S.L. Benfica tops Borussia Dortmund in Heinz Field soccer match

July 29, 2018

Borussia Dortmund was on a roll heading into its International Champions Cup match against Portugal’s S.L. Benfica on Wednesday at Heinz Field.

It already had played two of its three games in the series: Beating Manchester City at Soldier Field in Chicago and defeating Liverpool in Charlotte.

On the other hand, Benfica made its 2018 ICC debut in front of a Heinz Field crowd of 16,171.

The teams played to a 2-2 tie after regulation -- Benfica rallied from a two-goal deficit in the second half -- and the game went into penalty kicks to decide the winner.

Eduardo Salvio recorded the winner in the shootout as Benfica prevailed.

“I liked the game in its totality,” Benfica coach Rui Vitoria said. “From the very beginning, the team showed a good attitude. Some of that enthusiasm perhaps made us lose some clarity defensively, and that’s where (Dortmund’s) two opportunities came from. But we were proactive from the beginning and always looking to control the game. We made some adjustments at halftime and became more patient. Through us winning the game in penalty kicks, there was justice done to what played out through the entire game.”

Both teams pushed the pace and picked up the physical play over the final 20 minutes of regulation and three minutes of stoppage time as they hoped to avoid penalty kicks.

Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho pushed a winning attempt wide right from 10 yards in the 89th minute.

“We were still pushing very hard at the end to try and make it 3-2,” Dortmund coach Lucien Favre said. “It was a very positive eight days (in the U.S.) and a very nice experience (in Pittsburgh).”

Benfica didn’t fold after Dortmund held a 2-0 lead at halftime and scored in the 51st minute. Luis Miguel Fernandes delivered a ball into the box that Andre Almeida finished.

Alfa Semedo then tied the match in the 69th minute.

Benfica controlled possession early and put pressure on new Dortmund keeper Marwin Hitz. However, it came up empty on several opportunities, including a corner kick and a pair of free kicks from about 20 yards.

Dortmund then began to tip the pitch and get into the box on several occasions.

Maximilian Philipp gave Dortmund a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute with a sliding finish from eight yards off assists from Jacob Bruun Larson and Mario Gotze.

He then doubled Dortmund’s advantage two minutes later as he received a cross from Gotze at the same spot as his first goal, and he buried it past Benfica keeper Mile Svilar.

Dortmund had a chance to make it 3-0 a couple of minutes after the two goals as a direct kick from Larsen was on point but was gobbled up by Svilar.

Many of the spectators at Heinz Field came to their feet several times when Hershey native and Team USA member Christian Pulisic got a foot on the ball.

Pulisic, who turns 20 in September, showed his speed and skill for Dortmund on a pair of breakaways into the box down the right wing. The second one came in the final minute of the first half as he delivered a cross that was just beyond the outstretched leg of a streaking Bruun Larsen.

The crowd gave Pulisic a standing ovation for his efforts.

“He is a very good player with enormous potential,” Dortmund coach Lucien Favre.

Fellow American Keaton Parks, a native of Plano, Texas, who joined Benfica full time in November, traveled to Pittsburgh and was at Heinz Field but did not play.

“He is a quality player,” Vitoria said. “We believe in him, but there is a process. He is working hard, and we believe he has a promising future.”

Benfica’s group matches will continue Saturday at Red Bull Arena against Spanish football club Juventus F.C. before a trip back across the Atlantic to face Lyon (France) on Aug. 1 in Portugal.

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