It will be a thrilling return leg fixture between the two sides considering their superb domestic form.
In a heroic performance at the Estadio da Luz, Benfica’s teenage sensation Joao Felix scored a marvellous hattrick against Eintracht Frankfurt in their first leg of the Europa League quarter-final. Adding to Felix’s hattrick, Ruben Dias too scored for the hosts as the duo handed over a convincing 4-2 victory for the Portuguese side.
Manager Bruno Lage was naturally the happiest man as his side will now have a two-goal advantage when they travel next week to Frankfurt. “The result serves me perfectly.”
“We go forward with a two-goal advantage. Even at 4-1, the tie would be open. All teams are difficult. We have another 90 minutes where we have to be at a high level,” said the 42-year-old, keeping his feet on the ground.
The game in Portugal also saw a sending off for Frankfurt as centre back Evan N’Dicka lasted for only 20 minutes before being given his marching orders by referee Anthony Taylor.
Frankfurt who are having a very good season in the Bundesliga, never seemed to give up in the game even after being reduced to 10 men inside the first twenty minutes. In-form striker Luka Jovic and Goncalo Paciencia handed over two important away goals for the visitors, even as they slumped to a defeat.
The win, on the other hand, gave Benfica huge confidence as they look forward to another good season, being on top of the Primeira Liga table. Lage’s side is in contention to win the domestic league title after missing out on its last edition as FC Porto took away the honours.
Even in the Europa League, Benfica has always been a team to watch out for even though they have been unlucky not to win the competition after coming very close. Thursday’s win, however, lifted the spirits of the club and has given a slight hope of achieving a double this season.
Goalscorer Dias too spoke after the game saying, “Above all, it was an important victory. We could have made it 5-1 and had an even bigger advantage, but it was a good result and it was important to score early and be able to play against 10 men.”
“It’s all open – we just played the first part today,” he added.
Meanwhile, Frankfurt goalkeeper Kevin Trapp appreciated his side’s performance terming it as a ‘strong one.’ “The result isn’t really a fair reflection of the game,” he told DAZN.
“We played well, though, and can’t forget we were a man down for much of it and we still managed to produce a real threat in front of goal. Tonight, we have the right to be disappointed, but next week we have to turn a new leaf,” added the former Paris Saint Germain custodian.
“We’ve got to stay positive, analyse what went wrong and quickly put it behind us. We did a lot of things really well tonight, and the second leg is still to be played,” he said while concluding.
The two sides meet again in the next week for the return leg at the Commerzbank Arena, which can be seen as a tense fixture considering their respective forms in the domestic league.