Braga blow title race wide open versus Benfica prior to Porto success in Guimarães

Benfica have seen their comfortable lead at the top of the Primeira Liga table turned on its head after Sporting de Braga stunned the Estádio da Luz into a 1-0 defeat for the hosts.

João Palhinha’s goal on the brink of half time made all the difference in Rúben Amorim’s return to Lisbon, enabling FC Porto to now trail the Eagles by a point after overcoming Vitória de Guimarães, in a game marred by racism, with a 2-1 win.

Elsewhere, in the race for European qualification, Sporting saw third place taken from them after being forced to settle for a 1-1 draw away to Rio Ave, having chased a portion of the game whilst being down to ten men. As always, PortuGoal brings you the best of the action.


Benfica 0-1 Sp. Braga

Having claimed eight wins from a possible nine, leaving Sporting and Porto down in his trail, Amorim’s next task was a crack at his former club and league leaders Benfica, desperate to shake off last week’s wobble in the ‘Clássico’.

Rafa Silva, also up against familiar faces, sought an immediate impact when pinching the ball off David Carmo and racing through on goal, but the Portuguese winger could then do little else but poke a shot wide whilst under pressure.

Carlos Vinícius wasted a fine opportunity to head home the opener in the 42nd minute, sending Pizzi’s cross over the bar before Fransérgio almost tilted the balance at the other end, prior to Odisseas Vlachodimos’ point-blank save.

Palhinha showed both how it’s done from the subsequent corner, however, nodding past the Benfica goalkeeper to give the visitors a 1-0 lead going into the interval.

Vinícius possessed greater accuracy on the ball in the second period but instead had the near post to overcome in his quest for an equaliser, throwing alarms Braga’s way in the 49th minute.

But the Eagles would get no closer as the half proceeded, opening up the prospect of falling within touching distance of second place following a 1-0 defeat at full-time.


Rio Ave 1-1 Sporting

Just three points separated these two outfits going into Saturday's late-night clash in Vila do Conde, with Sporting requiring a win if they were to retake third place from a victorious Braga.

However, having hardly had a kick of the ball, the Lions found themselves a goal down after Chelsea loanee Lucas Piazon added the finishing touches to a first-minute set-piece move.

Quality play from Carlos Carvalhal’s men almost saw them landing a second through Nuno Santos, whereas Sporting were far more pragmatic in their approach, slamming the bar from distance via Eduardo Henriques in the 37th minute.

The visitors’ hopes of a fight-back took a blow in the 70th minute after a second bookable offence from Sebastian Coates, leaving Sporting to attack the remainder of the game with just ten men.

Jorge Silas’ units were just about enough, however, as Yannick Bolasie earned his side a penalty, finished by Jovane Cabral in the 84th minute, to level the game come full time.


Vit. Guimarães 1-2 FC Porto

All energies were focused on a win in the away corner, coming off the back of Benfica’s inviting slip-up against Braga, but Porto weren’t to have it easy, in theory, against Europa League hopefuls Vitória.

A couple of dangerous crosses served as a warning for Vitória, who’d eventually go a goal down by the 10th minute after Sérgio Oliveira lashed at Zé Luis’ cut-back, cannoning off the bar before being ricocheted in off the home goalkeeper’s back.

In response to Porto’s early lead, Marcus Edwards came close to canceling out Douglas’ unfortunate own goal, with the Englishman’s shot set for goal prior to Iván Marcano’s goal-line clearance in the 18th minute. 

Vitória emerged with even greater appetite in the second period, hitting all the right notes in the 49th minute through the ever-impressive Bruno Duarte, taking flight to head in the equaliser.

Marega had different ideas in the face of a brave Guimarães display, holding his run along a high line to bear down on goal and chip the goalkeeper in the 60th minute.

The Malian forward was sucked into the spotlight for all the wrong reasons minutes later, as he succumbed to alleged racist abuse from the stands and demanded to be substituted against his former club.

Jesús Corona could’ve killed the game off in the 82nd minute when blazing a strike over from close range, leaving him and the rest of the Porto band to breathe a huge sigh of relief in the final embers of the game after Davidson’s big chance, wrapping up three crucial points for Sérgio Conceição’s men.

By Patrick Ribeiro

Matchday 21

Vit. Setúbal 1-2 Gil Vicente

Portimonense 1-1 Moreirense

Santa Clara 1-0 Tondela

Benfica 0-1 Sp. Braga

Rio Ave 1-1 Sporting

Boavista 0-2 Belenenses

Marítimo 2-0 P. Ferreira

Vit. Guimarães 1-2 FC Porto

Famalicão - Desp. Aves