Match Analysis: Benfica 1-1 Besiktas – Talisca turns the lights out at the Estadio da Luz

Besiktas made history against Benfica by avoiding defeat in their opening Champions League group stage game for the first time ever following a 1-1 draw at the Estadio Da Luz.

Ironically the Black Eagles have a player still contracted to Benfica to thank for their memorable draw in Aderson Talisca who scored a last-gasp free-kick to rescue a point.

Besiktas head coach Senol Gunes made a few surprise decisions going into the clash. On-loan Inter full-back Caner Erkin was moved to the left wing while Adriano was deployed as the starting full-back. Gokhan Gonul was dropped for the more defensively minded Andres Beck and Tosic – who is actually a full-back – started as a centre-back alongside Marcelo.

Midfield duo Gokhan Inler and Atiba Hutchinson were given the task of shielding the defence while Oguzhan Ozyakup was given a number 10 role. Vincent Aboubakar replaced the in form Cenk Tosun – who has four goals and one assist this season – up front. Meanwhile Euro 2016 champion and former Porto man started on the right wing.

Benfica went into the game with a striker crisis but that made little difference following an early defensive blunder from Besiktas leading up to the opening goal. Tosic failed to deal with a simple long ball which bypassed the defence and allowed Benfica in on goal. Tolga Zengin saved the initial shot but the ball spilled into the path of Cervi who slotted the ball into an empty net.

Besiktas did manage to regain composure after conceding the goal but there was one glaring problem and that problem was Ozyakup. The former Arsenal youth product usually pulls the strings in midfield and is the player the Black Eagles look for a creative spark. Unfortunately for the away side Ozyakup went AWOL. The Turkish international is not a natural number 10 and usually plays a deeper role but Gunes decided to opt for two midfield enforcers in-front of his defence instead in Inler and Hutchinson – signalling he does not trust his centre-back pairing. Ozyakup struggled to stamp his authority on the game and was unmistakably the weakest link.

Gunes spotted the problem and rectified it at half time making a bold call in replacing Ozzy with Talisca. The impact was immediately felt. For such a tall player Talisca is surprisingly gifted on the ball and Benfica struggled to deal with his physical presence. The 22-year-old held the ball up well, was not afraid to take on opposition defenders and was a nuisance for Benfica in the air. The Brazilian star should have been awarded a penalty 10 minutes into the second half after he was clearly brought down in the box.

Besiktas looked a different side in the second half. Gunes went onto bring on Cenk Tosun for Adriano and Olcay Sahan for Aboubakar. Three out of the away sides five shots came from the subs. Tosun should have equalised late on but blasted the ball out of the stadium. Atiba almost scored but had his header saved by Ederson who had a fantastic game. The Black Eagles were knocking on the door and went for broke going into the final five minutes with Caner and Beck bombing in crosses to a Benfica penalty area loaded with Besiktas players.

Just when a defeat looked inevitable a free-kick was awarded in the fourth minute of additional time. Talisca stepped up, curled the ball around the keeper and the rest is history. The Brazilian scored the latest free-kick goal ever in the history of Champions League football as a result and made history for his new club as well – at the expense of his parent club. The goal cost Benfica €1 million in prize money – half of the loan fee Besiktas paid for him over the summer.

The result felt like a victory and an away point against the highest ranked team in the group is nothing to be scoffed at. Besiktas left Portugal with a point that could make all the difference in the grander scheme of things as far as group qualification is concerned. The team will also have received a confidence boost knowing that they have the ability to take the game to a team like Benfica in Lisbon. Talisca was however, the biggest winner on the night going from an unknown quantity to instant cult status among the Besiktas fans. The Benfica old-boy turned off the lights at the Estadio da Luz and made supporters of his former club wonder why they ever allowed him to leave.

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