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Manchester United complete £31 million signing of Lindelof

June 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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Manchester United on Wednesday completed the signing of Swedish international centre-back Victor Lindelof from Benfica for a fee believed to be £31 million (35m euros, $39.6m), the English Premier League side announced.

Lindelof

“I am thrilled to be joining Manchester United,” said the 22-year-old after penning a four-year deal.

“I have enjoyed my time at Benfica enormously and I have learned a lot there. But I’m looking forward to playing in the Premier League at Old Trafford and for Jose Mourinho.”

Lindelof joined Benfica from home-town club Vasteras SK in 2012 and won three Portuguese league titles and two Portuguese Cups during his time in Lisbon.

Lindelof is the second centre-back signed by United manager Mourinho following last year’s capture of Ivory Coast international Eric Bailly from Villarreal.

Mourinho also has England pair Chris Smalling and Phil Jones at his disposal, along with Argentina international Marcos Rojo, while Dutch utility man Daley Blind has slotted into central defence on occasion.

“Victor is a very talented young player, who has a great future ahead of him at United,” said Mourinho on Wednesday.

“Our season last year showed us that we need options and quality to add depth to the squad and Victor is the first to join us this summer. I know that our fantastic group of players will welcome him as one of us.”

Lindelof is United’s first new signing of the summer as they build up towards a Champions League campaign next season.

He told MUTV that he was ready to fight for his place in the team.

“Of course there are some great players here in my position,” said the Swede.

“I’m here to do my best to try to help the team as much as I can and it’s always good to have other good players around you. When you have that, you get better as well.

“I think every move means you have to adapt to a new environment but I feel comfortable in myself. I trust myself and it’s going to be tough but I’m looking forward to it.

“I always had a dream of coming here to play in the Premier League so, for me, it’s a dream come true.”

United are also in the market for a striker, having included Zlatan Ibrahimovic, currently sidelined by a serious knee injury, on their list of players to be released.

Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata is one name linked with a move to Old Trafford.

His agent said earlier this week that United had lodged a “very important offer” with the Spanish giants to try to bring him to Manchester.

Man City complete move for goalkeeper Ederson

June 8, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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Manchester City have completed the signing of Brazilian goalkeeper Ederson from Benfica, the Premier League club announced on Thursday.

Ederson

The announcement came a week after Benfica said they had agreed to sell the 23-year-old to City for 40 million euros ($45 million, £34.7 million), making him the second most expensive goalkeeper ever.

Ederson will officially become a City player on July 1. City did not disclose the length of his contract.

“I like everything about Manchester City,” Ederson said in quotes published on the City website.

“This is a great club, they have amazing fans and they play splendid football. I have always had the dream to play in English football and now I’m going to make it true.

“With Pep Guardiola, City are growing more and more. He is putting in place a young team for the future. Those were important factors in making my decision.”

In signing Ederson, City manager Guardiola hopes to have put an end to the goalkeeping saga that plagued his first season at the Etihad Stadium.

Guardiola allowed Joe Hart to join Torino on loan, but Hart’s replacement, Claudio Bravo, proved inadequate and back-up goalkeeper Willy Caballero ended the campaign as City’s number one.

Ederson becomes the most expensive goalkeeper since Gianluigi Buffon joined Juventus from Parma for 53 million euros in 2001.

He began his career with home-town club Sao Paulo and spent time in Benfica’s youth system before launching his senior career with Portuguese club Ribeirao.

After a three-year spell with Rio Ave, he returned to Benfica in 2015.

Ederson only became Benfica’s first-choice goalkeeper last season and helped the club to a league and Portuguese Cup double.

He is uncapped at senior level, but was named in Brazil’s squad for their upcoming friendlies against Argentina and Australia in Melbourne.

“We are delighted to bring Ederson to Manchester City,” said City’s director of football Txiki Begiristain.

“He is one of the best young goalkeepers in Europe and he is an important addition to the squad for next season and the coming seasons.”

Ederson is City’s second major signing of the close season following the £43 million ($55.7 million, 49.6 million euros) capture of Portuguese playmaker Bernardo Silva from French champions Monaco.

Caballero, Pablo Zabaleta, Bacary Sagna, Gael Clichy and Jesus Navas have all been allowed to leave as Guardiola reshapes a squad that finished 15 points below champions Chelsea in third place.

