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

Comments (7)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

What happened? I thought "O Cerebro" was brought in as the best ever Portuguese manager in history. Wasn't he supposed to be swashbuckling his way through the Portuguese league?

The league title is now Sporting's to lose, and even if Benfica do...

What happened? I thought "O Cerebro" was brought in as the best ever Portuguese manager in history. Wasn't he supposed to be swashbuckling his way through the Portuguese league?

The league title is now Sporting's to lose, and even if Benfica do somehow come from behind to win it, you can hardly say it's been a return on the $100 million investment made by the club. Lage and Rui Vitoria were both able to win the league with a squad of 2nd-tier players.

This is not a criticism of Benfica the club, but rather a commentary on how hype-job managers like Jesus and Pep Guardiola get unlimited paycheques and resources and can't do anything worth noting. Why, for example, was Bruno Lage not given the same money to invest in players? Good manager, good tactician, yet he was given a janitor for a striker, a waterboy for a midfielder and a few of the landscapers for defence.

Jesus cannot get a job outside of Portugal or the middle east and once in Brazil. But if he really was the high-level manager he touts himself as, and the Portuguese media like to push him as... where are the job offers from England, Spain, Italy or even Germany? No where to be found.

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I’ve always said, Jorge Jesus is a good coach, not a great one. The world is full of ‘good’ coaches and so he is average.

However, his performances at the helm of this squad this season are laughable. There has been 0 improvement since the start...

I’ve always said, Jorge Jesus is a good coach, not a great one. The world is full of ‘good’ coaches and so he is average.

However, his performances at the helm of this squad this season are laughable. There has been 0 improvement since the start of the season. What a waste of time and resources bringing him back in. He had his chance. Chose to leave when he was still wanted. Let’s move on, not go back. He didn’t light the world on fire in 6 seasons so not sure why they believed he would now.
Even the old saying of at least they play well despite losing doesn’t hold because they aren’t playing squat.

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Not just zero improvement, you guys have gone backwards. At least with Lage, you had Champions League football. His first full season in charge was such BS. Here you have a guy that won you the league with no big names, won it over Conceicao...

Not just zero improvement, you guys have gone backwards. At least with Lage, you had Champions League football. His first full season in charge was such BS. Here you have a guy that won you the league with no big names, won it over Conceicao and a better team in Porto, and the biggest reinforcement he got was Vinicius.

The fixation and hero-worship of Jesus is beyond my comprehension. If you look at his career, he did nothing before Benfica, and nothing after it. At Sporting, he was the hero who was supposed to break the curse, but he ultimately did nothing. Sure, he did some good stuff in Brazil, and I was happy to see him shut up some xenophobic idiot commentators, but let's be honest, the Brazilian league is below the MLS in terms of quality these days, and I am confident teams in the Portuguese 2nd division are better than the MLS.

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Well said.

Lage worked wonders in his firs six months with quite an average squad. Despite results that were quite extraordinary he was given no support by the administration with some key signings. He was set up to fail. (However, his final few...

Well said.

Lage worked wonders in his firs six months with quite an average squad. Despite results that were quite extraordinary he was given no support by the administration with some key signings. He was set up to fail. (However, his final few months were atrocious. Even with an average squad, so few wins in those final months were unacceptable). With a poor string of results in the end or not, he was not supported so he should receive minimal blame.

Same story with Rui Vitoria tbh. Under him they controlled games. They were never brilliant but got the job done. Again no support from the administration lead to his demise. Betting on youth is a wonderful project, but it can’t just be youth. You need a healthy mix or you end up with a mess.

Then JJ comes back, academy project all of a sudden has no value and they have an easy 100 million to spend? What? Unfortunately, LFV time has passed. He righted the ship financially and came in when the club needed him most. However, he doesn’t know how to evolve beyond financials.

Thanks for your thoughts, always a pleasure reading your posts Chris!

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Likewise Nuno, I enjoy a good discussion about Footy.

I think lately I am most impressed with the Sporting administration. Everyone shit all over Varandas.

He had an impossible task taking over after the lunatic de Carvalho, who despite his...

Likewise Nuno, I enjoy a good discussion about Footy.

I think lately I am most impressed with the Sporting administration. Everyone shit all over Varandas.

He had an impossible task taking over after the lunatic de Carvalho, who despite his lunacy, did a lot of things right.

In the end, it was the gamble on Jesus that cost BdC his tenure, but no one seems to recognize this. Think about it, he spent so much on the fake prophet's salary and the hopes were so high, that there was no way to win.

When it became apparent in seasons 2 & 3 that his masterplan was a failure (especially when you consider what he did as President to boot Marco da Silva out of a job), Bruno became unwound and orchestrated a gang beatdown of his own players.

Despite his being crazy, a large portion of the Sporting fans still backed him, and would rather see a crazy man with balls than a "wimp" in a suit, as they assumed Varandas to be.

People also crapped on him for paying a crazy release clause for Ruben Amorim. But since then, they've been quiet, gotten good reinforcements that are not breaking the bank, and blooded some recruits from the youth academy.

It's too soon to say if Sporting will finally be champs, but being undefeated in the league halfway into January is very impressive. Always good to see the third "grande" back in good form. I am a Porto man, but I love competition. You should only be Champions if you can beat the other teams.

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Completely agree. Varandas really was the man Sporting needed. No lunacies committed, took it slowly and properly.

I’d prefer a competitive league as well, otherwise it becomes boring like most leagues. So for everyone, let’s hope sporting and...

Completely agree. Varandas really was the man Sporting needed. No lunacies committed, took it slowly and properly.

I’d prefer a competitive league as well, otherwise it becomes boring like most leagues. So for everyone, let’s hope sporting and sporting braga stay competitive!

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This is my biggest pet peeve with oil money. There was a time when the French league was awesome! You had different Champions every few years, though Lyon did dominate in the '00's.

But still, you could tune in and watch a great game between...

This is my biggest pet peeve with oil money. There was a time when the French league was awesome! You had different Champions every few years, though Lyon did dominate in the '00's.

But still, you could tune in and watch a great game between Monaco and St Entienne. Or Lyon vs Marseille. Or PSG get whooped by Lille (don't believe the Pauleta hype, PSG was shit for most of their history, and formed in 1970, one of the youngest top flight teams in Europe).

Think about the fact that on the last 21 years, France has had these teams all as Champions;
Bordeaux, Monaco, Nantes, Lyon, Marseille, Lilles, Montpellier and PSG. That's more teams in 21 seasons than teams who have ever won the Portuguese league. Crazy.

PSG and the oil men ruined Logie 1. It's pointless to watch, and all that money at the top has negatively impacted the rest of the team, in my opinion.

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