A one-way game resolved only in the last few minutes. Boavista used whatever weapons it could to avoid defeat at Estádio da Luz and it wasn’t far from succeeding. It just didn’t happen because Benfica always believed that the dominance and blatant superiority it demonstrated would translate into goals. And they arrived, a 3-1 that may even taste like a little compared to the flow of opportunities created but that allows to maintain the leadership of the League, in the 21st round, with five points of advantage over the second.
Boavista de Petit joins two important aspects of the game: the physical, showing great capacity for duels and the reduction of spaces, and the organizational, with good articulation between sectors and permanent mutual help to compensate for individual imbalances. Without the ball, he is a difficult opponent to counter, as he is both willful and rigorous.
Alternating between 4x3x3 and 4x1x4x1, depending on the positioning of the extremes (Agra and Mangas), the “chessmen” closed the interior space well and prevented Benfica’s usual short combinations through the central corridor. Whenever the ball went in on the left, the collaboration between full-back, winger and right inside midfielder was enough to make life difficult for Grimaldo and Aursnes.
The “incarnates”, who even entered into high rotation and scared in a high recovery by Rafa, saw the offensive production reduced to two bids of real danger in the first half, both by Gonçalo Ramos: at 25′, the striker corrected a cross to the outside from the left, to the first post: at 45+1′, with a header, he provided Bracali with a save on the line.
Without Alexander Bah (suspended) and with Gilberto too erratic in the passing chapter, Benfica took little or nothing to the right and needed that route to diversify the attack on the last stronghold of Boavista.
At half-time, Roger Schmidt sent in Neres for Florentino to give the attack more width, lowering Aursnes to Chiquinho’s side. And Benfica re-entered at full speed, with Aursnes, Rafa, Neres and Gonçalo threatening the goal, also the result of a more aggressive reaction to the loss of the ball, limiting the opponent to the last 30 meters of the field.
The torrent of opportunities foretold the 1-0 and, after another feline defense by Bracali with a header from Ramos, it was the unlikely Gilberto to score, in the rebound, in the 55th minute. In that move, Benfica surrounded the opponent’s area and, playing wide, chose the solution that allowed them to put more players in the shooting range.
But Boavista, who until then had barely reached the opposing area and didn’t add up any shots, only needed one to tie. Cross from the left and first-time finish, on the halfback, by Yusupha, in the center of the area.
Benfica still needed to make ends meet and, after a period of some bewilderment, they resumed their rhythm and presence in the Boavista area. At 70′, VAR helped the referee to reveal a penalty on Rafa that João Mário did not use — thanks to Bracali, who guessed the side. Then it was Neres and Gonçalo Guedes (who replaced Rafa in the meantime) to test the goalkeeper’s attention, who could no longer resist a brilliant move by Gonçalo Ramos, in the 82nd minute, completed with a surgical shot.
The “checkered” wall gave way again and, this time, it would no longer recover. Because António Silva was instrumental in a tackle cut, at 90′, and because Petar Musa found, against his former team, the effectiveness in finishing that he has lacked throughout the season, heading it to 3-1, at 90+3 ‘. Checkmate.