In a week dominated by the happenings at Benfica, neither FC Porto nor Sporting could afford to take their eye off the ball, as they tussle for top spot before the first ‘Clássico’ of the season next Sunday.

The Dragons were first to take up their positions, welcoming a fearless Portimonense side to the Estádio do Dragão before toppling the newly-promoted club with an entertaining 5-2 victory. The mood grew even sweeter for Sérgio Conceição’s team when Sporting scuppered the chance to make it seven wins from seven games with a 1-1 draw away to Moreirense, as the Lions fell two points behind the league leaders.

Last but not least, in a bid to dampen the critics, Benfica rounded up Saturday’s footballing action with a comfortable 2-0 win. As always, PortuGOAL brings you all the action at the top of the Liga NOS table.

 

FC Porto 5-2 Portimonense

As they warmed up for Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League tie versus Leonardo Jardim’s AS Monaco, Porto were looking to safeguard their 100% record in the league against a Portimonense side that’s failed to find the back of the net on just one occasion this season.

Iván Marcano got things started for the hosts with a close-range volley into the ground in the 20th minute, whereas Vincent Aboubakar would opt for sheer power from a similar position to fire the ‘Blue and Whites’ into a 2-0 lead just three minutes later.

The Porto blitz continued in the 25th minute, with Moussa Marega keeping his cool one-on-one with Ricardo Ferreira to dink the ball past the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.

Portimonense’s Shoya Nakajima would pull a goal back for the visitors before the break, but the hosts would be back on their grind as early as the 4th minute of the second period through Yacine Brahimi’s finish, making it 4-1.

The Algerian went on to bag his brace, making full use of a neat Aboubakar back-heel and a cute Héctor Herrera dummy to invade the box and find the bottom corner in the 68th minute, as Ruben Fernandes’ consolation goal concluded the 5-2 result.

 

Moreirense 1-1 Sporting

With an eye on their meeting with Barcelona in the Champions League, Sporting would need to overcome Moreirense first if they were to close in on top spot and head into their midweek date in good spirits.

The Lions started rather tentatively, however, with their only rare bit of goal action, courtesy of Alan Ruiz’s nod into an empty net being chalked off by the officials following Bas Dost’s aerial dispute with the Moreirense goalkeeper in the 42nd minute.

The Moreira de Cónegos outfit set off all the alarms just a minute later through Rafael Costa, picking up a loose ball on the edge of Sporting’s box to ping an effort across Rui Patrício’s goal and into the top corner.

Jorge Jesus’ men were back on level terms on the hour mark when Mohamed Abarhoune helped William Carvalho’s shot into the net with a fruitless block.

Gelson Martins came agonisingly close to turning the game on its head in the 66th minute when hitting the underside of the crossbar with an out-stretched leg from close range, as Sporting failed to go beyond the recovery of a sole point upon the full-time whistle.

Jesus concluded the encounter by lamenting his side’s slow start to the game, stating: “The team, in the first half, thought they could play as little as they did. They thought that the goals would eventually come and that’s what cost us in the end.”

 

Benfica 2-0 Paços de Ferreira

A win and nothing else would calm the tensions that have circulated around the Estádio da Luz outfit, as Benfica looked to bring a winless run of three games in all competitions to an end versus Paços de Ferreira.

The Eagles began on top, striking the woodwork twice within the opening 18 minutes of the game to hype up their support.

Benfica’s early momentum wouldn’t go to waste, however, as Franco Cervi welcomed Andrija Živković’s cutback towards the edge of the box to steer the ball out of Mário Felgueiras’ reach in the 20th minute with a fantastic first-time strike.

Jonas doubled the hosts’ lead in the 61st minute, meeting Haris Seferovic’s glancing header to finish from close range, with a more cutting edge in front of goal being the only factor denying Rui Vitória’s men a sizeable win at full-time.

“We approached the game in the right way,” said coach Rui Vitória. “We can look at our performance in two ways: what we did in the first half, and what we prevented Paços from doing in the second half.”

