Leverkusen beats Benfica 3-1 in Group C
LEVERKUSEN, Germany (AP) — Bayer Leverkusen cruised past Benfica 3-1 on Wednesday for its first victory in Group C of the Champions League.
Stefan Kiessling opened the scoring in the 25th minute after Benfica goalkeeper Julio Cesar fumbled a shot by Son Heung-min, and Son made it 2-0 with a goal in the 34th.
Eduardo Salvio pulled one back for Benfica in the 62nd but, two minutes later, Leverkusen restored its two-goal buffer when Hakan Calhanoglu converted a seemingly generously awarded penalty.
Benfica scored from its only real chance of the match after being put under pressure from the start by Leverkusen.
Monaco and Zenit St. Petersburg drew 0-0 in Russia earlier Wednesday and top the group with four points each, one clear of Leverkusen. Benfica is without any points after two matches.
Leverkusen captain Lars Bender, who hit the post early in the match, said the victory was “the right reaction” following an opening loss to Monaco.
“It was extremely important to win,” he said. “In an even group it’s very important to win home matches. We had a plan and we executed it well from the start. We were very alert the entire match.”
Leverkusen went ahead when Julio Cesar could not hold onto a shot by Son from 18 meters (yards). Kiessling anticipated well and tapped in the rebound.
Son picked up a good, low cross from Karim Bellarabi to double the lead.
After the break, Calhanoglu managed to miss the target from one meter (yard) out following a squared pass from Bellarabi. The ball took a strange bounce off the pitch and Calhanoglu mistimed his effort that shaved the outside of the post.
Benfica got back into the match, but only briefly. Salvio shook off Emir Spahic to slot inside the near post.
Leverkusen sealed the victory from the penalty spot only two minutes later.
Jardel’s challenge on Kiessling brought the Leverkusen striker down, although the Benfica defender appeared to poke the ball first. Referee Martin Atkison awarded the penalty with a delay, after being alerted by his linesman.
Calhanoglu calmly slotted home, sending Julio Cesar the wrong way.