Dominated by Ajax for most of this round of 16 return (2-2 in the first leg), Benfica reached the quarter-finals thanks to a goal from their goleador Darwin Núñez. To believe that nothing can resist the “new Cavani”, current top scorer in the Portuguese championship.
However much we say, however much we do, statistics are a very fragile thing. Ajax may have struck 16 times on goal on Tuesday evening (compared to 4 for Benfica) and monopolized the ball 66% of the time, Erik ten Hag’s team did not know what to make of these figures when go to the checkout after his elimination against the Lisbon club. It was therefore time to see that football is sometimes as simple as a headbutt from Darwin Núñez. Dominated head and shoulders, the Benfiquists, who had already suffered in the first leg, can thank the one whom the South American media have fun dubbing the “new Cavani”. An update is in order: when the original version of Edinson Cavani left the Champions League on Tuesday with Manchester United, the one who is still only 22 years old will play in the quarter-finals.
Haaland and Lukaku in the rearview mirror
There is no doubt that this saving pawn will allow Darwin Núñez to see his rating climb a little more. The solid center-forward (1m87, 81 kilos), however, did not wait to make the Johan Cruyff Arena his thing to distinguish himself in the Champions League. The Benfiquist goleador, incidentally already leader of the Liga Nos scorer rankings (22 games, 20 goals), is thus now at four pawns in this Champions League 2021/2022, which allows him for example to see in his rear view mirror cars like Erling Haaland (3) or Romelu Lukaku (2). Driven by a Dutch public on big nights, the Ajacides remained silent with each ball taken by the SLB striker, who had scored earlier in the season against Barça (doubled) and Bayern. Núñez lost no ball during the game. Although alone in the lead from the kick-off, the striker knew that a thankless role awaited him: he was instructed to keep the leather in his feet to bring up a Portuguese block positioned far too low. Daley Blind and his teammates have never been able to prevent Núñez from completing his mission. Alone against two opponents in the corner of the corner, with his back to goal in the center of the field, or even in the last thirty meters to help his partners go up a notch, Núñez has always managed to play with his body and of his finesse to achieve his ends. “We suffered a lot throughout the game. Our coach asked us to defend well. , explained the man of the match at the end of the meeting at the microphone of beIN SPORTS. Determined to respect the instructions, the Benfiquists therefore waited for the few set pieces obtained to bring danger. On one of them struck beautifully by Álex Grimaldo, Darwin Núñez jumped higher than everyone, including poor goalkeeper André Onana, and sent his header into the back of the Dutch net. The kind of pawn that his idol Edinson Cavani has scored hundreds of times. Núñez’s aerial game is indeed reminiscent of that of his model, in the same way as his combativeness or his way of putting on the headband around his head before each start of the match. To tell the truth, Núñez is above all a carbon copy ofThe Matador in view of his career. Before exploding in Europe – evidenced by the 40 goals and fourteen assists of the young striker in the tunic of Benfica since his arrival – Núñez first played two years in the Uruguayan championship, as if to salute a country in which everything hasn’t always been easy.
Biggest sale in the history of Peñarol
“When there was not enough food, my mother gave me hers” confided Darwin Núñez last month in the columns of the Portuguese daily Record. Coming from a modest family in the small town of Artigas, in the north of Uruguay, the player swears to take everything on the football field to thank his mother. Seeing Darwin integrate the training center of the famous Club Atlético Peñarol at sixteen, his parents and his big brother take full measure of the talent of the youngest. Motivated, the nugget rose through the ranks without difficulty before joining the pro group. In just 22 games under the yellow and black tunic of Manyas, Darwin Núñez quickly made everyone agree and attracted the attention of many European clubs. Neither one nor two, the Uruguayan takes the road to Unión Deportiva Almería, in the Spanish second division, in the summer of 2019, against the modest sum of thirteen million euros, becoming the most expensive sale of the history of Peñarol, in front of a certain Federico Valverde. “As soon as I was transferred to Spain, I offered my parents six hectares of land in Montevideo” , Núñez said proudly. And even on a field of six hectares, nothing says that the guys from Ajax would get the better of Darwin Núñez and his friends.
By Matthew Darbas