Benfica and Sporting win ahead of Lisbon derby
After last week's thrills and spills and surprise results in the Primeira Liga, it was back to "business as usual" as the Big Three clocked up comfortable wins to leave the top of the table unchanged.
Everyone at FC Porto will certainly be feeling a lot happier tonight than one week ago today, when defeat at Marítimo had left the Dragons facing the possibility of seeing Benfica open up a nine-point gap at the top of the table.
Benfica's subsequent loss to Paços de Ferreira kept the distance to six points, and the leaders - although back to winning ways with victory over Boavista on Saturday - next face a stern test of their ability to maintain a comfortable lead at the summit. Benfica travel to Sporting next Sunday with the Lions in tremendous form, having notched a sixth successive Liga victory at Arouca.
Porto on fire
Porto treated their fans to another 5-0 thrashing on their home turf, the third in the Liga this season, to go along with the 6-0 drubbing of BATE Borisov in the Champions League. As ever, Colombian marksman Jackson Martínez was at the heart of it, scoring yet again and directly involved in two other goals. Jackson, who in midweek became the player who has scored most goals at the club's Estádio do Dragão, seems to have taken his game to another level this season. And he wasn't half bad before...
The highlight of the night, however, was another majestic goal by Ricardo Quaresma to add to his plentiful collection of outstanding individual strikes. Cutting in from the right flank, "Harry Potter" rolled back the years to send a brilliant Trivela shot crashing into the net off the underside of the bar. Porto's goals were scored by Jackson, Quaresma (x2), Herrera and Tello. Benfica have been warned. Any slip and the Dragons appear ready to pounce.
Sporting still in the hunt
Not that Sporting, just one point behind Porto, are out of the picture. Marco Silva's men looked to have the toughest fixture of the 3 title contenders on paper, and so it proved with an aggressive Arouca side making life difficult for the Lisbon outfit. The hosts took the lead in the first half when Tobias Figueiredo handled in the box and David Simão slotted home the resulting penalty. Sporting were soon level, however, Fredy Montero driving an angled shot under the goalkeeper.
An impressive second-half display from the Lions saw Sporting make sure of the three points thanks to goals from André Carrillo and Figueiredo. Alvalade will be full to the rafters next Sunday as Sporting attempt to make it seven Liga wins in the row against city rivals Benfica. If they do so it will surely throw the title race wide open going into the final months of the season.
Benfica swat aside Boavista
Benfica of course will have other ideas, and the Eagles were back into the groove at the Estádio da Luz with a routine win over Boavista. The ageless Maxi Pereira set up Lima beautifully and then scored himself as the hosts built a two-goal lead by the interval. Jonas completed the scoring from the penalty spot, and Petit's side can count themselves lucky they did not leave the capital with a thrashing, so many were the chances created and spurned by Benfica.
It was not all good news for Jorge Jesus, however, as goalkeeper Júlio César appeared to pull a muscle and had to be substituted near the end of the match. The Brazilian is doubtful for next weekend's derby.
Académica 1-1 Marítimo
Arouca 1-3 Sporting
Benfica 3-0 Boavista
Braga 1-0 Moreirense
Gil Vicente 1-1 Vitória de Setúbal
Porto 5-0 Paços de Ferreira
Nacional 2-1 Belenenses
Penafiel 1-1 Vitória de Guimarães
Rio Ave 2-1 Estoril
by Tom Kundert