spot-kick down the middle, but Ederson stood his ground to foil the Gabonese forward. The Brazilian stopper reserved his best save of the night for the 84th minute, displaying superhuman reflexes to keep out Christian Pulisic’s heavily deflected strike.
Benfica held out for a famous victory, and Luisão delivered an emotional speech in the home dressing room after the game, having completed his 500th competitive appearance for the Eagles. Rui Vitória’s men travel to the Westfalenstadion for the second leg on Wednesday 8th March, when Jonas and Živković should both be available.
Benfica: Ederson; Nélson Semedo, Luisão, Lindelöf, Eliseu; Salvio, Fejsa, Pizzi, Carrillo (Filipe Augusto 46’); Rafa Silva (Cervi 67’), Mitroglou (Raúl 75’)
Borussia Dortmund: Bürki; Sokratis, Bartra, Piszczek; Durm, Dembélé, Weigl, Guerreiro (Castro 82’), Schmelzer; Reus (Pulisic 82’), Aubameyang (Schürrle 62’)