ATHENS: Benfica played the entire second half with 10 men and squandered a two-goal lead before claiming a thrilling 3-2 win away to AEK Athens in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Substitute Alfa Semedo snatched the winner in the 74th minute, almost immediately after the Greeks had missed a golden opportunity to go 3-2 ahead themselves.
The win ended Benfica’s run of eight successive defeats in the Champions League proper, including all their group games last season.
In a match between two sides who lost their opening Group E games, Benfica raced to a two-goal lead in 15 minutes through Haris Seferovic and Alex Grimaldo.
Seferovic turned in a rebound after Vasilios Barkas parried a shot from Gedson Fernandes and Grimaldo slipped in behind Tasos Bakasetas to head in Pizzi’s looping cross as the Greek defence was twice caught napping.
Benfica were in complete control, often exchanging leisurely passes in midfield, but the game changed completely after central defender Ruben Dias was given a second yellow card for dangerous play in first half stoppage time.
A revitalised AEK came flying out of the blocks after the break and pulled level with two close-range goals from Viktor Klonaridis in a 10-minute spell.
Benfica were on the ropes and Klonaridis could have delivered the knockout blow when he was put clear through against Odisseas Vlachodimos but the goalkeeper made a superb reflex save.
Instead, Benfica went down the other end of the pitch and Guinea-Bissau-born Semedo caught out Barkas with a shot from outside the area to stun the Olympic stadium.