FC Porto 3-2 Benfica

FC Porto have cut the gap at the top of the Primeira Liga table back down to four points after a 3-2 win over Benfica at the Estádio do Dragão kept their title hopes alive, this Saturday.

The two bitter rivals went toe-to-toe in a frenetic, goal-packed first half, initiated by Sérgio Oliveira’s opener and followed up by Carlos Vinícius’ equaliser in the opening 20 minutes.

A controversial penalty, converted by Alex Telles, and a Rúben Dias own goal strengthened Porto’s odds at half-time, prior to Vinícius’ second following the interval, but the Dragons were able to hold onto their slim lead and complete the double over Benfica in head-to-head ‘Clássicos’.

A return to full fitness saw Porto come into this game with captain Pepe slotting in at the back at Chancel Mbemba’s expense, with Moussa Marega also making a comeback into Sérgio Conceição’s plans, whereas the big change in Benfica’s corner came in midfield, following a recent injury to Gabriel which made way for Julian Weigl to deputise. Pepe’s impact was very close to being immediate in the 7th minute, appearing unmarked in the Eagles’ box to head just wide in his attempt to nod in Mateus Uribe’s lofted pass.

Sérgio Oliveira was on hand to solidify Porto’s bright start in the 10th minute as he watched Otávio’s cross float his way, beating Vlachodimos from a central position on the volley and giving the hosts an early 1-0 lead.

Benfica required just one opportunity to make their reply count, however, as Augustín Marchesín thought he had done enough to keep Rafa Silva’s goal-bound glancing header out in the 18th minute prior to Vinícius’ close-range follow-up, levelling the game.

Sérgio Oliveira was gifted with the opportunity to emulate his earlier attempt in the 32nd minute, striking a loose ball low on the half-volley just inside the area before witnessing the shot bounce wide of the mark.

Controversy arrived soon after upon Tiquinho Soares’ header onto Ferro’s hand inside the box, promoting the use of the VAR and enabling the referee to point to the penalty spot. Alex Telles took full responsibility for the spot-kick and made no mistake from the 12-yard-mark, pushing Porto back in front at 2-1.

Matters got worse for the visitors in the 43rd minute after movement in behind from Marega stretched the Benfica backline before fizzing a cross into the mixer, eventually turned into his own net by Rúben Dias in his desperate attempts to deny Soares from tapping in the daisy-cutter.

The Dragons maintained the 3-1 lead going into the break in a chaotic half, dictated by their high-pressing. Benfica weren’t to be discouraged, however, with a strong response coming out into the second period.

In search of a more direct route, Rúben Dias’ ball into the box was met by Rafa, who quickly found Vinícius free with a cute back-heel, leaving the Brazilian striker to do the rest and pull a goal back on his left peg, just four minutes in.

Again through Sérgio Oliveira, Porto looked to amplify the score via a well-positioned free-kick, floating just wide of the mark in the 63rd minute.

Half-chances at either end promised to up the drama even more in the Clássico, as Luis Diaz failed to steer his shot away from Vlachodimos before Benfica’s Chiquinho dragged an effort off target for the visitors moments later.

Bruno Lage exhausted all his attacking options with the introduction of Haris Seferovic and Dyego Sousa, supporting Vinícius in attack, but there’d be no way back into the game for the league leaders in what is now their second league defeat of the season.

By Patrick Ribeiro

FC Porto XI: Augustín Marchesín - Alex Telles, Iván Marcano, Pepe (Chancel Mbemba, 69’), Jesús Corona - Sérgio Oliveira, Mateus Uribe, Otávio (Vitór Ferreira, 85’) - Luis Diaz, Tiquinho Soares, Moussa Marega (Wilson Manafá, 81’)

Benfica XI: Odisseas Vlachodimos - Alex Grimaldo, Ferro, Rúben Dias, André Almeida (Dyego Sousa, 84’) - Rafa Silva, Adel Taarabt (Haris Seferovic, 64’), Julian Weigl (Andreas Samaris, 76’), Pizzi - Chiquinho, Carlos Vinícius

 

Goals:

[1-0] - Sérgio Oliveira (10’)

[1-1] - Carlos Vinícius (17’)

[2-1] - Alex Telles (35’)

[3-1] - Rúben Dias O.G. (43’)

[3-2] - Carlos Vinícius (49’)

 

Comments (4)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I don't know what it is with Bruno Lage, but he seems to like making Sergio Conceicao look good. I honestly think he gets nervous/second-guesses his tactics in the big games, which we have seen twice now with Porto and as well in all European...

I don't know what it is with Bruno Lage, but he seems to like making Sergio Conceicao look good. I honestly think he gets nervous/second-guesses his tactics in the big games, which we have seen twice now with Porto and as well in all European games (Benfica have been garbage in Europe this season).

That said, I don't like Conceicao, I think he is very weak tactically, but he got the job done today. Porto definitely dominated and deserved the win, but this was a timid Benfica compared to their usual displays. Sadly, the quality of the big 3 has diminished significantly in Portugal.

That said, it was a fun game to watch with many goals. For Porto, I feel Alex Telles (one of the top 3 players in Portugal for several years now), Luiz Diaz and Sergio Oliveira were excellent for Porto today.

For Benfica, Vinicius was clinical and showing he's a big talent. Ruben Dias was class as always, despite the own goal, and Weigl showed flashes of what he can bring to the team. Oddly, some of the regular heroes for both teams were very quiet today (Marega, Rafa & Pizzi).

Good to see a more competitive situation at the top again, and let's see if Porto can finally put together some wins. I expect Benfica to come back strong against Braga and win easily next round. Congrats to both teams for an entertaining match.

