Juventus crash out Champions League after loss at Benfica2 min read
Juventus were condemned to a humiliating Champions League exit by a 4-3 loss at Benfica on Wednesday, as Rafa Silva’s brace helped the outstanding hosts seal their own place in the last 16.
Massimiliano Allegri’s team arrived at the Estadio da Luz requiring a win to stay in contention in Group C, but were distinctly second-best after Dusan Vlahovic cancelled out Antonio Silva’s opener.
Benfica stormed into a 3-1 lead by the halfway mark as Rafa added to Joao Mario’s penalty with a glorious backheel, and the winger doubled up with another wonderful goal after the break.
Late efforts from Arkadiusz Milik and Weston McKennie ensured a grandstand finish, but it was too little, too late for Juventus as Roger Schmidt’s men held firm.
It came as no surprise when Juventus fell behind after starting slowly, as the 18-year-old Silva met Enzo Fernandes’ inviting cross with a glancing header to beat Wojciech Szczesny after 17 minutes.
The visitors levelled against the run of play when a VAR review overturned an offside call against Vlahovic four minutes later, but there was to be no such reprieve when Juan Cuadrado clumsily handled in his own area with 28 minutes gone.
Joao Mario picked out the top-left corner from the spot to re-establish Benfica’s lead, then turned provider to tee up Rafa’s flicked finish seven minutes later as the hosts threatened to run riot.
Rafa needed just five minutes to double his tally after the restart, dinking another cultured finish beyond Szczesny after latching onto Alejandro Grimaldo’s throughball.
Juventus then gave themselves hope with a quickfire double; first with Milik volleying home Samuel Iling-Junior’s cross before McKennie converted following a goalmouth scramble with 11 minutes remaining.
However, Benfica missed the best chance of an end-to-end finish when Rafa crashed a shot against the post, leaving the hosts to celebrate a famous win.