As Sporting and FC Porto battled it out for top spot in Lisbon, Benfica’s mind was on extinguishing the fury that’s raged on from last week’s 5-0 hammering at the hands of FC Basel in the UEFA Champions League.

The fixture list could’ve been kinder, however, handing the Eagles a tricky away trip to Madeira that would see them stutter once more, as Marítimo fought hard to share the spoils at 1-1.

Elsewhere, there were goals galore at the Quarry where Sporting de Braga decimated Estoril Praia 6-0, closing the gap between them and the top four. PortuGOAL brings you the action from Matchday 8.

 

The weekend programme was dominated by Sunday’s clássico in Lisbon. Click here for the Sporting 0-0 Porto match report and video highlights.

 

Marítimo 1-1 Benfica

Rui Vitória could have hardly asked for a better way to start the action at the Estádio dos Barreiros, as an inch-perfect curler from Jonas in the 2nd minute nestled into the top corner and promised to initiate a healthy response to Benfica’s recent troubles.

The Brazilian’s sharp shooting pushed the reigning league champions closer to a second, whereas at the other end, the hosts were keen to demonstrate that just one goal wouldn’t be enough to silence them, as they looked to force Júlio César into action on the brink of half-time.

A 46th minute miss from Franco Cervi deep inside Marítimo’s box added to the angst being felt by the Eagles, with both goalkeepers continuing to shine to maintain the one-goal difference.

As per their warnings, Bebeto unlocked Benfica’s defence with an out-swinging cross to Ricardo Valente at the far-post, catching André Almeida out as the ex-Vitória de Guimarães winger headed in the equaliser after 66 minutes.

Matters could’ve got worse for Benfica when Everton hijacked possession from Jardel to charge through on goal before failing to arc his finish around Júlio César in the 82nd minute.

Inseparable at full time, a 1-1 draw serves to agitate the mood further around the Estádio da Luz. Vitória sought to compose reactions by stating that “phases like these happen” and that “giving up simply isn’t in my vocabulary.”

 

Sp. Braga 6-0 Estoril

With Braga making steady progress up the Primeira Liga table, one club many had earmarked as potential company for the top-half regulars were Estoril, given their wealth of new and exciting summer additions.

Instead, the Grande Lisboa outfit found themselves languishing in the pits of the division going into this clash, and the Arsenalistas exemplified just why that was the case early on when taking the lead via a close-range Dyego Souza finish in the 16th minute.

His ex-Marítimo colleague Raúl Silva doubled the hosts’ lead in the 40th minute with a header inside the area before Fábio Martins tapped home in the second period to make it 3-0, having met Ricardo Esgaio’s cut-back with a well-timed run.

After two assists and heavy involvement in Braga’s third goal, 19-year-old Bruno Xadas seized a moment of glory for himself in the 57th minute when arrowing a left-footed shot into the top corner from the edge of the box.

Ricardo Horta then got in on the act, finding the same corner Xadas had managed to for Braga’s fifth of the afternoon before bagging his brace in the 83rd minute, this time with a more modest touch to divert the ball out of the goalkeeper’s reach at the near post.

“This team has 24 starters, not just 11,” said Abel Ferreira after having made 8 changes to his starting line-up in comparison to the midweek Europa League victory, thus allowing his team to bypass worries over fatigue to move to within a point of 4th-placed Marítimo and two from Benfica. The heavy defeat roots Estoril to the bottom of the table.

By Patrick Ribeiro

 

Matchday 8

 

Chaves 1-1 Tondela

Paços de Ferreira 3-2 Moreirense

Portimonense 2-2 Desp. Aves

Boavista 1-0 Feirense

Rio Ave 2-1 Vit. Setúbal

Sp. Braga 6-0 Estoril

Sporting 0-0 FC Porto

Belenenses 1-0 Vit. Guimarães

Marítimo 1-1 Benfica

 

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  • Guest - jon/usa

    While I am still of the opinion that LFV and our summer transfer policy has left Rui Vitoria with one of the weakest Benfica squads in recent memory, there is still no excuse for us to be playing so poorly week in week out. People are bringing up the poor field conditions and penalty shouts (fellow Benfiquistas, let's not drop to the level of Sporting and Porto by coming up with excuses for our failures), but the fact of the matter is that we are in the worst run of form in the Rui Vitoria era and if things don't change quickly, we are going to be out of the title race by Christmas.