Ruthless Bayern reach fifth CL semi in a row

April 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Bayern Munich booked their fifth successive Champions League semi-final spot with a 2-2 draw at Benfica on Wednesday to seal a 3-2 aggregate victory that kept the Germans on course for a treble of titles.

Football Soccer - Benfica v Bayern Munich - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Second Leg - Estadio da Luz - 13/4/16 Bayern Munich's Arturo Vidal celebrates scoring their first goal Reuters / Paul Hanna Livepic

Arturo Vidal’s 38th-minute goal cancelled out the hosts’ early lead through Raul Jimenez’s header and Thomas Mueller’s volley early in the second half eased their nerves.

The Portuguese side, vying for their first semi-final in more than a quarter of a century, managed a late equaliser through Talisca but still suffered their fourth elimination in their fourth European tie against Bayern.

The Bavarians will face Real Madrid, city rivals Atletico, who eliminated holders Barcelona, or England’s Manchester City in the last four.

“It was a sensational atmosphere but it was hard work,” said Bayern captain Philipp Lahm, who played his 103rd Champions League game to become joint leader in Germany along with former Bayern keeper Oliver Kahn.

“We had to be more precise than in the first game, close the spaces between midfield and defence and we did it better tonight. We remained calm after the goal and worked hard,” said Lahm.

Benfica were without top strikers Jonas, Gaitan and Kostas Mitroglou through suspension or injury and were quickly on the back foot as expected with the Germans controlling 70 percent of possession.

Mueller had the Germans’ first good chance but fired wide after 15 minutes with Benfica’s double backline working extremely hard.

“That double line was sometimes even three lines. They were a very difficult opponent,” said Bayern coach Guardiola.

The hosts struck following a quick break when Eliseu found space to cross from the left and Jimenez charged past two defenders to score with a flying header.

The Mexican went close to adding another but Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer did well to parry his shot.

The Bavarians looked briefly rattled by the setback but quickly recovered when Vidal, who scored the winner in the first leg, drilled in the equaliser after perfectly timing his shot from keeper Ederson’s clearance.

Guardiola had surprisingly kept top scorer Robert Lewandowski on the bench and Mueller took over his role, slipping in like a natural centre forward and volleying in a Martinez assist.

Bayern, also chasing a record fourth straight Bundesliga crown as well as the German Cup, did not let up and Douglas Costa’ powerful shot hit the post on the hour.

Martinez was lucky not to be sent off for a last-man foul and Benfica coach Rui Vitoria was sent to the stands over the referee’s decision to book the Spaniard.

But Talisca gave him something to smile about, curling the resulting free kick past Neuer to cap a battling performance against the German giants.

“We fought until the end, so I have to congratulate my players and these amazing supporters,” said the Portuguese coach.

“We faced a very powerful team that knows how to dictate the pace of the game. We promised we would go eye to eye with Bayern and we did so.”

Benfica coach faces another test of ability to improvise

April 12, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Benfica coach Rui Vitoria faces another test of his powers of improvisation as he tries to patch up a team without topscorer Jonas against Bayern Munich on Wednesday.

Football Soccer - Bayern Munich v Benfica - UEFA Champions League Quarter-finals First leg - Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany - 05/04/16 Benfica's coach Rui Vitoria during the match REUTERS/MICHAEL DALDER

The Portuguese champions and league leaders were beaten 1-0 in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final last week, a narrow enough margin to give them a chance of producing a major upset at the Stadium of Light.

But with Brazilian marksman Jonas suspended following three yellow cards, the likelihood of beating Bayern for the first time after seven failed attempts and ending a 26-year wait since Benfica’s last semi-finals appearance looks more remote.

The 31-year-old has scored 30 goals in only 29 Portuguese league appearances this season, plus two in his nine Champions League outings including a crucial stoppage-time winner at home to Zenit St Petersburg in the previous round.

But Vitoria, in his first season at Benfica, has already proved he can produce a winning team from a squad which lacks the strength-in-depth of elite European teams such as Bayern.

Mexican forward Raul Jimenez, who usually starts on the bench, might get a chance to finally partner Kostas Mitroglou on Wednesday, although Vitoria could move midfielder Nicolas Gaitan into attack and reshuffle his midfield.

But Vitoria was not fretting.

“We’re not going to sit here and cry over something we cannot control,” he said. “This is just an opportunity for someone else and whoever plays will certainly do a great job.

“We are going to put out a competitive team to face them on equal terms, hand for hand, centimetre by centimetre.”

