Sporting 1-1 Benfica

Benfica took a huge step to beating Porto to the title when Victor Lindelöf’s stunning freekick levelled the score in a scrappy but engrossing Lisbon derby.

Despite all of the unfortunate off-field news in Portugal, it was a game played in a good spirit. It began with an embarrassing Ederson error that led to a penalty scored by Adrien Silva.

Both teams battled hard in midfield but it was the defender whose rocket strike finally broke a resilient Sporting defence at the Alvalade.

Benfica’s Jonas did not recover in time after his injury after scoring a brace against Marítimo last weekend. Rui Vitória selected Franco Cervi in Rafa Silva’s place with Rafa moving further forward.

Jorge Jesus brought in Jefferson for the suspended Marvin Zeegelaar at left-back with Bruno César continuing in midfielder after his influential displays. Elsewhere, Paulo Oliveira started ahead of Rúben Semedo in the centre of defence.

Before the match started there was a moment of tribute to the Italian Sporting and Fiorentina fan who died last night, a story that is likely to be talked about more in the following days.

Ederson gives away a penalty

The game got off to a dramatic start in a predictably atmospheric Alvalade. When Ederson miscontrolled a Luisão backpass Bas Dost was there to pounce. Ederson could only take down the Dutchman to concede a penalty after just three minutes in the game. It was an easy decision for Artur Soares Dias to make. Adrien Silva stepped up and calmly sent Ederson the wrong way to give Sporting an early lead.

The first-half turned into a scrappy midfield battle after the goal with Benfica having the better of possession but struggling to break down the Sporting defence.

However they did feel hard done by on two possible penalty calls, one a Schelotto challenge on Grimaldo, with the Spanish fullback's dramatic fall probably convincing the referee otherwise. A better shout came soon after when Bruno César leaned into Victor Lindelöf as the Swedish defender went for a header.

Sporting 1-1 Benfica video highlights

By the end of the first half it was Benfica who were the superior side but it was only Grimaldo's 45th minute freekick that forced Rui Patrício to make a save.

Sporting, however, were much improved in the second half and Bas Dost had two very good early chances to increase Sporting's lead. The second, and the best chance, saw Sporting counter and Gelson Martins cross for Bas Dost who looked set to score but he scuffed his chance

With Benfica looking less likely to make inroads in the second half Rui Vitória brought on Raul Jimenez for the ineffectual Rafa Silva.

Not long after Benfica got their first sight of goal in the second half when Konstantinos Mitroglou had a chance after some good play by Pizzi but his shot was saved by Patrício.

Lindelöf proves decisive

When Benfica did find the equaliser it was well worth the wait for the Benfica fans. Alan Ruiz clumsily gave away a freekick outside the area. Victor Lindelöf stepped up and hammered an absolute rocket of a shot that Rui Patrício could do nothing about.

Sporting tried to get the lead ahead but Benfica, understandably, were happy to take the draw and when Filipe Augusto came on for Mitroglou, Benfica managed to effectively kill the game.

It is a gigantic point for Benfica, meaning with a Porto win against Feirense, they will still be one point clear with just four games remaining.

For Sporting, they will be disappointed to have lost the chance to get the victory, especially after Lindelöf's spectacular goal came from a soft freekick to give away. The faint hopes of grabbing Porto's second place now are extremely unlikely.

by Richard Cole

Sporting: Rui Patrício; Ezequiel Schelotto, Sebastián Coates, Paulo Oliveira, Jefferson; William Carvalho, Adrien Silva, Gelson Martins (Joel Campbell, 87'), Bruno César (Daniel Podence, 80'); Alan Ruiz (Bryan Ruiz, 64'),  Bas Dost

Benfica: Ederson; Nélson Semedo, Victor Lindelöf, Luisão, Grimaldo; Ljubomir Fejsa, Pizzi, Eduardo Salvio (André Carrillo, 74'), Franco Cervi; Rafa Silva (Raul Jimenez, 58'), Konstantinos Mitroglou (Filipe Augusto, 80')


[1-0] Adrien Silva, 5'

[1-1] Victor Lindelöf, 66'



Comments (2)

  1. Andre/UK

It was a very competitive derbi last night, and considering all that happened in the match, I think the result is fair. On the other hand though, considering Sporting were at home, I do think Benfica showed clearly that they are the better team...

