The year is almost over but the League Cup is only starting for some of the Portuguese top teams. Yesterday, Benfica made their first appearance in a competition they have won for four times over the last five seasons and Nacional ended up beaten once again by the Lisbon side.
The match was balanced, with Benfica displaying more determination during the first half and being rewarded with an own goal by Nacional’s defender Edson Mexer. Nicolás Gaitán worked a curling cross from the right and Mexer deflected the ball into his own net when attempting to head it clear of danger.
The second half revealed a more daring Nacional team, eager to find the way to Jan Oblak’s net but Benfica’s keeper kept his side ahead with a remarkable save with half an hour to play.
Feeling his team was losing control of the match, Jorge Jesus replaced Miralem Sulejmani by Rúben Amorim and Nacional’s hopes for an equalizer quickly began to subside from that moment on.
Benfica are now in the lead of group D but Gil Vicente and Leixões are yet to play their first match.
Belenenses got off to a good start as well, beating Second League side Beira Mar by 1-0. Despite coming very close to concede a goal inside the first five minutes, the Blues from Restelo managed to take hold of the situation and overpower the visitors.
Home fans had to wait until minute 73, though, to see Icelander Helgi Daníelsson’s brilliant strike from mid-range hit the back of the net and settle the final score.
Belenenses share first place of group C with Braga and will play at Estoril in the next round.