Vitoria responded to an injury crisis in the centre of Benfica’s defence by bringing in the previously untried Victor Lindelof. The 21-year-old Swede has responded with superb play, helping Benfica win 20 of their last 22 games.

Vitoria also gave midfielder Renato Sanches his professional debut in October with media reports saying that the 18-year-old now has a 35-million-euro price tag and is attracting interest from some of Europe’s top clubs.

He also had no hesitation in giving 22-year-old goalkeeper Ederson his Champions League debut away to Zenit St Petersburg after Julio Cesar was injured.

Bayern, who have reached the semi-finals for the last four seasons, remain the clear favourites.

Pep Guardiola’s side have been typically dominant this season with a seven-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga and only three defeats all season.

The Bavarians’ record also bodes badly for Benfica. They have faced Portuguese sides nine times in European knockout ties and won them all.

Bayern edge resolute Benfica with early Vidal goal

April 6, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Bayern Munich will take a slender lead into the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Benfica after Arturo Vidal’s early goal earned a 1-0 win over the resolute Portuguese side on Tuesday.

Football Soccer - Bayern Munich v Benfica - UEFA Champions League Quarter-finals First leg - Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany - 05/04/16 Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski in action with Benfica's goalkeeper Ederson REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

Benfica, aiming to reach the European Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1990, have conceded 13 goals in their three previous visits to Bayern and must have feared the worst when Vidal headed home after two minutes.

But the floodgates failed to open after that as the visiting defence stood firm on a frustrating evening for the hosts who beat Benfica’s arch-rivals Porto 6-1 at home at the same stage of the competition last season.

Five-times European champions Bayern had also found goals easy to come by in the Champions League this season, blasting 18 in their previous four home matches, but came up against some dogged defending as they pushed to extend their advantage.

Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski had a superb chance to add a second in the dying stages but bizarrely opted to try and pass to Philipp Lahm when through on goal and it was wasted.

“We only had a few good chances,” said Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. “Benfica’s defence did a good job, their four-man backline works pretty well. In the end we missed the chance to score a second goal but sometimes a 1-0 has to be enough.”

Bayern got off to the perfect start when Chilean Vidal got on the end of Juan Bernat’s cross to head past keeper Ederson.

That was not the cue, however, for the expected goal rush as Benfica, twice European champions in the 1960s, kept possession despite creating few real chances.

They could, however, have inflicted a punishing blow on the hosts midway through the second half when Jonas’s shot cannoned back of Bayern’s Javi Martinez when the goal was gaping.

Benfica, who came into the game in a rich vein of form having won 19 of their previous 20 games in all competitions, will believe they can cause an upset in next Wednesday’s return.

To do so they will have to break their duck against Bayern after Tuesday’s result made it five defeats and two draws in seven meetings with the Bavarians.

“We knew how difficult it is to play here against Bayern but when we had possession, we created our chances,” said Jonas. “We could have left with a better result but the tie is open.”

Benfica must use makeshift defence against Zenit

March 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Benfica will field a makeshift rearguard when they travel to one of their least favourite hunting grounds to defend a 1-0 Champions League lead at Zenit St Petersburg on Wednesday.

Football Soccer - Benfica training - Champions League - Seixal, Portugal - 15/02/16 Benfica's coach Rui Vitoria attends a training session. REUTERS/RAFAEL MARCHANTE -

The Primeira Liga winners are missing three central defenders plus goalkeeper Julio Cesar for the last-16 second leg at the Petrovskiy Stadium.

Luisao and Lisandro Lopez are injured and Jardel is suspended. That leaves Victor Lindelof, who started the season as a reserve, as the only recognised central defender in the squad.

Right back Andre Almeida is also banned while Julio Cesar will be replaced by fellow Brazilian Ederson because of a thigh injury.

Benfica’s record of one win, two draws and four defeats in seven visits to Russia hardly augurs well either. Their only victory came 20 years ago when they beat Lokomotiv Moscow 3-2 in the now-defunct European Cup Winners’ Cup.

Coach Rui Vitoria, however, is buoyed by Saturday’s 1-0 triumph at Sporting that sent his side to the top of the Portuguese league ahead of their neighbours.

“It’s always better to work from the base of a win,” he said.

Benfica have notched 13 victories in 14 matches this year with only a league defeat against arch-rivals Porto interrupting the sequence.

