BUCHAREST - Brazilian Bruno Cesar scored
late in the first half to give Benfica a well-deserved 1-0 win
over Romanian debutants Otelul Galati at the National Arena in
Bucharest in their Champions League Group C clash on Tuesday.
He calmly slotted what turned out to be the winner five
minutes before the interval although the Portuguese side were
guilty of not finishing off their opponents and were nearly made
to suffer in the final minutes.
"We were strong in terms of ball possession and commanded
the match," coach Jorge Jesus said.
"Otelul created very few chances and only scared us close to
the 90 minutes. When a team is winning by just 1-0 they are
always subject to conceding a draw at the end in a counter or a
The visitors, who reigned supreme in Europe in 1961 and
1962, took the initiative from the first whistle as they
displayed the confidence of a team unbeaten in 12 matches in all
competitions this season.
Lively Bruno Cesar nearly opened the scoring but his
thunderous shot from the edge of the penalty area went just wide
after Otelul's defence failed to clear a long throw-in.
The Brazilian, however, gave keeper Branko Grahovac no
chance when he finished cooly with Argentine Nicolas Gaitan the
Benfica, who drew 1-1 against Manchester United in their
opening match, continued to press forward in the second half
with Grahovac denying Javier Saviola and in-form Paraguay
striker Oskar Cardozo.
Romanian champions Otelul, seeking their first Champions
League point, were toothless in attack, hardly challenging
opposing goalkeeper Artur, who only had to parry a rasping
long-range shot from Ioan Filip after the break.
"We could have killed the game before and all that late
suffering was unnecessary," said goal scorer Bruno Cesar.
The home side, who have not conceded a goal in any of their
last three European home games, could have snatched a point in
the dying minutes but defender Milan Perendija missed the target
with a shot from in front of goal.
"Defeat is defeat, I can't be satisfied because we have made
a lot of mistakes and at this level that is not allowed," Otelul
coach Dorinel Munteanu, Romania's most capped international,
told local state television TVR.
"We are not in the same shape we were last year for various
reasons. Today we lacked courage," he added.
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