Sporting in stuttering form prior to key wins from rivals Porto and Benfica

Sporting were made to battle from two goals down to snatch a late draw at home to Belenenses, this Wednesday, as their six-point lead at the top of the table shrunk to four.

Belenenses raced into a 1-0 lead before doubling their advantage in the second half, but a Sebastian Coates header and late Jovane Cabral penalty earned the Lions a point, opening up the opportunity to concede ground in the race for the league title, but also maintaining their unbeaten record in the league.

FC Porto didn’t wobble in the face of the opportunity to close in on Sporting, defeating Vitória de Guimarães with a sole goal from Moussa Marega, meanwhile Benfica returned to winning ways, away to Portimonense, after cruising to a 5-1 victory.

Elsewhere, there was also an important win for Sporting de Braga against their rivals Boavista at home, maintaining a two-point gap behind third-placed Benfica with a 2-1 triumph.


Sporting 2-2 Belenenses

After bouncing back from two consecutive draws, without Rúben Amorim, away to Farense at the weekend, Sporting were out in hunt of further joy against their fellow locals Belenenses in the second of their manager's three-game suspension.

Thirteen minutes is all it took for Belenenses to leave the residents of Alvalade sweating, with Mateo Cassierra tapping in Silvestre Varela’s low cross for the opener.

Sporting upgraded from set-piece threats to the chance to bounce back with a João Mário spot-kick in the 42nd minute, courtesy of a foul on Nuno Mendes, but the Internazionale midfielder found no way past an imperious Stanislav Kritsyuk, saving the penalty.

Meanwhile one keeper claimed hero status, the other was playing out the role of the villain after Antonio Adan was left red-faced by Cassierra, catching the shot-stopper out in possession and claiming an easy second before the hour mark.

Sporting commenced their fightback in the 83rd minute via Sebastian Coates’ header, crashing in to attack Nuno Santos’ cross from the left and halve Belenenses’ lead.

A handball inside the box gifted the hosts a second bite of the cherry from the spot, just as the curtains looked poised to be drawn. Jovane took full responsibility and converted to keep Sporting undefeated, despite a third draw in four games chilling the mood.


Sp. Braga 2-1 Boavista

Derby day came to the Estádio do Municipal de Braga on Wednesday evening as Braga hosted Boavista with a tussle for third place, chasing after Benfica, firmly in mind.

The hosts started the brightest, threatening on a number of occasions, but it was through Boavista’s Sebastian Perez, volleying in from the edge of the box, that the game would find its first goal in the 28th minute.

Braga hit back via Fransérgio, providing a powerful header from Nico’s Gaitan’s cross, meanwhile a second-half red card for Jackson Porozo complicated matters even more for the visitors, struggling to contain the Arsenalistas.

Braga persisted and, alas, were rewarded for their determination in the 82nd minute, with the ball falling kindly to Andraž Sporar inside the box to claim a winner for Carlos Carvalhal's men.


Portimonense 1-5 Benfica

Defeat to Gil Vicente had Benfica saying their goodbyes to their title hopes, but there’s still second place to fight for and third place to protect, warranting a response away to Portimonense.

The team from Portimão were the first to strike, thanks to the on-song Beto in the 42nd minute, but Benfica were quick to chalk the effort off with a goal of their own before the break, provided by a composed Pizzi.

Powering his way through five minutes after the restart, Darwin Nuñez placed Benfica ahead for the first time in the encounter before Haris Seferovic amplified the visitors’ lead in the 64th minute.

Seferovic, in an intense battle for the golden boot with Sporting’s Pedro Gonçalves, was at it again in the 73rd minute, tapping home from Alex Grimaldo’s cross, meanwhile the finishing touches to Benfica’s 5-1 win fell to Everton Cebolinha, signing out with a 94th-minute finish into a semi-occupied net after rounding the keeper.


FC Porto 1-0 Vitória

A big game for Porto became even bigger after Sporting dropped two potentially crucial points in the hunt for the title, prior to the Dragons hosting Vitória.

The visitors were able to shut out the favourites for much of the first half, conceding only a rare sighting of goal to Mehdi Taremi in the 20th minute, stopped by Bruno Varela in goal.

Marega was on hand to ease the tensions somewhat coming into the second half, however, fighting off pressure one-on-one to fire into the top corner on his left foot. The Malian striker was the danger-man again in the 68th minute, coming close to renewing his joy against Varela prior to the ex-Benfica man’s save.

Porto’s hunt for a second goal almost ended late on through Francisco Conceição’s effort from a tight angle, diverted onto the bar by a dubious Mumin block, but a 1-0 advantage is all ‘the Blue and Whites’ needed to move two points closer to Sporting in the far-from-concluded league table.

By Patrick Ribeiro

Matchday 28

P. Ferreira 0-2 Farense

Santa Clara 0-0 Moreirense

Maritímo 1-0 Rio Ave

Sp. Braga 2-1 Boavista

Sporting 2-2 Belenenses

Tondela 2-1 Nacional

Gil Vicente 0-3 Famalicão

Portimonense 1-5 Benfica

FC Porto 1-0 Vitória