Juventus vs. Benfica: Final score 0-0, Portuguese champions advance

Valerio Pennicino

Benfica had a man sent off, another sent off from the bench and a third injured, but managed to hang on for a scoreless draw against Juventus with nine men.

Benfica won't have most of their first-choice starting XI for the final, but they've defeated Juventus to progress in the Europa League. The bianconeri were playing for a chance to contest the final at their own stadium, but couldn't score against a Benfica team that defended expertly, even with nine men.

Thursday's match ended in a 0-0 draw, sending the visitors through thanks to their a 2-1 win in the home leg a week ago. This is the first time that Juventus have been held scoreless at home in over a year.

Benfica were actually the aggressors in the opening period of the game and had a great chance five minutes in when Lima had a shot blocked less than 12 yards out from goal, but Juventus were dominant once they settled down. And despite their early aggression, Benfica looked content to concede possession to Juventus as the first half wore on. They defended expertly, keeping Juventus from creating clear chances.

The hosts had a nice spell at the end of the first half with two near-goals, but they failed to convert both. Leonardo Bonucci headed a set piece just wide in the 43rd minute and Luisao cleared a header by Arturo Vidal off the line two minutes later.

That flurry of action didn't turn into second half dominance for Juventus, who were pretty comfortably held at bay immediately after the break. But the game changed a bit in the 67th minute, when Enzo Perez was shown a second yellow card. It didn't change how Benfica defended, but it meant they didn't have any kind of attacking outlet and mostly ceased going forward. This effect was even more dramatic when Eduardo Salvio entered for Nico Gaitan in the 76th minute.

Juventus were dominating in the closing minutes and were a bit unlucky not to score, though Benfica certainly deserve credit for how well they played defensively. Pablo Osvaldo thought he had a winning goal in the 81st minute, but Paul Pogba -- the man who passed to him -- was called offside on the initial pass in to him.

In the 88th minute, Miralem Sulejmani stayed down after a challenge by Martin Caceres, which Juventus didn't take too kindly to. Their accusations of time-wasting led to a fight on the bench, which resulted in the sendings off of Lazar Markovic -- who had been substituted -- and Mirko Vucinic -- who had not entered the game.

Just two minutes after that, Benfica were sent down to nine men. Pogba was whistled for dangerous play on an overhead kick attempt that eventually caused an injury, though in unconventional fashion. Ezequiel Garay slipped just before Pogba went up for the shot attempt and the French international landed with his studs directly onto Garay's face, cutting him severely. Benfica had already used all three substitutes, so they weren't able to bring on a replacement.

A full eight minutes of stoppage time were played and there was one-way traffic throughout, but Juventus never scored and Benfica held on to punch their ticket to the final.

Juventus: Buffon, Chiellini, Bonucci (Giovinco 72'), Caceres, Asamoah, Pogba, Pirlo, Vidal (Marchisio 78'), Lichtsteiner, Tevez, Llorente (Osvaldo 78')

Goals: None.

Benfica: Oblak, Siqueira, Luisao, Garay, Pereira, Amorim, Perez (red 67'), Lima, Gaitan (Salvio 76'), Markovic (Sulejmani 85'), Rodrigo (Almeida 68')

Goals: None.

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