Benfica top group with Basel win
Benfica denied Heiko Vogel a win in his first UEFA Champions League game in charge of Basel after a confident display at St Jakob-Park ensured the Portuguese side a 2-0 win.
Bruno Cesar opened the scoring in the 20th minute before Oscar Cardozo sealed the win in the second half before Emerson's dismissal in the 86th-minute to take Benfica top of Group C. Basel, meanwhile, slipped to third following Manchester United's 2-0 win over Romanian side Otelul Galati.
Benfica showed their intent early on when they surged forward only for Rodrigo to be flagged offside when he collected Pablo Aimar's pass. But it was Basel who had the first shot on goal when Alexander Frei pounced onto a loose ball on the edge of the box, but the striker lost his balance and Benfica goalkeeper Artur calmly gathered the shot.
Rodrigo tested Yann Sommer again in the 13th minute with a solid left-footed effort, but it was Cesar who opened the scoring for Benfica seven minutes later to record his second Champions League goal in as many games for the Portuguese side.
Nicolas Gaitan created space with a surging run and found Aimar who freed Cesar, who tucked the ball into net from ten yards.
Cesar almost doubled the visitors' lead in the 26th minute as Benfica looked to have their tails up in search of their second goal, however, Aleksandar Dragovic got in the way and the chance went begging.
Basel ended the first half strongly, but lacked the clinical edge shown by Benfica. Even so, Gaitan missed a good chance to give the visitors a two-goal cushion as they headed towards the break.
Rodrigo raced forward from midfield and found Cesar, who picked out the unmarked Gaitan only for the midfielder to blast his shot over from 20 metres.
Basel had a chance to equalise in first-half injury time when Marco Streller chested down a high ball, but he failed to control it well enough and his shot flew over the bar.
The home side showed their intent after the break, with Streller looking to push forward but being caught by the offside trap. This exposed them at the back and Emerson nearly broke through the Basel defence when he forced Sommer to make an impressive reflex save.
However, Streller continued to press, forcing a series of saves from Artur, but the striker could not find the net. Instead it fell to Benfica substitute Oscar Cardozo to score the only other goal of the game, when he fired in from a 30-yard free-kick to give the Portuguese side an unassailable lead.
Emerson was shown a red card four minutes from the final whistle for his second bookable offence, but it was too late for Basel to make anything of their one man advantage.