Benfica came from behind twice in the first leg of their Champions League round-of-16 encounter against Ajax on Wednesday, drawing 2-2. Sebastien Haller scored for both clubs in the first half.
The Ivorian has 11 goals in his first seven Champions League appearances for Ajax, the most by a newcomer in Europe’s top club league.
However, it was not enough to secure Ajax’s seventh Champions League win in a row.
After a cross from the right by Noussair Mazraoui, captain Dusan Tadic put Ajax ahead in the 18th minute with a volley past Odisseas Vlachodimos in the Benfica goal.
Haller leveled the score in the 26th minute when he deflected a hard, low cross by former Ajax defender Jan Vertonghen into his own net, but he made apologies three minutes later when he tapped home a rebound to keep his scoring streak going.
Soon before halftime, he had a chance to give Ajax a two-goal lead, but he only managed to tip the ball wide from close range after Edson Alvarez hit the post.
As Ajax won all of their games in the group stage, Haller became the only player in Europe’s top-tier competition to score 10 goals in his first six games.
However, the Amsterdam team struggled in Lisbon, as Benfica threatened with lightning breaks throughout the second half.
Everton’s deflected attempt flew wide in the 55th minute, and Darwin Nunez just missed getting on the end of Rafa Silva’s cross five minutes later. Nunez, who has scored 23 times in all competitions this season, had a rare failure.
When Remko Pasveer blocked a powerful drive by Goncalo Ramos, substitute Roman Yaremchuk beat Steven Berghuis to the ball and headed in Benfica’s second equalizer of the night in the 72nd minute, the pressure finally paid off.
The evening’s other round-of-16 match also ended in a draw, 1-1 between Atletico Madrid and Manchester United.