The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
AC Milan scores twice in four-minute span to defeat Benfica at BMO Field
TORONTO - AC Milan's legends team looked better than a squad of former players should Wednesday night.
The Italian side scored twice in a four-minute span in the second half to defeat former stars from S.L. Benfica 2-0 to win the Legends Cup at BMO Field.
Christian Lantignotti finished off a cross from Ibrahim Ba in the 65th minute to get AC Milan on the board.
Then in the 68th minute Milan forward Gauz was taken down in the area. Defender Massimo Oddo easily beat Benfica keeper Nuno Santos on the ensuing penalty kick to give his team a 2-0 lead.
"I think AC Milan they play quite a few times a year, I heard 16 times together in a year. This was the first time we played together and I think we did very well," said Benfica coach Antonio Jerontomo. "If we start to play together more often, which we want to do, we will improve as well."
Wednesday's match was played as a tribute to the late Mozambique native, Portuguese footballer Eusebio, who passed away Jan. 5 at the age of 71.
Despite dominating the first-half possession and out-chancing Benfica the two sides remained scoreless at half.
"I think it was a good performance by two good teams," said Jerontomo. "I think we started off well. Maybe AC Milan had a little bit more chances. Probably they have a little more options on the bench as we had a couple of injuries.
"The players felt a little bit tired, but I think the spectators enjoyed seeing the ex-champions. They still can play, but not as quick as before. It was a decent game. It was a good crowd, very good crowd."
Ba had many quality chances for AC Milan. He nearly opened the scoring in the 14th minute, but collided with Santos and put his shot just wide of the goal.
Two minutes later, Santos got just enough of Ba's free kick from just outside the area to deflect the shot wide of the goal.
In the 20th minute, AC Milan forward Christian Vieri had an excellent strike from the area, but put it just wide.
"We've been in Iran, we're going to be in China so we've been all around the world. We've had a lot of friendly matches and maybe we'll be back in Toronto," said Milan's Palo Maldini. "The crowd was great. We're trying to put on a good show. People were excited to see the old Milan team."
Benfica didn't generate much by way of scoring chances in the opening 40 minutes, but in the 32nd minute forward Nandinho had a great opportunity from just outside the box. However, he put the shot over the crossbar.
As for Italy's chances at the upcoming World Cup next month in Brazil, Maldini didn't seem optimistic.
"Italy always battles for the final," he said. "This year is not going to be very easy. The quality is not so good, but we will have a chance to reach semifinal."
AC Milan is a seven-time winner of Champion's League while Benfica won last year's Primeira Liga.
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(1 of 50 articles for this week)07/31/2014 12:41 PM 0