Porto gave the fledgling Liga NOS title race a shot in the arm with a superb 2-0 win over arch rivals Benfica at Estádio da Luz.
Strikers Zé Luís and Moussa Marega supplied the goals in an excellent team display from the Dragons at the home of the unusually flat defending champions.
Both sides unsurprisingly named unchanged XIs from their convincing wins last weekend. Benfica came into the match in frightening form, with three competitive wins on the spin without a goal conceded. Porto on the other hand have experienced a far rockier start to the campaign, losing to promoted Gil Vicente and also exiting Champions League qualifying at the hands of Krasnodar.
As is often the case in these high pressure encounters, the opening exchanges were cagey and scrappy in an electric atmosphere in Lisbon. Benfica left back Álex Grimaldo saw one of the first sights at goal, a dangerously placed free kick went tamely into the wall however, and Porto quickly countered to go close through Luís Diaz.
In the 21st minute last week’s hat-trick hero Zé Luís spurned a great chance to break the deadlock as Odysseas pushed his effort aside. He and Porto did not have to wait long before establishing the lead though, as from the resulting corner the Cape Verdean pounced on a defensive mixup between Ferro and Rúben Dias to bundle in the opener from close range.
Benfica were really struggling to impose their usual free-flowing game upon Porto and this dynamic never really altered against Sergio Conceicao’s disciplined outfit. The excellent Diaz tested Odysseas with a well struck volley early in the second half as Porto continued as the stronger team after the break.
The match should have been out of sight in the 78th minute though, Moussa Marega had the freedom of the pitch and all the time in the world one against one with Odysseas, but contrived to put his shot wide of the post.
Eight minutes later though Marega made up for his miss to seal a huge three points for Porto. The Malian latched onto substitute Otávio’s through ball, outpaced Ferro and coolly slotted in off the post to make it 2-0.
Defeat was the first of Bruno Lage’s tenure with the senior side, and has seen Porto and Benfica draw level on points after 3 league rounds. The home side really struggled throughout the game, Pizzi failing to impose himself upon the game and the young centre-back pairing of Ferro and Dias looking shaky.
For Porto there were a number of standout performers: Pepe used all of his experience to keep the defence organised, Jesús Corona excelled in a deeper right-back role, while Matheus Uribe continued what has been a seamless transition to Porto’s midfield.
The first league clássico is done and dusted and an intriguing title race could well be on our hands.
Odysseas, Nuno Tavares, Ferro, Rúben Dias, Grimaldo, Samaris (Taarabt 45), Florentino (Vinícius 78), Rafa, Pizzi, Seferović, Raúl de Tomás (Chiquinho 70)
Marchesin, Corona, Pepe, Marcano, Alex Telles, Danilo, Matheus, Baró (Otávio 72), Diaz (Manafá 80), Marega, Zé Luís (Soares 72)
[0-1] Zé Luís, 22'
[0-2] Marega, 86'
By Jamie Farr