Sporting have increased their lead at the top of the Primeira Liga table after FC Porto’s Thursday night draw to Belenenses was met with a 2-0 victory away to Marítimo, this Friday.

The Dragons took on the outfit from Belém in Jamor in hopes of ramping up the pressure on the Lions but would succumb to a goalless draw instead, enabling the table-toppers to take advantage.

Travelling to the isle of Madeira, with new signing Paulinho spearheading the attack, Sporting were sure in their hunt for three points, defeating Marítimo by two goals. Elsewhere, Braga moved a couple of points clear of a stuttering Benfica side, defeating Portimonense 2-1 before the Eagles’ home draw against Vitória on Friday prolonged their poor form.

 

Belenenses 0-0 FC Porto

In close pursuit of league-leaders Sporting, Porto had the chance to come within a point of first place, should they defeat Petit’s Belenenses, languishing down the bottom half of the table, in their own patch.

The Dragons lacked the spark to fully stress the hosts, however, forcing their ascendancy at the half-hour mark with a half-volley from Sérgio Oliveira, beaten away by Stanislav Kritchiuk.

Evanilson came the closest to breaking the deadlock in the 38th minute with a header from a corner, aiming his attempt downwards before seeing it bounce over his intended target.

Porto’s struggles to dismantle Belenenses’ low-block defence became even more evident in the second period, threatening as late as the 82nd minute with a header at goal from Mehdi Taremi, again dealt with by Kritchiuk.

As Sérgio Conceição’s men braced themselves for a draw, the encounter was led out by huge concerns for Nanu’s well-being, colliding with Kritchiuk and exiting the ultimately goalless encounter in an ambulance.

 

Sp. Braga 2-1 Portimonense

After Benfica’s Lisbon Derby loss to Sporting left Braga in third place on head-to-head results, the Arsenalistas were out to increase the pressure on the Eagles, in action only the following day against rivals Vitória, no less.

Welcoming Portimonense to the Estádio Municipal, the visitors were the first to strike gold through Aylton Boa Morte’s tap-in in the 23rd minute, with only Matheus denying the southerners a second after Beto's one-on-one was saved with five minutes to go in the half.

It took Braga until the 63rd minute to re-balance the game, courtesy of a wondrous effort - a first in the red and white of the Bracarenses - from former Rio Ave and Chelsea wide man Lucas Piazon, finding the far corner with a long-range strike.

A foul inside the box on Ricardo Horta set up the turnaround for Braga in the 73rd minute, claimed and converted by the man himself, as the Arsenalistas survived a late scare to secure a 2-1 victory at home.

 

Marítimo 0-2 Sporting

With Sporting’s title charge becoming more and more serious by the fixture, their next job was to follow up Monday’s triumph over Benfica with another victory against Marítimo, potentially setting them six points clear of second-placed Porto.

It took Pedro Gonçalves just nine minutes to place the Lions in front, courtesy of an opening originating from Gonçalo Inácio at centre back, setting the league’s top goalscorer through on goal before taking the ball past the goalkeeper and slotting it into an empty net.

Ten minutes into the second half, Pedro Gonçalves, otherwise known as Pote, was at it again for Rubén Amorim’s men, tucking home a first-time finish from a cutback into the bottom-right corner.

Sporting continued to search for more goal joy but two goals would be enough to take the league-leaders six clear of second place as they secured a 2-0 victory away from home.

 

Benfica 0-0 Vitória

The pressure continues to mount on Benfica after their derby defeat to Sporting left them fourth, nine points behind their rivals. Vitória stood between them and a fightback at the Estádio da Luz on Friday night.

Meanwhile the fair share of opportunities fell Benfica’s way, Jorge Jesus’ men were unable to make any of them truly trouble their opponents, weathering the somewhat timid, but consistent storm coming their way in the first half.

We were in for much of the same in the second period with the likes of Gonçalo Ramos in the mix, adding to the hosts’ sorry record in front of goal on Friday night.

