Eagles soar after key home win over Estoril in the Primeira Liga

Benfica 3-1 Estoril

Benfica have kept the pressure on Sporting at the top of the Primeira Liga table after returning to winning ways at home to Estoril with a 3-1 victory, this Sunday night.

The Canaries fought tooth and nail against the hosts at the Estádio da Luz, responding to Orkun Kökçü’s opener through Rodrigo Gomes’ equaliser in the first half but it was Benfica who had the edge on the night, courtesy of a strike from Marcos Leonardo before the break.

Tiago Gouveia, an ex-Estoril loanee, granted Benfica the passage to all three points with a third for Roger Schmidt’s side in the 49th minute, taking the Lisbon giants back to being a point off top-spot.

The big call on the night from Schmidt centred itself around former Santos striker Marcos Leonardo, starting for the first time since his January move from the Brasileirão.

Benfica enjoyed a strong start, complete with a fantastic finish from Kökçü, found on the edge of the area before guiding his shot up and over Dani Figueira in the 15th minute.

Estoril’s reply was prompt, however, converted by the in-form Rodrigo Gomes inside the box who was alert to Heri’s cross, parried away by Anatoliy Trubin before the on-loan Braga man could slam home on the volley in the 21st minute.

Benfica found themselves back in front on the brink of half time after a deep cross from David Neres was nodded back across goal by Tiago Gouveia, assisting Marcos Leonardo for a tap-in with his head.

Coming into the second period, it was Tiago Gouveia’s turn to get in on the act after just four minutes of play, taking his chance to run at the Estoril defence before smashing low into the bottom corner. 

In the 65th minute, the Luz was treated to the new innovative explanation given by the referee as he called on the VAR to review claims of a Benfica penalty, eventually ruling in favour of Estoril and detailing his decision-making.

A frenetic end to the encounter saw Trubin keep out Rafik Guitane late on, whereas at the other end, it was the crossbar that prevented Benfica’s João Neves from finding goal number four for Benfica.

The game concluded itself at 3-1, leaving Benfica a point behind Sporting, meanwhile 16th-placed Estoril continue to flirt with relegation.

By Patrick Ribeiro

SL Benfica XI: Anatoliy Trubin - Fredrik Aursnes, Tomás Araujo, Antonio Silva, Alexander Bah - Florentino Luís, Orkun Kökçü, João Mário - Tiago Gouveia, David Neres, Marcos Leonardo

Estoril Praia XI: Dani Figueira - Eliaquim Mangala, Bernardo Vital, João Basso - Rodrigo Gomes, Mateus Fernandes, Zanocelo, Wagner Pina - Heri, Rafik Guitane, Cassiano