Benfica hosted the ninth edition of the Eusébio Cup on Wednesday 27th July. 45,818 fans were in attendance at the Estádio da Luz for the game against Torino. Neil Fernandes summarises the action, and explains why Benfica's defeat could actually be a good omen!
Benfica took the lead through a Torino own-goal in the 11th minute. Visiting goalkeeper Alfred Gomis took a routine catch but inexplicably dropped the ball from his grasp, before Torino defender Giuseppe Vives stabbed it into his own net as he attempted to clear the danger.
Torino bounced back in the 31st minute when Adem Ljajić (pictured below) dispatched a stunning free-kick from outside of the area. His strike was so well executed that even the Benfica fans were left applauding.
Both sides made multiple substitutions in the second half, but neither could break the deadlock. Júlio César made an impressive save to deny Venezuelan striker Josef Martínez in the 78th minute, and a Luisão header struck the post with just three minutes left on the clock.
The match ended 1-1, and was therefore decided on penalties. The first 11 spot-kicks were impeccably converted, before Victor Lindelöf saw his effort rebound off the crossbar.
The loss was Benfica's sixth Eusébio Cup defeat in nine attempts. Although a defeat is always disappointing, this year's game was almost a victory for both sides, as the two clubs came together to honour the 31 lives lost in the Superga air disaster of May 4th 1949.
Benfica have not won the Eusébio Cup since defeating Real Madrid in 2012. On a positive note, the more superstitious Benfiquistas will highlight the fact that the Eagles have gone on to win the Primeira Liga after each of their last three defeats in the showcase friendly. If this trend continues, O Glorioso will be the 2016/17 Portuguese Champions, claiming the first ever Tetracampeanato (4th consecutive title) in their history.