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. 

 

Weekend results

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 

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Overall Rating (2)

5 out of 5 stars

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  • To state the obvious, next weeks derby is a huge game and I for one cannot wait. Salvio looked really good for Benfica. For Sporting I think they will miss Jonathan Silva but the Julio Cesar injury is worrisome. Also will Sporting be able to take advantage of Eliseu and Jardel?

    On another note, does anyone know where Danilo Pereira has gone and why it has not been announced. Could it be that he will replace William at Sporting?

    from Melbourne VIC, Australia
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  • Guest - Paul

    I was at the Luz on Saturday and was impressed with Benfica. Was a stroll in the park for them (and I say that as a Boavista fan) and I thoroughly expect them to be comfortable against Sporting this weekend.

    For me, the big disappointment was Boavista's solitary effort of target, and that came well after an hour. Sat far too deep in the first half but looked much livelier in the second half. Uchebo didn't have good service but I think he looks too lightweight. Would rather Pouga started. Idris had a decent game though and Beckeles.

    As for Benfica, Maxi Pereira was superb but they will wonder how they didn't score more, especially in the first half. Thought Jardel was superb at the back, although not his busiest afternoon alongside Luisão.

    from London, UK
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  • Guest - Andre/UK

    Yeah this weekend was indeed back to business as usual for the top 3, with easy wins for all 3 as expected. Now we all await the Lisboa derbi this coming weekend. It's obviously a huge game for both teams but much more so for Sporting. It is a chance for them to finally really get into the title fight that they haven't been in yet this season.

    Only a win will do for Sporting if they are to seriously challenge for the title. They will thus be under much more pressure than Benfica, who know that even in the event of a loss, they will still continue ahead of both of their rivals, and also know that a win at the Alvalade would effectively end Sporting's chances to become champions this season.

    I'm quite confident of Benfica getting a good result, although the injury to Julio Cesar is a blow no doubt about it. Sporting will look to take advantage of them being weaker at the back with Julio Cesar missing the game. Conversely Benfica will look to take serious advantage of Sporting's general fragility at the back, a defense that has conceded in most games this season in all competitions.

    Who could benefit most from the derby is Porto, providing they win away to Moreirense, which is not a guarantee of course. This coming weekend could prove huge in determining what remains in the title fight for the season. However, whatever the results will be, it's still early days and there is still a long way to go.

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  • I guess you can say, "business as usual", but Guimaraes dropped important points this weekend. Next weeks match verse Belenenses could be vital in maintaining an Europa League spot. I know they were on the road, but bad result verse a weak opponent, who has given up a ton of goals.

    Benfica looked good, but not really sharp when it counted. Next weekend is Portugal's true "Classico", and I'm looking forward to it. No excuses, if Benfica wants to prove its worth they have to come away with a win at the WC. It won't be easy, but a must win in my eyes. Please do go on about how we maintain the lead. We are out of Europe and Taca, so let's make sure we have no issues in the league.
    The Cesar injury should have no impact on the Sporting match. My biggest concern is Eliseu and his defensive deficiencies. Samaris is starting to settle in, and will be critical in covering the back.

    Some Add Ons;

    Sporting continues to amuse me. Since BdC continues to sit on the bench, I guess others from the hierarchy feel embolden to do the same. Yesterday Augusto Inacio, Diretor Geral de Futebol, got himself tossed due to arguing with the ref. Why is he even on the bench with the players. If that wasn't enough you have to watch BdC argue with Arouca's Pinho, who I also have to ask why he's anywhere near the field. Ridiculous antics, that could be avoided.
    Video Link;

    http://www.record.xl.pt/multimedia/videos/interior.aspx?content_id=928854

    Marco Silva can't wait for someone come calling for him, so he can get out of dodge.
    Let me add that I'm not a fan of Rui Costa sitting on the bench either.

