Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica (Da Luz), Lisboa, Portugal
Benfica’s title defence got off to a near-perfect start after defeating Braga 3-1 at the Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica (Da Luz) in Lisbon, in what was their opening league game of the season as the Champions moved up to second in the table, behind Porto on goal-difference.
Haris Seferović and Jonas looked to have set the Vermelhos on their way to a commanding 2-0 half-time lead but Ahmed Hassan’s finish two minutes prior to the interval gave the Arsenalistas hope before Eduardo Salvio’s second-half finish extended the Águias lead and sealed all three points for Rui Vitória’s men.
The hosts started well and went close to opening the scoring in the eleventh minute when an André Almeida cross was met by Seferović with a header but his effort was tame and Matheus made a comfortable save.
Four minutes later the Águias took the lead when a terrific delivery from Jonas was volleyed home by Seferović on the slide.
Nine minutes later Benfica went close to a second goal when Seferović latched onto cross-field pass from Pizzi to fire an effort at-goal from a tight-angle that Matheus palmed behind. The Champions went close from the resulting-corner, which was met by Jonas with a header that drifted inches wide of the far-post.
The hosts doubled their lead on the half-hour mark when a cross-field pass from Pizzi wasn’t dealt with by Raul Silva, who miscued his header with the loose ball falling to Jonas, who volleyed home.
Two minutes from the break the visitors pulled a goal back when former Sporting Clube de Portugal full-back Ricardo Esgaio surged forward before sending Hassan through on-goal and the Egyptian fired home across Bruno Varela.
The Águias responded a minute later and went close to a third goal when Pizzi sent Salvio through on-goal but the Argentine fired just wide from a tight-angle.
The hosts extended their lead in the 57th minute when Franco Cervi’s teasing delivery was diverted goal-wards by Lazar Rosić, allowing Salvio to fire home the loose ball from a yard out.
Six minutes later Benfica went close to a fourth when Pizzi sent Seferović through on-goal with a lovely back-heel, but the Swiss striker’s powerful strike was palmed behind by Matheus.
In the 80th minute the Vermelhos went close again when Cervi pulled the ball back to Jonas, but the Brazilian fired the ball just wide of the far-post, with Matheus rooted to the spot.
The result meant that Benfica moved up to second in the league on three points, behind Porto on goal-difference, while Braga dropped to 16th as both sides played their first league game of the season.