Estádio do Rio Ave Futebol Clube, Vila do Conde, Portugal
90’+3′ Villas Boas Sent Off (Second bookable offence)
Benfica defeated Rio Ave 1-0 at the Estádio do Rio Ave Futebol Clube to move back to the top of Liga NOS.
A goal from substitute Raúl Jiménez eight minutes into his introduction proved to be the difference as the Eagles grinded out a much-needed victory over sixth-placed Rio Ave, who were later reduced to ten men after skipper André Villas Boas was sent off for a second yellow card.
The visitors started the game well and very nearly took the lead in the first minute when Jardel met a corner with a header, but his goalbound header was cleared off the line by Pedrinho.
In the 15th minute the Eagles went close again but Renato Sanches’ strike from-range was wide of the target.
Eleven minutes later the visitors went close when Kuca cut inside before firing an effort that tested Ederson.
After the half-hour mark, the visitors almost took the lead. In the 31st minute, Nicolás Gaitán did well to control the ball on his thigh before volleying inches wide of the post with Cássio beaten.
Seven minutes later the hosts should have taken the lead. A freekick from the right found the unmarked Villas Boas who glanced a header wide when he really should have done better.
After the break the visitors went close when an André Almeida delivery fell invitingly to Gaitán who headed wide under-pressure from a diving-header.
Four minutes later the Eagles should have taken the lead when Jonas found Gaitán in the area but the Argentine couldn’t sort out his feet and the resulting shot was easily saved by Cássio. A minute later the two combined again, with Gaitán returning the favour to the Brazilian whose effort was also comfortable for Cássio – who should have been tested more from the effort.
A minute later the Eagles went close again. The hosts failed to deal with a corner and Kostas Mitroglou scrambled a volley just wide of the far post. That was the Greek international’s last involvement in the game as he was replaced by Jiménez eleven minutes later.
In the 74th minute the visitors finally took the lead. An Almeida delivery proved to be too much for Villas Boas who diverted the ball onto the top of the crossbar and substitute Jiménez nodded home the loose ball with Cássio out of position.
The hosts were eager to find an equaliser and had a great opportunity deep into injury-time when the hosts had a corner. Skipper Villas Boas attempted to acrobatically volley the ball home but only caught Benfica centre-back Jardel to receive his second yellow card of the game after he was booked earlier and he was given his marching orders.
That was the last action of the match as the referee blew his whistle to bring the game to an end.
The result meant that Benfica moved back to the top of the league now on 79 points, two ahead of second-placed neighbours Sporting. The result for Rio Ave meant that they remained in sixth with 46 points.