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As a Benfica fan, disappointing result whenever points are dropped of course. However, it must be said that Porto fully deserved the three points just as they did back in August.

Like Chris mentioned above, Sergio Conceicao is far from a great...

As a Benfica fan, disappointing result whenever points are dropped of course. However, it must be said that Porto fully deserved the three points just as they did back in August.

Like Chris mentioned above, Sergio Conceicao is far from a great coach, however he does have Lages number haha!
I think Lage has shown he has pieces of a great coach, but whenever a ‘big’ game comes along he becomes too timid. It was clear that he entered last nights game with the goal of not losing (not the first time he’s done this). Ali most everytime he tried this he drops points...
I’d like to say hopefully he’ll learn from his mistakes, but he’s proven a very slow learner in regards to that xD...

On the other hand the loss makes the league far more interesting so as a neutral (or even a Benfica fan) it’s not too bad!

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Agreed 100% on Lage. He's tactically excellent. The way he's been able to adapt Benfica to losses of Joao Felix and loss in form of certain players, has been excellent.

But when it comes to the big games, he's missing the mental edge. We see it...

Agreed 100% on Lage. He's tactically excellent. The way he's been able to adapt Benfica to losses of Joao Felix and loss in form of certain players, has been excellent.

But when it comes to the big games, he's missing the mental edge. We see it with Porto and we see it in Europe.

Benfica and Porto have sold off all the players way too quickly so that you really see the drop in quality. It's harder for the coaches to make the teams perform well in Europe. That said, Benfica should have been in the CL knockouts and Porto should never have lost to Krasnador.

I hope that Porto, Benfica and Sporting can bounce back and start forming better teams as I feel the standard of coaching has really risen in Portugal. It's just tough to not see our teams in the Champions League in February.

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Well first off, I have to say that it was an exciting and entertaining Clasico, 5 goals and there could have been even more, and it was a far cry from the usually cagey matches in this fixture and I'm sure it was a great match to watch for the...

Well first off, I have to say that it was an exciting and entertaining Clasico, 5 goals and there could have been even more, and it was a far cry from the usually cagey matches in this fixture and I'm sure it was a great match to watch for the neutrals. However, as a Benfica fan I'm totally disappointed in our overall performance, just as I was in the first match back in August. It was a much improved second half performance from us and we bossed the second 45 mins really and could well have snatched a draw in the end....but that first half performance was simply unacceptable and unfortunately we just left ourselves with too much to do in the second half. We started the match just as I hoped we wouldn't: too passive and low intensity in our play, and just like in the first match in August this allowed Porto to dictate the tempo and the style of match that was being played. Porto just always seem more up for these Clasico matches than we do in recent years. For Porto when they play us, they play as if it were the Champions League final or something, giving 200%, while for us it just seems like another match, and we have to improve on this and take them more seriously.

Bruno Lage has done a lot right since taking over at SLB, but a clear flaw he has is his strange tendency to invent and chop and change things for the very biggest matches. We saw it in the Europa league last season, again in the CL group stage this season, and we saw it yet again last night. Some strange decisions all round and they backfired. Firstly, leaving Cervi on the bench. WTF? Our defence has been struggling lately, in particular the left side of it. Everyone knows how much good defensive work Cervi does with his non-stop running down that left flank, and it was obvious that Porto were going to try and use Marega and Corona's pace to exploit the weakness on the left side of our defence, just as they did back in August...Cervi could have been so useful last night in helping out defensively on the left side, how Lage chose to leave him out is beyond me! And surprise surprise, all 3 of Porto's goals were created from the left side of our defence!

Then in the second half, when we were dominating the play and just needed one more goal to get a draw, he decides to bring on both Seferovic and later Dyego Sousa, so we ended up playing with three number 9's on the pitch, but without any service at all to them. Dumb decision really, what we really needed was some better service to the front two and again it should have been Cervi to come on to try and help provide that, but instead Lage brought on a third centre forward. Lage screwed up last night, no doubt about it, and Conceicao won the battle of the coaches for the second time this season, which is so disappointing because I really think Conceicao is a very limited coach and a bit of a one trick pony in all honesty. Lage is a very promising coach with a lot of potential for growth, but he clearly still has a lot to learn, particularly how he handles the biggest matches.

I won't begrudge Porto their win, they deserved it for their strong first half performance. I will complain about the penalty though, as I think it was a harsh decision. Soares headed the ball onto Ferro's arm from super close range as they both jumped for the ball, what could Ferro have done about it? How the ref could decide that was an intentional handball after seeing the VAR replay? It reminded me exactly of the penalty that the ref awarded Iran against Portugal at the last World Cup, exactly the same thing happened and another harsh decision. A handball has gotta be intentional for the ref to give a penalty. Anyway speaking of Ferro, I don't know what has happened to him in the last couple of months, he really has been pretty awful, looking slow and not at all secure. He looked so promising last season, but just hasn't been the same player for most of this season so far. A player playing this poorly simply has to be benched. Problem is who will come in for him? I can't believe the club didn't think it was a good idea to bring in another CB in January: Ferro had already been playing poorly for some time, Jardel is clearly finished (and is out injured now anyway) and Conti got loaned out. I'd also like to see Florentino get some more opportunities now, we have been conceding too many goals recently and I think he's the best DM we have in terms of defensive duties and protecting the back 4. I would start him against Famalicao on Tuesday, a match in which we need to be a lot better defensively than what we've seen in recent weeks.

Anyway Benfica fans have to remain positive. It was a bad day at the office last night, but we still remain 4 points ahead on top of the table with everything still in our own hands. There's a long way to go still in the season, and we just have to bounce back immediately from this setback, starting with the Taca semi final second leg on Tuesday and hopefully we will see a much improved overall performance.

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