Benfica came from behind to surprise Atletico Madrid with a 2-1 win on Wednesday, taking the lead in Group C of the Champions League.
Angel Correa put the hosts ahead from inside the area in the 23rd after a neat exchange of passes between Juan Fran and Antoine Griezmann, but Argentine midfielder Nicolas Gaitan equalized with a left-footed shot in the 36th and Goncalo Guedes put the Portuguese champions ahead after a fast break in the 51st.
With the victory at the Vicente Calderon Stadium, Benfica has six points from two rounds and opens a comfortable lead atop the group. Atletico has three points, while Turkey’s Galatasaray and Astana, which drew 2-2 in Kazakhstan earlier Wednesday, have one point each.
Atletico hosts Astana in the next round, while Benfica plays at Galatasaray.
”It was an incredible night for us,” Benfica coach Rui Vitoria said. ”But we know we still have a long way to go in front of us.”
Benfica, the two-time defending champion in Portugal, is trying to advance to the round of 16 only for the second time in its last eight Champions League campaigns.
Atletico Madrid, the 2014 runner-up in the European tournament, dominated much of the match and created most of the scoring opportunities, missing chance-after-chance while Benfica efficiently took advantage of its few prospects.
”We had our chances, we created opportunities,” Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone said. ”But we just couldn’t get it right in that last shot.”
Brazilian World Cup veteran goalkeeper Julio Cesar made several difficult saves to help his team come away from Madrid with the three points.
Benfica hadn’t scored in three consecutive away matches this season.
It was the third loss of the season for Atletico in eight matches, and the second at home. The other was a 2-1 setback against Barcelona in the Spanish league, when it also scored first and relinquished the lead. Atletico Madrid’s other loss was to Spanish league leader Villarreal last weekend.
Atletico had won 21 of the last 24 games, including all three in the group stage of last year last year’s Champions League, outscoring opponents 10-0.
Benfica issued a statement after the game ”apologizing to Atletico Madrid and its fans” for the bad behavior of a few of its fans who were at the Vicente Calderon and caused problems with the rival crowd.