Benfica beat Maccabi Haifa in their Champions League opener

Benfica beat Maccabi Haifa in their Champions League opener

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Benfica beat Maccabi Haifa 2-0 in the Champions League group stage on Tuesday, getting off to a strong start as they look to repeat their good run from last season.

Rafa Silva scored in the 49th minute and Alejandro Grimaldo headed home a long-range shot in the 54th minute for the hosts.

“It was a great goal from Grimaldo,” Benfica coach Roger Schmidt said.

Benfica reached the quarter-finals last season after topping a group that included Barcelona and Bayern Munich. It beat Ajax in the round of 16 before losing to eventual runners-up Liverpool in the quarter-finals.

In another Group H match on Tuesday, Paris Saint-Germain beat Juventus 2-1.

Benfica’s latest signings, American defender John Brooks and German midfielder Julian Drexler, remained on the bench.

Brooks warmed up for the game after an injury to Nicolas Otamendi at the end of the first half, but the team captain remained in the game.

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

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

“Of course I’m disappointed, we had our chances but we didn’t take advantage,” Maccabi coach Barak Bokar said. The pace was higher than what we are used to, but we will make our adjustments and get back ready for the next game.

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