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What a Thrilling Match and an Unexpected Turn of Events to Conclude the Opening Round of the Championship! The reigning champions, Benfica, kicked off their title defense on a disappointing note, succumbing to a 2-3 defeat against Boavista at the Bessa Stadium.
The Eagles were taken by surprise by an inspired Boavista side, who were trailing at halftime but managed to level the score twice and complete a dramatic comeback in injury time. Bozenik emerged as the hero of the night for the ‘axadrezados’ (chess players) with two crucial goals, the opener and the decisive winner. Bruno Lourenço also contributed by converting a penalty. On the Benfica side, who opened the scoring with Di María’s goal, Rafa showcased his prowess with a goal, an assist, and even hitting the post.
Boavista started the game with fierce determination, aiming to push Benfica back into their own half. The initial fifteen minutes saw the Boavista players pressing higher, although they struggled to test Vlachodimos in the Benfica goal.
However, the aggressive pressing left gaps in Boavista’s defense, and in one such lapse, Rafa capitalized on a mistake by Rodrigo Abascal, initiating a swift counter-attack and setting up Di María, who comfortably slotted the ball into the empty net. This proved to be the highlight of the first half. Subsequently, Boavista adopted a more cautious approach to avoid conceding space, leading to a period of Benfica struggling to create meaningful chances due to inaccurate passes.
At the 50-minute mark, Abascal fell victim to a strong challenge from Musa, resulting in the Croatian player being shown a straight red card. Schmidt promptly replaced Di María with Morato in defense. However, from the resulting free-kick, Boavista equalized through Bozenik, adding to Benfica’s woes.
With ample time left on the clock, Benfica refused to back down. Despite being a player down, they managed to regain the lead, with Rafa heading in a goal after successive attempts by Kokçu and João Neves.
Just when Benfica seemed to be in control, another defensive lapse occurred. This time, Vlachodimos arrived late in an attempt to make a tackle, resulting in António Silva fouling De Santis and conceding a penalty, which Bruno Lourenço confidently converted.
In a last-ditch effort, Neres hit the post again from a corner kick, but it was the home team that secured victory in injury time. Pedro Malheiro won the ball and found Bozenik in a favorable position to score his third.
An electrifying match that handed Petit his inaugural coaching victory against Benfica.