Benfica produced the perfect response to their Champions League exit with a morale-boosting 4-0 victory over Belenenses on Monday evening. André Almeida opened the scoring in the 11th minute, seizing on an error from Benfica youth product Miguel Rosa. Kostas Mitroglou and Eduardo Salvio increased the Eagles' lead in the second half, with both players finding the net from outside the box. Jonas celebrated his return to the starting eleven with a late fourth, although Mitroglou looked to be offside in the build-up.
After the match, Rui Vitória hailed a convincing victory against one of the form teams in the Liga NOS.
“(It was) a fair victory, against a good team, that came to the Estádio da Luz to play, and played a good match. We started the game very strongly, looking for the (early) goal, and we got it. In the first half, we ended up really wearing out the Belenenses team, and in the second half we scored more goals. Ultimately, we should have scored more, but it ended up being a fair result, against a team that had not lost for six games and have one of the best defences in the Championship.”
The 46-year old also highlighted the support of the 53,897 fans in the stands at the Estádio da Luz.
“The Benfiquistas have been fantastic since the start, and today they sent a clear message to all of us: We are all together in this fight!"
"We are satisfied, because the Benfiquistas will go home satisfied with the goals, and we appreciate all the support that they gave us. They are fantastic!”
Eduardo Salvio had been under fire recently after some lacklustre performances, but he reacted positively against Benfica's near neighbours, setting up Mitroglou's goal before scoring himself. The Argentinean winger was in buoyant mood at the final whistle.
“It (was) a huge joy… it is always beautiful to score, but the most important (thing) is always the victory. We thank the fans for their support. The Benfica fans are incredible. On a Monday, having so many people in the stadium… it is good to have supporters like this.”
“It was a great game, especially after a defeat. We are happy (with) another three points, and we will continue like this."
"It is always beautiful to score many goals, although the essential (thing) is the victory.”
André Almeida started at right-back in the absence of the injured Nélson Semedo, and delivered a confident display which yielded his first league goal for Benfica, on his 86th league appearance for the club. The versatile 26-year old also picked up the man-of-the-match award, much to his satisfaction.
“It’s an important prize, but the victory of the team is what matters most, to stay out in front in the Championship, which is our objective."
"(It was a) good game on our team’s part, with various chances. We played well, and playing in this stadium with this public is special. They helped us a lot in this victory.”
Almeida refused to celebrate his goal, out of respect for the club that launched his career.
“I was going to celebrate, but then something clicked, and I didn’t celebrate out of respect for a club that gave me a lot.”
To conclude, the Portuguese utility man made an impassioned plea to the Benfica supporters, with just nine games remaining in a thrilling title race:
“Fill the stadiums until the end of the season! With the supporters (present), everything becomes easier!”