Benfica head coach Jorge Jesus has labelled the entrance of Oscar Cardozo as ‘crucial’ in his side’s UEFA Europa League win over Bordeaux.
Cardozo was brought on in the 66th minute of Thursday’s round-of-16 second leg in France with Benfica 1-0 ahead, and the Paraguayan striker scored twice as Jesus’ team triumphed 3-2 at the Stade Jacques Chaban-Delmas and 4-2 on aggregate.
Just eight minutes after Cardozo’s introduction, Cheick Diabate equalised for Bordeaux, taking the French side to within a goal on aggregate.
But with the tie on the line, Cardozo struck immediately after Diabate’s goal, controlling Nicolas Gaitan’s chipped pass over the top of Bordeaux’s defence and turning to slot the ball home.
After Bordeaux again equalised on the night through Jardel Viera’s own goal, Cardozo again produced a cool finish in the box, evading Andre Biyogo Poko’s tackle to score with the outside of his left foot and wrap up Benfica’s victory.
“The entrance of Cardozo was crucial,” Jesus said after the match.
“He is a very cool player in the penalty area.”
Jesus added he was thrilled with the performances of some of the lesser-known members of his squad who were given an opportunity in France.
With regular starters like Cardozo, Lima and Maxi Pereira on the bench, Gaitan started just his 10th game of the season, impressing alongside other youngsters Roderick and Andre Almeida as Benfica moved into the last eight of the Europa League.
“It was the game of the Europa League in which I used the most players ordinarily kept on the bench,” Jesus said.
“It was a response from players who have not played much.”