Live Commentary: Benfica 0-2 Barcelona - as it happened

Live Commentary: Benfica 0-2 Barcelona - as it happened
© PA Photos
Live text coverage of the Group G Champions League encounter between Benfica and Barcelona, courtesy of Sports Mole.

Good evening and welcome to Sports Mole's live text coverage of the Group G Champions League match between Benfica and Barcelona.

Both sides wouldn't have been pleased with their opening fixtures in this year's European campaign as Barca only just overcame Sparkak Moscow at home, while Benfica drew at Celtic.

Barcelona have won nine and drawn two of their last 11 games versus Portuguese sides, with both draws being 0-0 away to Benfica.

Will the 2011 Champions be able to find the net tonight?

> Full team news for tonight's match.

9.41pmOur match analysis will be up within the next half-hour, so look out for that. Thanks for joining Sports Mole this evening. Come back tomorrow when we'll have more coverage of the other four groups' action. See you then.

9.40pmA pretty comfortable day in this Iberian encounter for Barcelona then. Benfica started well and looked dangerous on the break but were outplayed for the most part. Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas got the goals either side of the interval that see Barca go top of Group G with six points. Celtic are second on four, Benfica have one and Spartak zilch.

FULL-TIMEBenfica 0-2 Barcelona

9.36pmUnbelievable at BATE! The home side have scored again and now the full-time whistle goes. BATE 3-1 Bayern. Shock.

90+4 minBenfica appeal for a penalty as the ball strikes Alba's elbow but that would have been harsh.

9.35pmThe two English teams playing tonight, Chelsea and Man Utd, have both won. Utd came from behind to beat Cluj 2-1, while Chelsea overcame Nordsjaelland 4-0.

9.33pmMore goals! Chelsea are now 4-0 ahead thanks to Ramires while Bayern have one back in BATE thanks to Franck Ribery.

90 minFour minutes added on.

89 minIt's all getting a bit nasty as Jardel is cautioned for a late challenge on Messi.

88 minI'm really not sure what that's for. The Barca midfielder's challenge was a bit rash but even so, seems very strange. There was a bit of handbags afterwards but I can't see much wrong. Hmmm.


87 minDunno about that. Sanchez throws himself after being crowded out but referee Cakir buys it and awards Barca the FK.

85 minMessi is cowered over in the foetal position after being hauled down by Matic, who gets a booking.

83 minIf Benfica get a point out of this I'll eat my proverbial hat.

82 minBarca's late-goal hero from the weekend, David Villa, is on for Pedro.

9.23pmAnd it's now 3-0 Chelsea as Juan Mata gets his second.

9.21pmTwo clubs have just gone 2-0 up and it's BATE against Bayern and Chelsea in Nordsjaelland.

79 minAlex Song comes on in Puyol's place.

77 minThe Barca captain went up for an aerial challenge and landed really awkwardly! His arm is bent and many players are turning away in horror. It could just be a dislocated shoulder but either way it's not nice. Get well soon from Sports Mole, Carles.

77 minOUCH! Oh my god! It looks like Puyol may have broken his arm.

76 minIniesta receives the ball in the box and wriggles away from a couple of challenges before earning a corner.

75 minThird and final change for Benfica as Gaitan is replaced by Nolito.

74 minSave by Artur as Messi, somehow, gets his head to an Alba cross.

72 minBarca make a change and they've brought on the old donkey that is Andres Iniesta. He replaces Fabregas.

72 minXavi, for once, gives the ball way but Matic's shot is woeful.

70 minPedro almost beats Artur to the ball before Messi pounces on the loose ball and almost finds a way through to goal.

69 minDear me! That's perhaps the worst thing Messi will do this season! Barca again work the ball nicely and all the number 10 has to do is lay in Sanchez but his pass is horribly overhit.

67 minMessi sees Sanchez on the left and the Chilean does well to keep it in before being bundled over by Jardel. Free kick near the corner for the visitors.

64 minAs exciting as some people find Barca to watch, I'm not a fan of this handball-style of play. They pass it across midfield until it reaches the winger, who then cuts back inside and starts the whole process again. I know they're ahead and therefore are entitled to slow it down but it's not fun to watch.

62 minAimar has had an instant impact and is the heart of all things Benfica at the moment. The Argentine plays a one-two with Lima but he's deliberately tripped off the ball by Busquets. Referee Cakir doesn't see it though.

61 minCHANCE for Benfica as a free kick is lofted in and Jardel rises highest but directs his header straight at Valdes.

61 minCrowd favourite Pablo Aimar enters the fray in place of Perez.

60 minBarca's attacking has gone a bit flashy all of a sudden as Messi and Busquets exchange flicks in the middle before Fabregas almost releases Pedro.

57 minBenfica go straight down the other end and Lima turns Mascherano inside out before lashing goalwards but Valdes is up to the task, palming away.

