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Goals from Joao Mario and David Neres saw Benfica win 2-0 away over Club Brugge in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie as Scott Parker started life as a Champions League manager with defeat.

Joao Mario’s 51st-minute spot-kick came after Benfica had spurned a host of good opportunities as they dominated the away encounter and ensured they have a lead to defend at home in the return in Lisbon on March 7.

The penalty was awarded after Brugge’s Scotland defender Jack Hendry had brought down Goncalo Ramos in a clumsy challenge.

Neres took advantage of a defensive slip to tuck away the second goal in the 88th minute.

Brugge defender Bjorn Meijer failed to clear and substitute Neres stole in to take possession and score. He had a further effort in the net in stoppage time disallowed for offside.

Joao Mario was among a host of Benfica attackers who missed good chances in the first half as the two-time European Cup winners overcame a good early spell from Club Brugge to set up a series of opportunities.

Benfica's Joao Mario put the Portuguese side 1-0 up from the penalty spot
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Benfica’s Joao Mario put the Portuguese side 1-0 up from the penalty spot

Ramos and Antonio Silva squandered the best opportunities as they put their headed efforts over the top.

With the crowd in full support, Brugge produced a bright start to the game with both Tajon Buchanan and Noa Lang having efforts blocked in the opening 20 minutes at the Jan Breydel Stadium.

But, after that, the visitors took command and were able to easily cut through the home defence, though they proved poor with their finishing.

Brugge had the ball in Benfica’s net a minute before half-time but Denis Odoi was offside as he got a back-post touch to Lang’s free kick.

Benfica's David Neres scores his side's second goal
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Benfica’s David Neres scores his side’s second goal

The Belgians, under new coach Parker, were hoping the Champions League would give them a chance to shake off a run of poor domestic form but now face an uphill struggle to stay in the competition.

They won 4-0 at FC Porto in September when they emerged as surprise qualifiers from the group phase and will need a similar shock result to advance to the quarter-finals.

Benfica extended their best-ever unbeaten run in the Champions League to eight matches.

What’s next?

Club Brugge play three times before the return leg in Portugal. They have trips to rivals Cercle Brugge and Oostende either side of a home game against Gent.

Benfica also have three matches before the return fixture, with two of them at home. They host Boavista on Monday, before going to Vizela. Their third game is at home to Famalicao.

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