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Sports

Champions League: Benfica leave it late, again

Having left it late in the first game, Benfica did it again in the away leg to advance to the quarterfinals. Zenit were saved by their superhero striker, but only momentarily.

Zenit 1-2 Benfica (1-3 agg.)
(Hulk 69' - Raul Jimenez 87', Talisca 90+5')

Benfica continued their trend of late goals, turning the game around to snatch the chance of extra time away from the home side. Raul Jimenez's late header was the coveted away goal that left Hulk's earlier header irrelevant.

In the first half, Zenit remained far too passive against a Portuguese side that probably should have taken the lead. Jonas' whipped free kick was tipped over by Yuri Lodygin and then Renato Sanches drilled a shot narrowly wide as the visitors looked certain to score.

After Ederson was out bravely to deny Artyom Dzyuba, Zenit had a mini revival. Despite their sudden rush of impetus, there was little end product from the home side until the second half. Off the bench around the hour mark, defender Igor Smolnikov missed a great chance to give Zenit the lead, but soon after it was star-man Hulk who delivered again. His fourth Champions League goal in his seventh appearance came when Yuri Zhirkov stayed strong, sprinted down the left and then hung up a cross that Hulk just headed in under the crossbar.

With the game seemingly heading to extra time, Benfica pounced. Nicolas Gaitan was on hand to head into an empty net after Lodygin had parried a stunning long-range effort from Raul Jimenez. In added time, as Zenit sought a second, Anderson Talisca volleyed in a second to put Benfica into their first Champions League quarterfinal since the 2011/12 season.

Later, Chelsea host Paris-Saint Germain with the French club leading 2-1 after the first leg.

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