Benfica have edged themselves closer to the Primeira Liga title after defeating Portimonense 5-1 away from home, this Saturday.
The Eagles came swooping in with goals from Alex Grimaldo and Gonçalo Ramos in the first half, helped on by a Filipe Relvas own goal to establish a 3-1 lead at the interval.
A late second-half double from super-sub Petar Musa amplified the win for Benfica which leaves the table-toppers just a fresh win away from crowning themselves as the new league champions.
Without Nicolás Otamendi, Roger Schmidt was left with a youthful nucleus of Antonio Silva and Morato at the heart of defence, shielded by the fresh-faced João Neves on their travels to Portimão.
The visitors raced onto a 1-0 lead as early as the 4th minute after Grimaldo was found at the back-post by Frederik Aursnes’ cross, with the Spaniard’s volley crossing the line, despite Kosuke’s best efforts.
Both David Neres and Gonçalo Ramos lined up in search of Benfica’s second but it came, instead, from a more improbable source as Filipe Relvas turned in João Mario’s 28th minute cross into his own net.
Portimonense 1-5 Benfica highlights
Portimonense pulled a goal back through a set-piece move, finished off by Pedrão in the 38th minute before Gonçalo Ramos could reinstate Benfica’s two-goal advantage on the brink of, via David Neres’ quick counter.
In the second period, Grimaldo renewed his bout with Kosuke in an attempt to land a fourth blow to the hosts, but the Japanese keeper managed to keep Portimonense in it with a couple of saves from long-range efforts.
As Portimonense grew in confidence, Benfica reserved enough sting to down any hopes the home side may have had of clawing themselves back in the game, courtesy of another counter.
In the 87th minute, Rafa Silva was set through on goal, squaring a pass that Musa would eventually manage to dispatch into the back of the net.
The striker doubled his tally to make it 5-1 just two minutes later after a true gift from Kosuke, spilling a cross onto the target man’s path before a simple finish.
The victory sees Benfica, two games from the end of the season, firm up their position at the table, potentially requiring just one more victory to clinch the title with a clash against bitter rivals Sporting just over the horizon.
By Patrick Ribeiro
Portimonense XI: Kosuke Nakamura - João Victor Tornich, Park Ji-Soo, Filipe Relvas, Pedrão (Sérgio Conceição, 67’), Fahd Moufi (Lucas Ventura, 67’) - Moustapha Seck, Maurício, Carlinhos (Paulo Estrela, 67’), Yony González - Yago Cariello (Ricardo Matos, 80’)
Benfica XI: Odisseas Vlachodimos - Alex Grimaldo, Morato, Antonio Silva, Frederik Aursnes (Alexander Bah, 90’)- João Neves, Chiquinho (Florentino Luis, 45’), João Mário - Rafa Silva (Casper Tengstedt, 90’), Gonçalo Ramos (Petar Musa, 86’), David Neres (Gonçalo Guedes, 86’)