Sporting 1-0 Benfica

Sporting have strengthened their hold of first place with a dramatic 1-0 victory against Benfica in the Lisbon Derby, secured late on at the Alvalade by a Matheus Nunes header.

The two outfits went head-to-head in the capital in an important night in the tussle for the Primeira Liga title, following on from FC Porto’s 2-0 victory against Rio Ave, earlier in the night.

As the Lisbon pair wore each other out en route to an anticipated 0-0 score-line, an 11th-hour header from Matheus Nunes, starting ahead of the ever-present João Palhinha in the Derby, pinched all three points for Sporting and Rúben Amorim, triumphant against his former club and creating a nine-point-gap between the two sides.

After appealing his suspension, Sporting were able to name mainstay Palhinha on the bench for the ‘Derby Eterno’, meanwhile the big surprise from the visitors, without manager Jorge Jesus present, came with the implementation of a Benfica back five, mirroring Sporting’s formation.

The Eagles were forced into amending their strategy early, however, as Jardel, slotting in between Nicolás Otamendi and Jan Vertonghen at the back, picked up an early injury in the 10th minute before being replaced by Gabriel.

Both clubs struggled to break out of the big game’s cagey characteristics, with Pizzi registering Benfica’s first chance with a shot into the side-netting prior to Tiago Tomás’ one-on-one opportunity in the 23rd minute, called offside at the other end. 

Pedro Porro came close to offering the visitors’ goal a serious threat with a shot from the edge of the box, deflected over by Julian Weigl for a Sporting corner in the 34th minute. 

With just five minutes of the half to go, Luis Neto gave us an opportunity to remember the first period by, attacking Tiago Tomás’ flick-on with a header back across goal, roaming just wide of Odisseas Vlachodimos’ far post.

The two outfits carried a goalless draw into the half-time interval before a fierce strike from a tight angle from Darwin got us underway in the second period, stinging the palms of Antonio Adan and promising a more active half of football.

No less than a minute later, Tiago Tomás was sent racing down the right channel before feeding Pedro Gonçalves with a back-heel, but Weigl was again on hand to deny the Sporting man with a crucial block.

As Jovane Cabral and Pedro Gonçalves tried to force their way through Benfica’s backline, a Gilberto intervention almost found its way past his own keeper Vlachodimos, palming away the Brazilian full-back’s efforts in the 75th minute.

The Lions edged themselves closer to the game’s first goal in the 79th minute, with the ball falling perfectly for Palhinha, on for João Mário, before thrashing a volley at goal from the edge of the box that skipped just wide of the mark.

Just as the powers began to wane at both ends, Matheus Nunes was on hand to deliver what would ultimately turn out to be the winner in the 92nd minute, taking advantage of a frail Vlachodimos punch.

In his attempts to deal with a flurry of Sporting crosses, the Greek goalkeeper’s clearance fell kindly for Matheus to nod into an empty net, securing the Green & Whites’ first victory at home against their cross-city rivals since 2012.

By Patrick Ribeiro

Sporting XI: Antonio Adan - Zouhair Feddal, Sebastian Coates, Luis Neto - Nuno Mendes, João Mário (João Palhinha, 60’), Matheus Nunes, Pedro Porro - Nuno Santos (Jovane Cabral, 60’), Pedro Gonçalves (Daniel Bragança, 91’), Tiago Tomás (Bruno Tabata, 74’)

Benfica XI: Odisseas Vlachodimos - Jan Vertonghen, Jardel (Gabriel, 11’), Nicolás Otamendi - Alex Grimaldo (Nuno Tavares, 79’), Julian Weigl, Pizzi, Gilberto - Franco Cervi (Adel Taarabt, 64’), Rafa Silva, Darwin Nuñez (Haris Seferovic, 79’)

Goals:

[1-0] - Matheus Nunes (92’)

Comments (6)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Horrible game, both teams were stifling each other, but Sporting showed that they were the hungrier team.

Great clutch goal and Amorim has proven that even if he doesn't win the title this season, he was worth the transfer fee Varandas paid for...

Horrible game, both teams were stifling each other, but Sporting showed that they were the hungrier team.

Great clutch goal and Amorim has proven that even if he doesn't win the title this season, he was worth the transfer fee Varandas paid for him.

So many people piled on Varandas when he first came in without giving him space to work, considering what he inherited. He's been quiet and smart behind the scenes and it shows on the pitch.

