UCL: Beşiktaş: 3 Benfica: 3

Updated: November 23, 2016

Vodafone Arena was the stage for one of the most heroic comebacks in Turkish football history, especially when it comes to the UEFA Champions League, as the Black Eagles fought back from a 0-3 halftime scoreline to clinch a point and remain unbeaten in all competitions.

Benfica started well to the match an immediatly pressed forward, leftback Eliseu gave the Black Eagles their first scare after he hit the post after just two-and-a-half minutes on the clock. Beşiktaş responded well to that first poke from the visitors and actually scored a goal a little over a minute later after a mix up in the Benfica defence, Vincent Aboubakar beat keeper Ederson with a rebound but the linesman flagged for offside, no golden start for the Black Eagles.

On the contrary, it was Benfica who took the golden start as youngster Gonçalo Guedes slipped through the Beşiktaş defense and went around goalkeeper Fabri: 0-1 after just 10 minutes. Beşiktaş had been in the best position going in to this match despite being a point behind Benfica, but with this goal the visitors were virtually qualified for the next round.

Benfica remained in control of the match for the following few minutes but the Black Eagles started to go forward with a bit more confidence after the 15 minute mark, this led to a decent opportunity in the 23rd minute when Adriano was left unmarked in the box and was played free by Andreas Beck but the Brazilian’s shot went over.

Immediately at the other end the Portuguese Champions dealt another devastating blow to Black Eagles when rightback Nélson Semedo scored a world class goal from the edge of the area, brushing the ball in to the top left corner of Fabri’s goal.

Things went from bad to worse for Beşiktaş as the visitors scored again following a scrimmage in front of goal. Mitroglou hit the bar following a Benfica free-kick and also the rebound from eduardo Salvio ended up against the post but Ljubomir Fejsa followed up well and made it 0-3 with just 30 minutes on the clock; books closed, over and out?

The fans continued to support the team, even more loudly than before, but in the minds of many another Liverpool debacle was already taking shape.

Cenk Tosun's magnificent strike kickstarted a miraculous comeback for the Black Eagles

Cenk Tosun’s magnificent strike kickstarted a miraculous comeback for the Black Eagles

For the remainder of the first half the 0-4 also seemed more likely than a possible 1-3, a miracle seemed out of the question.

Heading in to halftime Benfica were firmly in control and their mission seemed accomplished, but Beşiktaş have proven time and time again that they are a difficult side to beat, coming back from a 0-2 scoreline at halftime against Galatasaray earlier in the season.

Şenol Güneş carried out two changes at halftime as he brought on Cenk Tosun and Gökhan İnler for Tolgay Arslan and Gökhan Gönül.

Again it were the visitors who seemed in control early on in the second half but Beşiktaş snatched a lifeline in the 58th minute when Andreas Beck crossed it in for Cenk Tosun at the far post, the Turkish International met the cross with an emphatic volley to give the Black Eagles a glimpse of hope: 1-3 after 58 minutes. It should really be pointed out that this was another goal of worldclass quality, perhaps even better than Semedo’s goal in the first half.

Beşiktaş gained some much needed momentum from that goal and nearly made it two a few minutes later but Cenk couldn’t pounce quickly enough on the rebound following an Atinç header. Ederson also stayed down for a while following his collision with Cenk.

Aboubakar's 89th minute equalizer kept the Black Eagles' unbeaten run alive.

Aboubakar’s 89th minute equalizer kept the Black Eagles’ unbeaten run alive.

A few minutes later Aboubakar did well to hold on to the ball and pull the Benfica defense towards him before playing it in on the right towards Quaresma, unfortunately the quality of the pass wasn’t what it needed to be and goalkeeper Ederson managed to get on the ball just before Quaresma did which led to another collision and another injury break for the Benfica goalkeeper.

Following these few chances it seemed as if the dust had settled once again and Benfica restored balance, but after a handball from Victor Lindelöf in the 82nd minute the Black Eagles were awarded a penalty. Ricardo Quaresma took the hefty responsiblity to take the spotkick and didn’t make a mistake: 2-3 after 83 minutes. Quaresma sent Ederson the wrong way and scored via the post. Was a miracle really in the making?

