On Sunday, over 56,000 fans gathered in the stands of the Catedral on a sunny but crisp winter afternoon to see Benfica defeat underdogs Tondela, with goals from Pizzi (2), Rafa Silva and Jonas. Despite the convincing 4-0 scoreline, the Reds faced some difficulties, especially in the first half, when the visitors managed to keep them at bay with a neat and efficient defensive display.
Head coach Rui Vitória reacted to the microphones of BTV at the end of the match:
"I would like to start by commenting on our second half (performance), that was, in my opinion, of high quality, allowing us to score some deserved goals."
"This match was a true display of how challenging our league can be."
"Despite playing with the team that is bottom of the table, their organisation caused us considerable difficulties. Nevertheless, at the end our victory was clear and deserved."
When questioned about Benfica's struggles in the first half, Vitória replied:
"In the first half we faced difficulties to breach Tondela's defence, because they kept their lines quite deep and we were failing to be efficient in the wider areas of the pitch. We felt we had to increase our tempo, and we were able to do this in the second half."
On his fourteenth outing for the Encarnados, Portuguese international Rafa Silva managed to score his first ever goal for the club, and the words failed him when asked to describe the moment:
"It was a good goal, my first in the Benfica jersey. I'm lost for words, I can't exactly describe how I feel", he confessed.
Influential midfielder Pizzi twice got himself on the scoresheet, reaching the impressive figure of eight goals in the Liga NOS this season. He was also voted man of the match, much to his satisfaction:
"It feels really good to get this award but the most important thing is to be able to help the team to succeed, and it's even better when I can contribute with goals. I am really proud, especially because of the victory and our attitude. We managed to grab the three points which was our main goal."
"Also, the help from our supporters provides us with an important energy boost."
When asked to comment on Rafa's first ever goal for Benfica and the enthusiastic celebrations of his teammates, Pizzi responded:
"This shows how tight the group is and how united the lads are... it's super important! André Almeida scored his first goal against Leixões, and today it was Rafa's turn... all of the players are extremely motivated to help Benfica thrive. The team spirit has a crucial importance."
With this result the Eagles have amassed 45 points in the Liga NOS, towering at the top of the table with a lead of four points over arch-rivals FC Porto. Their next game will take place in the south of Portugal at the Estádio do Algarve at 20:45 this Thursday, when they will fight Moreirense for a place in the final of the League Cup.