The encounter closed with the two biggest opportunities of the occasion, arising at either end, but a big miss flying over from Pedrinho on the volley, prior to Marcus Edwards’ strike just wide of Odisseas Vlachodimos’ post, left the two outfits inseparable at full time.

By Patrick Ribeiro

Matchday 17

Farense 1-1 Santa Clara

Belenenses 0-0 FC Porto

Sp. Braga 2-1 Portimonense

FC Famalicão 0-2 Moreirense

Rio Ave 0-0 Nacional

Benfica 0-0 Vitória

Marítimo 0-2 Sporting

Boavista - Gil Vicente

P. Ferreira - Tondela

Comments (7)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Sérgio Conceição feeling the pressure and throwing his toys outta of the pram, never a penalty in a million years. That man has no class and is just a proper hunt but remove the h and put a c. He was more concerned if it was gonna be given as a...

Sérgio Conceição feeling the pressure and throwing his toys outta of the pram, never a penalty in a million years. That man has no class and is just a proper hunt but remove the h and put a c. He was more concerned if it was gonna be given as a penalty than for his player who was knocked out... and his interview was a disgrace, if he came to England and done that he would be fined record amounts and destroyed by the media. Also the interview with Pepe saying how if it was the rivals that would have been a penalty and he used Benfica as an example adn then stormed off when the interview pointed how many have been given to Porto compared to Benfica's 0, Sérgio Conceição is making his players into unbearable babies ready to take up arms whenever any decision doesn't go there way. I like Porto but I do not like this manager, I hope both Braga and Benfica finish 2nd and 3rd behind Sporting just to rub salt into his wounds.

Benfica really have no tooth in their attacks, it seems like lending Carlos Vinícius to Tottenham has been a bad decision with Núñez not doing anything. Disappointing to see Benfica so lame. Benfica really should have won the game at 92nd minute.

Didn't watch Braga and only bits of Sporting so I can't comment properly.

Given how unreliable both Porto and Benfica, no reason why Braga can't overtake them. This month is do or die for Porto, with Braga coming up next if Porto were to lose and Sporting were to win the rest of the league games this month including Porto that would leave Porto 12 points behind which surely would kill them.

Also Pote is making me forget Bruno Fernandes, what a great signing he has been, can't believe a 22 year old midfield is leading the goal scoring chart by more than a handful of goals. Just sums up how off Benfica and Porto strikers have been.

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Vinicius to Tottenham was indeed a bad move, but worse was selling Dias to bring in Otamendi. The guy has been awful for years, and even at Porto, I was never a fan of his.

I think what Pepe said was ridiculous, but I give him some slack...

Vinicius to Tottenham was indeed a bad move, but worse was selling Dias to bring in Otamendi. The guy has been awful for years, and even at Porto, I was never a fan of his.

I think what Pepe said was ridiculous, but I give him some slack because he's being interviewed in the heat of the moment and he will be emotional about things.

Conceicao is definitely lacking in class, of that there is no question. On the one hand, you have to love how he brings the team together to create a war mentality. On the other hand, he is almost always in a bad mood, and tactically, he's short on ideas.

Sporting has some real breathing room, and pressure is on Porto to try and make back some points, with the key game being held on February 27. Should be a heck of a year.

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Sporting is mogging this league with their superior defence and tactical
Play. Pedro Gonçalves with two more fine goals.

Paulinho looks like he will fit in, he had some good touches and moments. Forca Sporting ! I read this is the best primeira...

Sporting is mogging this league with their superior defence and tactical
Play. Pedro Gonçalves with two more fine goals.

Paulinho looks like he will fit in, he had some good touches and moments. Forca Sporting ! I read this is the best primeira Volta for sporting since 1950/51.

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I'm a bit more trepid. It would mark a turning point from mere financials if Sporting were to win the league. Paulinho was a big time pick up, not just for his quality either. His arrival signaled to both player and coach that the front office is...

I'm a bit more trepid. It would mark a turning point from mere financials if Sporting were to win the league. Paulinho was a big time pick up, not just for his quality either. His arrival signaled to both player and coach that the front office is going for it. Sporting needs to drop the hammer on Gil Vicente, Pacos, and Portimonense in the coming weeks. I'll breathe better if this is done.

