FC Porto 0-2 Benfica

A brace by Brazilian striker Lima gave Benfica a 2-0 victory at the Estádio do Dragão tonight. 

In a game of few chances, the visitors took full advantage of their goalscoring opportunities to score a vital victory and open up a six-point lead at the top of the table. 

In what was Jorge Jesus's first victory at fierce rivals Porto in the Liga in six attempts, it was a perfect weekend for the Eagles with Vitória Guimarães and Sporting both dropping points at home. 

With 21 games remaining in the Primeira Liga things are far from decided, but Benfica will be overjoyed with their first victory in the league at their biggest rivals since 2005 and there can be no doubting it will be a huge psychological boon for the reigning champions. 

Porto came into the game on the back of a hot run of form and the hosts dominated the opening half hour, albeit without creating clear-cut chances to break the deadlock - until the 32nd minute. A swift move saw Alex Sandro play in Jackson Martínez, but Benfica goalkeeper Júlio César showed sharp reactions to deny the Colombian. 

Lethal Lima

In what would be a feature of the match Benfica proved lethal with the few chances they fabricated as shortly afterwards the visitors took the lead. A long throw-in by Maxi Pereira on the right was not dealt with by Porto, with Lima stealing in to chest the ball past the exposed Fabiano. 

With the comfort of a one-goal lead, Benfica at last settled and did a fine job at limiting Porto's offensive threat for the rest of the half and after the interval. 

Disaster struck for Porto just before the hour mark as the Lisbon club doubled their lead. The hard-working Talisca fired off a firm left-foot shot from 20 yards out, Fabiano was unable to hold it, and Lima followed up for an easy finish to send the travelling fans into dreamland. 

Porto coach Julen Lopetegui responded by throwing on Quintero and Quaresma and the Dragons threw everything they had at Benfica in a frantic last half hour. 

Woodwork denies Jackson

The hosts can point to a lack of luck, as Jackson Martínez twice struck the woodwork. When the Liga's leading goalscorer did finally find the net, his effort was rightfully ruled out as he had handled the ball before turning it past César. 

Nevertheless, Benfica can take credit for limiting Porto's chances throughout with a combative approach - Samaris undoubtedly had his best game in a Benfica shirt - and proving extremely effective when their chances arose. Jorge Jesus's decision to select Lima despite his poor goalscoring form this season proved a masterstroke.

There is still a long way to go, but with 11 wins from the opening 13 matches Benfica are sitting pretty at the top of the table and must fancy their chances of conquering a second successive Portuguese title for the first time since 1983/84.

by Tom Kundert 

FC Porto: Fabiano, Danilo, Martins Indi, Marcano, Alex Sandro (Aboubakar 77’), Casemiro, Herrera (Quintero 58’), Óliver Tello (Quaresma 58’), Brahimi, Jackson Martínez 

Benfica: Júlio César, Maxi Pereira, Luisão (César 76’), Jardel, André Almeida, Samaris, Salvio (90’+3’), Enzo Pérez, Gaitán; Talisca (Ola John 80’), Lima

Goals:

[0-1] Lima, 36'

[0-2] Lima, 56'

 

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  • Not to be redundant, but I just posted this in the last article and then 5 minutes later this update was posted...

    Yeah Boy! Despite the constant Porto fouling and terrible officiating, Benfica were able to persevere, overcome, and get a huge W in enemy territory. Hats off to Andre Almeida (BTW the only Portuguese player to start for EITHER team). Playing out of position, with a yellow card shown in the opening minutes, he battled and battled and basically neutralized both Tello and Quaresma. Not an easy task.

    I am not going to rub salt in the wound, but I really don't like this Porto coach. In both the Boavista draw and also the Estoril draw, he stormed off the field and refused to shake the hand of the opposing coach-very poor sportsmanship. He has the Vitor Perreira smugness about him as well. But what I really dont get is the constant squad rotation and the substitutes. How do you sub off a wingback, who is also one of the teams most important players (Sandro)? Quintero again fails to impress me, as usual.