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  • An outsiders point of view… I’ve watched Benfica in the 2 Champions League games and the 1 match against Pacos and to me they haven’t been playing badly as such - as in none of the matches have been them defending for 90 minutes and offering nothing in attack. There has been good movement and passing but to me it seems that its when the ball is in the final third is where the problems lie (not necessarily all with the attackers either). Not being able to keep hold of the ball up top doesnt give the defence a rest and means a midfielder or two are constantly being caught upfield and out of position. Don’t know whether this is down to bad tactics, lack of quality in key positions (e.g. Seferovic?), not enough support from midfield, opposing teams have worked them out already, not good enough positioning between the transitions or simply having to chase games after conceding first but these games have been Benfica moving the ball quickly then losing possession and being cut to pieces on the counter just as quick. Some control in midfield to maybe shut the game down and grind out a few 1-0’s might be in order cos if anything they are too open and too attacking. Add on Luisao is now very old as well.
    When I first saw the intensity of Porto’s attacking this season I was worried they might suffer transition/position-wise but so far they all know their jobs and when to press or not. Game management is one of their strengths.
    Maybe Vitoria can carry some of the blame, as you say.
    Regarding the league its not just that Benfica are stuttering but that Sporting and Porto look organised and strong which should be your worry!

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  • Guest - Andre/UK

    Agreed, Jon. Im not gonna repeat myself with my attack on LFV and the transfer policy every single summer, I've said what I needed to say about that already. But your point is correct, we have just not been playing well at all for several weeks now, and when a team is not playing well week after week, its the coach who has to take the main responsibility. He's the one who has to motivate whatever players he has at his disposal to play well. Yes this is the weakest Benfica squad this decade without any doubt, but at the same time I don't care what anyone says, it's still a much stronger squad than Basel or Maritimo or Rio Ave. And theres no excuse for not being able to dominate teams like these, even with this weakened squad relative to recent seasons.

    To me Rui Vitoria has a lot to prove over the next few weeks and months that he's the right man to turn things around, because he has been making some errors no doubt about it. Persisting with mediocre players like Andre Almeida who offers absolutely nothing offensively, when we have a right back, Douglas, who was on the books of Barcelona for the last 3 years. Douglas hasn't even been given a single chance yet while Ameida just looks less and less effective every match. Persisiting with Filipe Augusto instead of people like Krovinovic. Even last night, with us winning narrowly in the second half Vitoria was gonna bring on Augusto to defend our lead, then Maritimo equalized and he decided to bring on Krovinovic instead (which should have been his first decision). Krovinovic wasn't even included in the CL squad when we're crying out for some creativity in the midfield. I really don't understand why Andre Horta was loaned out either, given the lack of CM options.

    So yes the main blame is on LFV and the board for the constant sell, sell, sell policy, but I also think Rui Vitoria is not getting the best out of his players nor making the right decisions in many cases. This may be a weakened squad, but I don't think its as weak as the recent results and performances have been suggesting. I also think its time for Vitoria to stop being so faithful to the 4-4-2 for every single match. For most away games I'd like to see us play with 3 in the middle, as we're constantly being outmuscled and outfought in the middle. I think in general Vitoria has to show more bravery and more flexibility in the coming weeks if we are going to turn things around.

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  • "fellow Benfiquistas, let's not drop to the level of Sporting and Porto by coming up with excuses for our failures"

    Stay classy there Jon. It's one thing to be loyal to your club, it's another to systematically ignore your club leaderships own pathetic behaviours (ie: visiting the officials dressing room during half time or promoting and helping to publish the tell all book of another club president's former lover to embarrass him), and acting like Porto and Sporting are the only one practising these tactics.

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