In the early morning of December 13th, Beijing time, Salzburg played against Benfica at home in a Group D match of the Champions League group stage. In the end, Benfica relied on the joint goals of Di Maria, Rafael Silva and Artur Cabral to defeat Salzburg 3-1, relying on the advantage of more away goals in each other’s games to complete the buzzer beater. Qualified for the Europa League.
As the second champion of the Champions League, Benfica entered the top 8 last season. Their performance this season was poor. After losing 4 consecutive games in the beginning, they were eliminated early. It was not until the 5th round that they drew 3-3 at home with Inter Milan and struggled to get 1 point. Since Salzburg only leads by 3 points, Benfica still has a chance to overtake and rise to third in the group.
In this game, Argentine superstar Di Maria started the game and once again became Benfica’s savior.
In the 32nd minute, Di Maria took a corner kick and the ball flew directly into the net from the near post. The Salzburg goalkeeper had little time to react. Benfica took the lead 1-0 and the whole team celebrated wildly.
In the stoppage time of the first half, Di Maria sent an assist, and Rafa Silva broke into the penalty area and scored, helping Benfica expand the score 2-0.
The two teams each scored a goal in the second half. In the end, Benfica defeated Salzburg 3-1. The two teams scored 4 points together, and they had 1 win and 1 loss against each other. They also had the same goal difference and number of goals. The final comparison In terms of away goals, Benfica dominated, eventually overtaking Salzburg and rising to third in the group, qualifying for the Europa League knockout play-offs.
In this game, Di Maria became the number one contributor to Benfica’s victory, and also broke a series of records:
First, this is Di Maria’s second goal in the Champions League after three years. The last time he played for Paris Saint-Germain was when he scored Leipzig’s goal, but the team eventually suffered a reversal.
Second, this is the second direct goal from a corner kick in the Champions League in the past two years. It is also the first time in Di Maria’s career that he has scored directly from a corner kick in the Champions League.
Third, Di Maria became the oldest player to score in the Champions League in the history of Benfica at the age of 35 years and 301 days.
Fourth, at 35 years and 301 days old, Di Maria surpassed Messi and became the second-oldest Argentine player to score in the history of the Champions League.
Fifth, since making his Champions League debut, Di Maria has sent 35 assists in the Champions League, surpassing Ronaldo (34) and second only to Messi (36).
This is not the first time Di Maria has saved Benfica, including the Portuguese Super Cup at the beginning of the season. Di Maria scored a goal to help Benfica defeat Porto and win the championship. According to statistics, this is the 12th final in which Di Maria has scored, and he has won 11 championships.
This summer, Di Maria rejected a high-paying offer from a Saudi club and returned to his old club Benfica after 13 years, because Benfica was Di Maria’s first stop in Europe.