With the Primeira Liga title already wrapped up, the final game of the season versus Boavista offered Benfica coach Rui Vitória the opportunity to field some of those on the fringes of the first team in celebration of a long and successful season.
Despite going 2-0 down, a spirited comeback from the Eagles earned them a 2-2 draw late on at the Bessa, taking the total of points accumulated for this campaign up to 82.
Second placed FC Porto had a spicier affair on their hands, as Moreirense attempted to avoid the drop against the odds with a positive result versus the Dragons.
The Taça da Liga winners managed to do just that, defeating the Blue and Whites 3-1 in front of a home crowd before seeing Arouca out of the division, whereas Sporting brought the season to a close with a 4-1 win at home to Chaves, with Bas Dost netting a hat-trick.
Boavista 2-2 Benfica
“To grant everyone the opportunity to feel like a champion” was the message from Rui Vitória before the away clash versus Boavista as he fielded a heavily rotated side for the Eagles’ final outing in the league.
Boavista took full advantage of a new look Benfica XI with a Iuri Medeiros pass unlocking the defence in the 15th minute, leaving André Schembri with enough time to square the ball to Renato Santos and assist the winger with a simple tap-in.
The Panthers took a 1-0 lead into half-time before recharging their enthusiasm for the second period, as they doubled their lead after just five minutes.
Iuri Medeiros continued to pull the strings in Boavista’s attack, squeezing the pass through Benfica’s backline that would eventually serve as the assist to Schembri’s finish across goal from inside the box.
The current champions would have to call on one of their heavyweight names to help solve this riddle, as Kostas Mitroglou took full advantage of Rafa Silva’s throughball to pull a goal back for Benfica with a well-placed finish in the 70th minute.
Rafa would go close himself in the 85th minute with the outside of his foot, bending his effort past the far-post, but the late charge for an equaliser would come good for the Eagles soon after through Branimir Kalaica.
Andrija Živković provided the out-swinging corner for the young Croatian to attack at the near-post, heading the ball onto the underside of the crossbar before it bounced over the line in the 90th minute.
A 2-2 draw sees Benfica match the result of the first leg of the season that also had them chasing the game, coming from three down in a 3-3 thriller.
Moreirense 3-1 FC Porto
Few are the times when FC Porto aren’t under a certain degree of pressure to win a game, but on Sunday, that pressure was shared with a Moreirense side that required all three points if they were to have any chance of securing top-flight-football ahead of next season.
The alarm bells rang for the home side when Porto could’ve taken the lead had Yacine Brahimi come up with a better execution at the back-post with a volley, prompting an immediate response from Emmanuel Boateng to make it 1-0 in the 15th minute following Pedro Rebocho’s cross.
Nuno Espírito Santo’s side landed themselves in more hot water when Felipe conceded possession to Boateng to create a 2-on-1 attack for the hosts, as the Ghanaian striker set Frédéric Maciel on his way to make it 2-0 before half-time.
Following the restart, Tiquinho Soares came close to pulling a goal back for the Dragons with a near-post toe-poke, but Giorgi Makaridze’s positioning proved to be adequate to block the attempt on this occasion.
Maxi Pereira would then manage to minimise Moreirense’s advantage with somewhat of a wonder goal in 65th minute, as his reception of André André’s cross was met on the turn and, whether intentional or not, managed to find its way into the back of the net after lobbing the goalkeeper.
‘The Great Escape’ would be completed by the hosts, however, and playmaker Alex was the man to make sure of it, as he latched onto Boateng’s cut-back to place his shot into the far corner with six minutes of normal time to go.
With Arouca losing 4-2 away to Estoril, Moreirense were able to leapfrog the Arouquenses with a 3-1 win, joining Tondela in a two-name list of final day survivors.
Sporting 4-1 Tondela
Following a week of intense speculation, confirmation of Jorge Jesus’ stay for the time being centred Sporting’s focus on rounding their campaign off with a win, having suffered back-to-back defeats beforehand.
Not ready for the Lions’ eagerness to win was Carlos Ponck, whose second touch inside the box turned out to be a late tackle on the nippy Daniel Podence to give away a penalty within the first ten minutes of the game.
Bas Dost, well clear of his domestic competitors for the Golden Boot award, was the man backed for the spot-kick and made no mistake by sending Ricardo Nunes the wrong way in the 11th minute.
The Dutchman found himself well on his way to a fourth hat-trick of the season in the 15th minute, powering Matheus Pereira's corner deep into the back of the net with his head to make it 2-0.
Following good work between Podence and Gelson Martins in transition, the latter was able to find Matheus in space, with the Brazilian taking the opportunity to add a third to the score with a right-footed shot inside the box.
With the visitors sinking without trace, Fábio Martins was tasked with bringing Chaves closer to goal with a curling effort directed towards the far-post in the second half, whereas at the other end, it was Jefferson who could've found the top corner before Nunes kept the left-back’s free-kick out.
The visitors returned to create danger through Fábio Martins in the 60th minute, finding Nélson Lenho down the channel before the full back’s cross was touched in by William Oliveira at the near-post to make it 3-1.
Fábio Martins continued to cause havoc down Chaves’ left flank, as Beto denied the winger from crowning a solo effort with a goal that would’ve set up a nervy quarter of an hour at 3-2.
With the game drifting into the 90th minute, there was still for one more goal from the penalty spot, as Dost found himself floored inside the box.
The ex-Wolfsburg striker took the opportunity to give the Alvalade one more moment of joy, picking his spot from 12 yards and making it 4-1 with his 34th league goal of the season.
By Patrick Ribeiro
P. Ferreira 0-0 Marítimo
Rio Ave 2-0 Belenenses
Nacional 1-2 Vit. Setúbal
Vit. Guimarães 0-1 Feirense
Boavista 2-2 Benfica
Moreirense 3-1 FC Porto
Estoril 4-2 Arouca
Tondela 2-0 Sp. Braga
Sporting 4-1 Chaves