FC Porto 1-1 Benfica
Both FC Porto and Benfica have missed the chance to cut the gap at the top down to two points after sharing the spoils in a 1-1 draw at the Estádio do Dragão, this Friday night.
Following Sporting’s 1-1 draw to Rio Ave earlier in the evening, the Dragons and the Eagles were handed the opportunity to make second place their own and close in on the league leaders, providing a victory for either side.
Alex Grimaldo’s opener set Benfica’s plan in motion in the first half before Moussa Marega’s subtle touch from Mehdi Taremi’s strike equalled matters before the break.
A reckless Taremi challenge, later in the second period, left Porto to fend off Jorge Jesus’ side with just ten men in the final 20 minutes, but the visitors failed to make their numerical advantage count en route to a 1-1 stalemate in the ‘Clássico’.
Otávio served as the main absentee on Porto’s side, paving way for Jesús Corona to push up the right wing and for Nanu to fill in, meanwhile Nuno Tavares, starting at left-back, was Jorge Jesus’ big surprise.
The first half-chance fell Benfica’s way as Julian Weigl’s transportation of the ball opened up the avenue to spot Darwin Nuñez running the channels, with the latter aiming to feed Haris Seferovic at the near-post before the Swiss striker’s inaccurate finish, eight minutes in.
In their second visit to Augustin Marchesín’s goal, Benfica found a way through via Grimaldo’s 17th-minute opener, latching onto Seferovic’s first-time lay-off to lift the ball over the Porto goalkeeper and give the Eagles a 1-0 lead.
No less than seven minutes later, Porto we’re celebrating an equaliser after Corona, up against Gilberto, earned himself a yard to pick out Taremi inside the box prior to the Iranian's shot at goal being helped on in by Marega.
The visitors almost found their way back in front in the 29th minute, courtesy of good work from Pizzi to set Darwin up with a cut back, but the latter would have little luck with a strike hitting the post square on.
Porto attacked through Luis Diaz in the 37th minute, in search of an angle to shoot from that led to the Colombian curling the ball wide past Odisseas Vlachodimos’ goal, rather dangerously.
The battle in the second period intensified, promoting much of the habitual hustle and bustle that comes with derby games before Marega’s saved header from a set-piece, deep in the 68th minute of the game, drew eyes back onto the football.
Porto’s night was about the complicate itself moments later, however, as Taremi’s tackle on Nicolas Otamendi, initially met by a yellow card, was overruled by VAR to send the striker off and leave the hosts reduced to ten man in the final 20 minutes.
Despite this, Sérgio Conceição’s men still found the bodies to trouble Benfica in the eternal search for an advantage, as Marega attacked Diaz’s looping header, aimed at the back post, with a tame chested effort, saved by Odisseas.
The visitors proceeded to enjoy their fair share of possession in the latter stages of the game but would fail to pick Porto’s lock, taking us into full-time with a 1-1 draw and a point apiece for both title hopefuls, locked on 32 points.
By Patrick Ribeiro
FC Porto XI: Augustin Marchesín - Nanú, Chancel Mbemba, Pepe, Zaidu Sanusi (Diogo Leite, 82’) - Jesús Corona, Sérgio Oliveira (Marko Grujic, 97’), Matheus Uribe, Luis Diaz (João Mário, 82’) - Moussa Marega, Mehdi Taremi
Benfica XI: Odisseas Vlachodimos - Gilberto, Nicolas Otamendi, Jan Vertonghen, Nuno Tavares - Rafa Silva, Julian Weigl, Pizzi (Chiquinho, 77’), Alex Grimaldo (Everton Cebolinha, 83’) - Darwin Nuñez, Haris Seferovic
[0-1] - Alex Grimaldo (17’)
[1-1] - Moussa Marega (24’)