Just two fixtures now separate us from the end of the Liga NOS season. An exciting weekend of action left those orbiting the Primeira Liga world potentially a mere result away from meeting its champion.

The biggest tremors came from the Estádio da Luz, where Benfica, despite leading, succumbed to a shock 3-2 loss at home to Tondela on Saturday night. With FC Porto ready to pounce on the Eagles' slip-up, Sporting also looked to capitalise on the title holders' downfall with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Portimonense, leaving both rivals locked on 77 points ahead of next week's Lisbon Derby.

In a patient effort, Porto seized their opportunity and move to within a point of securing the title, as a late Moussa Marega goal downed 9-man Marítimo in Madeira. PortuGOAL brings you up to speed with the final stages of the Primeira Liga title race.

 

Benfica 2-3 Tondela

With the symbolic fifth consecutive title still in sight pre-game, Benfica couldn't have asked for a better start to firm up their dream at home to Tondela after Pizzi's opener in the 12th minute, as the Portuguese midfielder managed to squeeze a finish in at the near post.

The hosts pressed on before a long-range pass from David Bruno changed the game's direction, leaving Miguel Cardoso one-on-one with Bruno Varela, the former Benfica youth player scoring with a cool lob over the goalkeeper in the 31st minute.

[To watch match highlights click on the screen below]

Cardoso set off the alarm bells with Tondela's second goal just eight minutes later, as the Portuguese forward picked up the scraps from a long throw to rifle a half-volley into the back of the net.

Substitute Salvio then fluffed his lines early in the second half when firing Douglas' low cross over the bar from a prime position. Tondela goalkeeper Cláudio Ramos starred throughout for the visitors, with poor finishing also responsible for maintaining the away team's lead.

Tondela saw a goal somewhat dubiously chalked off by the referee, but brushed aside the disappointment and made matters worse for Benfica with a third goal through Tomané, leaving Rui Vitória's men little more than ten minutes to turn around a 3-1 deficit.

Eduardo Salvio pulled a goal back in the 94th minute, but little else could be done to deny Tondela bagging all three points in Lisbon.

 

Portimonense 1-2 Sporting

Despite their distance from top spot, Sporting came into their clash with Portimonense with plenty still to play for, as they aimed to set up a winner-takes-all showdown at home to Benfica next weekend by winning at the Estádio Municipal de Portimão.

Rodrigo Battaglia came close to pushing the Lions' plan into motion in the 2nd minute with a back-post header that was well saved by Navacchio, but the honour of breaking the deadlock was reserved for Bruno Fernandes instead, as the midfielder raced onto Bas Dost's knock-down to flick the ball over the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.

[To watch match highlights click on the screen below]

The visitors remained on top throughout the first half before a whipped pass from Bruno Tabata caught the Sporting backline out of position, allowing Fabrício to finish past Rui Patrício and equalise in the 42nd minute.

Sporting's search for a winner took them right through to the 89th minute, clinching a 2-1 victory through an inspired Bruno Fernandes' volley from range aimed at the bottom-left corner.

The win sees Jorge Jesus' men match Benfica in second place, with a route into next season's UEFA Champions League now at stake in the final Clássico of the season, this Saturday.

 

Marítimo 0-1 FC Porto

Courtesy of Benfica's defeat to Tondela, Porto had a golden chance to edge themselves within touching distance of the title with a win away to Marítimo - a triumph that has evaded the Dragons in each of their last six visits to the 'Barreiros'.

With neither side possessing the cutting edge required to alter the 0-0 scoreline, Sérgio Conceição's side were handed a numerical boost on the brink of half-time when Amir Abedzadeh's last-man challenge on Tiquinho Soares saw Iranian goalkeeper red carded and left Marítimo down to ten men.

[To watch match highlights click on the screen below]

Pablo fuelled a big performance at the back for the hosts with an crucial block from Otávio's 50th minute strike, as Porto resorted to wing-play in search of solutions.

Rather than through a standard cross into a crowded box from open play, Porto eventually cracked the code with yet another set-piece delivery from Alex Telles in the 89th minute, prompting Marega to attack the front post and head in against his former club.

Ten men quickly became nine, with VAR's help, after Ruben Ferreira denied Gonçalo Paciência the chance to race through on goal with a foul, allowing Porto to nail down a 1-0 victory meaning one point from their last two matches will be enough for the Dragons to be crowned 2017/18 Primeira Liga champions.

By Patrick Ribeiro

Matchday 32

Vit. Guimarães 1-0 Moreirense

Vit. Setúbal 0-2 Feirense

Benfica 2-3 Tondela

Portimonense 1-2 Sporting

Boavista 1-0 P. Ferreira

Rio Ave 2-1 Chaves

Marítimo 0-1 FC Porto

Belenenses 0-1 Sp. Braga

 

Monday 30th April

Desp. Aves vs. Estoril

 

 

Comments (3)

  1. Chris

Woooo! Almost there, two games left. Maritimo are a big bogey team for Porto so I was honestly expecting a draw. It was a bit of an ugly match, if I'm honest, with Porto creating chances but Maritimo making everything difficult. Amir's kung fu...

Woooo! Almost there, two games left. Maritimo are a big bogey team for Porto so I was honestly expecting a draw. It was a bit of an ugly match, if I'm honest, with Porto creating chances but Maritimo making everything difficult. Amir's kung fu kick was reminiscent of Maxi's flying leg kick on Joao Moutinho a few years back.

