A great goal from João Rêgo was not enough to get around the Reds’ poor approach to the game
Benfica conceded their first defeat in the group stage of the Youth League this Wednesday, in San Sebastián, against Real Sociedad (1-2), after a poor approach to the game that cost two goals in the first thirteen minutes. Pedro Valido’s team, with strong support from the fans, still managed to reduce the deficit before the break with a great goal from João Rêgo, but then found it very difficult in the second half to play against the strong wind that was felt in the small Estádio Zubieta XXI.
With three changes from the first game against the Basque team, which Benfica won 2-1 two weeks ago in Seixal, Pedro Valido’s team did not start the game well at all. The Portuguese team tried to impose their game from the beginning, with a well-raised block but allowed themselves to be surprised by the quick transitions of the San Sebastián team.
Real Sociedad were more expectant but took advantage of the space conceded by the visitors to open the scoring, in the 5th minute, with Ramirez coming down the right flank and crossing for Pablo Arenzana to deflect at the near post. Benfica, with strong support in the stands, tried to react quickly, increasing the intensity of the game, but conceded a second goal again, in the 13th minute, very similar to the first, but on the opposite side. Mariezkurrena, with a great pass, opened on the left for Olarra to cross to the near post where Iker Otadui appeared to deflect his head. Very simple, very effective, and difficult to digest for Benfica.
Difficult to digest because the Reds had also had opportunities to score, in an open game, but they were 2-0 down before the fifteenth minute.
Without losing their heads and with a high level of possession, Benfica achieved a greater defensive balance and pressed again near the Basque area.
On the stroke of half-time, Rafael Luís, from a free-kick, forced Velarde to make a save, with the ball still hitting the post. Following the same move, João Rego reduced the deficit with a great goal. A trivela from the right, at the start with the intention of crossing, but with the ball drawing an arc and entering near the far post.
Second part against the wind
A goal that gave Benfica a new lease of life for the second half, but the truth is that Pedro Valido’s team could not carry the good pressure they exerted on the opponent before the break. It was the Basques who started better in the second half, winning three corner kicks in the first minutes.
With a much slower pace of play, Benfica took a long time to get depth against a Real Sociedad that, with the minutes ticking by, was managing the short advantage with good ball circulation. The Portuguese still tried to speed up the game with long passes, but they found it very difficult to play against the strong wind that was felt in San Sebastian.
Towards the end, Real Sociedad were reduced to ten men after Gorosabel, who had come on in the 74th minute, was shown two yellow cards in the space of two minutes. As had already happened in the games against Inter Milan and the first game against Real Sociedad, in which the Basques finished the game with nine, Benfica again played in numerical superiority but did not have much time to take advantage of that advantage.
Nuno Félix, following a free-kick from Rafael Luís, still had a good chance to equalise, in added time, with a header, but the ball went over the bar.
With this defeat, Benfica remains in second place, with five points, now just one more than the Basque team, while leader Salzburg, with seven points, will still face Inter Milan who have only two points.