Liga NOS football finally returned after three-week break, bringing with it a new life in the title race as league leaders Porto unexpectedly dropped points to promoted Aves. Lisbon sides Sporting and Benfica took advantage with wins over Paços Ferreira and Vitória Setubal respectively to close the gap at the top of the table.
The latter’s result was an emphatic 6-0 win, with two more goals from the league’s top scorer Jonas, who in the process brought up a century of goals for the defending champions. The Brazilian forward is PortuGOAL’s Figure of the Week.
33-year-old Jonas shows no signs of slowing down as his brace on Sunday took him to 15 league goals in 2017/18. Already six goals clear of his nearest rivals, Porto’s Vincent Aboubakar and Sporting’s Bas Dost, ‘Pistolas’ has made a great start to his quest for the Golden Boot, looking to add to the one he obtained at the end of the 2015/16 campaign.
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During his time in Portugal Jonas has plundered in the goals with great consistency but also with eye-catching variety too. Long distance strikes, delicate chips and pure lethal striker’s finishes have been on display since 2014 and it was the latter that was showcased in the demolition job at Estádio da Luz. His first goal was was about as brutally simple as it gets, rising highest to bury a header from Pizzi’s corner.
That goal was number 100 in the red of Benfica, and it was followed by his 101st in the second half. André Almeida’s flicked header fell his way and Jonas swivelled to thrash in an unstoppable strike to make it 4-0.
A record of 101 goals in 131 games in all competitions is staggering in anyone’s book but made all the more impressive by virtue of Jonas arriving for nothing from Valencia back in 2014, surely ranking him as one of the very best free transfers of recent times. He had fallen out of favour with the Spanish side, ironically then managed by former Porto coach Nuno Espírito Santo.
During his time with the Lisbon club, Jonas has primarily operated in a two-man strike force and has done so to great effect with the likes of Rodrigo Lima and Kostas Mitroglou, while currently being paired with either Haris Seferovic or Raúl Jiménez. Whoever his partner, the Brazilian has remained consistent in winning the domestic title in each of his three completed seasons with the club.
If there is one question mark to Jonas it is one that can be levelled at his club too, particularly this season, and that is something of an underachievement on the European stage. Granted in Jonas’ case, he was ineligible for the group stages of 2014/15 and injured in 2016/17, but his Champions League record for Benfica reads at a comparatively meagre two goals from 12 starts (15 appearances in total). This time around he was unable to stop his side from exiting Europe altogether in dismal fashion after five straight defeats thus far.
Jonas is now entering the latter stages of his career but his enjoyment of the club and the game clearly still remains, as does the fact that he is one of most feared players in the country.
By Jamie Farr