Vitoria has no worries in attack where striker Jonas has scored 28 goals in 35 games in all competitions and is enjoying the best season of his career at the age of 31.

Zenit boss Andre Villas-Boas, who faced Benfica seven times as coach of Portuguese rivals Academica Coimbra and Porto, said the supporters could lift his side to victory and a first-ever quarter-final place.

“We have the advantage going into the return leg, by this I mean our supporters,” said the former Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur supremo.

“I am sure the stadium will be packed and they will create an atmosphere which will help the team to a new level.

“We are sure we can overcome the deficit,” added the Portuguese. “Reaching the quarter-finals of the Champions League is our dream and this could be a very important event for Russian football.”

Jonas snatches stoppage-time win for Benfica over Zenit

February 17, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Jonas struck with a stoppage-time header to end 90 minutes of frustration for Benfica as they beat an ultra-cautious Zenit St Petersburg 1-0 at home in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday.

Football Soccer - Benfica v Zenit St. Petersburg - Champions League - Luz stadium, Lisbon, Portugal - 16/02/16. Benfica's Nico Gaitan shoots during the soccer match against Zenit St. Petersburg. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante

The Russian champions, playing their first competitive match since Dec. 9, came to Lisbon with the clear intention of forcing a draw and settling the tie in what are likely to be freezing conditions at the Petrovskiy stadium on March 9.

The plan, however, began to unravel when Zenit defender Domenico Criscito fouled Andre Almeida and was sent off after a second booking with the game moving into added time.

Nicolas Gaitan floated the resulting free kick into the area and the Stadium of Light erupted as Jonas, the Portuguese league’s topscorer with 23 goals, outjumped the defence to send his header past Yuri Lodygin.

“This late goal might make our job easier in Russia, because they will have to go for it and attack from the start and we will have the possibility of exploiting the spaces they will open,” said Benfica goalkeeper Julio Cesar.

The first half, with Zenit unwilling to push forward and Benfica still looking edgy after their 2-1 home defeat by arch-rivals Porto on Friday, was an unsightly slog with 16 fouls, seven offsides and four bookings.

Jonas, who is enjoying the best season of his career at the age of 31, had the best first-half effort when he unleashed a shot from the edge of the area but a faint touch by Nicolas Lombaerts diverted the ball centimetres wide of the post.

Zenit, who have never gone beyond this stage in the competition, had to wait until the 36th minute for their first shot on goal but Hulk, who got little change out of Benfica’s Eliseu, fired a low effort wide from 25 metres.

Twice European champions Benfica, who last reached the quarter-finals in 2012 after beating Zenit, came to life in the second half but still struggled to create chances despite enjoying more than 60 percent of the possession.

Gaitan had their best effort when he skipped past a defender but saw his shot stopped at point-blank range by Lodygin.

Jonas’s goal was no more than Benfica deserved and they nearly added a second in stoppage time when Andreas Samaris sent a powerful effort arrowing towards the corner, only to see it parried away by Lodygin.

Zenit only genuinely tested Julio Cesar once, with an Axel Witsel effort early in the second half.

Benfica top Group C after edging Galatasaray

November 4, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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Benfica secured a 2-1 win over visitors Galatasaray with second-half goals from Jonas and captain Luisao but finished with 10 men in their Champions League Group C clash on Tuesday.

Benfica's Jonas Oliveira celebrates his goal against Galatasaray during their Champions League Group C soccer match at Luz stadium in Lisbon, Portugal, November 3, 2015. REUTERS/RAFAEL MARCHANTE

Benfica are top with nine points from four matches above Atletico Madrid on seven, after they drew 0-0 at Astana, who have two. Galatasaray are third on four points.

Gaitan was dismissed in the 85th minute for a second yellow card after a foul and will miss the next match against Astana.

Jonas opened the scoring for the Portuguese with his first goal in the competition this season after the ball came to him near the penalty spot after 52 minutes.

Six minutes later, the Istanbul side equalised when Lukas Podolski fired past Julio Cesar from inside the box.

Benfica went back in front when long-serving captain Luisao fired into the top corner from inside the area in the 67th.

Galatasaray tried hard to level the scores again and created several chances but failed to find the net.

Benfica battle back to claim 2-1 win at Atletico

October 1, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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Benfica seized control of Champions League Group C when they fought back from a goal down to secure an impressive 2-1 win at 2014 runners-up Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.

