Salzburg's Roko Simic celebrates scoring his side's opening goal during...

Salzburg's Roko Simic celebrates scoring his side's opening goal during the Champions League group D soccer match between SL Benfica and Salzburg at the Luz stadium in Lisbon, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023. Credit: AP/Armando Franca

LISBON, Portugal — Benfica handed Salzburg the chances the Austrian champion's youthful squad needed for a 2-0 win in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Salzburg missed one early penalty but was handed another for a needless handball soon after, putting it on course for a surprise win as Benfica played more than 75 minutes with 10 players.

Benfica gave up a penalty just over a minute into the game when goalkeeper Anatoliy Trubin jumped into Salzburg's Strahinja Pavlović while trying to intercept the ball at a corner. Karim Konaté blasted the spot-kick high over the bar.

Portuguese champion Benfica — with ex-Salzburg coach Roger Schmidt — seemed to be taking control of the game when João Mário hit the post in the 12th minute but almost immediately afterward gave up another penalty.

A deflected shot looped high into the air and bounced off the crossbar onto António Silva's outstretched arm as he tried to clear. He was sent off. This time, penalty taker Roko Šimić made no mistake and scored as Trubin dived the wrong way.

Even with 10 players, Benfica remained dangerous, led by the 35-year-old Ángel Di María, but was held at bay by fine saves from Salzburg goalkeeper Alexander Schlager before more ragged defending handed Salzburg another goal in the 51st. Four Salzburg players got in behind the Benfica defensive line on the break, giving Šimić options before he played in Oscar Gloukh to score.

Benfica made the Champions League quarterfinals in both of the last two seasons but the early loss to Salzburg is a blow to its chances of qualifying from a competitive group. Salzburg coach Gerhard Struber picked up a win in his first Champions League game after departing the New York Red Bulls in May.

Turkish referee Halil Umut Meler shows a red card to...

Turkish referee Halil Umut Meler shows a red card to Benfica's Antonio Silva during the Champions League group D soccer match between SL Benfica and Salzburg at the Luz stadium in Lisbon, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023. Credit: AP/Armando Franca

Real Sociedad drew 1-1 with last season's Champions League runner-up Inter Milan in the other game in Group D.

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