By ESPNSTAR.com staff
The Catalans were made to work for three points against an attack-minded Benfica side, relying on goals from Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas at the start of each half to seal up the victory.
Although Barcelona opened the scoring as early as the sixth minute, Vilanova told uefa.com that his team had laboured to this win.
"The win took us a lot of effort but despite that we took three very important points here in Lisbon," he stated.
"In the first half they waited to counterattack and with their back line playing high up the pitch it allowed us to look for opportunities to get in behind them. Of course scoring an early goal always helps but this wasn't an easy game for us at all."
The Spaniard was especially pleased with Sanchez's performance and he encouraged the 23-year old to establish himself in the team.
"Alexis Sánchez is continuing to show he is a player who wants to grow," Vilanova said.
"As we saw with Cesc Fàbregas earlier in the season, now is the time for Alexis to push on."
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Barcelona captain Carles Puyol was stretchered off midway through the second half after dislocating his elbow while attempting to attack a corner kick. Vilanova admitted that the central defender's recent spate of injuries worried him.
"Carles Puyol has now suffered a couple of injuries this season that we might say weren't exactly normal, a broken cheekbone and now a [dislocated] elbow. We'll have to wait and see how long he's going to be out for but he'll be an important loss for us," Vilanova lamented.
"We are always having problems with central defenders. It has forced us to convert some players in terms of position."
The loss of Puyol to injury comes at the worst possible time for Barcelona, as they will welcome title rivals Real Madrid to the Camp Nou for their La Liga fixture this weekend.