Witsel delivers as Benfica oust Twente

SL Benfica 3-1 FC Twente (agg: 5-3) Axel Witsel's first two goals for his new club helped the Eagles swoop into the UEFA Champions League group stage at the expense of Twente.

Axel Witsel receives congratulations from team-mate Pablo Aimar
Axel Witsel receives congratulations from team-mate Pablo Aimar ©Getty Images

Summer signing Axel Witsel was the star of the show after a 3-1 victory in Lisbon thrust SL Benfica back into the UEFA Champions League group stage as FC Twente crumbled after the break.

The sides drew 2-2 in the first leg, but Belgium midfielder Witsel put the Eagles ahead within a minute of the restart in Portugal, and the writing was on the wall for Co Adriaanse's side when Luisão nodded a second. Witsel then stole through to put a crisp shot past Nikolay Mihaylov and make it 3-0 before Bryan Ruiz struck back for Twente.

From the outset, Javi García, Nolito and Witsel tormented their guests from midfield; Nolito struck the outside of the net early on, and a succession of chances were carved out thereafter, with only the accuracy of their finishing – and some fine saves from Mihaylov – denying Jorge Jesus's side a healthy half-time advantage. Twente had set out to attack with a four-man forward line, but efforts from Ruiz and Marc Janko were all they had to show for their exertions before the break.

Things quickly deteriorated for Adriaanse's side after the interval, Luisão nodding on a free-kick for Witsel to score his first Benfica goal with a fine overhead kick. The Brazilian provider then turned goalscorer, heading in at the near post from Pablo Aimar's corner, and some sparkling midfield play released Witsel to stride through and score his side's third not long afterwards.

Benfica keeper Artur produced a fine save to block Ruiz's goal-bound header with 20 minutes to go, but he could not prevent the Costa Rican getting on the scoresheet as the clock ticked down, substitute Ola John claiming the assist.