Matic will not show Benfica any love

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Updated 18 October 2017
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Matic will not show Benfica any love

LONDON: Nemanja Matic returns tonight to the club that resurrected his career after he was first deemed surplus to requirements at Chelsea, insisting he will dish out no favours to a club he “loves”.
The rangy midfielder was used very much as bait by Chelsea who wanted to lure David Luiz from Benfica in 2011. The Blues paid Benfica €25 million and threw in Matic for good measure.
The Serbian has since been transformed into one of the world’s best defensive midfielders with Chelsea realizing the error of their ways and resigning Matic for £21 million three years later.
This summer Manchester United were so keen to have him that they paid a whopping £40 million for his services. The fee represented good business for a 29-year-old but it was a surprise Chelsea let go a player, especially to a rival, who had bestrode their midfield during their Premier League title triumph.
And ready to face another of his old teams in tonight’s Champions League clash in Portugal Matic is ready to show his former fans just how far he has come.
“It’s a special club, a club that I love,” said Matic. “At Benfica, I learnt a lot about football and about the pressure of playing for a big club, because they are one of the best clubs in Europe,” he said.
“I will support them for the rest of my life and they will have a special place in my heart but, in the Champions League, I hope we can take points from them.”
The Serbian has hit the ground running in United’s new beefed up midfield under Jose Mourinho, another former Benfica man — United boss was assistant coach at the club back in 2000. Matic’s now blossoming career was very much at the crossroads when he arrived at the Portuguese giants six years ago. Indeed, Benfica were not even sure what his best position was when he arrived.
“When I first came to Benfica, the manager, Jorge Jesus, told me on my first day I would be playing as a No.6 or as a defensive midfielder,” Matic told MUFC.com. “At the beginning, it was strange for me because I didn’t know I could play that position but, slowly, I trained with the team and the manager explained to me how to do it. And after a lot of hard work, now, I’m at Manchester United, so I must have done the job well.”
Matic enjoyed a trophy-laden spell in Portugal. He won the club's Player of the Year crown, a league title and three domestic cups in three years. So unsurprisingly he looks back with real fondness on his time with the Portuguese giants.
United are big favorites for the Champions League clash at the Estadio de Luz. The hosts have only won two of their past seven games and have lost their opening two Champions League ties, 2-1 home defeat to CSKA Moscow, before a 5-0 route away at Basel.
“I was surprised because Benfica is a team who’s used to winning games,” Matic said. “But they are a big club and they have good players, I think everyone there is hard to play against. There are six or seven players still there that played with me, and they have a few younger guys who want to show their quality, but I cannot mention any standouts because, as a team, they are really good.”


Virat Kohli savors first India win over Australia Down Under for a decade

Updated 10 December 2018
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Virat Kohli savors first India win over Australia Down Under for a decade

  • India's last triumph on Australian soil at the WACA in Perth in 2008
  • Kohli confident win sets tourists up for a series win.

ADELAIDE: Virat Kohli said it was “very special” to captain India to their first Test win in Australia for a decade and gave his side crucial momentum in their bid for a maiden series victory.
The visitors won a tightly-contested opening Test in Adelaide by 31 runs on the fifth day after setting Australia a target of 323, which would have been a record run chase at the ground.
It was a big breakthrough for Kohli’s men, with their last triumph on Australian soil at the WACA Ground in Perth in 2008. In Adelaide, their sole previous win was in 2003.
“Obviously it’s a great feeling. We’ve never taken a lead in a series in Australia, something that for us is a huge boost,” he said.
“And it’s given us the right momentum that we needed to play a big series like this and it’s something that we’ve had to work hard for.
“Any Test victory is special because you work hard over five days, and then the physical and the mental toil and the emotion of it all comes together in a result is a very special feeling.”
Kohli, who has long led India’s batting charge with admirable consistency across all three formats but failed to fire in Adelaide, said he believed his team collectively were better than Australia and deserved to win.
The victory was built on Cheteshwar Pujara’s first innings 123 and his second innings 71, while wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant took a world record-equalling 11 catches.
“It was priceless from Pujara, we were down and out at lunch on day one. His grit and determination brought us back in it,” said Kohli.
“We always knew that runs on the board would make the home side tentative. Any lead was gold and we got 15. In the second innings again, he and Rahane batted well.”
Asked if thought 323 would be enough to win, Kohli said his middle and lower order could have done better after a five for 25 collapse at the end of the second innings.
“We could have added another 30-35 runs more which could have taken the game totally beyond Australia,” he said.
“So these are things that we have to think about going to Perth, but if someone had told me before the series that I would be 1-0 up as soon we started the series, I would have taken it with both hands.”
The second Test starts on Friday in Perth, with Melbourne and Sydney to follow.