Benfica won the Portuguese championship this afternoon after thumping Nacional 4-1 at a sun-drenched Estádio da Luz packed with 60,000+ ecstatic fans. A brace from man-of-the-match Nico Gaitán, and goals from Jonas and Pizzi overpowered Nacional, for whom Salvador Agra scored a late consolation.

The Lisbon giants win the Liga for the third straight year, something they have not achieved for 39 years.

Benfica’s win meant Sporting’s 4-0 thumping of Braga at the Quarry was in vain, as the Lions finished two points behind their city rivals.

 

Early tension

Benfica started the match with plenty of possession but nerves were in evidence as they found it hard to carve out clear-cut chances, and those nerves threatened to get even more fraught as news filtered through from Braga that Sporting had taken the lead, putting them momentarily on top of the table.

Less than two minutes later, however, Nico Gaitán, who had been Benfica’s most dangerous player up to then slid an angled shot into the net after a good run by Pizzi.

The goal clearly lifted the pressure from the hosts who began to drive forward with more purpose, pinning the visitors deep into their own half. And the lead was doubled when Gaitán’s long ball over the top released Jonas, who beat Nacional goalkeeper Gottardi to the ball to double Benfica’s lead.

Nacional briefly threatened to make a match of it at the start of the second half, but all doubts were dispelled when Gaitán headed in from close range after Mitroglou had hit the bar when it seemed easier to score.

Pizzi’s powered in a volley to make it 4-0, before Salvador Agra scored a late consolation for the islanders.

Stunning form

After looking out of the title race two months into the season, a record of 24 wins, 1 draw and 1 defeat in Benfica’s last 26 matches, and 12 straight victories to round off the season, propelled the Eagles to a memorable triumph.

It is Benfica’s 35th title triumph, a record in Portugal.

By Tom Kundert, at the Estádio da Luz

 

Comments (6)

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Ugh, tough watching a Benfica tri-campeao scenario, but you have to respect the team this year. Rui V was written off from the beginning. I personally thought he deserved a chance but also had my doubts. He stuck to it, and got the worst...

Ugh, tough watching a Benfica tri-campeao scenario, but you have to respect the team this year. Rui V was written off from the beginning. I personally thought he deserved a chance but also had my doubts. He stuck to it, and got the worst Benfica team of the last decade to become unstoppable in the last 2/3's of the season.

I am sure I will still hear nonsense about how Jorge Jesus (aka the most overrated coach since Pep Guardiola) is a tactical genius and see Rui Vitoria go underappreciated. Facts are this: Rui Vitoria got Benfica further in the Champions League than JJ ever did, he won the Liga in his first season, he broke the record for most points total ever and most goals in a season. Rui Vitoria proved in one season he is better than Jorge Jesus ever was. Period.

The Jorge Jesus undeserved hype must end. He had a chance to try and do it on his own. He failed. Benfica made his career.

I have some sympathy for Sporting fans. It cannot be easy facing disappointment like this again. They have possibly the most cohesive team that have been together the longest (which benefitted JJ as well). They played and competed commendably. It will be interesting to see what sales and acquisitions the Leoes make in the offseason. Slimani and Joao Mario carried the team quite far, with a very good supporting cast. Will they both be around in September? For the good of the league, hopefully. But money may play the biggest factor.

Lastly but not leastly... Porto. Hard to discuss for me. The season was a disappointment for me from the beginning. When I discovered Julen Lopetegui was sticking around, I was very disappointed. I am glad he is gone, but his departure and the efforts of Jose Peseiro have just proven that there is something fundamentally wrong at the club. The revolving door strategy of players and managers has cost us dearly. Fans talk of a missing "mystique" and "aura" at Porto and they are right. The club needs to change policies and approaches immediately, lest the lacklustre performances and results continue.

One thing is true, the league is as competitive and exciting as ever. Hopefully this great competitive air can help propel the league into the upper echelon of recognition in the rest of the world.

Cheers.

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Amazing season. Its tough to be second and especially for it being so close, in the end Sporting finished just two points behind Benfica. So yes Benfica did have a great season and credit to them respect for that, but in the same regard Sporting...

Amazing season. Its tough to be second and especially for it being so close, in the end Sporting finished just two points behind Benfica. So yes Benfica did have a great season and credit to them respect for that, but in the same regard Sporting had a great season as well and we were that close to winning it as well. In a season as close as this its little things that make the difference, and for whatever reason even as the final games of this season played out, my mind continued to be haunted by Bryan Ruiz missing those two clear cut open in front of goal chances vs Benfica in the last match between Sporting and Benfica. Had he taken those "easy" chances Sporting would have won that match, and it could have been a different ending to this season. Today funnily enough he scored two vs Braga, but it was the two that he should have scored vs Benfica that haunted us. At that point we had won 3 out of the 3 matches vs Benfica so in my opinion we were supposed to win that 4th one as well. Then some could say we should not have drawn that much vs the smaller teams, we had five draws. One less draw and a win instead would have put us equal to Benfica in points as well. It was that close.

