FC Porto were twice forced to come from a goal down to defeat Sporting de Braga 3-2 away, with goals from Tiquinho Soares and Alex Telles temporarily putting the Dragons top prior to Benfica’s win over Tondela, this Saturday.

Porto’s success over Braga enabled a route back into the top three for Sporting, who upon defeating relegation-threatened Chaves in Trás-os-Montes opened up a one-point-advantage over fourth place thanks to a 3-1 win.

Benfica followed suit in their late kick-off at home to lowly-placed Tondela, requiring a late Haris Seferovic goal to nick a 1-0 victory and reclaim top-spot after a few hours off the summit. PortuGOAL has all of the action at the top of the Primeira Liga upon its return from the international break.

 

Sp. Braga 2-3 FC Porto

It was second versus third at the Estádio Municipal de Braga as the hosts intensified their search for a first win against a so-called ‘BigThree’ side since September, whereas Porto kept their eyes firmly on recapturing first place.

Abel Ferreira’s side couldn’t have hoped for a better start, finding the back of the net inside the first five minutes through Wilson Eduardo’s tap-in that left Iker Casillas, overly-preoccupied with calling for offside, unable to stop a skewed finish. 

Porto relied on a set-piece to cancel Braga’s earlier effort, finished off by Soares’ header inside the box in the 26th minute, to take the two sides into the break with a 1-1 draw. 

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

Braga emerged to strike early for a second time through Murilo, emerging one-on-one with Casillas and taking advantage of a mix-up between the Spaniard and Éder Militão to take the ball around both and slot home a second goal two minutes after the interval.

Telles looked to force his way with a strike from range in the 60th minute, stopped by Tiago Sá, before a foul on Militão inside the box offered the Brazilian left-back the chance to equalise from the penalty spot in the 69th minute.

The Porto defender did just that when making it 2-2, subsequently collecting an injury that would deny him the chance to convert a second penalty for the Dragons, won just nine minutes later after Claudemir’s swipe on Fernando Andrade.

Instead, Soares took responsibility from the 12-yard mark to pull Porto ahead for the first time and grab himself a brace, as Sérgio Conceição’s men held onto their 3-2 lead to pick up three precious points in the hunt for the league title.

 

Chaves 1-3 Sporting

With third place on the line, Sporting were tasked with taking on point-hungry Chaves without top scorer Bas Dost, absent for a second consecutive game, as goalless Luiz Phellype led the line for the Lions.

The wait for a goal in green and white was over just 24 minutes into the game, however, as a neat combination down Sporting’s right enabled Stefan Ristovski the opportunity to fizz a low cross into Phellype, who only needed to turn the ball into an empty net to make all the difference in the first half.

Greater problems emerged for the hosts once Jefferson, already in the referee’s book for a foul on Bruno Fernandes in the first half, complicated matters further by picking up a second yellow for a late challenge on Nemanja Gudelj. 

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

Chaves rallied around the decision, however, initially threatening Renan Ribeiro’s goal through Gastón Campi’s header onto the post before André Luis, via a fortunate spin off the uncovered turf, fired a shot past the goalkeeper to level the game on the hour mark.

As per usual, Bruno Fernandes emerged to bring solutions to Sporting’s table, meeting Marcos Acuña’s lagging cross to fire a first-time half-volley from the edge of the box into the bottom corner and place Marcel Keizer’s men 2-1 up.

Chaves almost found themselves reduced to nine men after a last-man challenge on Raphinha, with the VAR bringing the play back to a Ristovski foul on the follow-through that instead left the Lions down to ten with 11 minutes added time still to come.

Enough time for Phellype to rekindle his luck in front of goal and double his tally for the day with a finish under Ricardo Nunes with a minute to spare, moving Sporting a point above fourth-placed Braga with a 3-1 victory.

 

Benfica 1-0 Tondela

Against 16th-placed Tondela, only a win would suffice for Benfica in response to Porto’s earlier triumph away to Braga, as the Eagles trailed the Dragons by three points coming into this fixture at the Estádio da Luz.

With ten minutes on the clock, João Félix missed a great opportunity to make it 1-0 following André Almeida’s cross, failing to get good enough contact behind his outstretched leg to direct an effort on goal inside Tondela's box.

Rafa Silva was next in line in the 15th minute when racing in on goal from Andreas Samaris’ long ball over the top, denied only by Cláudio Ramos’ save to set the tone for a goalless half of football in Lisbon. 

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

Much like Jhon Murillo before him, Jonas had a goal disallowed at the other end in the 50th minute after his finish inside the box succeeded André Almeida’s handball, spotted by the VAR, in Benfica’s recovery of possession.

Tondela’s António Xavier produced the second half’s best chance, among Benfica’s struggles to find a way through Pepa’s team, with a curling effort to make Odisseas Vlachodimos roll out an acrobatic stop in the 73rd minute.

The visitors’ steeliness at the back wouldn’t hold out for much longer, however, as Grimaldo’s cross in the 84th minute set Seferovic, coming on in the second half, for a low header into the back of the net.

Despite a late fright from Tondela’s Patrick Fernandes, Seferovic’s clutch moment was enough to earn Benfica all three points come full time, taking them back to the top of the Primeira Liga table and level on points with Porto.

By Patrick Ribeiro

 

Matchday 27

Portimonense 0-2 Moreirense

Sp. Braga 3-2 FC Porto

Tondela 1-3 Sporting

Santa Clara 1-0 Vit. Guimarães

Benfica 1-0 Tondela

Marítimo - Nacional

Rio Ave - Desp. Aves

Boavista - Belenenses

Feirense - Vit. Setúbal