Vitória de Guimarães climbed to third in the SuperLiga Monday, alongside Sporting, when they won 2-0 at Gil Vicente. Nuno Assis on 35 minutes and sub Fangueiro on the stroke of time got the goals. Gil's Gaspar was sent off just before half time, and Vitória's Guga, on as sub in the second half, lasted just four minutes before he too saw red.
FC Porto go marching on. They kept the lead over second club Benfica to four points when they beat Santa Clara 3-1 on a meadow of a pitch in the Azores. Up-and-coming young striker Hélder Postiga got two, on 30 and 62 minutes, and sub Jankauskas got a third a quarter of an hour from time. But Santa Clara didn't lie down and put the win up Porto in the dying minutes after Figueiredo had pulled one back two minutes after the Lithuanian's goal. Porto, though, are beginning to look invincible.
Boavista looked more like the Boavistão of recent seasons when they beat traditionally difficult opponents Marítimo 3-0 at the Bessa. For once the Madeiran side proved easy pickings, but Boavista also showed that thay can still turn on their powerful, aggressive game. Veteran Jorge Couto proved decisive, glancing home a goalward header from Éder on 27 minutes and confirming the result on 52 with a snap-shot after Marítimo defender Pepe had miskicked in the area. In between, Luiz Claudio had made it 2-0 on 42 minutes with a neatly curved free-kick from the edge of the box. Boavista move a couple of places up the tanble and a little away from the relegation zone.
After a hiccup to their recent good run at Leiria last weekend Varzim were back to their winning ways with a 1-0 home win against also in-form Nacional. QuimBerto got the only goal of the game from the spot after 47 minutes after Gouveia had handled.
Although Paços de Ferreira are sitting reasonably comfortably in mid-table, they are the masters of inconsistency. Vitória de Setúbal visited them this weekend and walked away with all three points, edging ahead of them in the table in the process. Rui Miguel gave Vitória the lead after 38 minutes and it held until ten minutes from time when Renato Queiros equalised. But Vitória it was who had the nerve to kill the game, Hugo Henrique netting two minutes from the final whistle to make the score 1-2.
Sporting Braga and União de Leiria were true to their distinctly underwhelming seasons so far when they drew 1-1 at the Primeiro de Maio Stadium in Braga. The score was determined in the first twenty minutes, Bordi getting Braga's goal, Fernando Aguiar União's. Both teams continue poised above the relegation places.
Moreirense put daylight between themselves and woebegotten Académica at the bottom by beating them 1-0 at home. Flávio Cordeiro got the winner two minutes from time. Académica, beset by financial and sporting problems, are now stranded at the bottom on eight points, three adrift of Moreirense and Santa Clara.
Benfica beat Sporting on their own turf Saturday (see Match Reports) to move away from their Lisbon rivals and to within a point of FC Porto at the top of the SuperLiga. Porto are up against struggling Santa Clara in the Azores Sunday.
Belenenses beat Beira-Mar 3-2 Friday to go fourth in the SuperLiga, behind the Big Three of FC Porto, Sporting and Benfica and ahead of Vitória de Guimarães. Ludemar put the Lisbon club ahead against the run of play after 19 minutes, with Fary equalising seven minutes from half-time for Beira-Mar.
The Senegalese striker was supposedly fouled in the box earçly in the second half, and Ricardo Sousa gave the team from Aveiro the lead. Belenenses came back, however, and Djalmir equalised for them twenty minutes from time. It was deep into added time that Tuck managed the winner from the spot after Filipe had handled. The game was once again free to get in, which is becoming something of a habit at Belenenses' Restelo Stadium near Lisbon.
The League of Clubs is proving stubborn with respect to the request by players to have Day 16, scheduled for December 29th, postponed, claiming that there are no dates free to re-schedule. Benfica and Gil Vicente got round the problem by bringing their match forward to last Wednesday.
Saturday's clássico between Sporting and Benfica looks set to be a sell-out. Most of the 35,000 tickets have been sold for what will proabably be the last derby in the old Alvalade stadium before it is pulled down. Capacity is reduced because a quarter of the stadium has already been demolished to make way for the new Alvalade XXI being built alongside.
Benfica's new coach Camacho has imposed a 22.00 curfew on his players ahead of the game. They were not even allowed to attend the priz-giving ceremony held to commemorate 60 years of the in-house Benfica paper. Simão was voted the player of the year, Tiago the revelation.