It was a very competitive derbi last night, and considering all that happened in the match, I think the result is fair. On the other hand though, considering Sporting were at home, I do think Benfica showed clearly that they are the better team and that the points difference between them and Sporting is about accurate. Yes Sporting had one more scoring chance than us (the Dost miss in the second half), but we also should have had a clear penalty (a definite foul on Grimaldo in the box by Schelloto, who didn't get anywhere near the ball) and even another case for a penalty for the apparent shove on Rafa (so much for all the ref decisions always going Benfica's way, lol!!!!).

Overall, Benfica just looked the more organised and the tactically stronger team to me for most of the match apart from the opening 15 minutes or so of the second half, which was Sporting's best period. Sporting do have quality in their team no doubt, but to me yesterday and indeed for much of this season their strategy has simply revolved around getting the ball to Gelson and hopefully he weaves some magic and sets up the goals. Apart from Gelson, there wasn't much else of a threat from Sporting last night. Benfica didn't create much in the way of scoring chances either, so therefore the draw was a fair result on the night.

A shame Jonas wasn't fit to play, he might have made the difference in a tight match like this. What an absolutely rediculous injury crisis this has been all season long for Benfica. Literally there has not been a single match of importance all season long, in the Liga and in the Champions league, where all the players who would have otherwise started the match were available to play. Not one single match! How we have remained top of the league all season long in these circumstances is very impressive. Vitoria made the right decision to bring on Jimenez in the second half, although with both him and Mitroglou on the field, Zivkovic should have come on rather than Carillo. Zivkovic is the best crosser/assister of our wingers and simply should have played yesterday. Lindelof was very impressive throughout, kept Dost very quiet in the match, and scored a beauty of a freekick to earn us a point. If the Swede does leave this summer, as expected, he would be a big loss to our defence.

So there's four finals to go for Benfica now and we have everything in our own hands. Big pressure on Porto now, they simply have to win all their remaining games (including back to back away fixtures at Chaves and Maritimo) and still hope we slip up once. Of course this could happen though, and I think this season has been one of the more competitive ones in years, in terms of very few matches being foregone conclusions. As a result, Benfica can't take anything for granted and have to remain grounded and focused on each match one at a time. We're in a strong position now no doubt, but there's still a lot of work to be done.

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  1. jon/usa

While I certainly would have preferred to see us come away from the Alvalade with the three points, I can not argue that this was not a fair result. Both sides showed flashes of quality of the final third (Gelson in particular was excellent), but...

While I certainly would have preferred to see us come away from the Alvalade with the three points, I can not argue that this was not a fair result. Both sides showed flashes of quality of the final third (Gelson in particular was excellent), but for the most part, it was a game in which both teams defended well, but offered very terms of a cutting edge.

Ederson has been close to perfect since his huge performance at the Alvalade last season, so I'll forgive him for yesterday's frango. He has all the tools to be a world-class goal-keeper (outstanding shot-stopper, quick off his line, generally comfortable with crosses & set-pieces, and excellent distribution) but he does have the tendency to look a little complacent with the ball at his feet. He's gotten away with it a couple of times this season, but this overly casual side to his game was exploited intelligently by Bas Dost.

Lindelof's free-kick was world class -- I had no idea he was capable of that! We also had three pretty strong shouts at a penalty -- all of which were ignored by Artur Soares Dias. When looking back at the highlights, the tackle on Grimaldo was definitely a penalty. The second foul (I believe it was Bruno Cesar barging Lindelof over in the box after making no attempt to win the ball is always called a foul outside of the box, especially in Portugal, but for some reason Soares Dias didn't view it as a penalty). Their was also the time when William grabbed Rafa's shoulder as he was closing in on Rui Patricio -- again, this is theoretically a foul, but I'm personally ok with those "soft" borderline fouls not getting called, especially in the box. That being said, the quality of officiating in Portugal is shockingly poor, so I am not the least bit surprised to see the refs make some pretty glaring mistakes. At the end of the day, Benfica, Porto, and Sporting have all benefited from some very poor officiating this season, and all three clubs have also been on the wrong side of some very officiating.

And as Andre mentioned, getting at least a point away at Sporting leaves us in a great position to secure our fourth-straight title. Nevertheless, we still have to play Rio Ave and Boavista away and a red-hot Vitoria Guimaraes at home, so it's going to be far from easy. Porto simply cannot drop any points from now until the end of the season and with away trips to Chaves and Maritimo on the horizon, I do not like their chances.

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