Teenage Chelsea summer target helps Benfica to added time victory


Lazar Markovic grabbed the equaliser in the 91st minute, before Lima scored the winner two minutes later for Benfica yesterday.

Toward the end of last season it looked like Benfica were on the verge of a historic treble. Cruising in the Primeira Liga, in the Portuguese Cup final and Europa League final - talk was of a treble, at least the double.

In the end they did not win a thing, as one of the most cataclysmic end of season melt-downs ever witnessed saw them throw it all away.

They allowed their fierce rivals Porto to usurp them in the league after conceding a last minute goal from Kelvin at the Estadio do Dragao in May. They then went on to lose an enthralling Europa League final to Chelsea, but perhaps most humiliating, they were defeated by Vitoria Guimares in the Portuguese Cup final, throwing away a 1-0 lead with two Vitoria goals in the space of two minutes.

And last week it seemed as though those woes would continue.

They were defeated on the opening day of the season at Maritimo, as fans began to worry that their rut was something more permanent.

So this weekend, when they hosted Gil Vicente at the Estadio they knew they needed a big result - especially with the Lisbon derby a week around the corner against Sporting Lisbon. Benfica fans can forgive many things; defeat to Sporting is not one of them.

But for a long while it seemed as if their disastrous start to the season was set to continue - as Gil Vicente took a shock lead through Diogo Viana in the 70th minute.

And for 20 minutes it seemed as if that was it, Benfica had been beaten once again and were on the verge of one of their worst ever starts to a Primeira Liga campaign.

Then in the 90th minute, the day was saved by a teenage Serbian who, earlier this summer, had reportedly signed for Chelsea.

Lazar Markovic timed his run to perfection before latching on to fellow Serbian sub Filip Duricic’s through ball and finishing clinically.

But the party did not stop there. Benfica now had victory on their minds, and one minute later, they got it.

The ball was whipped in from the right by another Serbian substitute Miralem Sulejmani, and headed into the net by Lima - sparking mass celebrations.

Now they must hope the monkey is off their backs ahead of the Lisbon Derby next week.

Here are the highlights…

image: © Crystian Cruz

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