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Benfica 4-3 Juventus: Rafa double condemns Bianconeri to early exit
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Rafa Silva celebrates after scoring Benfica's third goal against Juventus
Rafa Silva celebrates after scoring Benfica's third goal against Juventus

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.

What does it mean? Dire Juventus dumped out

A 2-0 defeat at Maccabi Haifa had all-but sealed Juventus' fate with two matches remaining in Group C, leaving Allegri's men requiring maximum points from daunting meetings with Benfica and Paris Saint-Germain.

However, even the most pessimistic Juventus fan would have struggled to picture Benfica cutting through the Bianconeri with such ease, becoming the first team in Champions League history to score three first-half goals against them.

Juventus will now be absent from the Champions League's last 16 for the first time since the 2013-14 season, ending a run of eight consecutive runs beyond the group stage and leaving Allegri under monumental pressure.

Eagles soar into last 16

Juventus may have produced another dismal European display, but Benfica deserve credit after taking full advantage of the visitors' woes, and will now be viewed as a side to avoid in the round of 16.

Benfica have now progressed to the Champions League's last 16 in consecutive seasons for just the second time, having previously done so in 2015-16 and 2016-17 under Rui Vitoria.

Rafa runs riot

While the guile of Joao Mario and the movement of Goncalo Ramos left Juventus all at sea in Lisbon, Rafa was the star of the show, combining his direct running and energetic pressing with two terrific finishes as Benfica built a healthy lead.

The winger led his team in shots (six), expected goals (1.27 xG), shots on target (two) and passes in the final third (27) during an all-action display, and thoroughly deserved his brace.

What's next?

Juventus will aim to bounce back from their European disappointment when they go to Lecce in Serie A on Saturday, while Benfica host Chaves in the Primeira Liga on the same day.


JuventusChampions LeagueBenfica
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