DAVID SMITH - Thursday, September 19, 2013
Sacha Kljestan and Anderlecht were overpowered by Portuguese powerhouse Benfica, while Jermaine Jones's absence was no factor in Schalke's big win over Steaua Bucharest.
SL Benfica 2 - 0 RSC Anderlecht
Sacha Kljestan played the full 90 minutes for Anderlecht, picking up a yellow card as they suffered a shut-out loss on the road to Benfica.
Kljestan had been a scoring force for the reigning Belgian champions in recent weeks, putting away four goals in his last six outings for the highest-scoring team in the Belgian Pro League.
There was no question that the Purple & White would be facing a much more resilient level of competition on their trip to the home of two-time European champions Benfica, but a pair of early scores by the hosts ensured that Anderlecht never really had much of a hope in the contest.
After four minutes Benfica already had their visitors on the clear back foot, and a low shot from Andre Almeida that was initially blocked by the Anderlecht keeper was deftly put away by Filip Djuričić from close range for the 1-0 lead.
Last season's Europa League finalists did not relent after taking the lead, adding a second at the half-hour mark. A Benfica corner was weakly headed outside of the area, where it took a bounce towards Andre Almeida at 20 yards out.
The 23 year-old midfielder headed the ball over the line of defenders, where veteran central defender Luisao had slipped just a step behind his opponents. The former Brazilian international then chested the ball down and stylishly swatted it in in the midst of an off-balance turn past the helpless keeper.
This second goal effectively sealed the deal, and while Anderlecht did find some space to get more of a hold on their own attack through the second half, they were never really any danger to their hosts.
The Belgian champions have a two-week break until they host Greek team Olympiacos, and they will resume their league campaign on Sunday when they visit Brugge.
Jermaine Jones is out on a yellow card suspension and did not suit up for Schalke in their 3-0 home win over Steaua Bucharest on Wednesday.