Despite the numerical advantage, Porto were still held by the Madeira club. Marega, one of the best players in the league of the last few seasons (who still seems to get little love from pundits and neutrals), managed to step up big once again. Tiquinho has proven useless this season and either needs to be sold or loaned out.

Portimonense played really well against Sporting, but Sporting edged things out as they have been able to do for much of the season. Bruno Fernandes has to be contender for player of the season. What an amazing player. Gelson also continues to impress, not only from the wing, but he also attacked down the middle a lot against Portimonense, and was incredibly effective.

Benfica-Tondela was a shock result. Tondela are no joke, and they were ruthlessly clinical. Many Benfica fans will point to Rui Vitoria needing to get the axe, but are quick to forget that he has almost equaled Jorge Jesus' accomplishments in half the time, and with half the talent that o "cerebro" was given. He deserves to stay at Benfica. Imagine what he can do when given an actual squad with talent.

Great league action this season.

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  1. Andre/UK

Well congrats to Porto on winning the title. It's not 100% over yet, but no way will Porto fail to get the solitary point they need in their last two matches to guarantee it. They are deserving champions this season, they have been the most...

Well congrats to Porto on winning the title. It's not 100% over yet, but no way will Porto fail to get the solitary point they need in their last two matches to guarantee it. They are deserving champions this season, they have been the most consistent team overall, have a positive head to head record against both their rivals, and in the recent classico a few weeks back they just showed more desire and will to win the match than Benfica did, and therefore I don't see how any argument can be made that they haven't been deserving champions.

As for my team, Benfica. Well let's start with the (few) positives. On one hand I am proud that the team fought for the title again until the very end, for the 7th season in a row. Don't forget that in 2013 we were one minute away from the title, and had that last second goal not gone in, we would already have been pentacampeoes before this season started. But really the positives for this season end there, lol!

On the whole, it's been an absolute disaster of a season for SLB. The fact that we fought for the title until the end has to be taken with a pinch of salt, because let's not forget it was all we had left to fight for since December. The planning for this season, starting last summer, was simply abysmal. We lose 4 of our most important players from last season in the summer: Ederson, Semedo, Lindelof and Mitroglou, and each of their replacements were a serious downgrade in quality. Can someone explain to me how the financial situation at the club was so bad that all 4 players had to be sold in the summer and no cash spent at all to replace them? Don't forget we've made something close to half a billion in player sales this decade alone.

Then after a shambolic and frankly humilating Champions League campaign, when it was made crystal clear that the squad wasn't strong enough, and on top of everything one of our best performers in the first half of the season Krovinovic got injured in December and missed the rest of the season....not a single reinforcement was brought in January. We needed three additions to the squad in January in my opinion, and we didn't get a single one!

The club president and his team are the main culprits for this situation. I've made it clear on this site for a few years already how sick and tired I am of LFV and his policies. He's making a mockery of this great club with his selling policy, and all he's doing is making the club a shop window for the super-rich clubs of europe and bringing no stability whatsoever to the club. He's the one who should leave the club, before anyone else.

Neverthless, Rui Vitoria takes a large share of the blame too and I'm tired of him already too. Yes he wasn't given the strongest of squads this year, but it's his third season at the club now and he still doesn't have us playing attractive, attacking football, at least not when we play teams with quality. He's way too cautious and limited a coach for a club like SLB. His record in the big matches is terrible, not just this season, but in the previous two as well (I could probably count on one hand the number of games we have won against proper strong opposition under Vitoria). Against Porto the other day it was all too apparent. He was happy with a draw and clearly played for it in the second half, in front of our own fans, when a win would've taken us 4 points clear and very close to the title. Unacceptable! He made errors in the Champions league too. I mean all three keepers were used in the group stage, how can that be explained? It shows he was clueless as to who his first choice keeper was. Krovinovic wasn't even included in his CL squad! WTF? Even against Tondela on Saturday he made errors in resting Jardel and Fejsa. He assumed the game was a guaranteed 3 points and was already thinking about the Derbi the following week. At such a crucial stage of the season, you have to play all your best players and take your chances in the next match if they get suspended, period.

So while I thank him for the titles he has won with us, and despite liking him as a humble and respectful personality, I do think it's time for the club to change the coach. We need a coach with more ambition, more tactical flexibilty, and above all a coach who will get us to play attractive and attacking football and who will go for it in the bigger matches and not play with caution. Marco Silva would be my preferred option. But also it's very clear that the squad needs boosting big time. We need strengthening in pretty much all areas of the squad, but particularly in central defence and central midfield. I also think we need to bring in another top class forward (Seferovic has been simply awful) to take some of the goalscoring weight off Jonas' shoulders. Well the silver lining is that after how badly this season went, the only way is up for SLB.

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  1. Danny

Andre, unfortunately, there are two ways that Benfica may go. Its debts are still too high for the club to purchase quality players. We have all been talking about the wealth disparity in football for a while now, but just as with climate change,...

Andre, unfortunately, there are two ways that Benfica may go. Its debts are still too high for the club to purchase quality players. We have all been talking about the wealth disparity in football for a while now, but just as with climate change, no one really takes it seriously until it finally hits home. Clubs like Benfica are just now entering a new age of insolvency. My hope is that Portugal wins the World Cup since most of our best are playing in more lucrative leagues now with the exceptions of Rui, William, and Bruno, for it's going to be a long winter for Portuguese domestic football.

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