New England Soccer Today

Benfica Falls to Fiorentina on PKs in Hartford

Portuguese Liga champion Benfica played in front of a sea of red during Friday’s International Champions Cup clash at Rentschler Field, but were unable to reward their supporters with a win after falling 0-0 (5-4 on penalties) to Serie A side Fiorentina in East Hartford, Ct.

A crowd of 15,791 witnessed the scoreless match go to penalties, where Fiorentina backup keeper Luca Lezzerini denied Benfica’s final penalty try, which came from the right foot of reserve Mehdi Carcela-Gonzalez.

“Nothing worries me at this point of the preseason,” said Benfica coach Rui Vitoria told the media through a translator following the match. “We did have some problems. We tried some different tactics today. It’s normal. In the second half, we were more organized. We had to reorganize after we had 10 players.”

Friday’s match was a particularly physical affair that featured eight cautions before the interval, and a total of 38 fouls before penalties were employed. Benfica finished with 10 men after Luisao picked up his second caution in the 66th minute.

Fiorentina’s Josip Ilicic created the best attacking moment of the evening when he fired a tough-angled shot that smacked off the crossbar in the 56th minute.

The exhibition in Hartford marked the first time Benfica played in New England since 2010, when they thrashed the Revolution 4-0 in a club friendly at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

Portuguese side FC Porto was originally scheduled to be Fiorentina’s opponent for Friday’s clash, but dropped out of the International Champions Cup tournament weeks ahead of its start.

Benfica will return to action on Sunday at Red Bull Arena where they’ll play the New York Red Bulls. Fiorentina will journey back across the Atlantic to face Barcelona in Florence on Aug. 8.

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