Benfica fall four points behind league leaders Sporting with Santa Clara draw

Benfica have fallen four points behind league leaders Sporting after a 1-1 draw away to Santa Clara left the Lisbon outfit in third place, behind FC Porto.

The Eagles led in the first half through Darwin Nuñez before ex-Benfica man Fábio Cardoso cancelled out the Uruguayan’s opening strike, upping the pressure on Jorge Jesus’ uninspired men.

Back in the Portuguese capital, top-of-the-table Sporting fuelled their title charge with a 2-0 victory over fellow podium hopefuls Sporting de Braga at the Alvalade, making it ten wins from 12 in the league.

Porto would keep the pressure on the Lions with a comfortable 3-0 win at home to troubled Moreirense - a result that moves Sérgio Conceição up to second in the league. PortuGOAL has more from Matchday 12.


Sporting 2-0 Sp. Braga

A blockbuster start to 2021 pinned Sporting up against Braga in Lisbon with five points separating the two sides resting deep within the Primeira Liga top four.

Much of the plaudits have gone the Lions’ way in recent months but it was actually the visitors who looked the most likely to land joy, wasting a good first-half opportunity through Ricardo Horta before Al Musrati’s thunderous strike onto the post served up further worries for the hosts in the 39th minute.

At a time of need, Pedro Gonçalves was there to give Sporting the advantage, latching onto Nuno Santos’ lay-off and burying a shot low and hard in the 54th minute.

As Antonio Adan continued to star up against Horta at the other end, a strong investment from Andraž Sporar down the left flank gifted Matheus Nunes the chance to tap home a decisive second goal for Sporting in the 78th minute, securing a 2-0 win.


FC Porto 3-0 Moreirense

Fresh from the departure of their manager and ex-Porto player Cesar Peixoto, a trip to the Estádio do Dragão would’ve been one of the last things on Moreirense’s wishlist. Sérgio Oliveira got the ball rolling from the penalty spot in the 22nd minute after Jesús Corona was brought down inside the box, handing the hosts an early 1-0 lead.

Porto almost had a second goal in the 39th minute through Mehdi Taremi, proving a nuisance for Moreirense, as the Iranian’s header came crashing off the crossbar before Moussa Marega’s miss on the follow-up.

On two separate occasions, Walterson saw the chance to equalise taken away from him by the pace of low crosses, fizzed in his direction, before Toni Martinez, at the other end, punished the visitors with Porto’s second goal.

The ex-Famalicão striker was all over Porto’s third goal in the 91st minute, causing Anthony D’Alberto to deflect a shot into his own net for a conclusive 3-0 score.


Santa Clara 1-1 Benfica

Heavy rain meant Sunday’s fixture between Santa Clara and Benfica had to be resumed on Monday, prolonging a nervous wait for the Eagles looking to keep apace with their rivals.

An eye-catching move between Rafa Silva, Gian-Luca Waldschmidt and Darwin had Benfica looking the part in the 31st minute, with the latter claiming the first for Jorge Jesus’ men.

Former Benfica defender Fábio Cardoso was on hand to undo all that on the hour-mark, however, directing Cryzan’s acrobatic cross into the back of the net for 1-1. Cardoso’s strike flattened the mood in the visitors’ camp, unable to reaffirm their lead in the final 30 minutes, as a draw left Benfica in third place, four points off the top.

By Patrick Ribeiro

Matchday 12

Sporting 2-0 Sp. Braga

Tondela 1-0 FC Famalicão

Marítimo 0-0 Boavista

P. Ferreira 2-0 Rio Ave

FC Porto 3-0 Moreirense

Santa Clara 1-1 Benfica

Gil Vicente - Belenenses

Portimonense - Farense