Spartak was eliminated from the Champions League. It seems that Benfica did not even strain
Spartak lost to Benfica on aggregate with a score of 0: 4. Russia has lost another representative in the Champions League – now the team of Rui Vitoria will play in the group stage of the Europa League. And Benfica will face PSV in the Champions League playoffs.
Spartak started more cautiously than at home, where the team, according to Vitoria’s decision, was actively pressing from the first minutes. This time, the Portuguese coach of the Muscovites focused on preventing the opponent from freely using those players, due to whom Benfica created an advantage in Moscow. As part of the 4-4-2 tactical scheme, the flank midfielders Lomovitsky (left) and Bakaev (right) controlled the wingbacks (laterals, “eyebrows” – call it whatever you like) in positional attacks. Oporniki Zobnin and Umyarovwith the support of rather narrowly located extreme defenders, they in turn tried to close the free zones, into which the insiders of the Lisbon “eagles” would burst. In this situation, there was no need to talk about any high pressure. Against four or five players of the Benfica defense group, there were, in fact, only two forwards – Larsson and Ponce. Vitoria was hoping for quick counterattacks after tackles and interceptions in his own half of the field. Maybe it was worth playing in Moscow with an equal score, and not when it was required to play two goals.
Benfica could have safely rolled the ball from behind, enticing Spartak players, nevertheless, Jorge Jesus’ team played with initiative – they were looking for aggravating moves, possessing the ball. She herself periodically pressed aggressively. As if she needs to win. The tension at Maksimenko’s goal increased with every minute. Spartacus hardly kept the pace suggested by the Portuguese, they were not used to such a speed of thinking and movement of the ball in the RPL.
As a result, in the first half “Spartak”, with 36% of possession, struck only two hits, and the only hit on target happened just before the break. By the way, in that episode Bakaev played very outside the box – a great fellow. Benfica shot four times, but at the same time, surprisingly, they didn’t really bother Maksimenko (zero on target). In the most dangerous moments, the defenders blocked the ball. After 45 minutes of the game, the light for Spartak at Estadio da Luz did not go out – there was still hope, albeit a ghostly one.
After the break, “Spartak” tried to run out on the other side with a large number of players. There was nothing to lose, which, as we remember, Vitoria spoke about even before the start of the confrontation with Benfica. With a bit of luck, the Moscow team could have scored in the very first attack, when a player of the Lisbon Eagles waved past the ball and Bakaev flew to Vlachodimos’s penalty area. Unfortunately, this time Zelimkhan ruined the moment. Benfica scored at the end of an hour of the match. The home team’s attackers managed to turn the red-and-white defenders to face the goal: panic began, the guests began to lose ground and João Mario said hello to Spartak from the railroad society.
It was then that the coach of Spartak remembered about the substitutes. Two appeared on the field at once – Mirzov and Kral. Fresh legs helped the red-white to earn the first corner in the 73rd minute. We remember that under Vitoria, the team managed to play interesting set pieces, especially in pre-season sparring, but this rare chance was not used on “da Lush”. Georges Jesus has such people in defense that you can’t just push through the air.
The hosts calmly brought the matter to victory. Moreover, in the end, the Ukrainian newcomer of the Lisbon Eagles Roman Yaremchuk scored a funny goal after Ayrton’s mistake and two ricochets. It seems that Benfica today did not even strain, but just enjoyed their game. In the second half, the hosts struck four shots, and the guests – three (on target – 2: 1).
At this point, Spartak finished their performance in the Champions League. Portugal has received more points in the UEFA club rankings, and we continue to lag behind it. In the most prestigious European Cup, we have only one club left – Zenit: it’s good that at least the RPL champion is still starting from the group stage.