Highlights from Benfica vs PSG match at the Estadio da Luz: Benfica made a valiant effort late in the match to hold PSG to a 1-1 draw in Champions League Play.
The match against PSG in Lisbon was one of Benfica fans’ most eagerly awaited matches in the crowded pre-World Cup calendar since the UEFA Champions League draw was released.
Benfica started brightly, but a brilliant moment from Lionel Messi gave the visitors the lead before a Danilo own goal brought it all square at halftime – a result that belied the Parisians.
There was a different story in the second half, with PSG dominating and generating more opportunities, but with both goalkeepers in peak form, both teams split the points.
Benfica fielded their strongest XI, with budding star António Silva taking his spot alongside Otamendi at the heart of the defense and facing another tough challenge in his fledgling career – simply stopping Mbappe, Messi, and Neymar.
The Portuguese trio of Nuno Mendes, Danilo, and Vitinha all began for PSG.
Benfica Goes On The Offensive
Any concerns that Benfica would be frightened by the occasion disappeared like the confident hosts took the game to the visitors and created three decent scoring opportunities in the first 20 minutes.
António Silva sent a precise long ball in the eighth minute that set Gonçalo Ramos sprinting through on goal.
The youthful striker did everything correctly, eluding Marquinhos and hitting a hard low shot that Donnarumma wonderfully saved out with his outstretched left foot.
Soon after, Ramos got another chance to shoot, this time from a distance that pricked the Italian goalkeeper’s palms.
PSG threatened when Mbappé won a free kick in the Messi area, but the wall blocked the Argentine’s shot.
Benfica went immediately back on the assault, with Donnarumma once again saving PSG.
Then, Enzo Fernández sent a superb pass to Neres, whose raised attempt has miraculously stopped by the goalkeeper’s outstretched arm.
After Benfica’s bold approach to the game, the audience was hit with a brutal reality check.
A quick passing play allowed Neymar to roll an appealing ball to Messi, with the Argentine finishing the rest with a stunning angled curling attempt into the top corner from 20 yards out.
The goal broke Benfica’s flow, and PSG began to enjoy long stretches of possession, with the active Vitinha at the center of most of their activity.
But, as halftime came, Benfica recovered, and a continuous period of pressure resulted in a big chance for António Silva in the center of the box.
He struck his shot hard, but it was too near to Donnarumma, who made another spectacular save.
Shortly when the home crowd must have begun to believe that nothing would get past the colossal goalie, Benfica equalized just before halftime.
Enzo’s tempting cross was just a hair too high for Ramos, but his marker was on the ball. Danilo performed his job for him as the ball slipped off his chest and into the net.
Halftime, 1-1, and it’s time to catch your breath.
PSG Kicks Into High Gear
Roger Schmidt most likely instructed his men to deliver more of the same in the second half, but whatever Christophe Galtier said to his squad had more impact as PSG came out with a new proposal after the break.
With Verratti and Vitinha seeing more of the ball and pinging it around the final third with purpose, opportunities began to fall for the French team.
Hakimi’s shot pushed Vlachodimos into a quick save, and Neymar pounced on the rebound, acrobatically hitting an overhead kick onto the crossbar.
Otamendi’s clumsy defense subsequently appeared to have opened the way for PSG, but Vlachodimos was alert to save his captain.
The exhausted goalkeeper then had to stop a header from Danilo, and a serious attempt by Hakimi, whom some exquisite approach play by Messi had set up before Neymar sent a 30-yard free-kick hurtling towards the net, a jumping Vlachodimos sending it over the bar.
After weathering the storm, Benfica was able to cause trouble at the other end.
Otamendi met Grimaldo’s free kick with a combination of his head and shoulder, sending the ball barely wide.
Messi setup Mbappé, who struck a lovely shot from a distance that appeared to repeat Messi’s goal, only for Vlachodimos to execute a stunning full-length save.
Rafa Is On A Rampage
Rafa, who had a relatively quiet game, nearly brought the house down with a characteristically spectacular high-speed dribble, exploding between Sérgio Ramos and Marquinhos, only to be thwarted again by that guy Donnarumma.
It was the last chance for an exciting evening in the Portuguese capital.
Analysis: Benfica's Injection Of Confidence, Portuguese Shine vs. PSG
Enzo Fernández, Joo Mário, António Silva, and Odysseas Vlachodimos, in particular, shone in a highly cohesive all-around performance, but what was even more impressive was Benfica’s positive approach.
They are looking to hurt the opposition at every opportunity rather than protecting themselves against a constellation of superstar players.
PSG was spooked by Benfica, as seen by Donnarumma and his teammates’ bad-tempered reaction after the final whistle.
The recent game demonstrated that Roger Schmidt is getting the most out of a great side, and if Benfica maintains their form, they can at least equal their Champions League run to the quarter-finals from last season.
As a result of playing second fiddle to Benfica in the first half, PSG demonstrated the brilliance that has them among the favorites to win the championship outright, with incisive attacking from various angles causing Benfica all sorts of issues.
It’s fantastic to see three Portuguese players rubbing elbows with Neymar, Messi, and Mbappé and contributing just as much as the famed trio.
Nuno Mendes, Danilo, and Vitinha all played well, and Fernando Santos will be hoping that all three can sustain their form heading into the World Cup in less than two months.