Benfica routs Brugge, reaches Champions League quarterfinals

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Benfica continued its good run with a comfortable 5-1 win over Club Brugge on Tuesday to seal its spot in the quarterfinals of the Champions League for the second straight season.

The Portuguese team advanced 7-1 on aggregate following its 2-0 win in the first leg in Belgium.

Rafa Silva, João Mário and David Neres scored a goal each, and Gonçalo Ramos found the net twice for Benfica, which hadn’t made it to the last eight in consecutive seasons in more than five decades. It was eliminated by eventual runner-up Liverpool last year.

Brugge, making its debut in the knockout stage of the Champions League, plunged deeper into crisis under coach Scott Parker. The team has won only twice in 12 matches since the English manager took over in December.

The Belgian champions were one of the surprises of the group stage, finishing second to Porto and ahead of Bayer Leverkusen and Atletico Madrid.

Benfica was another surprise after finishing first in a group that included Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus. It entered the knockout stage in great form, enjoying a 12-game unbeaten run in all competitions with 10 win in those matches. It has lost only once in 42 matches this season and is unbeaten in its 19 homes games.

Benfica was in control from the start at the Stadium of Light, with Silva opened the scoring from inside the area in the 38th minute. Ramos added to the lead with close-range goals in first-half stoppage time and early after halftime. Mário scored the fourth by converting a 71st-minute penalty kick, and David Neres closed the scoring for the hosts from the box in the 77th.

Bjorn Meijer scored Brugge's lone goal with a neat one-timer into the top corner in the 87th. It was the team's first goal after four scoreless matches in the Champions League.

Mário became the first player to score in five consecutive appearances in the competition for Benfica since the great Eusébio in a run from 1963-64.

Mário had already found the net with a back-heel touch two minutes into the match but the goal was disallowed for an offside by Ramos in the buildup.

The Portuguese club has not failed to scored in its last 17 European matches, and it has scored two or more goals in 11 of its last 13 games in Europe.

Benfica, twice a European champion in the early 1960s, had last made it to the last eight in consecutive seasons in 1968 and 1969. It last advanced past the quarterfinals in 1990, when it eventually lost the final to AC Milan.

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The Associated Press