Benfica in q-finals thanks to two late strikes

ST PETERSBURG • Nicolas Gai- tan and Talisca scored late goals as Benfica came from behind to beat Zenit St Petersburg 2-1 in Russia on Wednesday and march on to the Champions League quarter-finals 3-1 on aggregate.

Zenit's Brazilian forward Hulk opened the scoring in the 69th minute and extra time was looming when Argentinian Gaitan stunned the Petrovsky Stadium by netting at the other end five minutes from time.

Brazilian substitute Talisca wrapped up the victory with the last kick of the game, as the Portuguese league leaders progressed to the last eight of the competition for the first time since 2012.

Zenit will rue a host of missed chances in the second half, as Benfica got a decisive away goal from nowhere in the 85th minute.

Substitute Raul Jimenez crashed a shot off the woodwork from distance and Gaitan followed in to score.

TAIL-END SETBACKS

Everything went the wrong way for us in the last minutes.

ANDRE VILLAS-BOAS, Zenit coach, on their Champions League defeat by Benfica.

Talisca made it 2-1 on the night in the sixth minute of stoppage time, securing Benfica's place in the next stage.

"We played really well, we scored two goals and I believe we were the better side and won deservedly," Benfica head coach Rui Vitoria said.

His counterpart, however, bowed out of the competition in disappointment.

"Everything went the wrong way for us in the last minutes," Zenit head coach Andre Villas-Boas said.

"Today we performed really well for 40 minutes in the second half and created some big chances, but we just lacked a bit of luck to tilt the balance in our favour.

"It's very disappointing to leave the Champions League this way."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 11, 2016, with the headline 'Benfica in q-finals thanks to two late strikes'. Print Edition | Subscribe