Benfica 3 v 1 Beira-Mar. An Oscar winning performance from CardozoBy: jamesmartin | November 29th, 2010
The big man is back and what a difference he made. Scoring two goals and creating another, Oscar Cardozo underlined just how important he is to this Benfica team, and with Sporting holding Porto on Saturday night, the gap has been closed to eight points.
Beira pay the penalty
Jorge Jesus made two changes to the side which lost in Israel replacing Pablo Aimar and Salvio with Carlos Martins and Ruben Amorim, while Cardozo made his first start since September. On the whole the first half was a drab affair played at a slow pace with neither side showing much in the way of haste or energy, although Javier Saviola did come close to breaking the deadlock when his powerful striker was pushed onto the crossbar. This aside, the only occasions on which we truly threatened were some excellent set piece deliveries from Carlos Martins who placed a free kick on Luisao’shead only for the Brazilian’s effort to be well saved.
The home side offered virtually nothing in terms of attacking intent, but were defending stubbornly. However, the deadlock was finally broken minutes before the interval, when a penalty was awarded for a pull on Cardozo following a Martins corner. Whether it really was a penalty is debatable, as this sort of activity usually goes unpunished, but the defender certainly had a handful of the Paraguayan’s shirt and couldn’t really complain about the referee’s decision. Up stepped Cardozo and the 27 year old rolled the ball into the bottom corner in that uber cool fashion of his, securing a half time lead.
It might be cliched to talk about a ‘game of two halves’, but in this instance the old saying rang true, as the second half offered the goals and excitement which were sorely missing from the first. Indeed after only a minute’s play Cardozo should have grabbed his second, but missed the ball completely after Ruben Amorim had squared from the right. Even Beira Mar could and probably should have scored, following some more of the woeful defending we have sadly become accustomed to this season. Defending a routine free kick, our back line stepped up far to late, leaving three opposition attackers onside and with the goal at their mercy. Lucky for us the Beira Mar forwards seemed at a complete loss for what to do and tamely headed straight into Roberto’s grateful hands. The host came close again minutes latter when Ronny outpaced our defence only to strike the post.
Things were getting a little close for comfort at this stage, thusbig Oscar took matters into his own hands with a truly fantastic goal. Receiving the ball on the the corner of the box, the Paraguyan looked set to try and pick out a teammate, but instead he took one look up and curled the ball into the back of net with unnerving accuracy. It was a goal which deserved to win any game and at 2-0 the hosts had more or less given up the ghost. However, Tacuara was not finished. The Paraguayan collected the ball out wide, beat his man and squared for Javier Saviola to make it three. I commented in my review of the Hapoel game that Cardozo’s return would hopefully bring the best out of Saviola and lets hope this goal is a sign of things to come.
Beira-Mar did grab a late consolation as once again a free kick proved to be our undoing. Luisao failed to clear and Rui Varela converted to make the scoreline a little less one sided. Despite the victory our defence is still worrying me. In the past two fixtures we have been utterly incapable of defending routine set pieces and perhaps his mind has been turned by all the talk of Milan, Madrid and Manchester, but David Luiz has not look like a £20 million defender this season. But lets look on the bright side, Cardozo is back and scoring, Porto only drew, and the impossible challenge has become a little bit more doable.
David Luiz- 6
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