Vitória Guimarães flying high, Sporting plunge to eighth

The final Primeira Liga weekend before a three-week break for the internationals and the Portuguese Cup brought its fair share of surprise results, controversy and feel-good stories.

Benfica came from behind to beat Nacional 2-1 in Madeira. Edgar Abreu gave the islanders a perfect start with a goal in the very first minute, but before the 20-minute mark the Eagles had turned it round thanks to Salvio and Jonas and some suspect goalkeeping from Nacional stopper Rui Silva. The hosts were unlucky to see a goal wrongly ruled out for offside in the second half, and Benfica held on for the three points.

Vitória Guimarães continued their remarkable season, a late turnaround at Arouca giving the northerners their 7th win in ten games. Diego Galo gave Arouca the lead in the 77th minute, but strikes from Josué and Hernâni in the last ten minutes keeps Rui Vitória's men riding high.

Porto needed a 94th-minute equaliser from Oliver to keep their unbeaten Liga record intact at Estoril. Brahimi had given the visitors an early lead with another brilliant individual goal, but Kuca equalised soon afterwards. Porto loanee Tozé put the hosts into the lead in the 81st minute from the penalty spot, but the Spanish midfielder's late strike earned a point for the visitors.

The other surprise package of the season, Belenenses, are now up to the heady heights of fourth spot after a last-gasp penalty earned and converted by Tiago Silva gave the Azuis all three points at Moreirense.

Braga are gradually finding their form. Sérgio Conceição's side are yet to win away from the Quarry, but at home they have a perfect 5/5 record. They left it late against Gil Vicente, but two quick-fire goals from Pardo and Pedro Santos gave the Arsenalistas the victory.

Rio Ave boss Pedro Martins was delighted with his team's display, saying the opening 45 minutes were the best from his side all season, as Hassan struck twice against struggling Académica. Ukra added the third for a 3-0 final scoreline.

Sporting fell to another disappointing result, drawing 1-1 with Paços de Ferreira. Paulo Fonseca's side were excellent throughout, especially in the first half and deserved their lead at the interval given to them by Hurtado. The Lions finally got going after the break, with Montero equalising with a scorching long-range shot, then seeing another 'goal' ruled out for offside. Try as they might, Sporting could not find the winner despite playing the final 15 minutes with an extra man after Sérgio Oliveira was sent off.

Paulo Fonseca has now been Paços coach in two spells for 40 Liga games, and out of those 40 his side have only ever lost to Benfica and Porto. A match made in heaven if ever there was one.

Vitória Setúbal and Boavista both got vital 1-0 wins at home against Marítimo and Penafiel respectively. your social media marketing partner

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  • Guest - NJ/ USA/SLB

    Happy to see that Benfica keeps rolling domestically. It hasn't been easy and we haven't always looked good, but a win is a win. I'm still very concerned about where the goals are going to come from. Talisca will taper off and nobody else has looked as a capable filler.
    That being said, we have been poor in Europe. We still gave a shot but only wins could get us through. I don't see it.
    I got to watch the end of the Porto match. Horrific defending by Estoril at the end. Surprised Porto didn't net a winner.
    For this who aren't aware, Univisao Deportes has been showing a Portuguese league match every week.
    By the way sad to see empty stands at Estoril.

    It's only a matter of time before BdC takes over coaching duties. LOL.
    If I recall, not too long ago Guimaraes had one of these seasons. They knocked Benfica out of CL then, wonder who it could be now. Guimaraes has a huge fan base, bigger then Braga's, so as long as they don't attack anyone I'm rooting for them.
    The Minho Derby is going to be great.
    Belem out of nowhere. Happy to see it.

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  • Rated 4 out of 5 stars

    Benfica keeps rolling with the help of "poor" officiating. Lets not glance over that fact. Not the first time this year to be pure coincidence. The Champion's League Benfica is likely closer to the real Benfica. Not a Benfica hater, but you're not nearly as good as your domestic record shows......

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  • Never like seeing a poor decision in a game but I know we've had our fair share of negative decisions. Even if we would have gotten the draw we would still be top of the table. To be honest I'm really surprised how well we've done domestically considering we lost 7 players. The longer the season continues the harder it will be to catch up to Benfica as their new signings are starting to find their place. Talisca is already on of the top Brazilian prospects and Jones seems to be reviving his career with us. Throw in new contracts for Nico and Salvio and it's clear that our club will be putting up one hell of a fight to hold on to the title.

    I have to give a large amount of respect for Guimaraes. They were very close to bankruptcy and getting knocked out of the league just a couple of seasons ago. To have rebuilt a competitive that is in the running for a CL spot is impressive. Also good to see the likes of Paco's, Belenenses, and Braga in the running for the CL. It shows our liga has increased its competitiveness.

    While Porto is only 3 points behind, it's fair to say that their season so far has been below expectations. They had the highest profile signings this off season. Throw is how Benfica looked gutted from all their transfer loses, it was expected that they could run away with the liga. The December match up of Porto v. Benfica will be critical for their season.

    As for Sporting, they have been a complete train wreak. I expected them to be competing for the title again and to be honest I can't understand why they are so poor. I'm sure that at some point something will click for them and they will be able to fight back to get an EL spot but in terms of the CL spots, I have a hard time seeing them make it to 3rd place at this point.

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  • Guest - NJ/USA/SLB

    "Sem acesso ao crédito bancário e com as receitas a diminuírem a olhos vistos por força do quadro económico do país, a administração da SAD do Sporting tem procurado financiamento fora de Portugal, nomeadamente através de instituições financeiras que pretendam entrar no futebol nacional, à semelhança do que já acontece nos seus países de origem."

    Call me crazy, but wasn't one BdC's main talking points during his campaign for president, was having foreign investment?

    Listen, I actually feel that BdC has been great for Sporting. He came in and was able to energize and galvanize a stagnant fan base. He gave them a rallying cry and purpose. Sporting needed it's fans back in a strong way.
    That being said, all the blustering is becoming white noise. How long before blaming past deals (and taking people to court over), refs, league, players, etc... will start to wear thin.
    By all accounts, BdC still looks very naive in his transfer dealings. The finances shouldn't be as bad as they are, and some progress should of already been seen. Sporting is Portugal's second biggest club, so sponsorship deals should have been and should be available.
    Sporting still has a lot left to prove, maybe BdC even more so.

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"More reinforcements will arrive at no cost, but I don't want to talk much about them."

Jorge Jesus
(Sporting coach says the club will be making more January additions (free transfers) to the squad)


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