Sporting have fallen three points behind FC Porto in the race for the Primeira Liga title after losing their first league game of the season 3-2 to Santa Clara, this Friday, away from home.

The Lions took the lead on two occasions on the night before a counter-attacking Santa Clara were able to prey on the visitors’ mistakes and earn a precious 3-2 victory.

Porto, in action away to Estoril, we’re forced to fightback from a two-goal deficit to distance themselves from second-placed Sporting, as a 89th minute Francisco Conceição goal clinched three vital points.

Benfica also took advantage of Sporting’s defeat with a 2-0 win at home against ten-man Paços de Ferreira, moving within four points of their city rivals.

 

Santa Clara 3-2 Sporting

Without manager Rúben Amorim and other key figures, such as Pedro Porro and Gonçalo Inácio, Sporting were hoping to overcome a Santa Clara side with just three league victories to their name, this season.

The title holders kicked things off in style with a João Palhinha opener from range, but the midfielder’s efforts were undone in the 30th minute by an equally-brilliant attempt from Jean Patric, heading into the top corner after ghosting at the back-post.

Sporting fired off another goal coming into the second period, courtesy of a first-time Pablo Sarabia volley in the 51st minute, but Santa Clara were even quicker to bite back, equalising a minute later through Lincoln.

The pendulum swung in the hosts’ favour with a powerful Ricardinho finish 12 minutes from time as Sporting, desperate to at least defend their invincibility, ended the game reduced to ten men following Daniel Bragança’s straight red.

 

Estoril 2-3 FC Porto

Covid-hit Estoril were forced to host Porto on Saturday night after efforts to the delay the game were denied, but the encounter promised to be anything but a walkover for the Dragons, caught struggling in the early exchanges of the clash.

In the 38th minute, Arthur Gomes put the hosts 1-0 up before a penalty just before the break, converted by André Franco, left Porto with a mountain to climb at 2-0 to Estoril.

A disallowed goal prevented Sérgio Conceição’s men from plunging further into trouble as Mehdi Taremi pulled a goal back early in the second half to set up a comeback.

Porto took their time to follow the Iranian striker’s goal up, relying on Luis Díaz to work some space inside the area and find the back of the net from a tight angle, equalising in the 84th minute.

The big moment was reserved for Francisco Conceição, son of manager Sérgio, who was quick to take off in his father’s direction to celebrate the winner that moves Porto three points clear at top of the table.

 

Benfica 2-0 P. Ferreira

In his second consecutive outing as caretaker boss, Nélson Veríssimo had the opportunity to close the gap between them and second-placed Sporting to just four points as Paços de Ferreira came to town.

The Eagles dominated proceedings, meanwhile Paços’ chances won’t have been helped by Denilson Junior’s high foot on Alex Grimaldo in the 47th minute of the first half, earning him a red card. 

As Gonçalo Ramos closed in on the game’s first goal, hitting the bar late on in the first period, João Mário swooped in to claim a tap-in for 'the Red & Whites', with Gonçalo Ramos also involved, on the brink of half-time.

It was all Benfica in the second period with Grimaldo confirming all three points with an accurate strike from range in the 75th minute, nestling in the top corner.

The margin of victory could’ve gotten even bigger for Veríssimo’s team after a hat-trick of late opportunities for Darwin Nuñez went begging, seeing Benfica settle for a couple of on-target efforts to set them back on winning terms.

By Patrick Ribeiro

Matchday 17

Santa Clara 3-2 Sporting

Vizela 0-1 Moreirense

Estoril 2-3 FC Porto

Boavista 1-1 Tondela

Portimonense 1-2 Marítimo

Benfica 2-0 P. Ferreira

Sp. Braga 2-2 Famalicão

Belenenses vs. Arouca

 

Monday 10th January

Gil Vicente vs. Vitória

Comments (3)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Lincoln is an absolute machine. What a player. Santa Clara played with heart and every time they got on the ball you felt something would happen. That right side of defence where Porro and Inacio play was targeted and exploited. Esgaio and Neto...

Lincoln is an absolute machine. What a player. Santa Clara played with heart and every time they got on the ball you felt something would happen. That right side of defence where Porro and Inacio play was targeted and exploited. Esgaio and Neto suffered a little bit, both are pretty big downgrades, especially Neto IMO. Coates is a better ST than Paulinho too, exciting to see him get up top at the end of the game, seems at times he’s the only one on the pitch playing with heart for the lions.

Does anyone feel a little unsure of the “foul” that prevented Estoril going 3-1 up against Porto yesterday? 9 times out of 10 if a defender goes down in his box during a corner, it’s almost always called his way, even if it isn’t a foul. Good fighting spirit from the dragons to come back though, and was a nice moment to see father and son after the winning goal, finally Chico scores a legit goal, surely means a lot to him.

Solid w for my benfica. Still miles off the pace from even getting close to the current standards of Porto and Sporting.

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Teresa
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

The first half against Estoril had me yelling at the TV. Porto were awful.

The 2nd half was a different story and I'm actually glad we had to fight for the comeback because it showed grit and determination. A never say die attitude.

The...

The first half against Estoril had me yelling at the TV. Porto were awful.

The 2nd half was a different story and I'm actually glad we had to fight for the comeback because it showed grit and determination. A never say die attitude.

The Sporting-Santa Clara game was awesome to watch. One team scored, the other leveled. Then again, then when it looked like Sporting would net a winner, Santa Clara hits them on a counter.

Great action if you weren't a Sportinguista.

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Chris
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The refs really bailed puerto out here .
Alll second half constant cards to estriol and of course dubiously not awarding the third estoril goal because.. ?

Meanwhile Sporting gets 5 reds in their last 6 games and mbempba and Otamendi remain on...

The refs really bailed puerto out here .
Alll second half constant cards to estriol and of course dubiously not awarding the third estoril goal because.. ?

Meanwhile Sporting gets 5 reds in their last 6 games and mbempba and Otamendi remain on the pitch after committing similar fouls to what for braganca sent off.

Our league in a nut shell.

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—Z—
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