Benfica beats Al Nassr in the Algarve with ‘encore’ by Gonçalo Ramos

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Benfica today beat the Saudis of Al Nassr, 4-1, in the third triumph in three games in the pre-season of the Portuguese I League soccer team, marked by the ‘bis’ of Gonçalo Ramos.

In the second match of the Algarve Trophy, at the Algarve Stadium, in front of around 20,000 people, Di María (23 minutes), Gonçalo Ramos (31 and 38) and Schjelderup (68) scored for the ‘encarnados’, who showed a lot of quality in the first half.

Khaled, in the 42nd minute, scored the only goal for the team coached by Portuguese Luís Castro, in which Cristiano Ronaldo played 84 minutes.

Benfica, who in this pre-season had already beaten Southampton (2-0) and Basel (3-1), will discuss on Friday, at 20:30, at the Algarve Stadium, the victory in the tournament, against the Spaniards of Celta de Vigo, who on Monday had also beaten (5-0) the Saudis.

Benfica beats Al Nassr in the Algarve with 'encore' by Gonçalo Ramos

The ‘reds’ lined up in the usual ‘4-4-2’, with Vlachodimos, Bah, António Silva (who wore the captain’s armband), Morato and Jurásek in defense, João Neves, Kökçü, Di María and Neres in midfield and Rafa and Gonçalo Ramos in attack, in an offensive-oriented ‘eleven’, without a declared ‘6’ and without the usual balancing midfielder occupying one of the wings.

It took Al Nassr just 24 seconds to create the first threatening move on the counter-attack, with João Neves appearing in the nick of time to cut out a goal-bound shot from Talisca, who partnered Cristiano Ronaldo in attack.

The strong momentum of the opening minutes made itself felt with Benfica’s immediate response, with António Silva heading over from a corner (four minutes), a move by Cristiano Ronaldo, who ran many meters and, already inside the small area, shot for a ‘tight’ save by Vlachodimos (eight), and a ‘hat’ attempt from Di María’s midfield that almost led to a goal (12).

The ‘reds’, with the model of high pressure and ball possession already seen last season, took control of the game and, after threats from Rafa (15) and Jurásek (19), Di María opened the scoring, in his second consecutive match to ‘score’, with a classy finish after ‘tabelinha’ with Rafa (23).

Given their intense dominance, it came as no surprise that Schmidt’s side extended their lead, with a brace from Gonçalo Ramos after the half-hour mark (31 and 38), assisted on both occasions by Rafa and Bah, but Al Nassr reduced the gap on the counter-attack, through Khaled, after an assist from Talisca (42).

Roger Schmidt changed the entire eleven at half-time, calling on Samuel Soares, João Victor, Lucas Veríssimo, Tomás Araújo, Ristic, Florentino, Chiquinho, João Mário, Aursnes, Schjelderup and Musa.

With more holding midfielders and fewer playmakers, Benfica continued to have the ball but dropped considerably from the pace they showed in the first half.

There was little danger until the 68th minute, when Norway’s Schjelderup scored for the national champions, his rebound from a Ristic shot saved by Nawaf.

Until the final whistle, there was time for keeper Samuel Soares to deny Cristiano Ronaldo a goal (80) and for Chiquinho, in an effort, to waste a clamorous opportunity (86).

In the post-match penalty shootout, for the eventual tie-breaker in the final classification of the Algarve Trophy, there was an equality (5-5).

Match played at Estádio Algarve.

Benfica – Al Nassr, 4-1.

At half-time: 3-1.

Markers:

1-0, Di María, 23 minutes.

2-0, Gonçalo Ramos, 31.

3-0, Gonçalo Ramos, 38.

3-1, Khaled, 42.

4-1, Schjelderup, 68.

Teams:

– Benfica: Vlachodimos, Bah, António Silva, Morato, Jurásek, João Neves, Kökçü, Rafa, Di María, Neres and Gonçalo Ramos. Other players: Samuel Soares, João Victor, Lucas Veríssimo, Tomás Araújo, Ristic, Florentino, Chiquinho, João Mário, Aursnes, Schjelderup and Musa.

Coach: Roger Schmidt.

– Al Nassr: Nawaf, Sultan, Al Amri, Al Ajami, Konan, Khaibari, Brozovic, Khaled, Talisca, Ghareeb and Cristiano Ronaldo. Other players: Mishari, Al-Sulayhem, Abdulfattah Adam and Ali Hasan.

Coach: Luís Castro.

Referee: Flávio Duarte (Lisbon).

Disciplinary action: yellow card for Talisca (55).

Attendance: Around 20,000 spectators.

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