Benfica rest key players and get back to winning ways in warning shot to Rangers

Di Maria and Co left on the sidelines as Eagles are victorious against Estoril

Benfica returned to winning ways ahead of their Europa League last 16 second-leg tie against Rangers after overcoming Estoril in the Primeira Liga.

The Eagles relinquished top spot to Sporting CP in the Portuguese league last weekend when losing 5-0 to Porto and the mood of their fans did not significantly improve on Thursday when drawing 2-2 with Rangers in the first leg of their European tie in the Estadio da Luz. However, Roger Schmidt’s team snapped a three-man winless run by defeating Estoril 3-1 at home to remain a point off the summit.

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Schmidt was able to rest key players such as Angel di Maria, Arthur Cabral, Joao Neves and Rafa Silva from his starting XI as he looks to keep them fresh for the match at Ibrox this coming Thursday. Benfica took a 15th-minute lead through Turkish midfielder Orkun Kokcu but Estoril responded seven minutes later via Rodrigo Gomes. Marcos Leonardo netted two minutes into stoppage time to restore the hosts’ lead before Tiago Gouveia completed the scoring on 49 minutes.

It means Benfica will head to Glasgow with a little more confidence to take on a Rangers team who themselves won at the weekend, overcoming Hibs 2-0 in the Scottish Cup at Easter Road.