- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 16, 2016

LISBON, Portugal (AP) - Jonas scored in added time to give Benfica a dramatic 1-0 win over 10-man Zenit St. Petersburg in the Champions League on Tuesday, heading home a free kick awarded after Domenico Criscito was shown a red card for the visitors.

Brazilian striker Jonas, Benfica’s and the Portuguese league’s top scorer, netted for the 26th time this season with a glancing header from a free kick in 91st minute.

That was awarded after Criscito picked up his second yellow card of the game for a foul on Andre Almeida.

Neither team really shone in the first leg, last 16 game at the Stadium of Light in Lisbon, though the win spared Benfica what looked likely to be a goalless draw and a tough time in Russia.

Zenit, despite not playing an official game since December due to its domestic league’s winter layoff, produced a confident performance to keep Benfica at bay for 90 minutes.

Zenit’s Portuguese coach Andre Villas-Boas rued what he saw as a missed chance to return to Russia with a blank scoresheet. “We’ll need to create more chances than today,” he said. “We held on well … We weren’t as good in the second half.”

“It was a fair result,” Benfica coach Rui Vitoria said. “We wanted a bigger win, but we didn’t concede a goal and that’s important.”

Benfica is looking to advance from the last 16 for the first time in four years, while Zenit is pursuing its first quarterfinal appearance.

In Tuesday’s other Champions League game, Paris Saint-Germain beat Chelsea 2-1.

Benfica had most of the possession but Argentine playmaker Nicolas Gaitan’s neat footwork went nowhere against the visitor’s composed defense.

With Hulk tightly marked, Zenit turned to Danny’s pace to try and break through, without success.

Benfica looked dangerous in the 18th as Almeida broke down the right but when he turned the ball inside, Pizzi hesitated before attempting a weak chip over goalkeeper Yuri Lodygin.

At the other end, Axel Witsel produced a low shot in the 52nd shot that forced Benfica keeper Julio Cesar to dive quickly down to his right.

With 20 minutes to go, Gaitan beat two defenders before blasting the ball against Lodygin from short range.

Just as the match looked destined to finish in deadlock, Jonas rose to give Benfica a valuable lead for the second leg in three weeks’ time.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide