ASTANA, Kazakhstan – Benfica rallied from a two-goal deficit as Mexico international Raul Jimenez scored once in half each to force a 2-2 draw with host Astana in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday at Astana Arena.
The result clinched a place in the round of 16 for the Portuguese power, which could seal the Group C title when it hosts Atletico Madrid – Jimenez’s previous club – on December 8. The Iberian sides are currently even atop the table on 10 points each.
Astana jumped out to an improbable lead thanks to goals by Patrick Twumasi (19’) and Marin Anicic (31’).
Five minutes before halftime, however, Jimenez powerfully headed Jonas’ right-sided cross into the top-right corner from seven-yards out to halve the deficit.
The 44-time capped forward, who appeared in both of Mexico’s wins in World Cup Qualifying earlier in the month, completed his brace in the 72nd minute. From the right, a racing Andre Almeida delivered a cross along the ground and into the box that Jimenez did well to direct into the lower-left corner with his right foot from eight yards.
The goals were the 24-year-old’s first in six career UCL games.