A combination of fatigued internationals and a pending European fixture stood as the perfect storm for some of the lesser-equipped sides of the Primeira Liga to make life difficult for the renowned Big Three, amidst talk that the top-flight of Portuguese football had grown to be uncompetitive.

The first to have their mettle tested was Sporting, spurning a two-goal lead away to Feirense before a last-minute Bas Dost penalty salvaged their 100% record in the league in a 3-2 win.

Benfica weren’t to have an easier ride, coming back from a goal down to defeat Portimonense 2-1 and return to winning ways, whereas FC Porto extended their good form with a humbling 3-0 victory against Chaves. PortuGOAL follows the main action, and zooms in on Marítimo’s Rodrigo Pinho as our Figure of the Week for Matchday 5.

 

Feirense 2-3 Sporting

Jorge Jesus will have known the full extent of the risk he took when turning to Fábio Coentrão in the summer, as a setback during the international break left the full back out of action for this particular contest.

What wasn’t in the plans, however, was a further injury, this time to Cristiano Piccini, that would leave Rodrigo Battaglia filling in at right back and the Lions drifting towards a soulless 0-0 draw at half-time.

Feirense braced themselves for a more aggressive iteration of Sporting in the second period, falling first to Sebastian Coates’ volley in the 62nd minute before Bruno Fernandes once again delighted his growing fan base with a lovely lifted effort to make it 2-0 minutes later.

João Silva offered doubt in the minds of Sporting fans when pulling a goal back for the hosts, compiled further by Peter Etebo’s thumping equaliser in the 80th minute, but with the last kick of the game, Dost converted his penalty and cemented Jesus’s best start to a Primeira Liga campaign with five wins from five.

 

Benfica 2-1 Portimonense

With Gabriel Barbosa’s eagerly anticipated debut on ice, Benfica turned to a more familiar Brazilian name in Jonas to fire the side back to winning ways, having been declared as fully fit to take on Portimonense at the Estádio da Luz.

The shine was to be placed on a lesser-known compatriot of theirs, however, as Fabrício teared past Luisão before bending a shot around Bruno Varela to give the visitors a surprise second-half lead.

That work was to be undone just a couple of minutes later after Emmanuel Hackman saw red for bringing Eduardo Salvio down inside the box, as Jonas handed the Eagles the desired response from the spot in the 59th minute.

Portimonense remained compact before André Almeida shocked all to volley an effort from a crossing position over the head of Ricardo Ferreira and into the back of the net in the 79th minute.

With the VAR landing Vítor Oliveira’s team the final blow when chalking off a late Fabrício equaliser, Benfica were able to make it four wins from five before their meeting with CSKA Moscow in the UEFA Champions League.

 

FC Porto 3-0 Chaves

The Dragons have already begun piecing together a nice tilt for title alongside their rivals, despite imitating Sporting and Benfica by going into half-time with a fruitless 0-0 draw of their own against Chaves.

The in-form Vincent Aboubakar was on hand to calm the mood early into the second period with the Dragons’ first of the night, despite growing pressure from Chaves in the hunt of a fresh stalemate.

Tiquinho Soares doubled Porto’s lead and comfort in the 86th minute from the penalty spot, and Moussa Marega closed the affair with a third for Sérgio Conceição’s men.

 

Figure of the Week - Rodrigo Pinho

There was plenty of doom shifted in Marítimo’s direction ahead of the new season after a series of departures following what many had judged to have been an overachieving 2016/17 campaign. The Primeira Liga mainstays had one victory and three defeats to their name at this stage last season, leaving Paulo César Gusmão a game away from the axe.

Daniel Ramos was the man trusted with turning the club’s fortunes around, and that he did, with Marítimo climbing high to end the season in 6th position, clutching to Europa League qualification.

As a consequence, the domestic success saw Marítimo part ways with a handful of star players, none more noticeable than the new Braga trio of Dyego Souza, Fransérgio and Raul Silva, later followed out by the now Urawa Red Diamonds defender Maurício.

The club’s prospects for the season looked grim again and many tipped Ramos’ team, despite his good work, to find themselves embroiled in a dog fight sooner rather than later, but the Maritimistas have again risen to defy the odds.

Although Dynamo Kiev did extinguish the European dream during the qualifiers, time has minimised that particular defeat to the Ukrainians to a small dash next to a record of four wins from a possible five league games, leaving Marítimo 4th behind the Big Three.

The latest of Marítimo’s conquests saw them leapfrog Rio Ave with a 1-0 win at home, a victory owed to the genius of Rodrigo Pinho in the final exchanges of the game. With one of the greatest assists you're sure to see all season, Pinho was able to bring down a searching ball from Gildo Vilanculos with a scorpion flick-on, catching the Rio Ave backline by surprise and leaving Ibson with the time in front of goal to pinch all three points for his team.