Benfica tried to play the ball around and keep possession, which worked well for a few minutes, but towards the end of regular playing time the pressure from the Black Eagles went up once again. Following a ‘rabona’ cross from Ricardo Quaresma on the left, Vincent Aboubakar scored the equalizer from close range and completed the historic comeback! 3-3 after 89 minutes.

Five minutes were added on to the match but there was no more 7th goal. The match finished as it started; all square, but with six goals between the two sides: 3-3 at fulltime.

Standings in Group B


As Napoli couldn’t get past Dynamo Kyiv at the San Paolo (0-0) they remain on level points with Benfica and will need to get atleast a draw away against Benfica (if Beşiktaş get atleast a point in Kyiv).

Benfica need to beat Napoli to be certain of qualification as they have the worse head to head with the Italians (should Beşiktaş win in Kyiv).

Dynamo Kyiv are officially out of the running for both the next round of the Champions and Europa League.

Beşiktaş are certain of qualification should they win against Dynamo Kyiv on matchday 6. If they draw and Napoli lose they are also through. Should Benfica-Napoli end on a draw or Napoli wins then Beşiktaş need to win in Kyiv to qualify.

Who was your man of the match tonight?

Interesting facts:

  • Beşiktaş have become the first Turkish side to come back from a three-goal deficit and not lose in European compeitition.
  • Beşiktaş have been undefeated in the last five UCL games and at since the very first game (11 games, W7 D4).
  • Beşiktaş have made the most successful passes in a single Champions League game this season. (493 completed passes)
  • Beşiktaş have scored five goals from set pieces; more than any other team in Champions League this season.
  • Ricardo Quaresma has been involved in six goals in his five games in this season’s Champions League (three goals and three assists).
  • Ricardo Quaresma now has 11 goals for Beşiktaş in Europe (3 UCL, 8 UEL).
  • Beşiktaş are the first side to come back from 3-0 to 3-3 since Anderlecht in Champions League (vs Arsenal in 2014).
  • Eight of Beşiktaş’ last 15 Champions League goals have been scored after 80th minutes of play.
  • Cenk Tosun has been the first Turkish player to score for Beşiktaş in a Champions League game since Sergen Yalçin versus Chelsea 13 years ago (Chelsea 0-2 Beşiktaş, October 1st 2003).


Stadium: Vodafone Arena

Official: Damir Skomina (SVN)

Beşiktaş XI: Fabricio Ramirez; Gökhan Gönül (46′ Cenk Tosun) – Marcelo Guedes – Duško Tošić (60′ Atınç Nukan) – Andreas Beck; Atiba Hutchinson – Oğuzhan Özyakup – Tolga Arslan (46′ Gökhan İnler); Ricardo Quaresma – Vincent Aboubakar – Adriano Correia

Reserves: Tolga Zengin, Atınç Nukan, Necip Uysal, Gökhan İnler, Olcay Şahan, Kerim Frei, Cenk Tosun

Head coach: Şenol Güneş

Benfica XI: Ederson; Nėlson Semedo – Luisão – Victor Lindelöf – Eliseu; Ljubomir Fejsa – Pizzi – Franco Cervi (64′ Rafa Silva) – Eduardo Salvio; Gonçalo Guedes (75′ Andreas Samaris) – Kostas Mitroglou (86′ Raúl Jimenez)

Reserves: Júlio Cesar, Lisandro López, Andreas Samaris, Raúl Jiménez, Andrė Carrillo, Rafa Silva, Andrė Almeida

Head coach: Rui Vitória

Goals: Gonçalo Guedes (10′), Nélson Semedo (24′), Ljubomir Fejsa (30′), Cenk Tosun (58′), Ricardo Quaresma (83′ Pen.), Vincent Aboubakar (89′)

Yellow cards: Tolga Arslan (28′), Pizzi (34′), Luisão (76′), Vincent Aboubakar (90′)

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Kaan Bayazit

Editor-in-chief at Beşiktaş International
Freelance sports writer specialized in Turkish football and Beşiktaş. Co-host of the Black Eagles podcast. Frequently featured in World Soccer Digest Japan and many other international media outlets. Following Turkish football for close to two decades. Proud father to Aedin.
Kaan Bayazit
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