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Benfica 2-0 Hapoel Tel Aviv: Report
Benfica put their poor domestic form to one side as they opened their Champions League Group B campaign with a comfortable 2-0 win at home to Hapoel Tel Aviv.
- Benfica 2-0 Hapoel Tel Aviv: As it happened
Jorge Jesus' Portuguese champions have lost three of the opening four matches in the Liga but were on course when their Brazil defender Luisao scored after 21 minutes.
Oscar Cardozo then added a second after 69 minutes to seal the points against a Hapoel side making their first appearance in the group stage.
Benfica looked to make an immediate impression against the rookie visitors and David Luiz curled a 20-yard shot wide before Oscar Cardozo forced a save from Vincent Enyeama.
The hosts' early pressure was rewarded with a goal after 21 minutes.
Carlos Martins made space on the right-hand side of the penalty area and delivered a cross which Brazil defender Luisao turned into the top-right corner.
Benfica goalkeeper Roberto needed to be on guard two minutes later to preserve his side's lead when Eran Zahavi's cross almost caught him out before he parried to safety.
It was a warning shot for the hosts who while dominant for the most part, with Nicolas Gaitan fizzing a shot over, were reliant on Roberto again after 35 minutes.
The Spanish shot-stopper had to be at his most athletic to tip over a fiercely-struck 20-yard drive from Dani Bondarv, as the Israelis threatened a first goal in the group phase.
Benfica needed a second goal to ease their nerves and Pablo Aimar saw his shot turned past the post by Enyeama before Martins shot straight at the Nigerian.
Javier Saviola shot weakly over after the break but the hosts got the second goal they were after with 21 minutes left to play.
Enyeama failed to hold onto a shot from Maxi Pereira after he surged through the away defence and Cardozo was on hand to supply the finish.
The home side searched for a third goal to reflect their dominance on the scoreboard with Saviola shooting over while Ruben Amorim was denied by Enyeama.
Hapoel almost grabbed a goal after 85 minutes that would have set up an interesting finale, but Toto Tamuz's drilled shot hit a post and deflected to safety.
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