This one will be talked about for a long time, especially if Benfica go on to win the 2023/24 Portuguese championship.
The Eagles looked down and out after failing to peg back Sporting’s one-goal halftime lead from a superb Viktor Gyökeres goal despite the visitors being reduced to 10 men for practically the whole of the second half.
But strikes from man-of-the-match João Neves and Casper Tengstedt in the 93rd and 96th minutes turned the match on its head and sent Benfica above their Lisbon rivals to the top of the table.
Benfica coach Roger Schmidt appeared to be sticking to the three-at-the-back system he had implemented recently, with João Neves and Aursnese the wing-backs, and Petar Musa getting the nod up front. However, when the teams kicked off Benfica lined up in their traditional 4-2-3-1 with Morato playing left-back, and Neves and Florentino in the middle of the park.
For Sporting Japanese midfielder Hidemasa Morita was back from injury, partnering Hjulmand in the middle, allowing Pedro Gonçalves to advance up field to form a front three alongside Victor Gyökeres and Marcus Edwards.
Rafa goes close
Sporting started confidently, passing the ball around neatly and forcing an early corner, but it was Benfica who had the first two chances, both of which fell to Rafa Silva.
In the 9th minute good persistence shown by Petar Musa resulted in the ball falling to Rafa just outside the 6-yard box, but the Benfica forward rolled his shot wide of the post. A few minutes later a poor pass by Diomande was intercepted, Rafa advancing to the edge of the area and bending a shot that deflected off the retreating Diomande and hit the top of the bar.
Sporting were probing well but unable to find the decisive pass in the final third, while Benfica looked dangerous on the break, Coates and Inácio picking up yellow cards in quick succession.
On 24 minutes António Silva played a delightful dinked lob into João Mário, who in turn chipped the ball over Adán but it drifted just the wrong side of the post from Benfica’s point of view.
Sporting turn up the heat
Sporting’s confident play was at last translated into chances. On the half hour Ousmane Diomande rose well to meet a corner, his downward header forcing Trubin into a sprawling save.
Minutes later the Lions were a whisker away from taking the lead. A fine move ended with Edwards dinking a superb pass into the path of Pote who only had the Benfica goalkeeper in front of him but Gonçalves hit his volley straight at the Ukrainian who made the save.
In the 41st minute the best chance of the half fell to the man most people would bet their house on to score on the big occasion. Di Maria was sent racing through all alone, but his angled shot hit the post. Although it was signalled offside, replays suggested a VAR intervention would have validated the goal had the Argentinian found the net.
Just when it seemed the sides would go into the break all square Sporting struck. Marcus Edwards raced forward and played a perfect pass into Gyökeres. The Swedish striker did not appear to have the best angle but hit a stupendous right-foot thunderbolt that blew past Trubin and bulged the net.
Sporting started the second half looking firmly in control, but Benfica were given a lifeline in the 50th minute. Gonçalo Inácio clipped Rafa’s foot as the Benfica speedster raced towards goal and although the referee did not interrupt the game immediately, when the ball was dead he showed a second yellow and consequent red to the Sporting centre-back.
Amorim initially signalled for Sporting to switch to a back four, but in the 57th minute Jeremiah St. Juste came on for Edwards with the Lions reverting to their three-at-the-back system. With Gyökeres isolated up front, the visitors were facing a daunting task of holding out for 30 minutes a man down, with most of the 62,000+ crowd urging Benfica forward.
Adán denies Di María
Truth be told, Sporting held firm without too many scares. Adán made a fine save from a João Mário daisy-cutter, and in the 77th minute topped it with a spectacular diving stop to tip Di María’s 25-yarder over the bar.
Rúben Amorim tried to keep Sporting fresh by bringing on Nuno Santos, Francisco Trincão and Paulinho, while Schmidt threw everything into attack with the introductions of Arthur Cabral, Casper Tengstedt and Gonçalo Guedes.
But as the assistant referee held up the electronic board indicating six minutes of stoppage time and the clock continued to tick down, it appeared Sporting would hold on. Goalkeeper Trubin joined Benfica’s attack for a free kick and a corner in a final push from the home team.
Sporting nemesis Neves strikes
And on 93 minutes the best player on the pitch, João Neves, just like he had done at Alvalade last season, broke Sporting hearts by latching onto a half-cleared corner and smashing a volley into the net to spark an explosion of joy in the stands.
It would get better for Benfica – and worse for Sporting – in the final minute of stoppage time when Aursnes crossed low into the box, Rafa attempted and missed a back-heel and Tengstedt was on hand for an easy finish from point-black range. Cue bedlam in the stands, only for the celebrations to be cut short as the linesman’s flag was raised and the goal was ruled out for offside before going to VAR for the check.
An agonising wait ended with the referee pointing to the centre spot to signal the goal, and bedlam returned to the stands and on the pitch with Benfica’s entire delegation rushing off the bench onto the field to celebrate wildly.
Reaction of Benfica fans when VAR ruled that Tengstedt's goal was NOT offside and Benfica had won the Lisbon derby pic.twitter.com/MJ0yURNssF— Tom Kundert (@PortuGoal1) November 12, 2023
Results better than performances for Benfica
Benfica continue to underperform but get the all-important results in the big domestic games. Victories over Porto and Sporting at the Luz this season could prove decisive come the end of the season in their efforts to win back-to-back championship titles.
Although it will be of little consolation tonight, Sporting can take heart from a strong display at the home of their city rivals. The Lions look to have a team to last the course and remain in the title fight until the end of the season.
By Tom Kundert at the Estádio da Luz
🇵🇹⚽️ Incredible end to the Dérbi de Lisboa as Benfica beat Sporting Clube de Portugal 2-1 at Estadio da Luz, João Neves & Casper Tengstedt scoring in added time. My take on the game as @PortuGoal1 gets busy with his report. pic.twitter.com/SU8K3BGvmU— Matthew Marshall (@noobzcorp) November 12, 2023
[0-1] Viktor Gyökeres, 45’
[1-1] João Neves, 93’
[2-1] Casper Tengstedt, 96’