Portuguese champion Benfica boosted its hopes of reaching the Champions League knockout stage by beating Lyon 2-1 Wednesday thanks to a late blunder by goalkeeper Anthony Lopes.
Lopes, who is Portuguese, tried to quickly throw the ball out of his area in the 86th minute but his pass was intercepted by Benfica’s Pizzi Fernandes near midfield, and the forward sent a shot straight into the open net.
“We are all very disappointed because we gave it everything to get back on level terms,” Lyon defender Leo Dubois said. “We can’t be upset with (Lopes) because he’s got us out of trouble so many times in the past. Mistakes happen, that’s football.”
Fernandes had come off the bench 20 minutes into the game to replace the injured Rafa Silva, who had opened the scoring for Benfica in the fourth minute.
Memphis Depay equalized in the 70th for Lyon, which hadn’t lost in 11 straight group-stage matches in the Champions League, dating back to a defeat against Juventus in 2016.
It was the first win for Benfica after two straight losses to open its campaign in Group G. It remains in last place but is now only one point behind both Lyon and Zenit St. Petersburg.
“It was a tough win in a tough game,” Benfica midfielder Gabriel said. “We know this competition is like this, it demands a lot from us and is decided in the small details. We suffered when we had to suffer and won duels when we had to win them.”
Leipzig has a two-point lead at the top after coming from behind to beat Zenit 2-1 earlier Wednesday.
Benfica visits Lyon on Nov. 5, while Zenit hosts Leipzig.
Benfica last made it out of the group stage in the 2016-17 season, when it was eliminated by Borussia Dortmund in the round of 16.
The Portuguese club had lost 12 of its last 15 Champions League matches, including two this season – 2-1 at home against Leipzig and 3-1 at Zenit.
No French club has beaten Benfica in the team’s last 15 games in European competitions.