Benfica Scrape Past Alkmaar
Eduardo Slavio's strike secured a hard-fought 1-0 win for Benfica over AZ Alkmaar in their UEFA Europa League quarter-final first leg clash at the AFAS Stadion.
Roy Beerens could have given the hosts the perfect start after just two minutes but the winger's strike from distance drew a fine stop from Artur Gusmao.
Beerens came close three minutes later as his curling effort from a tight angle flew inches wide of the of the left-hand post.
Alkmaar's Viktor Elm was next to have a go from distance in the 12th minute but the midfielder fired his effort well wide of the target.
The visitors registered their first shot of the half in the 23rd minute as Rodrigo blasted an effort high and wide from distance.
Guilherme Siqueira tried his luck from distance in the 40th minute but the Benfica fullback fired his effort just over the bar.
Gusmao came to Benfica's rescue just before the halftime break to keep out Steven Berghuis' powerful effort from the edge of the area.
The visitors got off to perfect start in the second half as Eduardo Salvio's composed finish into the bottom corner gave Benfica a surprising lead.
That goal sparked the home side into life and Elm nearly leveled matters six minutes later but the midfielder's header forced Gusmao into a impressive save.
At the other end, Rodrigo should have doubled Benfica's lead but the striker failed to direct his header past Esteban Alvarado from six-yards out.
Alkmaar were restricted to long range efforts as the second half went on with Beerens coming close in the 70th minute, as his effort went inches wide of the left-hand post.
Avarado came to Alkmaar's rescue in the 81st minute to brilliantly deny Lima's header from six-yards out, after the striker was picked out by Noclas Gaitan.
The hosts failed to create any openings in the final stages, as Benfica held on for the hard-fought victory.