Braga and Sporting fall short on Clássico week

Sporting de Braga have missed out on the chance to close in on the top three after a Friday of draws for Sporting, Benfica and FC Porto, losing 2-0 instead to Paços de Ferreira, this Saturday.

Sporting were the first to drop points in a 1-1 draw at the Alvalade prior to an identical result in the Clássico between Porto and Benfica.

The results opened up an avenue for Braga to get closer to their competitive rivals, but the struggles extended themselves to Carlos Carvalhal’s men too, losing 2-0 away to Paços.


Sporting 1-1 Rio Ave

With a pending Clássico looming over the action at the Alvalade, Friday night served up the opportunity for Sporting to increase their points’ advantage over Benfica or Porto, if not, both.

In the first period, few were the times that the Lions troubled a Rio Ave side desperate to find their feet but, with five minutes of the first half to go, Pedro Gonçalves was on hand to provide the goods for the hosts, finishing off Gonzalo Plata’s low cross.

The Vilacondenses replied with a goal ‘Made in Sporting’ in the 61st minute, opened up by a Francisco Geraldes through ball to Carlos Mané and tapped into an empty net by Gelson Dala, following the winger’s pass across goal.

Heroics at the back from Aderllan Santos and co. kept the Green & Whites from biting back, subsequently taking crucial points off the hosts in their fight for the Primeira Liga title.


P. Ferreira 2-0 Sp. Braga

Draws across the board throughout the top three meant that Braga could make positive leaps in their hunt for a podium finish, needing a win against Paços, on the Arsenalistas’ tail themselves in fifth, to come within two points of both FC Porto and Benfica.

The two sides traded a handful of dangerous headers, supplied by Ricardo Esgaio and Marco Baixinho, as both outfits drifted into the break locked at 0-0.

Ex-Porto and Portimonense midfielder Bruno Costa changed all that in the 57th minute, cutting in on his right foot before find the back of the net with a strike going in off the far post.

Ricardo Horta was gifted with the perfect opportunity to fire Braga back into the contest in the 68th minute, receiving Esgaio’s pull-back in a prime position before blazing it over.

In response, Hélder Ferreira killed the game off just eight minutes later with a second for the Castores, taking advantage of the commotion caused by Baixinho’s header onto the bar to scramble in a decisive second goal.

The winger’s goal secured a 2-0 victory, on top of a handy set of three points for Pepa’s side, who are now just two points behind fourth-placed Braga.

By Patrick Ribeiro

Matchday 14

Sporting 1-1 Rio Ave

FC Porto 1-1 Benfica

P. Ferreira 2-0 Sp. Braga

Saturday 16th January

Vit. Guimarães - Farense

Tondela - Boavista

Sunday 17th January

Nacional - Moreirense

Santa Clara - FC Famalicão

Gil Vicente - Marítimo

Monday 18th January

Portimonense - Belenenses