SCOTT PARKER’S big night on the Champions League stage fell flat against Benfica.
The 42-year-old became just the fifth English coach to lead a side into the knockout stages of Europe’s elite competition with Club Brugge.
It was also an historic night for the Belgian outfit – who had advanced from the Champions League group stages for the first time in their history.
Yet Parker’s underdogs were undone by their own defensive errors as they gifted Joao Mario and David Neres second half goals in the last 16.
Club Brugge now have it all to do to achieve the improbable and reach the quarters, needing an almighty result away in Portugal next month to save their Euro skins.
This clash would have brought back memories for Parker, whose last European outing as a player came under Portuguese coach Andre Villas-Boas with Tottenham in the Europa League in 2013.
His last taste of the Champions League as a player was also Portugal-themed – under Jose Mourinho at Chelsea in a 2-1 group stage defeat away to Porto in 2004.
And the managerial newbie Parker watched his inexperienced side show some early nerves as Benfica piled on the pressure in the first half through Rafa Silva and Goncalo Ramos.
The hosts thought they had taken the lead on the brink of half time with a header from Parker’s old Fulham teammate Denis Odoi – a winter signing – only to be judged offside.
Scot Jack Hendry then brought down Ramos in the box after the break allowing Mario to finish from the spot six minutes into the restart.
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And Bjorn Meijer’s costly hesitation saw Neres skip free and grab a crucial second in the 88th minute.
Parker now has a huge uphill task to turn the result around.
Brugge travel to Lisbon for the second leg on March 7.