Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica (Da Luz), Lisboa, Portugal
90’+3′ Pizzi Sent off (Second bookable offence)
Benfica’s final Liga NOS match of 2016 ended in positive fashion as they defeated Rio Ave 2-0 at the Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica (Da Luz) in Lisbon.
Kostas Mitroglou put the Champions ahead before Pizzi’s chipped-effort four minutes before the break ensured the Águias defeated the Northerners to extend their lead by four points at the top of the league.
The only blemish on the league-leaders’ victory was the sending-off of goalscorer Pizzi. The Midfielder’s first booking for dissent meant that he would miss their next Taça da Liga match against Paços de Ferreira, which was then followed by a second yellow card late-on for time-wasting. The dismissal meant he would now also miss Benfica’s next league fixture away to Vitória Guimarães.
The hosts started well and went close to taking the lead in the sixth minute when Franco Cervi’s pull-back found Mitroglou, who curled an effort just wide from-range.
A minute later the Águias thought they should have had a penalty when Gonçalo Guedes was sent tumbling in the area by Filipe Augusto but the referee was somehow unmoved. The Rio Ave midfielder didn’t get anything on the ball.
A minute later Benfica went close when Nélson Semedo found Pizzi, who fired an effort that Cássio was forced to palm behind.
Five minutes later the hosts went ahead. After Mitroglou’s back-heeled effort was blocked in the area after a good pass from Rafa Silva, an effort from Pizzi fell to the Greek striker, who was onside and slotted home past Cássio.
In the 16th minute skipper Luisão audaciously attempted to lob Cássio from-range but his effort drifted just over the bar.
Three minutes later Mitroglou had a good chance to double his tally on the night when he cut-inside to beat three players but his poked-effort was saved-well by Cássio.
Four minutes from the break the hosts doubled their lead. Pizzi beat his man and exchanged a nice one-two with Silva before chipping Cássio.
In the 59th minute the visitors had a good chance when a Rio Ave corner was cleared to Ruben Ribeiro, who cut-inside to fire an effort that Ederson saved well.
Two minutes later, Rio Ave had a good chance to pull a goal back when substitute Tarantini found Héldon, who had time and space but miscued his effort, slicing the shot harmlessly wide.
Three minutes later the visitors went close again when Ruben Ribeiro fired a powerful effort at goal that Ederson was forced to palm behind.
In the 71st minute the Águias thought they had a third when Mitroglou curled home but he was adjudged to have been offside, although he looked level.
In the final minute of added-time, Benfica were reduced to ten-men when Pizzi, who was already on a booking, received a second yellow card for time-wasting.
The result meant that Benfica extended their lead at the top of Liga NOS by four points as they now moved onto 38 points, whilst Rio Ave’s four-match consecutive winning-run came to an end as they remain in sixth on 23 points.