Chaves 2-2 Benfica: Chaves earn impressive point with late equaliser
Benfica were held to Chaves 2-2 as they extended their domestic unbeaten run this campaign and maintained their lead at the top of the table, while also falling short in a match that they fully expected to win.
With the match kicking off an hour late due to heavy rain, the first goal came just a few minutes after kick-off, when Rafa slotted home a low cross from Franco Cervi, with Benfica looking set to ease their way to victory and go three points clear of their nearest rivals in Braga at the top of the table.
Both Chaves and Benfica had chances to add to the scoresheet from that point forth though, and only for a couple of good saves from Benfica keeper shot-stopper did Benfica maintain their clean sheet heading into the break.
Benfica dominated in the second half, with several chances to put the game to bed, but after big opportunities were passed up by both Seferovic and Cervi, the scoreline always remained on a knife edge, and Chaves eventually capitalised.
It came in the 76th minute, when Armenian international Gevorg Ghazaryan smashed an excellent long-distance free-kick past the wall and into the bottom left corner, the ball travelling too fast for Vlachodimos to stop.
With the clock ticking down and time running out, it looked as if Benfica were set to drop two points in their pursuit of reclaiming the Premeira Liga title, but with just six minutes left of normal time, it was Rafa again that popped up for Benfica, using his pace to get on the end of Ruben Dias' through-ball to rifle home and all but settle the match for The Eagles, who looked like they were heading home with all the points.
Benfica had to endure a tense end to the game though, after summer-signing Conti, who only came on for the injured Jardel early on, was given a straight red card for a strong challenge with just three minutes to go. With Benfica using up all their available substitutions, Fejsa had to be utilised as an emergency centreback, with Benfica hoping to see this one out.
However, into the 94th minute of the game, Chaves pulled off an unlikely upset when Ghazaryan got his second of the night, a shot from an angle which once again flew past the German goalkeeper in between the Benfica sticks. With no time to respond, the 10-men of Benfica had to settle for a point as this season’s title race continues to prove somewhat unpredictable.
The result certainly opens things up for Braga though, who sit just a point behind Benfica with a game in hand. Having already seen Porto lose this season and having already beaten Sporting, while also having no Europa League distraction, Abel Ferreira’s Braga will certainly fancy their chances of mounting an impressive - and historic - title challenge.