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Well the last time I commented here, a few weeks back, Benfica had some important games ahead which could have got us back on track with things this season. But in truth this meltdown in the last few weeks has been simply unacceptable. The club...

Well the last time I commented here, a few weeks back, Benfica had some important games ahead which could have got us back on track with things this season. But in truth this meltdown in the last few weeks has been simply unacceptable. The club spent 80 million in the summer (a fortune for a Portuguese club), yet in these last few weeks we've been playing even worse than all of last season, incredible! Yes we got hit by a terrible covid crisis (worse than any other club in Europe I've heard of yet)...but we still can't use that as an excuse. We still had the players available to have won the matches with Braga, Nacional, Sporting and last night, but we were just simply mediocre in all those matches.

To me the fault is not the players (I still think we have by far the strongest squad in Portugal this season, full of established players, internationals for their national teams, who have lots of experience of playing in other stronger leagues)...nor the coach, JJ is a quality coach who came super close to being world club champion with Flamengo just last year. The clear problem at this club has been for many years already, the leadership and structure of the club, which is rotten at the core. And in the end this lack of stability and ambition at the club filters down to the players and coach. Rui Vitoria and Bruno Lage also started very well at the club...but as the time passed, they started to peter out and ended up terrible. There is a pattern here, and to me it's clearly a result of the poor conditions and lack of stability and ambition that this "leadership" (total irony intended!) creates at the club. All the best players sold every season, nobody knows where all the money is going to, a brand new squad every season, and simply no long term squad stability created.

I've been saying on this site for years that it is high time to see the back of LFV. Yes he initially helped us progress somewhat after the worst period in the club's history in the late 90s and early 2000s. But almost 20 years in charge is way too long. These last elections a few months ago, it was crying out for new leadership and a fresh direction, and we should have got a new president. How over 60% voted again for LFV is really disappointing to say the least. I mean we are by far the biggest club in the country, with the biggest budget, yet during the LFV reign Porto have still won more titles than us. Benfica have been in the quarter finals of the Champions league a mere 3 times in the 20 years he's been in charge (just once every 7 years on average). For a club that's played in 7 champions league finals in their history (only 6 other European clubs have played in more!), we should be aiming to reach at least the quarters every year, not every 7 years. How 60% of the socios voted for LFV again given these statistics shows how this club badly needs to get on a new cycle, a new direction with real proper ambition befitting the size and history of this club. If LFV were a true fan of the club, he would resign now and allow the club to change direction. But he won't, we have 4 more years of his mediocrity ahead.

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Andre, I agree with your last paragraph, LFV is largely to blame for Benfica's lack of European presence for sure, but I am still baffled that none of the blame goes to the mulleted one.

The Copa Libertadores was also won by Abel, another...

Andre, I agree with your last paragraph, LFV is largely to blame for Benfica's lack of European presence for sure, but I am still baffled that none of the blame goes to the mulleted one.

The Copa Libertadores was also won by Abel, another decent manager, but no world-beater by any stretch. I think people are beginning to open their eyes to the reality that Jorge Jesus was never anything special. He only won in Portugal when Porto was weak.

As for the claim that you guys have the strongest squad by far, as a Porto man I have to disagree. I think on paper, you may be right. But in terms of form and potential, it's easily Sporting. The Sporting defence has been super-sharp, Coates has always been good, but is on another level now, Feddal is really good, and Luis Neto is back to his best.

When you mix in Joao Mario, Nuno Santos, Goncalves, Jovane, Porro, these guys are all in supreme form at the moment.

There's still a lot of the season to go, so things can still get interesting.

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Where is Eddy from Trinidad!! HE has waited a LONG time for this! Just about the nicest Sporting fan ever on Portugoal!

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“It was not perfect because we were lacking a clinical touch, but the performance was almost perfection.”

Sérgio Conceição
(Porto coach after victory over AC Milan in the Champions League) 

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