56 minThat's Messi at his brilliant best. The little Argentine skips away from a few challenges before prodding to Fabregas just before he was about to get tackled. Cesc's first touch is good and his second with his left drills past Artur at the near post.


55 minNothing came of it, mind.

55 minBenfica go up the other end and it's a great deep cross from the left that Valdes fumbles and it's out for a corner.

54 minOnce again Barca are having total domination of the football but it's just not very incisive. The moment Messi tried to find the killer pass it was cut out.

52 minBenfica look to break away but Busquets cynically brings down Martins to thwart the Portuguese side.

8.52pmManchester United have turned it around in Cluj as Robin van Persie nets his second.

49 minBarca are really pinging it around in this second half but it's all in the middle third of the pitch.

47 minCHANCE! Messi feeds Sanchez and his chipped effort drifts just wide of the far post. Should've got it on target.

46 minMartins gets straight into the action by uglily hacking at Busquets. No booking.

46 minSecond half begins.

8.47pmHalf-time sub for the hosts as Carlos Martins takes the place of Bruno Cesar.

8.45pmClick here for all our half-time reports from the Champions League and Championship this evening. Is your team in action?

8.41pmRemember, Celtic and Spartak Moscow, who are in Barca and Benfica's group, have already played tonight and the Scottish club picked up an unlikely win.

8.39pmJust to round-up the other scores in tonight's CL games: Cluj 1-1 Man Utd; Nordsjaelland 0-1 Chelsea; Juventus 1-1 Shakhtar; BATE 1-0 Bayern; Galatasaray 0-1 Braga; Valencia 1-0 Lille.

8.33pmSo Barca lead thanks to Sanchez's close-range finish. The European champions have, as expected, dominated the ball but I wouldn't bet against Benfica nicking a goal here. Mascherano isn't a great defender and the visitors look susceptible to a goal on the counter.

HALF-TIMEBenfica 0-1 Barcelona

45 minCHANCE! Pedro is found by a looping pass and his cross scrapes Xavi's studs and that touch takes it off the head of Sanchez!

44 minGaitan almost breaks clear of Puyol but the veteran defender does brilliantly to nick it away.

44 minThe Argentinian clips into the area but it's well defended by Jardel.

43 minThe visitors have a free kick 35 yards out, right of centre. Expect Messi to whip in.

41 minBarca want another! Alba breaks clear down the left and his cross is flicked back by a defender to Pedro at the back post. The winger takes a touch and should shoot but instead tries to thread across the area and it's blocked.

40 minFabregas plays a classic through ball for Pedro, whose shot is solid but straight at Artur.

39 minSalvio finds a gap in the Barca defence and breaks into the area but his cross-shot is collected by Valdes.

38 minBenfica's set-piece man Cesar is the next to be shown a yellow for a nasty scrape down Busquets's leg.

37 minBruno Cesar's delivery is lovely and Garay gets an early flick but both red shirts at the back post can't get a toe to it.

36 minPerez seems fine now though and races down the right, winning a free kick in a good position because of Mascherano's recklessness in the challenge.

35 minPerez is down for the hosts after a hefty landing on his shoulder because of a challenge from Fabregas, who's already been booked remember.

8.18pmChelsea lead 1-0 in Nordsjaelland thanks to Juan Mata.

32 minNot too much happening in the Stadium of Light as Mascherano's long pass for Alves bounces out.

8.15pmRobin van Persie has just drawn United level in Cluj. 1-1.

29 minSalvio isn't closed down when cutting in from the right and let's fly but it's straight at Valdes, who holds on well.

28 minYellow for Pedro as he flops over under the faintest of touches. Well done referee.

8.12pmJuve weren't behind for long! Bonucci has just drawn them level with Shakhtar.

26 minBoth Busquests and Xavi overplay on the edge of their own area but escape punishment before Jardel does well to clear a Barca cross with a diving header.

24 minCHANCE for a second Sanchez goal as he's found over the top but the Chilean's finish is poor, going way over the bar.

8.08pmGOALS! Juve have fallen behind to Shakhtar and Bayern are losing in BATE! Both would be big upsets.

22 minCLOSE from Messi as Sanchez cuts back for the world's best player but he is denied by a super save from Artur.

21 minOnce again the one-touch football from Barca is scintillating but as before the final ball doesn't cut the mustard. This time Sanchez is the culprit.

19 minFabregas is shown a yellow card for a late tackle on the wing. Naughty.

19 minIt's beautifully intricate on the edge of the box from Barca but Messi didn't look before cutting back and could only find a red shirt.

17 minGaitan gets his foot to a dipping ball but can't keep his volley down on-the-stretch.

16 minOooh! Puyol finds Fabregas with a delightful ball over the top. The former Arsenal man's first touch is superb but Garay gets back well.

