Sheffield Wednesday continued their 100% pre-season record with an impressive 1-0 win over 35-time Portuguese champions Benfica on Wednesday evening.
Fernando Forestieri’s well-taken first half goal was enough to earn the Owls victory against the twice European champions in Hillsborough’s first match over the new campaign.
After beating Derby County 4-0 on Saturday evening, Benfica concluded their short tour of England with a visit to Portuguese manager Carlos Carvalhal’s Sheffield Wednesday side.
It was the first game to be played at the home of the Owls since they beat Brighton & Hove Albion 2-0 in the Championship play-off semi-final back in May, and over 12,000 supporters headed to Hillsborough to see their side back in action against one of the most established names in world football.
The visitors had the first decent opportunity of the evening. Jardel cut back a free kick towards the far post into the path of Junior, but the 23-year-old winger failed to adequately connect from inside the area.
Wednesday quickly found their feet, however, and should have opened the scoring in the 20th minute when Barry Bannan’s shot deflected into the path of Forestieri in front of goal – goalkeeper Paulo Lopes denying the Argentinian attacker from close range.
It took only three minutes for Forestieri to make up for his missed opportunity. The 26-year-old latched on to Marco Matias’ through ball and, after a tremendous first touch past the defender, he slotted the ball into the bottom corner to give the Owls the lead.
The scoreline remained this way until the interval, from when the contest took on much more of a pre-season feel with regular substitutions, softer challenges and fewer clear-cut chances.
Bannan came closest to doubling the lead in the 75th minute with a strike from range that flew just inches wide of Lopes’ goal.
Having had a quiet second-half in which they rarely threatened debutant goalkeeper Jake Kean, Benfica finally began to put pressure on the Wednesday defence in search of an equaliser as they entered the final ten minutes – roared on by their passionate travelling supporters who rarely stopped singing throughout the evening.
However, the Portuguese side never truly looked like finding the net and Sheffield Wednesday ultimately earned themselves a notable 1-0 victory over the reigning Primeira Liga champions.
The Owls now head to Portugal for their next pre-season action, facing CD Nacional at the Estadio Albufeira Municipal on Sunday, while Benfica take on German side Wolfsburg in Austria on the same day.
Sheffield Wednesday (1)
Line-up: Jake Kean, Jack Hunt, Liam Palmer, Tom Lees, Sam Hutchinson, Ross Wallace (Marnick Vermijl ’63), Marco Matias (Jose Semedo ’72), Kieran Lee (Filipe Melo ’72), Barry Bannan (George Hirst ’90), Lucas Joao (Jeremy Helan ’83), Fernando Forestieri (Atdhe Nuhiu ’63)
Scorers: Fernando Forestieri ’23
Line-up: Paulo Lopes, Alex Grimaldo (Mehdi Carcela-Gonzalez), Luisao (Lisandro Lopez), Ljubomir Fejsa (Andreas Samaris), Andre Horta (Guillermo Celis ’46 (Luka Jovic)), Eduardo Salvio (Andre Carrillo ’46), Chuky (Pizzi ’46), Junior (Goncalo Guedes ’46), Rui Fonte (Konstantinos Mitroglou ’46), Jardel, Nelson Semedo (Andre Almeida ’46)
Date: 20th July 2016
Competition: Pre-Season Friendly
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