Benfica and FC Porto neck-and-neck at the top as Sporting tighten grip on third

Benfica and FC Porto have extended their tug-of-war at the top of the Primeira Liga table after both sides emerged victorious in Matchday 28, taking the leading points total up to 69.

The Dragons ramped up the pressure on Friday night with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Boavista, as Brazilian duo Tiquinho Soares and Otávio produced the goods.

Benfica’s reply came on Sunday evening, coming from a goal behind to defeat relegation-bound Feirense 4-1 away from home and return to the summit of the table via head-to-head results.

Elsewhere, a 1-0 defeat for Braga against Moreirense offered Sporting the chance to go three points clear of Abel Ferreira’s fourth-placed side in the penultimate fixture of the week, doing so with a 3-0 victory at home against Rio Ave. PortuGOAL, as always, brings you the latest goings-on at the top of the Liga NOS.


FC Porto 2-0 Boavista

After confirming a spot in the Taça de Portugal final, attentions in the Porto camp switched back to the title race where local rivals, Boavista, looked to throw a spanner in the works at the Estádio do Dragão.

The Dragons threatened early through Tiquinho Soares, denied twice inside the box by a Rafael Bracalli double-save before Pepe neared the opener with his head in the 32nd minute.

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Joy came for Sérgio Conceição’s men with four minutes to go until the half-time break after a foul on Yacine Brahimi earned Porto the chance to break the deadlock via the penalty spot, converted by Soares.

Porto doubled up soon after the restart via Otávio, earning himself the time and space to let rip from outside of the box, squeezing his effort from range under the goalkeeper.

Two goals were enough for the hosts come full-time, pushing themselves above Benfica momentarily before the Eagles could take to the field versus Feirense.


Moreirense 1-0 Sp. Braga

Having been overtaken in the table by third-placed Sporting and being dumped out of the Taça de Portugal by Porto, Braga were tasked with bouncing back against none other than Primeira Liga high-flyers Moreirense in a meeting between two Minho outfits.

Volleys at either post headlined the best of Braga’s chances in the first half, with Pedro Trigueira making himself big enough to stop both Bruno Viana’s and Paulinho’s efforts on goal.

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The former Académica keeper wasn’t to stop Murilo Costa from finding the back of the net further on in the half, however, but the linesman did, chalking off the winger’s shot across goal after Ricardo Horta was caught coming into play from an offside position before assisting.

Sporting’s on-loan product Ivanildo Fernandes led Moreirense’s charge in the second half with a goal as early as the 47th minute, taking advantage of Tiago Sá’s inability to gather up a cross to scramble his touch in.

As Braga struggled to find a way through, Moreirense threatened on the break, going closest through Chiquinho in the 57th minute with a strike just over the bar from a one-on-one position.

The doors remained locked at Moreirense’s end, lining up a 1-0 defeat for Braga that opened up the prospect for the Arsenalistas to fall further behind in the race for automatic Europa League qualification.


Feirense 1-4 Benfica

The Eagles were on the hunt for a win that would place them back on top of the Primeira Liga for another week, following Porto’s success in the Invicta Derby, as Bruno Lage’s men came up against last-placed Feirense.

Far from routine for the Lisbon outfit, Feirense pegged Benfica behind in the 10th minute through Fábio Sturgeon, meeting Edson Farias’ whipped cross towards the back-post and powering a header past a helpless Odisseas Vlachodimos. 

Things got worse for Benfica in the 20th minute when Vitór Bruno’s crossed free-kick from the right flank made its way into the back of net before, rather controversially, the VAR judged Briseño to have been in an offside position and active in play. 

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Feirense’s run-in with technology didn’t end there after the referee, upon further consultation, pointed to the spot for a perceived foul on Pizzi inside the box, with the latter equalising from the 12-yard-mark in the 40th minute.

Benfica turned then the game on its head just before half-time through André Almeida, picking up Andreas Samaris’ header towards the back-post and firing deep into Caio Secco’s net from close range.

The route to victory became clearer for the Red and Whites in the 49th minute when Haris Seferovic took advantage of a lack of communication in Feirense’s backline to lob Secco with a side-footed volley, making it 3-1.

Benfica’s Swiss striker left the game beyond any doubt with an 89th minute header to grab the visitors’ fourth of the evening, propelling the Eagles back to first place with a 4-1 victory.


Sporting 3-0 Rio Ave

Defeat for Braga at the hands of Moreirense meant Sporting could edge as far as three points ahead of its competitive rivals with a win over Rio Ave at the Alvalade, fresh from Wednesday night’s cup heroics against Benfica.

Via a quick counter, Luiz Phellype augmented the feel-good factor in the green half of Lisbon with a 12th-minute strike, getting himself on the end of Wendel’s through ball before slotting a finish in at the near-post for 1-0.

[To watch match highlights click on the screen below]

The goalscorer was at the heart of Sporting’s next venture into goal-getting, as Messias Júnior came flying into the back of the Brazilian inside the box before the referee pointed to the penalty spot.

Bruno Fernandes was the man elected to take the spot-kick, dispatching a finish beyond Léo Jardim and tallying up his 27th goal of the season for the Lions’ second of the night.

Wendel was on hand to nab his first league goal for the club in the 54th minute, receiving Bruno Fernandes’ pass on the edge of the box before finding the top corner with finesse to make it 3-0.

Tarantini offered a rare threat for Rio Ave en route to defeat, with Keizer’s men crowning a fifth consecutive league victory with a clean sheet.

By Patrick Ribeiro

Matchday 28

FC Porto 2-0 Boavista

Belenenses 1-1 Santa Clara

Nacional 0-0 Desp. Aves

Vit. Guimarães 4-0 Chaves

Moreirense 1-0 Sp. Braga

Vit. Setúbal 1-0 Marítimo

Feirense 1-3 Benfica

Sporting 3-0 Rio Ave

Tondela - Portimonense