Porto & Sporting lead the way with two-goal victories prior to Benfica bounce-back

Benfica have returned to winning ways after defeating Tondela 3-1 away from home, meanwhile Sporting and Porto set up next week’s ‘Clássico’ with a win apiece.

The Eagles were able to storm their opponents with strong performances from Everton Cebolinha and Darwin Nuñez, both on the scoresheet in a 3-0 victory against 'the Auriverdes'.

Porto, also on their travels, were able to keep on-song with a 2-0 win away to Arouca, with the victory being met by Sporting, by the same scoreline, as they overcame Famalicão at the Alvalade.

With each of the Big Three having won the Primeira Liga in the last three years, betting on this season’s champions at the start of the campaign was akin to playing bitcoin routlette - you could win, you could lose. With 13 matches remaining the smart money is now focusing on Porto or Sporting to lift the crown, with the clash between the two next week likely to be decisive. 


Arouca 0-2 FC Porto

Porto had the opportunity to set a marker on Sunday night ahead of Sporting’s clash at home to Famalicão as the Dragons made the journey across to Arouca for their pre-Clássico affair.

Young Fábio Vieira came close to catching out the hosts' goalkeeper with a volley from mid-range, just moments before Evanilson’s disallowed goal for offside in the 19th minute in a half short of cutting edge.

Vitinha provided the gloss with a perfectly-executed strike from range in the 54th minute, dipping over the goalkeeper and lifting a joyous Porto outfit, now a goal up.

It took Porto just three more minutes to double their advantage with a towering header from Chancel Mbemba at the back-post, setting up a momentary nine-point-gap ahead of Sporting.


Sporting 2-0 Famalicão

With or without a result from Porto, the mission for Sporting at Alvalade would always be centred around gaining three points as they looked to ready themselves for next week’s title-tussle by being as close to Porto as possible.

The Lions started quickly, finding themselves ahead as early as the 6th minute after man-of-the-moment Pablo Sarabia picked his spot from the 12-yard-mark.

By the same token, Sporting almost saw their slender advantage taken from them on the brink of half-time after a slightly reckless challenge from Pedro Porro inside the box, but Antonio Adán rescued the hosts up against Simon Banza’s fruitless effort.

On the hunt for a second goal, Rúben Amorim’s men saw it come from the unlikeliest of sources as Matheus Reis, lingering outside the box, was able to slam home a deflected volley in the 63rd minute.

The two-goal advantage stood the test of time in Lisbon, setting up Friday’s tasty fixture opener at the Estádio do Dragão between Porto and Sporting, with the latter hoping to cut the gap at the top to just three points.


Tondela 1-3 Benfica

Following a handful of stern words from Benfica club president Rui Costa, a visit to Tondela was the Eagles’ first chance to bounce back in positive fashion.

The discourse certainly seemed to stick with Everton Cebolinha, at least, finishing inside the box in the 23rd minute before going close to a second moments later as Pedro Trigueira tipped the Brazilian’s effort onto the bar. 

At the heart of it all, Everton popped up again to assist Darwin Nuñez, but the goal itself was all the Uruguayan’s doing, diverting inwards from the left before hitting the back of the net with a long range effort he had little business of scoring in the 34th minute.

In the 38th minute, it was Darwin’s turn to hit the woodwork as the post denied Benfica from going into the half-time interval with a comfortable 3-0 lead.

It wouldn’t take long for Benfica to eventually hit a third, however, after Gonçalo Ramos’ bullish entry into the box, earning the Portuguese striker the space to fire in on his right. Tondela claimed a consolation goal in what would be concluded as a 3-1 victory for Benfica, back within six points of rivals Sporting.


By Patrick Ribeiro

Matchday 21

Marítimo 0-0 Estoril

P. Ferreira 1-1 Portimonense

Vitória 2-1 Sp. Braga

Boavista 2-2 Vizela

Gil Vicente 2-2 Santa Clara

Arouca 0-2 FC Porto

Sporting 2-0 Famalicão

Tondela 1-3 Benfica

Moreirense vs. Belenenses