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.