Benfica won the last seven encounter away at Estoril, the opponent they meet at 8:30 pm on Saturday, in the round 31 of the Liga NOS. One of these triumphs was flourished by a backheel goal from Gaitán, one of the best goals in the career of the Argentine.
The first clash of this streak of seven matches happened on February 13th, 1994, when Estoril hosted Benfica in a match from week 9 of the Portuguese League (1993/94). In front of 15 thousand spectators, Benfica, at the time coached by Toni, beat (0-3) the team of the current national team coach Fernando Santos with goals from Aílton (74’ and 88’) and Yuran (84’).
The two teams would meet again 11 years later, in the week 30 of the SuperLiga (2004/05). In the season in which Estoril returned to the Portuguese top flight, the canaries from Litos lost against Benfica from Trapattoni by one-goal margin (1-2). Paulo Sousa opened the scoring at 11’, but the reds responded through Luisão (75’) and Mantorras (82’).
Estoril was once again relegated to the II Division but returned to the top flight in 2012/13 and a new clash with Benfica, this one flourished by an amazing backheel from Gaitán in the Amoreira. On January 6th, 2013, the Argentinean opened the scoring at the Estádio António Coimbra da Mota with a backheel shot.
Full of brilliance and originality, Gaitán scored at 36 minutes: he got ahead of a defender, after a corner taken by Cardozo, finishing the play acrobatically. 1-3 was the final score, with Lima (59’) and Salvio (65’) scoring the remaining goals in round 13.
From then on, Estoril-Praia remained in the I Division. Four more matches, four wins from the Eagles, always by a one-goal margin.
October 6, 2013, week 7 of the League: Benfica took the 3 points but had to work a lot. 1-2 was the final score, with goals from Lima (10’) and Óscar Cardozo (71’). Javier Balboa, at 74’, responded with the solitary goal from Marco Silva’s team.
Less than a year later (September 27th, 2014), the Estádio António Coimbra da Mota hosted 7587 spectators to watch another Estoril-Benfica. The Reds won again (2-3), but the match was closely fought. Talisca scored at 3’ and at 8’, but Estoril tied the match (Diogo Amaro, at 38’, and Kléber, at 53’). Lima, at 70’, scored the winner for the Eagles.
In the following season, in 2015/16, Benfica traveled to Estoril’s home ground to play the gameweek 18 of the Liga NOS. The reds were 1-nil down, after a goal from Bonatini, at 12’. Rui Vitória brought on Mitroglou to replace Raúl. Mitroglou scored the equalizer. At 67’, Pizzi did what was missing: he scored the winner and provided justice to the Eagles’ performance in the second half.
The last of this streak of seven matches was last season. In the round 14 of the Liga NOS, Benfica won by 0-1. After a goalless first half, Benfica got the lead through a penalty kick, converted by Raúl, but had to suffer until the end to leave the Amoreira with the precious three points in the fight for the national title, which it would win.
Text: Filipa Fernandes Garcia
Pics: Archive / SL Benfica