The focus was at the bottom of the table on the final Saturday of the Primeira Liga season with Tondela, B-SAD and Morerirense all fighting to finish 16th and thus go into a relegation playoff and avoid automatic relegation. With the matches of all three clubs kicking off simultaneously, it was Moreirense who grabbed the playoff berth thanks to a 4-1 victory over Vizela and Tondela conceding a devastating late equaliser at home to Boavista.
At the other end of the table, Porto’s 2-0 home victory over Estoril saw the Dragons reach 91 points, a new record. Lisbon giants Benfica and Sporting ended on a high with victories over Paços de Ferreira and Santa Clara respectively.
Tondela started the day in pole position, knowing a win would be enough to secure the playoff and condemn their two rivals to the Segunda Liga. And things were going to plan as Nuno Campos’s side led Boavista 2-1 heading into the final five minutes. However, a Yusupha Njie strike in the 86th minute broke the hearts of Tondela fans and condemned the Beirões to relegation. Tondela will try and pick themselves up next week as they contest the Portuguese Cup final against Porto at Jamor.
Moreirense had a surprisingly straight-forward win over Vizela, running out 4-1 winners before having an anxious few minutes congregated around mobile phones on the pitch as they awaited confirmation of Tondela’s draw.
Moreirense’s combustible coach Sá Pinto was overjoyed with the result and expressed his confidence that he can keep his team in the top flight: “Today we played under huge pressure and we had no room for error. Luck went our way with Boavista drawing in Tondela. Finally today things went our way.
“If we keep up this level, we will play two great games with whoever we get in the play-off. Everyone did a good job today, they played a great game, with none of the mistakes that have plagued us. We played an excellent game and it was a fully deserved victory.”
B-SAD finished rock bottom in the table after a goalless draw at Arouca. Despite picking up in recent weeks under young coach Franclim Carvalho, the disastrous first half of the season left B-SAD with too much to do.
It was party time in the city of Porto as the champions celebrated the title they won last week in Lisbon in front of their own fans. Two second half goals, by Joãozinho (in his own net) and Fernando Andrade, made sure the celebrations did not fall flat, and the whole city rejoiced late into the night with the epicentre of the “festa” at the traditional Avenida dos Aliados.
Porto end the Liga season with an incredible record of 29 wins, 4 draws and 1 defeat to set a points record which will be extremely difficult to better.
Sporting finished the season with a flourish with a thumping 4-0 victory over Santa Clara at Alvalade, Marcus Edwards scoring the pick of the goals with a rocket shot to complete the rout. The game was noteworthy as probably the final one in a Sporting shirt for midfielders Pablo Sarabia (the Spaniard saying goodbye with another goal) and João Palhinha. Both players are expected play for different clubs next season.
On Friday night Benfica manager Nélson Veríssimo, taking charge of his final game as head coach of the Eagles, sent out a team looking to the future, with seven Portuguese starters. And young Madeiran striker Henrique Araújo, who recently banged a hat-trick in the UEFA Youth League final, gave another indication of a promising future in the game with two fine opportunistic goals in a 2-0 victory at Paços de Ferreira.
By Tom Kundert