The Rhineland side, already sure of their place in the last 16 going into the game, were pipped to top spot by AS Monaco, who beat FC Zenit 2-0 in the group's other game. Bayer lacked invention, spark and fluency throughout and finish the group stage with two poor displays after the home defeat to Monaco a fortnight ago, but Roger Schmidt's side can nonetheless look forward to top-level European football in the New Year.
Chances at a premium
Schmidt's charges needed to better Monaco's result against Zenit in the other game in order to win Group C and receive a supposedly easier draw in the knock-out rounds, while the hosts were playing for third spot and a place in the UEFA Europa League.
There was very little quality on show in the opening half, though. In front of a sparse crowd at the Estadio da Luz, Benfica's Lima struck the top of the crossbar when he should really have scored, before the Brazilian striker then dragged a left-footed shot wide shortly before the break. Leverkusen, meanwhile, didn't muster an effort on target during the opening 45 minutes.
Only enough for second
Schmidt withdrew the ineffectual Robbie Kruse for Julian Brandt at the start of the second half and Bayer began well, with Hakan Calhanoglu having a shot blocked after a wonderful run from Karim Bellarabi. News then filtered through that Monaco had taken the lead in their game, meaning Leverkusen were now second in the standings, and suddenly there was more urgency to the Bundesliga side's play.
Bellarabi had a fierce effort saved by the keeper, but Bayer's star-studded attack struggled to fashion any meaningful chances and rarely looked like grabbing a winning goal, despite getting into some promising positions. Toprak's dismissal for a needless second booking that rules him out of the last 16 first leg, coupled with a second goal for Monaco, made it a frustrating end to the group stages for Schmidt's team.
Benfica Artur Moraes - Andre Almeida, Lisandro Lopez, Cesar, Benito - Cristante - Bebe, John - Pizzi - Lima (Talisca 63'), Derley (Nelson Oliveira 76')
Leverkusen: Leno - Hilbert, Toprak, Spahic, Boenisch - Castro, Rolfes (Kießling 83'), Kruse (Brandt 46')(, Bellarabi - Calhanoglu, Drmic (Son 71')
Red cards: Toprak 90'