Benfica 4-0 NavalBy: jamesmartin | November 15th, 2010
We wanted a convincing win and in the end that’s what we got, although lady luck did have to play her part.
A combination of suspensions and injuries saw Jorge Jesus make a number of adjustments to the team that had faced Porto, with Javier Saviola, Nicolas Gaitan, Ruben Amorim and Airton all making the first eleven. Despite this it was bottom placed Naval who made the brighter start, Fabio Junior forcing a good save from Roberto after just five minutes. However, Benfica took the lead, admittedly a little against the run of play, with just over ten minutes gone. Salvio picked out Saviola with a fine cross and the Argentine squared the ball for an unmarked Alan Kardec to finish with ease. The defending was slack but we had the lead and that’s all that mattered.
At this point you might have expected Naval’s heads to drop, but the boys in green were desperately unlucky not to equalise as some fierce shooting saw them strike the post not once but twice. They were also performing above expectations at the other end as keeper Romain Salin twice denied Pablo Aimar and kept out an effort from Salvio.
Gaitan gets of the mark
At half time we could be forgiven for feeling a little uneasy, yes we had the lead, but the performance had hardly been convincing. However, such fears were quickly laid to rest as just two minutes after the restart Gaitan smashed home a second goal which paved the way for a entirely one sided 45 minutes. Salin had once again denied Aimar, but the French goalkeeper was powerless as Gaitan lashed home the rebound from just outside the box.
It was the summer signing’s first league goal since joining the club from Boca Juniors and he soon grabbed a second, converting Salvio’s cross with a fine left footed volley on the hour. In truth the second goal had crushed Naval’s resitance and the Aguias cruised to victory, with late substitute Nuno Gomes adding a fourth after taking advantage of a sloppy back pass and dispossessing Slain. It was great to see the veteran back on the score sheet and the emotion on the 34 year old’s face was plain to see as he dedicated the strike to his late father.
What this means
Victories for Porto and Guimaraes mean we remain in joint second, ten points off the lead and while this was a pleasing victory it is one of no real significance as we would have been disappointed with anything less. The team looked much more dangerous in attack with the return to two strikers up front and some of the link up play between the Argentinian quartet of Aimar, Gaitan, Saviola and Salvio suggests that a strong understanding may be taking shape. However, the defending was still suspect at times and was described by Jesus himself as ’suspicous’, with tougher opposition to come this is something he can not afford to ignore.
There is no Liga Sagres action next weekend so the squad have a lovely ten days rest before jetting off to Tel-Aviv for that all important Champions League clash next Wednesday.