The conclusion of the Primeira Liga title race will be taken into the final day of the season after wins for FC Porto and Benfica left the latter needing just a point against Santa Clara to clinch the championship.

Sérgio Conceição’s men were on hand to relegate Nacional in the Madeirans' final home game of the season, winning 4-0 at the Choupana prior to the Eagles’ trip to Vila do Conde on Sunday night.

Benfica rose to the occasion by putting three goals past Rio Ave in a hard-fought 3-2 win, keeping them two points ahead of Porto ahead of the final game of the season.

Elsewhere, ten-man Sporting were forced to settle for third place after drawing 1-1 at home to Tondela, meanwhile Sporting de Braga prolonged their sorry close to a promising campaign after a heavy 4-2 defeat away to Boavista. PortuGOAL has more from the penultimate week of the 2018/19 league season.

 

Boavista 4-2 Sp. Braga

Saturday saw two of Portugal’s more emblematic clubs go head-to-head at the Bessa as Braga looked to regain some kind of form against local outfit Boavista, hosting the Arsenalistas.

The encounter started well for Abel Ferreira’s men after João Palhinha’s strike from range found its way in and placed Braga a goal up after just five minutes; a finish that would be canceled out in the 22nd minute by Nwankwo Obiora, alert at the front post from Carraça’s cross.

[To watch match highlights click on the screen below]

The visitors’ reply was prompt as Wilson Eduardo pulled his side back in front in the 26th minute via the penalty spot, but Boavista’s turnaround was also timely, equalising firstly through Yusupha Njie before Mateus was on hand to tap in a third for the Black Panthers at the back post, making it 3-2 just before half time.

Boavista emerged from the second period in the mood to stun Braga further, doing so through Alberto Bueno’s low-driven free-kick in the 49th minute. There was to be no way back into the encounter for the fourth-placed side, despite working Rafael Bracali and even the post on their way to a third consecutive defeat.

 

Sporting 1-1 Tondela

Alvalade got to see Marcel Keizer’s Sporting for a final time this season on Saturday night, welcoming a Tondela side desperate for points in order to stay up in the Primeira Liga.

The Lions almost gifted the visitors a way in within the first minute after an over-hit pass back to Jeremy Mathieu was gathered up by Tomané before the striker was denied by Renan Ribeiro at his near post.

[To watch match highlights click on the screen below]

Sporting took the lead in the 6th minute, benefiting from a tug on Luiz Phellype inside the area that saw Bruno Fernandes tuck away yet another goal from the penalty spot. The night was made a lot harder for the Lisbon outfit in the 34th minute, however, courtesy of Stefan Ristovski’s straight red card for a stamp on his opponent inside the box, with only Tomané’s handball prior to the incident occurring denying Tondela a penalty before the break.

Bruno Fernandes, Luiz Phellype and Mathieu were all caught in wasteful form in front of goal just past the hour-mark, proving costly for Sporting after Tomané reacted first to Xavier’s 67th minute corner to turn in a crucial equaliser from close range.

Pepa’s side held onto the point accrued, pushing the team just outside of the relegation zone following 16th-placed Chaves’ defeat to Vitória de Setubal, locking both teams in the tussle on 32 points.

 

Nacional 0-4 FC Porto

As they bid farewell to their home support after a difficult season, Costinha’s Nacional knew they’d be extending the goodbyes onto top-flight football too unless they were able to conjure up something special against his former club, as Porto came to town.

The hosts could and should have taken the lead as early as the 12th minute through Brayan Riascos, taking advantage of Eder Militão’s blind nod back past his own goalkeeper before firing his shot into the side-netting with the entire goal at his mercy.

[To watch match highlights click on the screen below]

Alex Telles made the forward rue his miss just two minutes later from the edge of the box, overcoming Daniel Guimarães with a well-taken free-kick. Óliver Torres took the opportunity to make it 2-0 in the 27th minute, roaming into the box relatively unchallenged and dampening Nacional’s hopes of escaping the drop with a low strike into the back of the net.

In acrobatic fashion, Jesús Corona made it 3-0 in the 60th minute following Moussa Marega’s cross, who was later on hand to join in with a goal of his own, slotting home an 87th-minute penalty to round off a 4-0 victory for the Dragons.

 

Rio Ave 2-3 Benfica

With the title in sight, there was still plenty left to do coming into the Eagles’ final away game of the season versus Rio Ave, as Bruno Lage’s team wasted little time in taking the lead as early as the third minute under fortunate circumstances, via Rafa Silva’s back-post tap-in.

Benfica sandwiched the first half with goal number two on the brink of half time, passed into an empty net by João Félix after a VAR review cleared the visitors of a potential penalty/foul and an offside call on the young forward, gathering up his golden opportunity from Leo Jardim's spill.

[To watch match highlights click on the screen below]

Tarantini kept his cool in front of Odisseas Vlachodimos in the 50th minute to pull a goal back for Rio Ave in a blistering start to the second period. It took Pizzi and co. just six minutes to reinstate Benfica’s lead, however, receiving Alex Grimaldo’s pull-back and picking his spot from the edge of the box with a clinical side-footed finish, in off the post.