    I haven't given Porto enough credit this campaign. I most definitely have never given Quaresma any love, due to his failure. But since everyone is praising him today, let me add a video link to the goal and other trivela goals.

    http://balls.ie/football/345671-ricardo-quaresma-scores-the-most-ricardo-quaresma-goal-ever/

    Let me add that the comment made on the video page, "Ricardo Quaresma is the master of the simultaneously unnecessary but also completely necessary skills of the game.", is about right.

    I'm still holding out hope Gil Vicente can climb out of relegation.

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  • Great win for Sporting making it 6 straight league wins! Confidence is high and the team chemistry is back Sporting is strong right now and totally capable of pushing on and doing well for the remainder of the season. Good way to set up for next week, it wasn't an easy game especially in the first half, Arouca battled, but thats good preparation for the upcoming derby. Sporting showed their quality and there were many positives to take from this moving forward. Sporting's defense continues to show its strength and quality with Paulo Oliveira and Tobias Figuerido. Fredy played a great game too, playing with real good intensity and effort and took his goal really well. Fredy always has the skill and ability, but sometimes he can be a bit lackadaisical and thats when he doesn't show his best. The good thing is with Slimani around who is always a fighter its encouraged Fredy to be playing with 100% heart when he's out there too, and he's been good in the last couple months and scoring goals again. He's playing intense now and when thats brought together with his skill and talent it makes him a good and dangerous striker and thats the Fredy thats here right now and thats great for Sporting!

    Carrillo another good performance taking his tally to 9 assists and 7 goals this season. He's been top class this season!

    @Steve Jonathon Silva won't be missed he's second choice anyway behind Jefferson who is really a top left back. Jefferson was just suspended for that game so missed out. Jonathon is decent but Jefferson is better for sure.

    @Andre Sporting's defense isn't fragile anymore. The first half of the season we were for the most part because Mauricio and Naby Sarr were there and they were both error prone. The Paulo Oliveira and Tobias Figuerido partnership is much more solid and is quality. Benfica's defense has weaknesses that Sporting can exploit as well if we really think about it. Elisue, Maxi, Jardel and Artur are all error prone, so there's definitely chances for Sporting to capitalize there.

    Good weekend for Sporting, the league standings are close and sets it all up for an exciting key match to come. Sporting have been in good form, so they need to continue with that and this time we'll be at home, so that can inspire the team even more. Sporting is capable of gaining victory from derby, so they should be pumped up and 100% focused and go out there to play their best to win it. Looking forward to the game! Forca Sporting!

    from Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
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  • Rated 5 out of 5 stars

    @ Ed Gomes - "Ricardo Quaresma is the master of the simultaneously unnecessary but also completely necessary skills of the game."
    - LOL! Yes I agree on that comment. Well said by the PJ Browne. It is a thing of beauty when Quaresma is on.

    from Burlington, ON, Canada
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  • Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars

    Quaresma was sublime. A truely rare talent. The haters will say "oh what could have been!", but he's his own man. The fact that he flopped in the "big" european leagues and only shines with FCP is perfectly fine by me. Best wishes to SCP next week. Going to be a tight and exciting finish to the league

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  • Guest - Ivo

    Sporting's "general fragility at the back" I don't think is as much of a concern as it might seem right now. They've had three clean sheets in the past six games which is decent and indicative of an improvement in this area, even if it is less solid than Benfica's record. And on the season they've only conceded five more than Porto and seven more than Benfica, which is not a massive disparity. In any case, I think it will be a tight game. Carillo and Montero have been in good form recently, William seem's back to his old self again, and Paulo Oliveira has been very good as well, which should make this quite a challenge for Benfica. I'm predicting a 1-1 final.

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  • Guest - Andy Vieira Cook

    Quaesma is certainly making a strong case to Fernando Santos to start him for Portugal. He's been great coming on as a "Super Sub" but having him alongside Ronaldo would be a real good scoring weapon, including getting balls into Ronaldo too!

    from Boston, MA, USA
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