Benfica defeats Maccabi 2-0 in its Champions League opener

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LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Benfica defeated Maccabi Haifa 2-0 in the group stage of the Champions League on Tuesday, getting off to a strong start in its quest to repeat its good run from a season ago.

Rafa Silva scored in the 49th minute and Alejandro Grimaldo in the 54th to give the hosts the opening win.

Benfica reached the quarterfinals last season after advancing past a group that included Barcelona and Bayern Munich. It defeated Ajax in the round of 16 before losing to eventual runner-up Liverpool in the quarterfinals.

In the other Group H match on Tuesday, Paris Saint-Germain defeated Juventus 2-1.

Benfica latest signings, American defender John Brooks and German midfielder Julian Draxler, stayed on the bench.

Brooks warmed up to come in near the end of the first half after Nicolás Otamendi got injured, but the team captain stayed in the game.

Benfica started in the third qualifying round for the second straight season.

Maccabi had waited 13 years since its last appearance in the Champions League.

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The Associated Press