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  • Choppy game but it was a good game. Both teams could have added a few extra goals. JJ's focus on the mid-field did work frustrating Porto and giving them very few opportunities. Cesar continues to improve and is starting to look at his world class level. Also great to see Lima back on the score sheet. I'd hope after a game like today, that Lima will finally snap out of that rut he was in.

    For most of this season several people have been doubting our club. This win put it very clear that despite losing so many players, Benfica is going to put up one hell of a fight to retain their title. A 6 point gap can easily evaporate in a matter of weeks however if Porto makes a few more mistakes, their season can also easily end. Next up we defend the Taca against Braga in our mid-week game.

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  • Guest - Andre/UK

    Fantastic result for Benfica to put them clearly in the driving in the Liga. It's still early days of course, with more than half of the season still to play, but with the fact that we don't have any more extra taxing European games and only the Liga to focus on for the rest of the season, we will take some stopping now.

    To me it was a deserved 3 points. Porto had more of the ball and did more of the attacking, but being at home this was always likely to be the case. They never had Benfica on the ropes however at any stage, and their attacking play was actually really predictable, they never changed nothing, not even when they went 2 goals down. Jackson (what a great talent he is, by the way) was unlucky to hit the crossbar, but we also had a great chance to score a third when Alex Sandro cleared off the line. I wasn't impressed with Lopetegui's post match comments, he kept exaggerating how "Porto were far superior to Benfica". You can't make a sweeping statement like that when you've just lost 2-0 at home. He said nothing about how little Porto changed in their approach or tactics, even after going 2-0 down. He should have taken some of the responsibility for the defeat, but refused to.

    JJ got his tactics spot on and clearly won the tactical battle against Lopetegui. A great way to respond to the big criticism he gets from a lot of people (many on this site lol), constantly saying he's a mediocre coach. The approach for the match was just right: press hard all over the pitch, don't let Porto's wingers get into space, and expose Porto's defensive weaknesses with direct counters. He surprised everyone (probably even Porto) by selecting an out of form Lima, and boy did Lima pull through. We were super solid defensively, Jardel has taken much criticism (from me included) but was a brick wall last night, Andre Almeida proved further what a reliable player he is in any position, Maxi completely nullified the threat of Brahimi, Julio Cesar was super cool and collected throughout, and most pleasing of all was how well Samaris played. He finally showed up in a Benfica shirt, was excellent tactically and that performance will be great for his confidence.

    I think the strength of Porto's squad had been over hyped a little bit. Yes they brought in a lot of players in the summer, some of them very good, and their squad has the most depth in the Liga. However, all season so far I have thought that they are clearly weaker now than they had been in previous seasons in 3 key defensive areas: goalkeeper, central defense and DM. Fernando is missed most of all at DM and the center of defense doesn't look as strong without Mangala. Benfica lost half it's successful team from last season and don't have the same strength in depth in the squad of last year. Nevertheless the starting 11 is still a strong team, and I think we clearly have by far the best CB in the Liga (Luisao), the best keeper (Julio Cesar), by far the best CM (Enzo) and (so far at least) the best attacking midfielder (Talisca). And crucially we have the stability and experience offered from the same coaching staff of the last 6 years, totally used to fighting for titles each season. We also have some key players coming back from long term injury, Silvio is already available and Sulejmani and Fejsa should be available soon, enabling JJ to rotate more than he has done so far. Still a long way to go, but SLB are in a good position now to defend their Liga title.

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  • Hats off to Benfica. It was a mostly poor game as both teams struggled for cohesion. As has been the case all season, Benfica were not impressive, but they were much more efficient and deserved the 3 points for their effectiveness in front of goal.

    Lopetegui proved some tactical inflexibility here and as soon as I saw the Herrera, Oliver and Casemiro midfield lineup, I was worried. Jesus is still a mediocre coach but he was unquestionably the better tactician yesterday. Hard to admit, but true.

    Lima was a poacher yesterday, something he is usually not, but credit to him for his nise for goal. Never an easy thing to admit defeat, especially to the red circus, but da true is da true.

