Benfica women lift Super Cup after penalty shootout win against Sporting on another record-breaking night for women’s football in Portugal

Portugal’s national women’s football championship (Liga BPI) kicks off this weekend, and was preceded, like in the men’s game, with the Super Cup as the traditional season curtain raiser.

In a terrifically entertaining spectacle at the Aveiro municipal stadium, Benfica came out on top to lift the trophy against city rivals Sporting in a penalty shootout, just as they had done last season. 

Kika Nazareth put the Eagles into the lead early in the second half, with Andrea Norheim equalising. Both goalkeepers made outstanding saves to take the game to extra time, then penalties, with German stopper Lena Pauels proving the hero for Benfica in the shootout. 

Historically the strongest team in Portugal in recent years, Benfica were again smiling like somebody leaving a successful casino online session at the end of the night, with the cheers of their fans ringing in their ears after the trophy-lifting celebration.

New format

This season the supertaça feminina was a mini 4-team tournament, with Sporting and Benfica making it to the decisive match after semi-final victories against Famalicão and Braga respectively.

It was an even game throughout, with chances created regularly at both ends. Inevitably Kika Nazareth was the standout player on the pitch, the Portugal star again showing she has the talent to become a huge name in the women’s game.

That said, Spanish attacking midfielder Brenda Pérez was also a thorn in the side of her opponents, and on this evidence the 30-year-old was an astute signing by Sporting this summer.

The closest we came to a goal in the first half was a superb effort on the turn by Sporting’s Ana Capeta that smashed against the bar, with Cláudia Neto denied by Pauels on the rebound.

Kika magic

Benfica began to get the upper hand in the second half and thought they had taken the lead in the 50th minute when Nycole Raysla scored direct from a corner, but the goal was ruled out for a foul on Sporting goalkeeper Hannah Seabert by Benfica and Portugal centre-back Carole Costa.

The Eagles did take the lead soon afterwards though, via a wonderful Kika goal. The No10 played a one-two with Catarina Amado, drove into the box with the ball at her feet, shimmied past the backtracking defenders with a clever body swerve before hitting a low angled shot into the back of the net.

Raysla was not far away from doubling Benfica’s lead, but Sporting hit back in the 72nd minute. The Lions won a dangerous free kick on the edge of the box. Brazilian substitute Maiara Niehues took responsibility, sending her shot over the wall and thudding against the bar, with Norwegian centre-back Andrea Norheim in the right place to knock in the rebound.

Goalkeepers shine

A common criticism of the women’s game is the perceived low quality of the goalkeeping, but anyone who watched last night’s spectacle in Aveiro would quickly conclude such notions are unjustified.

On 83 minutes Sporting’s Cláudia Neto dribbled infield and launched a superb curling right-foot shot from 20 yards out that seemed destined for the back of the net, only for Pauels to pull off a spectacular save, diving full-length to her left to divert the ball around the post with her fingertips and ensure the game went into extra time.

In the 98th minute it was the turn of the Sporting goalkeeper to take centre-stage, Hannah Seabert producing a miraculous reaction save to deny Andrea Falcón from point-blank range.

Despite neither team abdicating to seek the winner, the score remained 1-1 after 120 minutes.

And it would be Pauels who proved the hero for Benfica in the penalty shootout. Sporting’s first penalty saw Norheim’s disastrous effort fly wildly off target, with the German goalkeeper then diving to her left to save the spot kicks from Fátima Dutra and Fátima Pinto.

With Sporting failing to find the back of the net in three attempts, the successful conversions from Carole Costa, Marta Cintra and Laís Araújo meant it was the team and fans clad in red that were celebrating the conquest of the first trophy of the 2023/24 season.

Record TV audience 

The match was screened live on terrestrial TV and broke the record for the most viewers for a women’s game in Portugal. The previous record had been Portugal’s Euro 2022 match against the Netherlands.

An average audience of a little over one million viewers represented a 23.4% share of the total TV audience during the match, and it was the most watched television programme on Wednesday evening in Portugal.

To sum up, the whole occasion was another indication of the rising popularity of the women’s game in Portugal.

By Tom Kundert

Benfica: Lena Pauels, Christy Ucheibe, Carole Costa, Laís Araújo, Catarina Amado, Anna Gasper, Andreia Faria (Andreia Norton, 64’), Lúcia Alves (Marta Cintra, 90+4’), Kika Nazareth, Nycole Raysla (Letícia Almeida, 91’), Marie Alidou (Andrea Falcón, 82’)

Sporting: Hannah Seabert; Ana Borges, Bruna Lourenço, Andrea Norheim, Alícia Correia (Jacynta Gala, 90’); Brenda Pérez, Joana Martins (Maiara Niehues, 64’), Cláudia Neto (Fátima Dutra, 90’); Maísa Correia (Olivia Smith, 51’), Diana Silva (Andreia Bravo, 106’), Ana Capeta (Fátima Pinto, 64’)


[1-0] Kika Nazareth, 55’

[1-1] Andrea Norheim, 73’