Bayer Leverkusen settle for second best after draw with Benfica


Bayer Leverkusen had to settle for second place in Champions League Group C after they were held to a goalless draw by Benfica in Portugal. Already guaranteed a place in the last 16 – but needing a win over Benfica, who knew they would finish bottom, to seal top spot – Leverkusen could not find the goal they needed and in fact ended the match with 10 men following the late red card for defender Omer Toprak. Monaco's 2-0 win at home to Zenit St Petersburg ensured they moved ahead of Leverkusen to finish in first place and condemn the Germans to a tougher draw for the knock-out stage. In a match short on chances, it was evident that neither team had a great deal to play for, even if the hosts almost got off to a flying start. They might have gone in front after 11 minutes when Rodrigo Lima let fly from deep inside the area, but his shot cannoned back off the bar. At the other end Hakan Calhanoglu's inswinging corner from the right picked out Simon Rolfes, whose header was saved by Artur Moraes. Lima had another sight of goal in the 25th minute when Pizzi's corner dropped to him in the area, but his effort was blocked by defender Toprak. Both sides were restricted to shots from long range for much of the match, but it finished with a surge of excitement not in keeping with the rest of the match. First, with four minutes to go, Karim Bellarabi fired in a right-footed shot which Artur Moraes parried away. A minute later Pizzi's corner found Cesar in the area, but his header flew over. Leverkusen lost Toprak to a second yellow card in the 90th minute as they had to settle for a point and second place in the pool.