The full-time whistle goes as Benfica records a relatively comfortable victory on the opening matchday.
The visitors did their absolute utmost to stay in the game.
But that quick one-two of goals straight after half-time proved too much for them.
With the first coming from standout player Rafa.
And the second, an unsavable rocket from the boot of Grimaldo, saw the hosts race into a 2-0 lead from which Haifa could not recover.
Sterner tests await, but some of Benfica’s play, mainly when Rafa was on the ball, suggests they’ll be able to go toe-to-toe with Juventus and PSG when the time comes.
BENFICA (4-2-3-1): Odisseas Vlachodimos;
Alexander Bah, Antonio Tavares Da Silva, Nicolas Otamendi, Alejandro Grimaldo;
Florentino Luis, Enzo Fernandez; David Neres, Rafa Silva, Joao Mario;
MACCABI HAIFA (4-3-3): Josh Cohen;
Daniel Sundgren, Dylan Batubinsika, Abdoulaye Seck, Sean Goldberg;
Ali Mohamed El Fazaz, Neta Lavi, Tjaronn Chery;
Dean David, Frantzdy Pierrot, Dolev Hazizia.
GOOOOOAAAAALLLLL!!!! There he is!!! He’s been a marked man all game, but finally, Rafa breaks free and puts Benfica in front!!! Great forward play from the hosts creates space for Grimaldo to cross, and the diminutive playmaker ghosts in at the front post to volley the ball into the far corner! 1-0 to the hosts, and we’ve finally seen that moment of quality from Benfica!
GOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL!!!!! What a screamer!!!!!! After Fernandez’s ball to Musa is headed away by Seck, Grimaldo picks it up 40 yards from goal. He has few options other than Joao Mario, so he tries his luck from 35 yards, curling an absolute beauty past Cohen and straight into the top corner!! 2-0, and that’s a goal of the tournament contender on the very first matchday!
So, what’s next?
That opening matchday victory sends Benfica to the top of Group H on goal difference after second-placed PSG beat Juventus 2-1.
There’s a long way to go yet, but elements of that game will give The Eagles’ fans hope that they can fight for that top spot with the two European giants.
Maccabi Haifa, the clear underdog of the group, sit bottom after one game.
Still, if they could find that extra piece of clinical quality, they could’ve easily got something from this game and could reasonably claim a scalp or two along the way.