Sporting de Braga held onto second place in the Primeira Liga table after defeating regional rivals Vitória de Guimarães 3-0 in the Minho Derby, this Tuesday night.

A first-half goal from Braga’s latest recruit, Lucas Piazon, as well as strikes from Abel Ruiz and Andraž Sporar, were the overwhelming difference at the Estádio Municipal, reinstating a one-point advantage over third-placed FC Porto.

The Dragons were able to secure a 2-0 victory away to Gil Vicente on Saturday after Sporting, at home to Santa Clara, scraped a crucial victory in the final moments of the game to maintain momentum at the top of the table.

Benfica were the last of the “Big Three” in action, picking up a win for themselves on the road with a 3-0 victory against Belenenses.

 

Sporting 2-1 Santa Clara

With the pressure ramping up quick and fast, Sporting hosted Santa Clara at the Alvalade in search of another set of three points that would bolster their lead at the top of the table.

The Lions set their plan in motion via a familiar face in Pedro Gonçalves, the league’s top goalscorer with 15 goals after his finish aimed at the bottom corner versus the side from the Azores.

Gonçalves’ goal held Santa Clara off until half-time, with Sporting failing to penetrate further throughout the encounter before Rui Costa, off the bench for Daniel Ramos' men, hit back with an equaliser for the visitors in the 83rd minute.

But just as hope seemed to dim for Rubén Amorim’s men, up stepped Sebastián Coates to save the day for his side with a 93rd minute winner, pinging in João Mario’s bullet-cross with his head and salvaging a sweet victory for the table-toppers.

 

Gil Vicente 0-2 FC Porto

Following Sporting’s win, Porto were reduced to trying to maintain a ten-point gap between them and the top with a win away to Gil Vicente, days before their defining Champions League clash away to Juventus.

The Dragons took just seven minutes to find the back of the net after Matheus Uribe, in the thick of a small scramble inside the box, thrashed in a volley that left Gil Vicente goalkeeper Denis helpless.

Porto continued to press for more goals en route to the interval, where they’d only have Uribe’s goal to show for their efforts, but that all changed in the second half via Sérgio Oliveira’s vicious right foot, nestling one into the back of the net from range on the hour-mark.

A narrow offside call, ruled by VAR, prevented Evanilson from making it 3-0 in the 89th minute, forcing Sérgio Conceição’s men to settle for a 2-0 victory.

 

Belenenses 0-3 Benfica

In a bid to keep apace with Porto’s success in Barcelos, as well as applying pressure on Braga ahead of their own fixture, Benfica were out to renew their winning form against a Belenenses side floating in mid-table.

Jorge Jesus saw a couple of great opportunities go to waste midway through the first period, scuppered by Pizzi and a wayward Haris Seferovic header, signalling the alarms at the other end, as Silvestre Varela took aim dangerously at Benfica’s goal prior to Helton Leite’s stop.

The stalemate creeped in as far as the 54th minute of the game, where Seferovic reacted first to Alex Grimaldo’s cross with a clean execution with the side of his foot to break the deadlock

Just three minutes later, the Swiss striker was at it again, peeling off in behind the Belenenses backline before arcing a finish on his favoured left foot into the far corner. Lucas Veríssimo shut the game down with Benfica’s third goal, his first since arriving from Santos a month ago, as the Eagles ran up a 3-0 victory at the Estádio Nacional.

 

Sp. Braga 3-0 Vitória

A blockbuster occasion near the top of the table saw third-placed Braga, originally ahead of Porto before their win away to Gil Vicente, keen to retake their spot with a victory against bitter rivals Vitória, currently 6th.

Lucas Piazon took just five minutes to initiate the celebrations on the Arsenalistas’ side, benefitting from a quickly-taken throw-in that enabled Abel Ruiz to find the Brazilian inside the box, who was crafty enough to work an angle and tuck in his finish.

Ruiz grabbed a goal for himself before the half was out, leading Braga into the break with a two-goal advantage after slaloming through the Vitória backline with ease.

The hosts had to weather a strong response from João Henriques’ men in the second period, highlighted by Marcus Edwards’ effort onto the crossbar, but via Sporar, Braga found themselves home and dry in the 85th minute, with the ex-Sporting man sealing a 3-0 win with a one-on-one finish.

By Patrick Ribeiro

Matchday 22

P. Ferreira 2-1 Nacional

Sporting 2-1 Santa Clara

Portimonense 3-0 Tondela

Gil Vicente 0-2 FC Porto

Boavista 3-0 FC Famalicão

Marítimo 0-2 Moreirense

Rio Ave 2-0 Farense

Belenenses 0-2 Benfica

Sp. Braga 3-0 Vitória

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