By Patrick Ribeiro

Matchday 7

FC Porto 5-2 Moreirense

Estoril 0-2 Chaves

Moreirense 1-1 Sporting

Benfica 2-0 Paços de Ferreira

 

Sunday 24th September

Vit. Guimarães – Marítimo

Feirense – Belenenses

Tondela – Sp. Braga

Desp. Aves – Rio Ave

 

Monday 25th September

Vit. Setúbal - Boavista

 

 

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  • Guest - jon/usa

    That was a much improved performance from Benfica. I don't think it's a coincidence that we suddenly looked a far more cohesive side with Fejsa on the pitch. We dominated possession, created a host of clear-cut chances, and were very rarely troubled defensively. Pizzi was really wasteful in front of goal, but his passing was noticeably more incisive than in his previous three matches. Zivkovic was superb yet again, Cervi put in a very strong performance, and Ruben Dias impressed yet again with an assured performance. I'm still not completely sold on Seferovic, so I wouldn't mind seeing Raul get the start against Basel on Wednesday.

    At least one, if not both, of our rivals will be dropping points next weekend, so it is vital that we get the three points away at Maritimo -- arguably the hardest away fixture in the league outside of the Dragao and the Alvalade.

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  • Guest - Andre/UK

    I agree, I think yesterday's match was much more indicative of what Benfica is capable of this season, than the previous matches before it. Talk of a "crisis" was premature to say the least, so early in the season. It's true that the squad looks weaker than in previous seasons and there's a lot of improvements to be made, but there is certainly still quality in this squad, enough to be able to win the Liga again.

    Yes, we were up against a pretty poor Pacos side, but it's no exaggeration to say we could have scored 7 goals in the match. The starting 11 yesterday was close to what in my opinion is our strongest 11 at the moment. Julio Cesar was immediately a huge improvement on Varela. Julio didn't have much to do in the match in truth, but he just gives off a much more secure and assured vibe in his penalty area than Varela, who looks nervous and shakey whenever the ball enters his box. As Jon stated, Fejsa makes a huge difference to the team, he's a total winner and transmits this attitude to the rest of the team. Zivkovic was fantastic and in my opinion has to start most matches. He offers the best assistance and creativity of all the wingers in the squad and when you're playing with two forwards he's exactly the type of winger you want to be playing. Cervi put in a very good performance too, full of energy, and until Rafa sorts his form out the Argentine surely has to be first choice on the left.

    The three changes I would still make for our strongest 11 relative to the starting 11 yesterday would be: (1). Douglas at right back ahead of Andre Almeida. Almeida is a good utility squad player, capable of coming in and doing a good job at either full back position or even DM when the first choice players aren't available. But to me he's just not a first teamer, he's quite poor offensively and the modern day full back must contribute a lot more offensively. Hopefully Douglas will be able to improve the team in this respect. (2). Jardel ahead of Ruben Dias. Dias did well in the last couple of matches and is definitely one for the future, but I think for the bigger matches this season, Jardel's experience will be beneficial to the team. (3). Jimenez ahead of Seferovic. The Swiss striker started the first few matches of the season well, but has since disappeared in recent matches. He does appear to have some qualities that will be useful to the squad this season, but Jimenez has a more pro-active energetic approach that I think suits Benfica's offensive style better. Despite being primarily a super-sub over the last two seasons, he actually has an excellent goals-minutes ratio and has scored some crucial goals for us. As a result I think he deserves to be titular this season. Anyway a very good performance from the team yesterday and something to build on for the big matches coming up in the next few weeks.

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  • Great pressure, pressing, intensity and goals by Porto. The team is coming together though still is maybe a little disjointed. The Monaco match will be interesting - they are not the team they were last year and rely on Falcao a hell of a lot to cover the cracks. They can be beaten if Porto move the ball quickly, targeting the full-backs on the counter and make the most of set-pieces.
    Benfica passed and moved beautifully apart from a 15 minute period in the second half when Paços de Ferreira should really have scored but it was more of the kind of performance I’d expect from them.

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