At the age of 26, the German-born Brazilian striker has found life difficult to crack in Portugal after failed spells with both Braga and Nacional since 2015. Two games in, however, Pinho will undoubtedly be hoping his eye-popping assist can elevate his underdog status, much like that of his new club.

By Patrick Ribeiro

 

Matchday 5 results

Feirense 2-3 Sporting

Benfica 2-1 Portimonense

Tondela 2-2 P. Ferreira

Marítimo 1-0 Rio Ave

FC Porto 3-0 Chaves

Vit. Setúbal 2-0 Braga

Vit. Guimarães 1-0 Boavista

Estoril 0-2 Moreirense

 

Monday 11 September

Desp. Aves - Belenenses

 

Related: Week Four round-up - Figure of the Week: Rio Ave coach Miguel Cardoso

 

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  • No thoughts or reflections from the many Benfica fans on this site?

    As someone who has long been dissatisfied with the level of favour the Big 3 have received and continue to receive, including my own club, I have to say that this season, more so than any others (at least this early), has shocked me. The blatant favouritism that Benfica have received so far is disgusting.

    I normally avoid rants because there are always 2 sides to a story and I don't want to come across as a crazy person, but honestly, the other teams in the league should be in open revolt. Whether Benfica is bribing officials, or the system is run buy a bunch of Benfiquistas, it all needs to be sanitized and started anew.

    A non-existent foul for a penalty against Rio Ave, where Benfica are losing.
    A phantom penalty awarded for Salvio performing an Olympic-level dive. A perfectly legal, onside goal by Portimonense disallowed.

    Eliseu does a flying double foot stomp on a Belenenses player and not only is he not red-carded and suspended, but the Ref gives possession to Benfica!

    5 games and 15 yellow cards and one red for all Benfica opponents. That is shocking stuff. Honestly. I can't wait to see the usual suspects come on here and try to defend this disgusting show of blatant bias towards their club. There is no question, Benfica, despite always getting favourable calls, has been the best Portuguese team of the last 4 seasons and deserve their championships. But it is out of hand this year, and even the staunchest Benfiquista cannot defend this.

    I look forward to the replies.

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  • Chris, I'm not here to start arguments but just because you not a Benfica fan, doesn't mean that you have to be biased against them.

    I won't argue the penalties because we all have our own interpretations, but watch the portimonense goal again. The replay shows the line and shows the player over the line. Offsides are one of the few things that you can disagree with since it shows clearly if it is offside or not, and in this case he is past the last defender, therefore offside.

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  • Jessica, I don't mean to be presumptuous, but how is it you are calling me biased against Benfica, and then summarily throw out half of my points because they don't suit your argument? Please, speak about the penalties, please speak about Eliseu's poor sportsmanship and please speak to the fact that Benfica get all the calls their way in the first 5 games.

    I am very capable of appreciating Benfica's accomplishments, and I am one of very few people who seem to understand that without great rivals, my own club's accomplishments mean less. I support all Portuguese clubs when they play in Europe. I respect Benfica and Sporting when they beat my club. I congratulate the accomplishments of these clubs though I may not like them.

    But this season has been blatant beyond anything I have witnessed before. Kindly speak to that and actually critically analyze my points. I am not being biased, I am being thruthful. By the way, Porto gets many favourable calls against smaller clubs, as Val points out. It is not ok and it should not happen. But if you wish to hide behind the excuse of calling me biased because I am honest, then that's up to you.

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  • Guest - jon/usa

    Hey, Chris. I noticed that you were interested in hearing a Benfiquistas perspective on the incidents you highlighted, so I thought i'd drop by to give my honest opinion.

    I actually completely agree with you regarding Eliseu. He should have received a straight red card and at least a two-game suspension. As much as I love the guy (A fellow Azorean!), he simply isn't good enough to be playing at such a high level at this point in his career.

    However I cannot say that I agree with you regarding the incidents that took place in the Rio Ave and Portimonense matches. Now I was not able to watch the Rio Ave match live, but I did catch the highlights. A Rio Ave player did appear to grab Jonas' arm, which certainly would have impeded his ability to win the header. However, I honestly wouldn't have freaked out had that penalty not been called since these types of fouls aren't always spotted. Therefore, I'd say it was 50/50.