    The season is far from over and Lopetegui will hopefully have learned an important lesson from this, his first real defeat of the season. Porto are still in this and I have faith that the Liga and a good Chpions League showing (semifinals), are still in the cards.

    Andre, this team is that good, and no disrespect but Julio Cesar best GK in the league? He hasn't even beeb the undisputed #1 for your club. Porto's team is indeed that good, and should be, we spent enough money. I think Benfica are still a quality side and the tactics and savvy of the veterans (Lima, Luisao, Enzo, Salvio among others) made the difference yesterday.

    Again, hard to admit defeat, but it is what it is and the season is not even at the 50% point. Cheers to the battle gentlemen!

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  • Guest - NJ/USA/SLB

    Fantastic win. I haven't watched yet, but can't wait to do so.
    On a side note Univisao Deportes is showing a weekly Portuguese match in the US. I was able to DVR match.

    I'm still very disappointed in our Champions League performance. It's been a run of poor showings now.
    This win puts a bit of life back into the squad and fans. Never easy to go to the Dragao and earn a result.
    In a way, I'm glad we're completely out of Europe. Due to CL failures I'm curious to see what player(s) will leave in January. I think that Enzo will be gone but Valencia is going to come up against Financial Fair Play rules.

    I just saw Porto's draw and they should be in good shape in progressing in the CL.

    Just read that BdC is once again approaching refs after matches.
    I'm sorry to say that it's going to end badly for him.

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  • Guest - Steve/New Beige

    Fabiano. That was the difference in this game. Benfica to their credit made no mistakes and capitalized on a weak Fabiano who really needs to be shown the bench. Benfica are in the driver's seat. I don't think this game indicates that they are a great team, or better than FCP by a long shot. But considering that they fluncted out of europe and can now concentrate on the league, they are favorites for sure.
    Tello was the worst player after Fabiano on the team yesterday. Not sure why he starts over RQ.

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  • Guest - jon/usa

    Jorge Jesus got his tactics sport on and his players executed his game plan to perfection. It actually reminded me quite a bit of the defense masterclass we gave Juventus in the second leg of the Europa League semi-finals last year. We were extremely well-organized, tactically disciplined, and clinical with our chances. It was far from proactive, beautiful football, but it was pragmatic, intelligent, and undeniably effective. Porto may have the more talented individuals, but Benfica proved to be the far more cohesive team.

    Cesar was solid, the back four was immense, Enzo and Samaris (I agree that this was, without doubt, his best performance in a Benfica shirt) were brilliant, Salvio, Gaitan, and Salvio worked tirelessly without the ball, and Lima proved his doubters wrong with two decisive goals.

    FORCA BENFICA!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Very happy with the result and completely stunned as I never saw this result coming. The game started at 7 am here, so it was the perfect start time for me, but then just before the game my internet died, so I was not able to watch the game. I followed the score on my phone, and by all accounts it sounds like we rode our luck and took our chances when they came.

    My biggest surprises were;

      The clean sheet, Jardel must have risen to the occasion, Samaris seems to have worked out the defensive midfield role who is the new young centreback Cesar?

    from Melbourne VIC, Australia
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  • Guest - Nelson Oliveira

    This was a classic example of a game were a superior team dominates, fails to score a goal, but allows in a cheap goal, and then has to go chasing the game against a disciplined opponent and can never overcome. Credit to Benfica for taking advantage of the situation.

    As for Porto, Fabiano had a poor game, arguably the most responsible for both goals. He has not been this poor before, so hopefully he will bounce back. Tello and Brahimi were awful. Their inability to exploit the flanks with Benfica playing so narrowly did Porto in offensively. Jackson put in a valiant effort but it was one of those games were the ball wouldn't go in. Oliver was composed and seemed beyond his years but his strength in possession was ultimately fruitless.

    The star for Benfica must be Lima who was in perfect position to pouncr on both goals. The referee was not a determining factor but could have easily given Samaris a red card for the reckless challenge on Jackson or a few yellows for persistent infringement.

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