Atletico Madrid's goalkeeper Jan Oblak (R) and Jose Maria Gimenez after conceding the first against Benfica during their Champions League group C soccer match at Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid, Spain, September 30, 2015. REUTERS/Juan Medina

Angel Correa fired Atletico ahead in the 23rd minute at the Calderon when Antoine Griezmann cushioned a delightful pass into his path and he cracked the ball past Julio Cesar from close range.

Nicolas Gaitan levelled for the visitors in the 36th minute, smashing a first-time shot through a crowd of players, and teenager Goncalo Guedes made it 2-1 six minutes into the second half when he converted a Gaitan cross at the far post.

They were the first goals Atletico had conceded at the Calderon in Europe’s elite club competition in more than 700 minutes and prevented them from setting a Champions League record of eight consecutive home clean sheets.

Diego Simeone’s side have won 21 of their last 25 European matches at home and it was their first defeat since a 2-0 reverse to Rubin Kazan in the Europa League last 32 in 2013.

With two matches played, Benfica top the section with a maximum six points, with Atletico in second place on three. Astana and Galatasaray each have one point after they drew 2-2 in Kazakhstan earlier on Wednesday.

The game in the Spanish capital, the first competitive meeting between the sides, was marred by Benfica fans throwing flares towards the Atletico supporters after Gaitan’s equaliser.

Digne’s late strike lifts PSG over Benfica

July 19, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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Lucas Digne scored in the 79th minute to lift French champions Paris Saint-Germain to a 3-2 victory over Benfica in the International Champions Cup friendly tournament.

 Digne

Digne unleashed a powerful left-footed shot that substitute goalkeeper Paulo Lopes could barely get a hand to, securing the victory before a crowd of 17,843 at BMO Field, home of Major League Soccer’s Toronto FC.

Teenaged midfielder Jean-Kevin Augustin in the 29th minute and Brazil’s Lucas Moura from the penalty spot in the 64th also scored for Paris Saint-Germain, while Brazilians Anderson Talisca and Jonas scored for the Portuguese champions.

Talisca’s 34th-minute strike made it 1-1, while Jonas connected in the 42nd minute to put Benfica ahead.

After a clumsy challenge by Benfica’s Jardel brought Christophe Nkunku down in the box, Moura equalized, converting the ensuing penalty with a right-footed shot that saw Benfica keeper Julio Cesar dive the wrong way.

The Portuguese side nearly grabbed an equalizer in the 87th, but Nelson Oliveira’s shot was pushed over the ball by goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu.

PSG manager Laurent Blanc, still resting many of his top players, was pleased with the victory by a youthful squad.

“The young players played well,” he said.

Based in New Jersey for their North American visit, PSG next play Fiorentina on Tuesday before matches against Chelsea and Manchester United.

Benfica will play Fiorentina, Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls and Mexico’s Club America.

Video: French lesson for Benfica as Sanogo hits four for Arsenal

August 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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(Reuters) – New signing Alexis Sanchez made his first appearance in Arsenal’s colours on Saturday but French striker Yaya Sanogo stole the limelight with a four-goal blast in a 5-1 victory over Benfica in the pre-season Emirates Cup.

Chile forward Sanchez, signed for around 35 million pounds from Barcelona last month, came on as a late substitute but by then Sanogo and Costa Rica striker Joel Campbell had done the damage.

The 21-year-old Sanogo has yet to start a Premier League game since joining from Auxerre in July 2013 while Campbell has spent his entire Arsenal career on loan at Lorient, Real Betis and Olympiakos Piraeus.

However, they showed on Saturday at The Emirates stadium that manager Arsene Wenger will have plenty of attacking options this season.

“A headache is when they don’t play well,” Wenger told reporters of a potential selection dilemma as the new season looms.

“We have some decisions to make when everybody plays well, that’s true. But when everybody plays well that’s what we want.

“Sanogo was injured for basically two years before he came to us. If you look at his goalscoring record before he got injured, it is quite frightening,” said Wenger.

“He has a big future here. He is 21, he has something of (former Arsenal striker Emmanuel) Adebayor. He has a strong body, similar strengths but technical skill as well.

“Campbell has done very well,” added Wenger. “I like the way he plays, he’s good on the ball…he has a good balance between individual skill and collective attitude – that’s not easy to find.”

Sanogo scored three times before halftime and grabbed his fourth in the 50th minute after Aaron Ramsey’s shot was saved by Benfica keeper Moraes Artur.

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