Congrats to Sporting, to Benfica the season ain't over yet, and Porto just keep your head down and get results. And of course Braga, the 4th grand, is still not out of the picture either. Always good to see competition.

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I am over the moon with this win. It looked headed for a draw. Sporting didn’t play great but they certainly deserved to win because they were the only side looking to win today. Benfica clearly came set up trying to mimic sportings’s tactics and...

I am over the moon with this win. It looked headed for a draw. Sporting didn’t play great but they certainly deserved to win because they were the only side looking to win today. Benfica clearly came set up trying to mimic sportings’s tactics and grind out a draw and that didn’t work.

Matheus Nunes deserved the goal.
The title will clearly be fought between Sporting and FC Porto. February will be decisive. Sporting is a true candidate, many were predicting their downfall the last month, but they ended up defeating Braga 2x, Porto 1x and benfica 1x.

Sporting has also just officially signed Paulinho , and we need a striker. If he can come
Good and score goals , then I believe Sporting can finally be CAMPEÃO.

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Why would Sporting buy a player from Braga, the 11th best team in Portugal?? This is obviously a mistake. If they bought players from Belenenses, Leixoes, or a powerhouse like Salgueiros, I'd understand.

Those are real upper echelon Portuguese...

Why would Sporting buy a player from Braga, the 11th best team in Portugal?? This is obviously a mistake. If they bought players from Belenenses, Leixoes, or a powerhouse like Salgueiros, I'd understand.

Those are real upper echelon Portuguese teams. But to buy a player from only one of the Onze Grandes, 11th best team in the league???

I thought Sporting was better than that.

All kidding aside, Paulinho to Sporting is huge. Like most Braga products, he is a technically gifted striker, and adds some needed height to that Sporting front line.

I was hoping Hulk would make a farewell tour stop at Porto, but unfortunately, he's decided to ply his trade in Brasil instead. Too bad.

Benfica being behind 9 points isn't the end of the world, but of the overhyped "Cerebro" doesn't turn things around soon, it will be difficult for even the staunchest Benfiquista to defend his appointment at Benfica again.

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I never expected to see JJ's strategy copying sporting's. I guess Brasil left him in the clouds, please stay there for a couple more months.

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Literally the only proper mistake in the game which was punished. Good to see Sporting win these kind of games.

Benfica really didn't do anything to merit a victory, a draw was the best result they deserved.

Although Sporting didn't truly...

Literally the only proper mistake in the game which was punished. Good to see Sporting win these kind of games.

Benfica really didn't do anything to merit a victory, a draw was the best result they deserved.

Although Sporting didn't truly deserve to win at least they tried to win unlike Benfica.

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Awful game to watch to be quite honest.

JJ never changes, always trying to reinvent the wheel in big games.

Outside of Vertoghen, benfica CB’s have been quite frankly awful this season. Solution? Use three. Brilliant.

I’m sorry, maybe Weigl...

Awful game to watch to be quite honest.

JJ never changes, always trying to reinvent the wheel in big games.

Outside of Vertoghen, benfica CB’s have been quite frankly awful this season. Solution? Use three. Brilliant.

I’m sorry, maybe Weigl doesn’t want to play CB, but he’s being paid by the club and is head and shoulders a better defender than all these players put together (heck bring Samaris in).

Benfica never actually got into the game. Their second half was better than their first, but that doesn’t say much as they were mediocre at best I that second half as well. Benfica never tried going for the game. This was shown in both their play and substitutes.

Quite frankly, Sporting weren’t great either. However, they were top of the league and didn’t need this win to confuse atop. It wasn’t their game to win.

JJ has somehow regressed since his Benfica days before. Quite honestly, I don’t think Benfica have a chance to even get top 2 this season. The reality 100 million was spent and this team is just as awful as they were in June. They have not improved one but since the start of the season. Losing to Sporting is never the end of the world, however Benfica are being pushed around by every team. Cut your losses, try to come to an agreement with JJ and send him packing. Otherwise we are in for another year and a half of, at best, mediocrity.

Bring in someone ambitious. Try to go for the taca and Europa league. It’s clear JJ will try to secure ‘not losing’ against braga/Porto in the taca as well as against every Europa league opponent. I’m tired of JJ. I was tired of him 6 years ago. Let your fetish with this old man go LFV.
Better yet resign yourself and let Costa finish your term.

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