Jonas scored a late winner as Benfica defeated Zenit 1-0 in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League round of 16 match played this evening.
Zenit manager Andre Vilas Boas set up his team to be defensively solid and play on a counter against the home side and they executed it perfectly in the first half.
The away side kept it tight and made it very difficult for Benfica to find a shot on target. Captain Nicholas Gaitan showed some amazing trickery to find space for striker Pizzi who arrived on the edge of the box but his shot was off target.
Zenit midfielder Witsel received the first yellow of the game but it was Benfica’s yellow that hurts the most as Jardel will miss the return leg in Russia. It was a difficult night for both supporters as they endured a first half without clear cut openings.
The second half was tighter as the away Zenit sat deep even more but Gaitan created the best chance of the game when he faked a defender and had only the goalkeeper to beat but his shot was too direct for an easy save.
Zenit left-back Criscito received a harsh second yellow and was sent off – Jonas headed in the resultant freekick for a late winner.
The game ended 1-0 in favour of the Portuguese and may go down as the most boring UEFA Champions League game this season.
Chelsea, Valencia,Manchester United and Porto are among 13 teams competing for the seven unclaimed places in the UEFA Champions League knockout phase on 8 and 9 December.
Seven of the 16 places in the UEFA Champions League knockout phase will be decided when the eight groups end on 8 and 9 December, with Manchester United and Porto among 13 teams still in the running to join the nine already qualified. Meanwhile, seven other clubs have hopes of grabbing UEFA Europa League round of 32 slots. Here are the possible permutations.
Qualified teams: Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, Atlético Madrid, Benfica, Juventus, Manchester City, Barcelona, Bayern München, Zenit
Can qualify: Wolfsburg*, Manchester United*, PSV Eindhoven, Roma, Leverkusen, BATE Borisov, Olympiacos*, Arsenal*, Porto*, Chelsea*, Dynamo Kyiv*, Gent*, Valencia*
*Assured top-three finish
Can finish third: Shakhtar Donetsk, Malmö, CSKA Moskva, Galatasaray, Astana, Borussia Mönchengladbach, Sevilla
Out of Europe: Dinamo Zagreb, Maccabi Tel-Aviv, Lyon
Group A: Real Madrid (13 points, qualified) v Malmö (3), Paris Saint-Germain (10, qualified) v Shakhtar Donetsk (3)
Madrid have won the group, Paris will finish second.
Shakhtar lead Malmö on head-to-head so will finish third with a win, or as long as they at least match the Swedish side’s points tally.
Group B: PSV Eindhoven (7) v CSKA Moskva (4), Wolfsburg (9) v Manchester United (8)
Wolfsburg will be through with a draw and will definitely clinch first place with a win.
United will go through and win the group with a victory.
PSV are through with a win, or with a draw if United lose thanks to their head-to-head superiority over the Red Devils. If PSV win and the other game is drawn, PSV and Wolfsburg will be split for first place on overall goal difference as their head-to-head is equal.
CSKA will finish third ahead of PSV on head-to-head with victory.
Group C: Benfica (10, qualified) v Atlético Madrid (10, qualified), Galatasaray (4) v Astana (3)
Benfica and Atlético are through; Benfica will finish top with a win or draw.
Astana must win in Turkey to pip Galatasaray to third.
Group D: Manchester City (9, qualified) v Borussia Mönchengladbach (5), Sevilla (3) v Juventus (11, qualified)
Juventus will only miss out on first place if they lose and City win.
Sevilla have a superior head-to-head over Borussia so the Spanish side will finish third if they win and Mönchengladbach fail to.
Group E: Bayer Leverkusen (5) v Barcelona (13, qualified), Roma (5) v BATE Borisov (4)
Barcelona have won the group.
Roma lead Leverkusen on head-to-head so will go through to last 16 with victory.
Leverkusen need to win and hope Roma do not gain victory to finish in the top two. A draw would confirm Leverkusen in third regardless of the other result.
BATE must win to stay in Europe and to finish second must hope Leverkusen do not win.
Group F: Olympiacos (9) v Arsenal (6), Dinamo Zagreb (3) v Bayern München (12, qualified)
Bayern have won the group.
Olympiacos won 3-2 at Arsenal so the Gunners must ‘better’ that win in Greece to overtake their hosts on head-to-head (for which away goals do count). A 3-2 win would also be good enough for Arsenal to go through on overall goal difference so in practice they would go through with any win apart from 1-0 or 2-1.
Dinamo are out of Europe.
Group G: Chelsea (10) v Porto (10), Dynamo Kyiv (8) v Maccabi Tel-Aviv (0)
The winner of Chelsea v Porto wins the group. Porto beat Chelsea 2-1 on matchday two so will top the group with a draw should Dynamo not win.
Chelsea will be through in second place with a draw.
Dynamo will be through with a win; if the other game is drawn, the three teams will be split on goal difference in matches between the three teams, meaning Dynamo would finish first, Chelsea second and Porto third. Maccabi are out of Europe.
Group H: Gent (7) v Zenit (15, qualified), Valencia (6) v Lyon (1)
Zenit have won the group. If they win and Valencia do not, Zenit will win the group by a competition record-equalling 11-point margin.
Gent will go through with a win or if Valencia fail to win (Gent have superior head-to-head). Valencia therefore must win and hope Gent do not, though both are assured at least third place.
Lyon are out of Europe.