7.59pmGOAL in Cluj and it's for the hosts! Cluj 1-0 Man Utd!

11 minChance for Benfica as Gaitan feeds Lima in the area but the frontman can't beat Valdes.

10 minStat attack! The last team to avoid a Champions League home defeat after conceding the first goal vs. Barca was Arsenal (2-1) in Feb 2011.

9 minBruno Cesar's delivery is a good one but Lima can't keep his header down.

9 minLovely run from Gaitan to get into the area and he feeds Salvio but his cross is blocked. Corner.

6 minMessi exchanges passes with Alba down the left before drilling low across the six-yard box and Sanchez is there to tap home on the reach. Easy.


6 minJust to let you know, I'll keep you up-to-date with any big goals in the Champions League tonight.

5 minBarcelona will of course have much more of the ball but the Catalan club are extremely vulnerable to the counter attack and it looks like Benfica are trying to exploit that early on.

3 minBruno Cesar is afforded space on the edge of the area for Benfica and he lets fly. It should be easy for Valdes to deal with but the Spaniard's attempted save is awkward but is ricochets to safety.

1 minThe crowd is already constantly whistling as Barca keep hold of the ball, patiently probing.

1 minThe home side are in their home colours of red tops, white shorts while Barcelona also don their famous colours of navy and dark red.

KICK OFFBenfica get us underway.

7.45pmThe pre-match handshakes are done and we're just about ready to go.

7.44pmTonight's officials are from Turkey and the referee is Cuneyt Cakir.

7.43pmClick here for Sports Mole's match analysis of Celtic's aforementioned win.

7.41pmThat's marvellous. Benfica are famous for the eagle on their emblem and one of the regal birds has just flown around the stadium with a red-and-white trail.

7.39pmThe other two sides in Group G, Spartak Moscow and Celtic, have already played this evening because of the time difference in the Russian capital and Celtic pulled off a last-gasp victory against ten-man Spartak.

7.35pmJust ten minutes until kick off!

7.35pmAs Zonal Marking, or Michael Cox, alluded to there it is the El Clasico this weekend. Barca won't want any key injuries tonight!

7.34pmPopular football analyst @Zonal_Marking has just tweeted this: "At Benfica v Barcelona tonight. Think Barca will try to win it as early as possible ahead of Clasico, their full-backs overlapping will be key."

7.31pmHere's UEFA's Andy Brassell (@UEFAComAndyB) on Twitter: "Still pretty hot at pitch level at Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica. Home players have just taken quick break from their warm-up for water."

7.29pmBarca coach Vilanova has said that Benfica's attack "worries" him: "I don't think that Benfica will sit back in midfield and wait for us. They are strong in attack and dangerous on the wings. Benfica's attack worries me, but we play our way."

7.27pmIn terms of absentees, Barcelona are without centre-half Gerard Pique, who remains out with a sprained ankle. For the hosts, Paraguayan goal machine Oscar Cardozo is missing because of a thigh problem.

7.25pmI'm surprised that Pablo Aimar is on the bench. The diminutive Argentinian is a clever little player but perhaps Jesus thinks he will get outthought by Barca's wizards. Instead, he's gone with a lung-busting midfield of Gaitan, Bruno Cesar and Salvio.

7.20pmBenfica's bench looks like this: Paulo Lopes, Miguel Vitor, Andre Almeida, Nolito, Aimar, Carlos Martins, Rodrigo

7.18pmHere's what Jorge Jesus, Benfica coach has had to say on tonight's game: "A point against the favourites would be good. Not losing in matches like this one is a good result."

7.15pmHere's an interesting stat on tonight's game: Whenever these two clubs have met the winner has gone on to lift the European Cup starting with Bela Guttmann's Benfica in the 1961 final.

7.11pmHere's the Barca bench: Pinto, Adriano, Iniesta, Song, Sergi Roberto, Villa, Tello

7.09pmAhead of the defence there's a plethora of talent with the Spanish midfield trio of Xavi Hernandez, Sergio Busquets and Cesc Fabregas, who will support the stupidly gifted front trio of Pedro, Alexis Sanchez and that guy Messi.

7.06pmSo, Barca go 4-3-3 tonight. Rare to see Tito Vilanova's side with a flat back four.

BENFICA:Artur; Maxi Pereira, Garay, Jardel, Bruno Cesar, Gaitan, Matic, Perez, Lima, Salvo, Melgarejo

BARCELONA:Valdes; Alves, Puyol, Mascherano, Alba; Xavi, Busquets, Fabregas; Pedro, Messi, Sanchez

6.56pmEvening all, this is arguably the Champions League tie of the evening as other big guns like Manchester United and Chelsea are away at the minnows of Cluj and Nordsjaelland. Let's get straight to the team news...

Lionel Messi
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