Big saves each from Jardim and Vlachodimos kept André Almeida and Gelson Dala from altering the 3-1 score midway through the half, as both teams succumbed to end-to-end action.

From the feet of second-half substitute Galeno, finding the head of Ronan inside the box, Rio Ave reduced Benfica's advantage back down to one goal when approaching the final stages of the game. The Red and Whites held firm, however, closing out a 3-2 victory and climbing back above second-placed Porto at the season's climax.

By Patrick Ribeiro

Matchday 33

Desp. Aves 0-1 Moreirense

Santa Clara 4-4 Feirense

Portimonense 3-2 Marítimo

Boavista 4-2 Sp. Braga

Sporting 1-1 Tondela

Chaves 1-2 Vit. Setúbal

Vit. Guimarães 5-1 Belenenses

Nacional 0-4 FC Porto

Rio Ave 2-3 Benfica

Comments (4)

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Benfica were the better side from start to finish, but our inability to kill the game off when we were 3-1 up made the last 20 or so minutes more stressful than they needed to be. Rafa and Pizzi were superb yet again.

Santa Clara are a quality...

Benfica were the better side from start to finish, but our inability to kill the game off when we were 3-1 up made the last 20 or so minutes more stressful than they needed to be. Rafa and Pizzi were superb yet again.

Santa Clara are a quality side that has more than held their own against the big three this season, but if we go into this match with the right mentality, I can only see one outcome. Start on the front foot, press high up the pitch, and look to score early.

Anyone else believe the rumors regarding Jasper Cillissen? I've read that we are offering 25 million euros which is quite a lot of money for a club with our financial limitations, but I personally think he'd be a fantastic signing. Vlachodimos hasn't had a poor season, but his conservative approach to goal-keeping (unwillingness to come off his line, discomfort with the ball at his feet) makes it more difficult for Bruno Lage to adopt a more proactive style of play.

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Benfica got the job done, in some style mostly, in what is always a tricky fixture of Rio Ave away. I agree the last 10 minutes or so were a little nervy, but then again it was never going to be easy getting the 3 points on that ground....

Benfica got the job done, in some style mostly, in what is always a tricky fixture of Rio Ave away. I agree the last 10 minutes or so were a little nervy, but then again it was never going to be easy getting the 3 points on that ground. Moreirense have had a wonder season this year, but I do believe that Rio Ave are the real 6th best team in the Liga (after Braga and Guimaraes), so these were an impressive 3 points on the road for SLB. We have beaten all of the other top 9 teams in the Liga away from home this season, which is an impressive statistic. The standout players for us last night were Ferro, Samaris, Pizzi and Rafa. Rio Ave also had some impressive performances on show including Dala, Galeno and Ruben Semedo.

Well we are in a very strong position to win the title now. We just need a point at home to Santa Clara to confirm it. And even that of course, is in the case of Porto winning the classico against Sporting, which is no guarantee at all given how strong Sporting have been finishing the season. Remember that if Porto fail to win, the title will be ours regardless of our result against Santa Clara. However, nothing has been won yet, and anything can happen in 90 minutes as we all know so we have to remain grounded and concentrated. Knowing Lage's approach, I'm sure he's going to keep all the players completely focused with feet on the ground and that we will approach the last match as if it's just another final to win like all these previous ones we have played.

I have also read the rumours about the interest in signing Cillesen. Frankly I don't see it happening though, as I'm sure his wage demands would be too high for a team with Benfica's budget. Nevertheless, I do think getting in a new goalkeeper should be one of our top priorities for this summer. Vlachodimos has done well this season (even last night he made some top saves). He is an excellent shot stopper, but does have some weaknesses in coming off his line and at times looks a little nervous in dealing with set pieces. But why i think we need another keeper is that Svilar still seems to be too young and inexperienced to be the number 2. We need a more experienced keeper to compete with Vlachodimos for the number 1 jersey, and the best thing for Svilar would be to be loaned out next season, somewhere where he can play week in week out, to get more experience under his belt.

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Andre/ Uk, when you assert that Benfica won in some style, are you referring to blatant help from the referees? Florentino committed a blatant foul in the box that in any normal football tournament would be called a penalty and a potential red...

Andre/ Uk, when you assert that Benfica won in some style, are you referring to blatant help from the referees? Florentino committed a blatant foul in the box that in any normal football tournament would be called a penalty and a potential red card offense. Benfica scored immediately after and that sentenced the game.

Of course, Benfiquistas constantly overlook the blatant favoritism towards their club by all sectors of the Portuguese media and football complex .

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I'm not entirely sure, but I think the foul Florentino committed started outside the box and carried on into the box, therefore not a penalty
Moreover, how could that ever possibly be a red card for Florentino? A foul, yes. A yellow, ok fine. A...

I'm not entirely sure, but I think the foul Florentino committed started outside the box and carried on into the box, therefore not a penalty
Moreover, how could that ever possibly be a red card for Florentino? A foul, yes. A yellow, ok fine. A Red?!
If Florentino had been wearing a green and white shirt though, I'm sure it would have been perfectly clean, right?

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