Son Heung-Min stars as Leverkusen see off Benfica
South Korea`s Son Heung-Min scored a goal and set up another to help Bayer Leverkusen kick-start their Champions League campaign in Wednesday`s 3-1 win at home to Portugul`s Benfica.
Zenit St Petersburg and Monaco`s goalless draw earlier on Wednesday means Leverkusen remain third in the Group C table, a point adrift of both their rivals.
Benfica are bottom after a second straight defeat following their 2-0 loss to Zenit in Lisbon.
The win over Jorge Jesus` Benfica was the perfect antidote to Bayer`s opening 1-0 defeat by French side Monaco a fortnight ago, according to Leverkusen captain Lars Bender.
"We didn`t start our campaign well, so this was the right reaction. In a group like ours it`s crucial to win our home games," said Bender.
"It was a deserved win and was very important for our place in the table."
Leverkusen made a bright start as Germany midfielder Bender hit the post with Benfica`s Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar beaten after a superb cross from Son.
The Germans grabbed their first goal when Cesar failed to hold on to Son`s shot from 20 metres out and striker Stefan Kiessling pounced on the loose ball to put Bayer ahead with 25 minutes gone.
The hosts doubled their lead when right winger Karim Bellarabi and Son combined before the South Korean striker curled his shot around Cesar on 34 minutes.
It was Son`s sixth goal of the season in all competitions.
Son could have added his second on the stroke of half-time when he found himself in space down the left flank, but he pushed his shot wide of the far post.
The hosts should have made it 3-0 just after the break when Bellarabi beat the defence on the right, lured Cesar out of position and squared for Turkey midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu, but the ball sliced off his boot.
Benfica`s right winger Eduardo Salvio trimmed Leverkusen`s lead with an hour gone when the Argentina international curled his shot around the right post and out of reach of goalkeeper Bernd Leno.
But then Leverkusen went 3-1 up when English referee Martin Atkinson awarded a penalty after ruling Kiessling had been fouled in the area and Calhanoglu drilled home the spot-kick on 64 minutes.
Leverkusen host Zenit in three weeks, the same night Benfica are at Monaco.