    The Salvio penalty also looked a bit soft at first, but after watching the replay, I did notice that the Portimonense defender stepped on Salvio's back foot, thereby impeding him from taking a shot in a 1v1 situation with the goal-keeper. Nevertheless, I can still see why fans of other clubs would think it was still on the soft side. The Portimonense goal that was ruled offside by VAR on the other hand was very clearly offside. I'm not sure why people are even bringing it up. I also should add that if you go back and watch the build-up to Portimonense's opening goal, you will notice that their Japanese left-winger, barges Andre Almeida over (it clearly wasn't shoulder to shoulder) before leading the counter-attack which resulted in the goal. At the end of the day, it was a very poor performance on Benfica's part, but I do not think the officials made any sort of obvious error that significantly affected the final result.

    Blaming your team's failures on vouchers, polvos, spooky voodoo witch doctors, or any other make-believe boogie-man may help some people sleep at night, but it's not going to change the fact that Benfica have been the best team in Portugal over the past four years. Benfica fully deserve to be the tetracampeoes -- this is not directed to rational fans like you, Chris ... just to the many Portistas and Sportinguistas who appear to be more preoccupied with bashing Benfica than actually supporting their own club.

    At the end of the day, each of the big three have benefited from poor officiating and each of them have been on the wrong end poor officiating. Unfortunately that is the reality of a sport where there is bound to be human error. Thankfully VAR is being implemented in our league to eliminate human error to the best of their ability. Both Sporting and Benfica have already benefited from VAR decisions which correctly disallowed offside goals. There's always going to be a gray area when analyzing certain types of fouls (especially hand-balls), so it's impossible to please everybody. At least the Primeira Liga is showing that they are willing to take steps in the right direction.

    Now unlike many Portuguese futebol fans, I am not blinded by a deep-seated hatred of my two main rivals. In fact, I actually have nothing but respect for Porto and Sporting, and I am always happy to root for them in Europe (I actually jumped out of my couch and started celebrating like a hardcore Sportinguista when Bruno Cesar scored against Real Madrid in the Bernabeau last season). However, that is not to say that I would not love to see Benfica win the campeonato each and every year; I simply want to feel like we were the deserved victors in a hard-fought battle against worthy adversaries. All three sides have more than enough quality to win the league this season, and that can only be done on the pitch -- not by pushing fanciful narratives on social media.

    Therefore, instead of taking the easy way out by simply jumping on the "blame the referee" bandwagon (this goes to you too, Benfiquistas), let's just play some damn futebol. Stop crying and start fighting. May the best team win!

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  • Thanks for your thoughts Jon. We will agree to disagree on some points, but I appreciate your thoughtful response. I, as well as Val, have long said that the Big 3 get the bulk of the favourable calls.

    While I hate the general over-hyping and "best league in the world" nonsense the Premier League is often happy to spout on about, one thing I do appreciate is the general parity between the clubs and calls of the officials. The BPL refs tend to make very even calls, with the exception of Mike Dean who hates Arsenal and even celebrated a Tottenham goal against the Gunners (seriously, look it up!)

    Our league needs some of this treatment as well.

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  • Rated 5 out of 5 stars

    I am going to agree with Jon here, to an extent.

    Being a neutral and watching Benfica this season has been eye-rolling at times (namely the incidents Chris highlighted) but the thing that always makes me sigh is that this DOES happen to the big three in Portugal, and ONLY the big three constantly, ever year.

    The issue Jon and Chris are that both the calls going Benfica’s way (50/50 is being nice to Benfica Jon) is just how it is. These 50/50 calls NEVER, EVER, I seriously mean EVER go the way of Portimonense, Feirense, Aves, name your team.

    Now let’s see WHEN (we all know this will happen) WHEN the hairline offside video review happens against Benfica let’s see what happens. I am willing to bet the ref waves off the protests and they don’t even review the call. Opposing coach gets ejected for arguing and nothing changes.

    To make matters worse for Portimao Andre Almeida kicks the ball into the heavens and it happens to find its way into the net. Pretty awful stuff after back to back awful, unwatchable games from Benfica. Oh well, same old crap from the officials in Portugal.

    Btw Chris 9/10 for the rant, I thought it was glorious in its passion and oddly well written for such anger, haha!

    BENFIQUISTAS, dudes, I need to ask, WHY LET MAGIC BEARD GO?? Why did this happen? Mitrolgou won games by himself last season. He scored ridiculous goals from nothing. He was the stud up front by a long ways. Then they let him go? What the hell happened? It all came out of nowhere.

    I really think losing Mitroglou is a massive, huge, grand canyon mistake that will cost them this year. Seferovic is another Benzema, takes him double the chances to score the same goals. Jonas only shows up 1/3 games and Jimenez never plays. Very much confused and kind of sad to see O Grego go, really loved his style of play and his lights out finishing in the box.

    Cheers guys!

    from Burlington, ON, Canada
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