FC Porto misstep edges Benfica closer to the title as Sporting firm up third place

FC Porto misstep edges Benfica closer to the title as Sporting firm up third place

Written on 04/28/2019

Benfica have moved one step closer to celebrating success in the Primeira Liga after a 4-1 win versus Sporting de Braga opened up a two-point-advantage at the top of the table, this Sunday.

FC Porto had their title hopes deflated on Friday night after giving up a 2-0 lead over Rio Ave late on to draw 2-2 away from home, having initially trailed the Eagles on head-to-head results.

A victory for Bruno Lage’s men away from home offers them margin for error with three league games to go, leaving Sporting to take advantage of Braga’s demise to go six points ahead in third place after victory in their game at home to Vitória de Guimarães. PortuGOAL brings you up to speed with the peak of the action in a potentially decisive week of Primeira Liga football.

Rio Ave 2-2 FC Porto

In a week ear-marked as a possible banana skin for all sides involved at the top, Porto were the first to test the waters in Vila do Conde, taking on Rio Ave on Friday night.

Yacine Brahimi got Sérgio Conceição’s men off on the right foot in the 18th minute, spreading the ball wide for Otávio before meeting the Brazilian’s cross, completely unattended, and nodding the ball past Léo Jardim.

Porto cruised to a 2-0 lead after Moussa Marega's deflected volley inside the box doubled the Dragon’s advantage in the 22nd minute, but the Malian crucially failed to amplify the score sometime later following good work from Brahimi, firing a tame left-footed shot straight at Jardim when nipping in behind the Rio Ave backline.

[To watch match highlights click on the screen below]

A better showing in the second period from the Vila Condenses had ex-Benfica man Filipe Augusto rattling Iker Casillas’ crossbar with a volley from range in the 74th minute, but it was another former Eagles player, Nuno Santos, who’d trigger the nerves ten minutes later with a cool dink over the Spanish goalkeeper to pull a goal back.

Disaster arrived for Porto in the 89th minute, unable to get the ball away from their defensive sector before a strike from Ronan deflected wickedly off Telles and over Casillas to level the game at 2-2, much to the agony of the visitors.

Sporting 2-0 Vit. Guimarães

With the season petering out rather rapidly for both sides, the two teams came into this particular occasion at the Alvalade in contrasting form, as Sporting totted up seven consecutive league wins prior to the encounter, in comparison to Vitória’s four defeats from six. 

Raphinha warmed his shooting boots against his former club in the 18th minute, edging Sporting closer to the game’s first goal with a vicious volley inside the box crashing off the top of the crossbar.

The Brazilian winger came close once more with a header saved by João Miguel Silva before the wide man’s compatriot, Luiz Phellype, glanced another effort in the air onto the back-post in the 34th minute.

[To watch match highlights click on the screen below]

Raphinha’s goal came in the 39th minute, squeezing an effort under a scrambling Miguel Silva despite complaints from the Vitória corner of a Marcos Acuña foul in the build-up to Sporting’s opener.

The Lions took their slender lead into half-time before making it two just six minutes into the second period, with Luiz Phellype making it six goals in five with a near-post tap-in, courtesy of Raphinha’s assist.

An action-filled performance for the latter almost saw him claim a second goal, as well as an assist, as both Raphinha and Bruno Fernandes dragged shots just wide of the post in search for Sporting’s third in the second period. Two goals would be all Marcel Keizer’s men would register, however, as they closed in on automatic Europa League qualification with a 2-0 victory.

Sp. Braga 1-4 Benfica

Following Friday’s surprise result in Vila do Conde, Benfica sharpened their teeth against a side they haven’t lost to for the league since 2014, as they bid to go two points clear at the top with a win at the Estadio Municipal de Braga.

Porto fans were left licking their lips in the 35th minute after a penalty for the Arsenalistas, via Rúben Dias’ foul on Fransérgio, saw Wilson Eduardo place his team ahead from the spot. Pizzi reverted the trick in the second half, finishing from the 12-yard-mark himself in the 59th minute after Ricardo Esgaio took down João Félix’s standing leg under the everyone's nose.

[To watch match highlights click on the screen below]

Benfica’s goalscorer was on hand to double his dose six minutes later, also from the spot, as Braga seethed at the referee’s decision to call a close-range handball on Bruno Viana inside the area.

Having turned the game on its head, the Eagles were quick to stun Braga and make it 3-1 via Rúben Dias, attacking Pizzi’s set-piece from the back-post with a powerful header.

The encounter closed with Rafa Silva taking full advantage of slack play from Pablo, moments before dancing past his former side’s defence and slotting away a fourth goal, edging Benfica closer to the title.

By Patrick Ribeiro

Matchday 31

Rio Ave 2-2 FC Porto

Portimonense 1-0 Feirense

Santa Clara 0-0 Vit. Setúbal

Sporting 2-0 Vit. Guimarães

Desp. Aves 3-0 Belenenses

Chaves 4-1 Nacional

Marítimo 2-0 Tondela

Sp. Braga 1-4 Benfica

Boavista - Moreirense