FC Twente will hope for better luck against UEFA Champions League play-off rivals SL Benfica than they experienced on their last meeting with Portuguese opponents.
There was nothing between the teams in the first leg in Enschede, Luuk De Jong giving Twente an early lead before goals from Óscar Cardozo (21) and Nolito (35) turned the match in the visitors’ favour. Bryan Ruiz headed an 80th-minute equaliser to set up an intriguing second leg.
Twente’s only previous tie against a Portuguese team was against Sporting Clube de Portugal in the 2009/10 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round, and the Dutch club went out on away goals after following up a 0-0 draw in Lisbon with a 1-1 draw in Enschede, Peter Wisgerhof’s own goal five minutes into added time cancelling out Douglas’s opener. As well as Wisgerhof and Douglas, Wout Brama, Ruiz and Sander Boschker were all involved in that tie.
Nikolay Mihaylov – the son of former CF Os Belenenses goalkeeper and now Bulgarian Football Union president Borislav Mihaylov – came off the bench following Boschker’s dismissal in the first leg of that tie, saving a penalty with his first act.
SL Benfica have played 20 games against Dutch sides with the record W7 D8 L5 (W6 D1 L2 at home). They have won their last four home games against Dutch sides, last failing to triumph in a 2-1 loss against PSV Eindhoven in March 1975. Benfica met PSV in the 1988 European Champion Clubs’ Cup final in Stuttgart, losing 6-5 on penalties after a goalless draw.
Benfica have recorded 13 victories from their last 15 European home games, posting five in succession at the Estádio Sport Lisboa e Benfica since their only home loss in that sequence − 2-1 against FC Schalke 04 in the 2010/11 UEFA Champions League group stage.
FC Twente have won just one of their last five European away matches, 2-0 at FC Rubin Kazan in last season’s UEFA Europa League round of 32. Twente made their only previous appearance in the UEFA Champions League proper last season, going straight into the group stage after winning their first Dutch title in 2009/10.
This is FC Twente‘s third attempt at UEFA Champions League qualifying. They lost out to Arsenal FC (agg: 0-6) in the 2008/09 third qualifying round and to Sporting on away goals the following season. This year they overcame SC Vaslui in the third qualifying round, the 2-0 second-leg victory against the Romanian side their first win in six qualifying games.
SL Benfica returned to the group stage in 2010/11 after a two-season absence having competed in three successive group phases up to 2007/08. European champions in 1961 and 1962, the Portuguese team had their best runs in the UEFA Champions League era in 1994/95 and 2005/06 when they reached the quarter-finals.
Benfica have featured in UEFA Champions League qualifying five times, reaching the group stage on three occasions: 1998/99 (Beitar Jerusalem FC, agg: 8-4), 2006/07 (FK Austria Wien, agg: 4-1) and 2007/08 (FC København, agg: 3-1). They missed out in 2003/04 (S.S. Lazio, agg: 1-4) and 2004/05 (RSC Anderlecht, agg: 1-3).