Benfica made Borussia Dortmund pay for missing a host of chances, as the Portuguese side snatched a 1-0 win in their Champions League last-16 first leg in Lisbon on Tuesday thanks to forward Kostas Mitroglou’s 13th goal in his last 13 games.
Greece international Mitroglou flicked the ball into the net to open the scoring in the 48th minute and Benfica then held on against their misfiring opponents to take a slender lead into the second leg in Dortmund on March 8.
Benfica, who have now not conceded a goal at home for 383 minutes, kept another clean sheet thanks largely to keeper Ederson, who denied the Germans with a string of superb saves.
Dortmund, who had netted a record 21 times in the group stage, missed a second-half penalty through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who also squandered several other scoring chances on a night to forget for the Gabon striker.
“We ended up scoring a goal in a situation we had been working for,” said Benfica coach Rui Vitoria. “In order to play such teams one has to be prepared to suffer at the limit. We had our problems getting out of our own half to attack.
“Now we know what we have to do in the return leg. Scoring a goal there will have a huge impact,” the Portuguese said.
Benfica, who had striker Jonas ruled out through injury just before kickoff, got off to an explosive start but Dortmund began to dominate possession and gradually slowed the game down.
The visitors, looking to counter their lacklustre domestic form with European success, missed a huge chance when Aubameyang, the Bundesliga’s leading scorer, fired over the bar after an outstanding through ball from Ousmane Dembele in the 10th minute.
Benfica captain Luisao was making his 500th club appearance and was kept busy at the heart of the Benfica defence, with Dembele sneaking into the box and forcing a superb save from keeper Ederson in the 23rd.
Aubameyang then missed another good opportunity before the break and Benfica were quick out of the blocks again after the restart with Mitroglou doing well to control a Luisao header and then beating keeper Roman Buerki from close range.
Aubameyang almost drew Dortmund level in the 53rd and then had a penalty, awarded for a hand ball on the hour, saved by Benfica’s Brazilian keeper.
Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel put Aubameyang out of his misery by substituting him soon after and following a sensational save from Ederson with six minutes left, the hosts held on to celebrate victory.
“We cannot do much more than carve out these golden chances,” Tuchel told reporters. “We will now need efficiency in the return leg if we are to advance.”