Benfica 3-0 Barcelona: More pressure on Ronald Koeman after Champions League defeat

Darwin Nunez
Darwin Nunez opened the scoring for Benfica after 133 seconds

Ronald Koeman said there was “no point” comparing his Barcelona team to those from the past after defeat by Benfica made this the club’s worst start to a Champions League campaign.

Barca – also beaten 3-0 by Bayern Munich earlier this month – have lost their opening two matches in the competition for the first time, and sit bottom of Group E.

Benfica got off to an energetic start and opened the scoring inside three minutes, when Darwin Nunez cut inside and finished low into the near corner.

Rafa Silva then clipped in a second after the break and Nunez netted a penalty in a comfortable victory for the home side.

“I’m not going to argue about the level of my team,” said Koeman, part of the Barca side that won the European Cup in 1992.

“There’s no point in comparing this with Barcelona teams of years gone by. That’s as clear as water. I can only give you my opinion of my work at the club – I feel backed by my players and their attitude.”

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As well as his two goals, Nunez also hit the post from out wide after rounding stranded Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who made a rash decision to charge out of his area.

Luuk de Jong missed a glorious chance to level for the visitors early in the first half when presented with a seemingly open goal.

But Barca only registered one effort on target and had Eric Garcia sent off for a second booking with three minutes remaining.

“Benfica were strong physically and they’re quick. I think that for the first and second goals we just had to defend much better,” added Koeman.

“We had really good scoring chances and that’s how you change the direction of a match. The fact that Benfica put away the large majority of the few chances they actually created then that’s the big difference between the two teams.”

Unwanted history for Koeman’s Barca

Koeman finds himself in charge of one of Europe’s most successful clubs during one of their toughest spells in recent history.

The club’s financial struggles, emphasised by the loss of Lionel Messi to Paris St-Germain, mean this side is a long way from the one that last lifted Europe’s most-sought after club prize in 2015.

The five-time winners face the prospect of not featuring in the Champions League knockout stage for the first time since the 2003-04 season, when they did not qualify for competition.

The last time they failed to progress from the first group stage when competing was in 2000-01, which is also when they last suffered successive group defeats, to Besiktas and AC Milan.

Defeats by Bayern and Benfica in Group E this year mean Barca have lost their opening two matches in a European campaign for the first time since the 1972-73 Uefa Cup, when they were beaten in both legs by Porto.

They have also conceded six goals without scoring in the process and only one team has ever progressed with a record as bad – that was Lyon, who reached the last 16 in 2007-08.

Koeman has overseen eight group games as Barcelona boss but only Louis van Gaal, with five defeats in 32 games, has lost more than the Dutchman’s three group-stage fixtures.

In fact, Barcelona have lost four of their past five Champions League matches, drawing the other, which is as many as they lost in their previous 39.

They next host Dynamo Kyiv, who sit one point above them after an opening draw with Benfica, with Koeman knowing anything but a win is likely to spell the end of his side’s European hopes and potentially his time in charge.

Line-ups

Benfica

Formation 3-4-3

  • 99Vlachodimos
  • 4Veríssimo da Silva
  • 30OtamendiBooked at 33mins
  • 5Vertonghen
  • 22LazaroSubstituted forJuniorat 45+1′minutes
  • 28WeiglBooked at 72mins
  • 20João Mário
  • 3GrimaldoBooked at 62minsSubstituted forMagalhães de Almeidaat 75′minutes
  • 27Ferreira SilvaBooked at 56minsSubstituted forAfonso Fernandesat 86′minutes
  • 15YaremchukSubstituted forTaarabtat 76′minutes
  • 9NúñezSubstituted forMatias Ramosat 86′minutes

Substitutes

  • 2Junior
  • 7Sousa Soares
  • 11Meité
  • 18Cunha Pereira de Pinho
  • 21Afonso Fernandes
  • 23Radonjic
  • 34Magalhães de Almeida
  • 49Taarabt
  • 77Aleixo Leite
  • 83Carvalho Fernandes
  • 88Matias Ramos
  • 91Rodrigues da Silva

Barcelona

Formation 3-4-1-2

  • 1ter Stegen
  • 24GarcíaBooked at 87mins
  • 3PiquéBooked at 12minsSubstituted forPaez Gaviriaat 33′minutes
  • 4Araujo
  • 20RobertoSubstituted forMinguezaat 89′minutes
  • 21de Jong
  • 5BusquetsSubstituted forGonzález Iglesiasat 68′minutesBooked at 86mins
  • 2DestBooked at 78mins
  • 16González LópezSubstituted forCoutinhoat 68′minutes
  • 17de JongSubstituted forFati Vieiraat 68′minutes
  • 9Depay

Substitutes

  • 6Puig Martí
  • 10Fati Vieira
  • 11Demir
  • 13Murara Neto
  • 14Coutinho
  • 15Lenglet
  • 22Mingueza
  • 23Umtiti
  • 26Peña Sotorres
  • 28González Iglesias
  • 30Paez Gaviria

Referee:
Daniele Orsato

Attendance:
29,454

Live Text

  1. Match ends, Benfica 3, Barcelona 0.

  2. Second Half ends, Benfica 3, Barcelona 0.

  3. Foul by Ansu Fati (Barcelona).

  4. Nicolás Otamendi (Benfica) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  5. Offside, Barcelona. Philippe Coutinho tries a through ball, but Memphis Depay is caught offside.

  6. Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  7. Foul by Julian Weigl (Benfica).

  8. Substitution, Barcelona. Óscar Mingueza replaces Sergi Roberto.

  9. Second yellow card to Eric García (Barcelona) for a bad foul.

  10. Foul by Eric García (Barcelona).

  11. Gonçalo Ramos (Benfica) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  12. Substitution, Benfica. Gonçalo Ramos replaces Darwin Núñez.

  13. Substitution, Benfica. Pizzi replaces Rafa.

  14. Nico González (Barcelona) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  15. Foul by Nico González (Barcelona).

  16. João Mário (Benfica) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  17. Ansu Fati (Barcelona) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  18. Foul by Lucas Veríssimo (Benfica).

  19. Goal! Benfica 3, Barcelona 0. Darwin Núñez (Benfica) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom right corner.

  20. Sergiño Dest (Barcelona) is shown the yellow card for hand ball.

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