Benfica gave their new coach José António Camacho his first win at the helm of the Lisbon club when they beat Gil Vicente 3-1 at the Estádio da Luz Wednesday in a game brought forward from December 29th. Gil, who have had a promising start to the season, once again looked dangerous early on despite missing several key players. Indeed, it was the northern side who went in front, Duah launching a shot from wide on the left that looped over Moreira. It took Benfica just nine minutes to restore the balance, Nuno Gomes finishing off a goalward prod by Zahovic. On the half hour, Gil's Guerreiro saw a second yellow for a foul on Simão, and Tiago headed in from the free to put Benfica in the driving seat.
Despite their numerical superiority, Benfica couldn't add to the score until the closing minutes when Petit flashed home a free-kick by Simão. Benfica move into second place behind FC Porto but ahead of Sporting, just days before Saturday's anxiously awaited clássico between Benfica and Sporting.
Struggling Santa Clara also gave their new coach Carlos Alberto Silva a present, a rare win that lifts them closer to safety at the bottom of the table. Their opponents on the night, Marítimo, took the lead on 12 minutes through Joel Santos but Paiva and Ceará, on 58 and 68 respectively, turned it around for the Azores side. The match was re-arranged from Day seven when it was postponed because of bad weather.
The players of Moreirense will wear black arm-bands in their game against Académica at the weekend, in protest at what they see as biased refereeing against them.
Benfica host Gil Vicente Wednesday in a match brought forward from Day 16. SuperLiga players have been trying to move the games from this day because of the date - December 29th, slap bang in the middle of the festive period.
After an early scare, FC Porto eventually swept lowly Académica aside Monday, the 4-1 scoreline a fair reflection of the relative quality of the sides. Académica got their nose in front first, however, Dário heading in at the near post after only four minutes with Porto ´keeper Vítor Baía hopelessly out of position. The lead lasted until the start of the second half, thanks to Académica's stout defending, and was only wiped out by a penalty invented by referee Jacinto Paixão, who saw a foul on Hélder Postiga where none existed. Maniche tucked the ball away from the spot.
It was a signal for the start of Porto's domination of events, emphasised by the sending off of Dino on the hour. Académica's defence of the draw became increasingly desperate, but they held out until a quarter of an hour from the end when Porto's midfield general Deco clipped a lovely free-kick low and beyond Pedro Roma's right hand. Just two minutes later, the game was up for Os Estudantes when Porto's full back Paulo Ferreira made the line on the right and cut the ball back for Hélder Postiga to crack in a first-timer.
It was left to Jankauskas to supply a late coup de grâce from the spot after Pedro Roma had brought down the rampant Deco. Porto, unbeaten in the league, maintain top spot and a five-point cushion over nearest rivals Sporting.
What a difference a season makes! This time last year, Boavista were up amongst the front-runners, defending their title of the previous season. It's been a nightmare so far this time around, and there is little sign that they might be waking up from it. They remain perched precariously just above the relegation places with only four points separating them from ignominy.
Despite an improved display relative to recent league form, they went down 3-1 to northern rivals Vitória de Guimarães at the ground of Felgueiras, borrowed while Vitória's stadium undergoes improvements. It was an excellent game, full of quick, flowing, open football and plenty of incident, not least of which the five times that the woodwork kept shots and headers out, three for Vitória and two for Boavista.
Vitória took the lead on 24 minutes with a trademark goal, Romeu backheeling into the path of Pedro Mendes on the edge of the box, the midfielder chipping over the advancing Ricardo. Silva put As Panteras back on level terms after 32, scoring a penalty given for a foul on him. But Vitória's football was more objective and imaginative than Boavista's, and they restored their lead on 73 minutes when Mendes crossed for Djurdevic to head home.
Boavista were still up for it, though ... that is until ten minutes from the end when referee Martins dos Santos managed three mistakes in one incident: Fangueiro was fouled when through on goal, but he was clearly outside the box. The referee gave a penalty, and then booked the wrong man (Ico) but should have shown the red. Fangueiro himself put the penalty away.
Even with a ridiculous 11 minutes of added time (the referee was by this time on another planet), Boavista could not drag the game back and continue to struggle for points. Vitória, on the other hand, move up to fourth, just a point behind Benfica.