Astana v Benfica: Undermanned visitors eye last 16


Benfica are set to be without captain Luisao as they look to seal a place in the Champions League last 16 with a win over Astana.

The Primeira Liga champions suffered a 2-1 extra-time loss to rivals Sporting CP in the Taca de Portugal on Saturday.

While they had two players sent off, an injury to Luisao added to the bad day for Rui Vitoria's men.

The 34-year-old Brazilian fractured his elbow in the defeat and required an operation, the club confirmed on Sunday.

Benfica, who sit third in the league table, are well placed to reach the round of 16 in Europe.

The Portuguese giants are top of Group C on nine points, two clear of Atletico Madrid and well ahead of Galatasaray (four points) and Astana (two).

Benfica head to the Astana Arena to meet the Kazakh hosts, who also come into the clash on the back of a defeat in the cup.

Holders Kairat were 2-1 victors against Astana, who must win to keep their chances of Champions League progression alive.

A win will see Benfica advance, but a draw may also be enough for the visitors.

Adding to Vitoria's worries, Nicolas Gaitan is missing for Benfica as he serves a one-game ban.

Gaitan has been Benfica's leading goalscorer in the Champions League this season with three of their seven strikes.

Patrick Twumasi returns from suspension for Astana, while Bauyrzhan Dzholchiyev is banned for the Benfica clash.

Despite their absentees, Benfica should take the huge opportunity and seal progression from Group C.