But overall its the points standing at the end of the day that matter and Benfica did their work and did a great job and won and they deserve props and respect for that.

I'm still very proud of the great season my team Sporting had, we had a great team fantastic play and performances and Jorge Jesus did a fantastic job as well, breaking the all time points total for Sporting, fantastic achievement. He brought the best out of Sporting and created the most well attacking and functioning and effective winning Sporting that we have seen in forever. Some may try to belittle Jorge Jesus and stuff but the man at the end of the day is a great coach and he did a great job with Sporting and was inches close to winning the title with Sporting which would have been a phenomenal achievement. I believe he is the man for the job and just as I believe BdC is the man for the Presidency job and both of them definitely are the right ones to lead Sporting forward even more and win the titles we can and should be winning.

As always Forca Sporting!

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I have never really followed the Portuguese league that closely until this year. In my opinion Sporting is the team that played the higher quality of football in Portugal, which they demonstrated head to head against Porto and Benfica. They were...

I have never really followed the Portuguese league that closely until this year. In my opinion Sporting is the team that played the higher quality of football in Portugal, which they demonstrated head to head against Porto and Benfica. They were unlucky to lose against Benfica in Alvalade. If someone who wasn't familiar with these teams had watched that second half in Alvalade in which Benfica started time wasting at the 60 minute mark he or she might believe that Benfica was a bottom of the table team. Nevertheless Benfica won the league and they deserve to be congratulated.

Jorge Jesus is a very good coach. When he was first appointed to Benfica I said that Benfica would win titles because of him, and they did. I wasn't aware of his propensity to provoke people with his commentary and arrogance until that incident in which he praised Luisao for assaulting a referee. I called him a hooligan on this website at the time, which offended many Benfica fans. Sporting has improved this year under Jorge Jesus that cannot be denied, however I do believe he is responsible for Sporting's failure to win the league. His ongoing feud with Benfica from day one, motivated Benfica. It was apparent that although Jorge Jesus was officially the Sporting coach, in his mind he was still the Benfica coach, and that was detrimental to Sporting. If he had kept his mouth shut and gone about his work Sporting would probably be celebrating right now instead of Benfica.

In closing I would like to say that I'm sick and tired of coaches, and team officials in Portugal constantly criticising the referees. I think it's about time that the league start applying stiff fines to deter such behavior.

Congratulations Benfica for the league title and the excellent Champions league campaign.

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This one was particularly sweet for me for 2 reasons. The first is that we actually had a good amount of Portuguese players in the squad and making significant contributions. The second, Jorge Jesus. I honestly never likedthe guy, I put up...

This one was particularly sweet for me for 2 reasons. The first is that we actually had a good amount of Portuguese players in the squad and making significant contributions. The second, Jorge Jesus. I honestly never likedthe guy, I put up with his arrogance and antics but really was not sad to see him go. He is so ridiculously full of himself. I can only imagine how hard he would be rubbing it in our faces had Sporting won the title. If he was still our manager, I bet Renato would never have even been given a chance. Not to mention, I'm positive we would have never gotten out of the group stage in the CL. Having said all that, I do think Sporting had a great season and they should be congratulated for their play. And I fully admit we were lucky to win at the Alvalade. I would not like to be Bryan Ruiz right about now.

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Forca Aguias, parabens aos Tri-campeoes!!!! Yes a very exciting end to the season, it had been a very long time since it really went down to the wire on the last day of the season like this. First off, I want to give my congratulations to the...

Forca Aguias, parabens aos Tri-campeoes!!!! Yes a very exciting end to the season, it had been a very long time since it really went down to the wire on the last day of the season like this. First off, I want to give my congratulations to the Sporting players and fans for also playing a fantastic Liga campaign. Their points total would normally have been more than enough to be champions, and winning all their remaining games these last couple of months, including both tough fixtures on the road against Porto and Braga was impressive. They made us work all the way to the end to get over the finishing line and so hats off to them.

