A brace apiece from captain Alexia Putellas and Aitana Bonmatí, along with a spectacular overhead kick by substitute Asisat Oshoala, gave the Blaugrana a convincing victory against its Portuguese opposition.
It is not the first time that Benfica has been on the receiving end of a humbling at the hands of the Catalan club – Barça put up a historic scoreline in the group stage of the 2022-23 competition, running out a 9-0 winner at home before claiming a 6-2 win in the reverse fixture.
Barcelona dominated throughout and rarely looked troubled: it had 60% possession and attempted 20 shots, compared to Benfica’s five, according to UEFA.
Although the visitors did force Blaugrana goalkeeper Cata Coll into an early save and initially held firm defensively, the host soon found the breakthrough in the 15th minute.
A weaving run from Caroline Graham Hansen into the penalty area saw her eventual shot deflected into the path of Putellas, who headed home from just outside the six-yard box to give Barça the lead.
The home side began to run away with proceedings later in the half when Putellas turned Esmee Brugts’ goalbound header over the line, before Bonmatí calmly slotted past Lena Pauels shortly after.
Barcelona headed into the break with a 3-0 lead, but there was to be no further involvement from Putellas. She appeared to pick up an injury while scoring her first goal and received treatment shortly after before being substituted at half-time.
“I was talking with the doctor at half-time and he told me we had to take her off,” said head coach Jonatan Giráldez to DAZN after the game. “I don’t know [her status] right now, but we have no news.”
It is understandable that Barcelona is unwilling to take risks with its captain after she suffered a significant anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in July 2022 that kept her out of action for over nine months.
Bonmatí drilled home her second of the evening in 52nd minute as Barça tightened its grip on the match.
The home side saved the best for last when Oshoala scored just 30 seconds after coming off the bench. The Nigerian forward met Hansen’s cross with a breathtaking overhead strike that Pauels was unable to keep out, finding the net with her very first touch of the game.
“It’s good to start the season of the Champions League like this with our people here and scoring five goals,” Bonmatí told DAZN after the final whistle. “This is our goal today and we’ll keep going for more.”
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