Sporting 2-4 Benfica

Benfica maintained the pressure on first-placed FC Porto with a 4-2 victory over bitter rivals Sporting at Alvalade this evening, opening up an eight-point gap between the two Lisbon outfits.

The Eagles, in a dominant display, looked poised to take a 2-0 lead into the interval courtesy of first-half goals from Haris Seferovic and João Félix before Bruno Fernandes pulled a goal back for Sporting prior to half-time.

Ruben Dias reinstated Benfica’s two-goal-advantage almost immediately coming into the second period, however, before a penalty apiece for Pizzi and Bas Dost completed a 4-2 score-line.

Coming into the hotly-contested clash, Sporting maintained a line-up excluding Marcos Acuña at left-back, with Marcel Keizer welcoming André Pinto, Bruno Gaspar and Nemanja Gudelj back into his side, whereas Bruno Lage opted to repeat the same XI that gave Benfica a 5-1 triumph over Boavista, last Tuesday.

Alejandro Grimaldo had the Sporting backline chasing early as he attempted to fashion a chance from the left flank, seeing a dangerous cross flash past both Haris Seferovic and João Félix in the 4th minute, via Bruno Gaspar’s deflection.

After the initial warning, Grimaldo was on hand to offer an avenue to goal again from the left, providing Seferovic with the service to comfortably head past Renan Ribeiro and give Benfica a 1-0 lead.

João Félix thought he had grabbed the visitors’ second from range before the VAR’s intervention chalked the 19-year-old’s goal off in the 22nd minute for a foul on Wendel, moments before Renan stood strong to deny Seferovic another way in with a left-footed volley inside the box.

As emotions ran high in the green half of Lisbon, João Félix was handed a second opportunity to get his name on the scoresheet following Seferovic’s through ball, with the young prospect picking his spot one-on-one versus Renan to make it 2-0 in the 37th minute.

The Lions were on hand to bite back on the brink of half-time, breaking at pace following Wendel’s recovery in midfield and Nani’s vision to spot Bruno Fernandes emerging in the half-space, as the Sporting midfielder found the bottom corner with a first-time strike across goal.

Having seen their lead halved going into the break, Lage’s side were quick to reinstate their two-goal-advantage in the second period, with Ruben Dias leaping in behind André Pinto to guide Pizzi’s delivery into the top corner with his head. 

[To watch the match highlights click on the screen below]

A disorientated Sporting looked set to concede a fourth in the 54th minute after Seferovic reacted first to Renan’s save from Pizzi’s shot, but the Eagles were again denied by a correct call to disallow the goal, this time for offside.

Raphinha edged us closer to a goal at the other end from a free-kick, taking aim at the top-right corner before seeing his effort crash off the post and go out for a goal kick, just past the hour mark.

Goal number four eventually came for an inspired Benfica side, as an on-rushing Renan lost out in a race for the ball versus João Félix to bring the forward down inside the box, as Pizzi prepared his spot-kick in the 74th minute. The Sporting keeper came close to redeeming himself but Pizzi’s conversion contained too much power on its way in for 4-1.

A fifth wasn’t too far away, as Seferovic struck the post inside the box before João Félix skied the rebound in front of a semi-unattended goal in the 78th minute.

Penalty drama at the other end saw the VAR assist the officials in sending Odisseas off for a last-man foul inside the box on Dost. The Dutchman picked himself up and made no mistake up against Mile Svilar, on to replace the dismissed Greek goalkeeper.

But it wasn’t to be enough to spark a late revival for the home fans at Alvalade, with Benfica’s 4-2 triumph moving them up to within two points of league-leaders Porto, who face fifth-placed Vitória de Guimarães away from home later this evening.

By Patrick Ribeiro

Sporting: Renan Ribeiro - Bruno Gaspar, Sebastian Coates, André Pinto (Luiz Phellype, 90’), Jefferson - Nemanja Gudelj, Wendel, Bruno Fernandes - Raphinha (Jovane Cabral, 86’), Nani (Abdoulay Diaby, 45’)- Bas Dost

Benfica: Odisseas Vlachodimos - André Almeida, Jardel, Ruben Dias, Alejandro Grimaldo - Pizzi (Eduardo Salvio, 94’), Andreas Samaris, Gabriel, Rafa Silva (Mile Svilar, 87’)- João Félix (Franco Cervi, 76’), Haris Seferovic

 

Goals:

0-1 - Haris Seferovic (11’)

0-2 - João Félix (37’)

1-2 - Bruno Fernandes (43’)

1-3 - Ruben Dias (46’)

1-4 - Pizzi (73’)

2-4 - Bas Dost (89’)