However, on the other hand, this has personally been the most pleasing title win I've seen for my club since I've been a fan for all these years. All that happened last summer (i.e JJ and Maxi traitoring out on us to our biggest rivals simply for more money) and all season long having to hear the imbecile Sporting president and various club officials and of course JJ himself talking trash and making huge noise; about how the referees always favor SLB (when for e.g Sporting themselves got all 3 points just a few weeks ago due to a clearly offside goal), how they are the best team, how we have been lucky etc etc...it's been really great to win this title and with total merit too, with all that in mind. Sporting's president and manager should learn a lesson from SLB and Rui Vitoria in remaining focused and classy. All season long, Sporting have put all their attention on SLB, always always talking about Benfica. BDC allegedly devoted his personal Facebook page to frequently publicly express his hatred for and criticism of Benfica (how rediculous is that?). In total contrast, Benfica and Vitoria put all their focus and energy into winning their games and nothing else, and even when the press would try and get them involved in JJ and BDC's games, they simply refused and never allowed themselves to lose focus. Sporting should learn a lesson from this, when you're always focusing on your rivals, you increase the possibility of losing focus on yourselves and the job at hand.

All of Sporting's constant claims all season long that they are "the best in the Liga and Benfica are simply lucky" is basically rubbish. If that is the case, then why did Benfica have most wins (24 in our last 26 matches), and broke the record for most points won and goals scored in a Liga campaign? And on top of this, of course, having an excellent Champions League campaign, reaching the quarters and with a little more luck could have even gone further. Sporting in contrast, couldn't even qualify for the Champions League group stage, and were mediocre in the Europa league, making no impression in Europe whatsoever. Having crashed out of both domestic cups too, they only had the Liga to play for (one match a week) since February and still weren't able to finish ahead of Benfica. Yes they had an impressive record in the Clasico matches, but in the end every single match counts for 3 points, and it's the team who consistently wins most games who finishes top. We still haven't heard a congratulations from JJ or BDC for Benfica deservedly winning the title, and this just shows that those two got what they deserved this season, ZILCH!!! What goes around comes around!

A special mention now for Rui Vitoria. He deserves this title more than anyone else, yet he will never take the credit for it. During a difficult start to the campaign when he took a while to find his feet and a new identity for the team, many people (myself included) criticized him heavily. But even in the midst of all this pressure and further provocation from his rivals, he remained calm, focused and classy. We were 8 points adrift in November but Vitoria nor the players never lost their focus or belief. And by the second half of the season, we have looked more composed, balanced, unified and tactically superior than we ever did under JJ. We had a multitude of major injuries to key players (Luisao, Gaitan, Salvio, Semedo, Lisandro Lopez, Fejsa, Julio Cesar etc), yet Vitoria's faith in the talented young players from the word go, meant we shrugged this off effortlessly. It was all about the collective this season, and whoever came into the first team did superbly and knew exactly what they had to do for the team. So many people, including this site in general and many posters on it, completely under-estimated the quality in the Benfica squad this season, but the excellent work put in by youngsters such as Renato, Lindelof, Guedes, Semedo and Ederson shows how wrong so many people were. So all in all a totally satisfying and pleasing title win, considering all the difficulties that faced the club right from the start of the season. And on the whole, outstanding progress has been made by this club this decade and it's great to see for all us Benfiquistas worldwide.

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Rui Vitoria completely deserves all of the praise he has received over the past 24 hours. The man truly is the anti-JJ. Unlike his classless predecessor, Vitoria is the utmost gentleman. While many fans and pundits feared that such an...

Rui Vitoria completely deserves all of the praise he has received over the past 24 hours. The man truly is the anti-JJ. Unlike his classless predecessor, Vitoria is the utmost gentleman. While many fans and pundits feared that such an inexperienced coach would be completely out of his depths at this level, he has proven to be an outstanding replacement. Some of the most critical of football purists continue to highlight certain tactical flaws in Benfica's build up play (an over-reliance on whipping crosses into the box), but it's hard to argue with the statistics. While it wasn't always pretty, Benfica's direct, cross-oriented approach has proven to be quite effective.

I also need to praise Vitoria's ability to promote such a strong sense of team unity. Despite all of the adversity we faced throughout the season, you could be sure that each and every player was going to play his heart out for his team. They are undoubtedly one of the most unified, hard-working squads I have ever seen. And let's not forget his willingness to provide opportunities to youth products and B-team players. Renato Sanches' promotion to the first team, in my opinion, will go down as the most important turning point of the season. I highly doubt JJ would have done the same in his position.

With regards to Sporting, I have to say I feel bad for their players and their fans. They gave us one hell of a fight until the very last game -- you guys should be proud! However, I definitely don't feel bad for your arrogant coach and your winy, obnoxious cry baby of a president. Hopefully such a heartbreaking defeat to their hated rivals will serve as a much-needed lesson on the countless benefits of class and humility.

RUMO AO 36!

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