Oscar Cardozo’s goal in the 61st minute of play gave Benfica a deserving victory over one of the best clubs in this year’s Europa Cup competition.

The goal came as Jorge Jesus’ club came close to conceding a goal moments before. Andre Almeida who was playing right-back for the Águias crossed the ball into the box. Cardozo sought the opportunity, dribbled past a defender and slid it over Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno for the only goal of the game.

The Portuguese side have the added advantage of having an away goal going into the second leg on February 21st at the Estádio da Luz.

The news was not so good for Portuguese players on foreign clubs on Thursday. Fenerbahçe and Portuguese international midfielder Raul Meireles received a straight red in the 4th minute of play against Belarussian club Bate.

The former FC Porto player was dismissed after a hard tackle on former Stuttgart and Arsenal player Aliaksandr Hleb. Luckily, his Turkish club held on to the 0-0 draw going into the second leg in Istanbul, which Meireles will be ineligible for. But Meireles’ terrible first season in Turkey continues.

The result was not so good for Rolando, who is on loan at Italian club Napoli. Rolando received his first start for the club, playing in the middle of a three-man backline. But it was a match to forget for the Porto defender, as Napoli went on to lose 3-0 to Czech club Viktoria Plzeň.

Elsewhere Luis Neto and Danny started the match for Zenit St.Petersburg as they went on to defeat Liverpool 2-0. Former Porto attacker Hulk opened the scoring for the Russian club.

Andre Villas-Boas’ Tottenham side continued to impress with a 2-1 victory over French side Olympique Lyonnais. Gareth Bale scored both goals for the Spurs, the winner coming in the closing minutes of the match.

Portuguese midfielder Sergio Pinto’s Hannover 96 lost 3-1 to Russian side Anzhi. Olympiakos’ Paulo Machado could do little to prevent a 3-0 defeat by Levante in Spain.

Miguel Veloso’ Dynamo Kyiv drew 1-1 with Bordeaux in the Ukraine. Romanian club CFR Cluj started 5 Portuguese players but lost 2-0 to Inter Milan. Rodrigo Palacio scored both goals after coming on for his injured countrymen Diego Milito.

Former Portugal international Tiago played the entire match for Atletico Madrid who lost 2-0 to Rubin Kazan despite playing the entire second half with an extra man. Former Sporting player Bruno Pererinha was featured on the bench for his new club Lazio but did not play in the Italian team’s thrilling 3-3 draw with Borussia Mönchengladbach.

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