Sporting distance themselves from rivals after FC Porto and Benfica fall to goalless draws

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