liga news - 2003



With the sell-out of the Lisbon derby, Benfica are set to take 1.5 million euros at the gate alone, without counting TV and advertising.

Sporting's Romanian striker Mariusz Niculae is fit again after a long lay-off through injury and may be in the squad for the derby.

Braga's revolutionary Municipal stadium, built into a hillside for Euro 2004, will have its inauguration in official matches on 17/18th January with Sporting Braga playing FC Porto. It was thought that the home game against Guimarães would be Sporting Braga's last at the old Primeiro de Maio Stadium, but there will now another there, versus Belenenses.


The Benfica v Sporting clássico of January 4th will definitely be a 65,000 sell-out; only paid-up sócios could get tickets Saturday.

Sporting's key midfielder Fábio Rochemback will be returning from international duty with Brazil's Olympic team in time for the game, contrary to previous reports.


Up until Tuesday, 42,000 tickets had been sold for the Benfica v Sporting clássico of January 4th at the 65,000 capacity Luz stadium.


An FC Porto in third gear was enough to beat a spirited but ultimately insufficient Alverca Monday to maintain a five and six point lead over, respectively, Sporting and Benfica at the top of the SuperLiga. The 2-1 scoreline was made in the first half. Bruno Moraes dinked a neat through ball for Derlei to rifle home his 12th of the season on 16 minutes, Manú took advantage of a mistake by Baía ten minutes later and Maniche was free on the right to pick his spot from a Deco cross on 35, although the move had begun with an apparent foul on an Alverca player in midfield. The league leaders took advantage of the expulsion of Zé Rui on the hour to simply manage the lead throughout the second half, giving Alverca more or less the run of midfield, but despite a couple of chances, the minnows couldn't find a second goal. Porto's key forward Derlei was stretchered off midway through the first half with ligament damage to his right knee. He will be out for some time.


Benfica won 3-0 at bottom club Estrela da Amadora Sunday to keep up with local rivals Sporting in pursuit of FC Porto at the top of the SuperLiga. Porto play at Alverca Monday. Benfica were three up within half an hour through Nuno Gomes, Tiago and Sokota. It was enough to knock the stuffing out of an inoffensive Estrela (seven points in 15 games) and the Águias coasted it from then on.

Also stuck in the relegation zone are major disappointment Vitória de Guimarães, who have not been able to improve with the recent change of coach. They lost this time 1-2 in the Minho derby against Sporting Braga in what was the latter's last game at the city's old Estádio 1 de Maio before they move to the new stadium, built for Euro 2004. Soderstrom put Braga in front on 12 minutes, and Wender scored from the spot on 38 to put the home side 2-0 in front at the break. Vitória pulled one back on 90 minutes through Marco, but it served only as a consolation.

Braga remain fifth, two points behind Beira-Mar who won again, this time at home to Nacional of Madeira, in-form Juninho Petrolina netting a quarter of an hour before the end.

On the same points as Braga are Maritimo, who beat Moreirense in Funchal with a goal from young midfielder Danny on 24 minutes.

Constantly improving Rio Ave leapfrogged over Belenenses by beating them 4-1. Evandro put the home side in front on the half hour, and then scored again a minute before half time to give Rio Ave some breathing space. It looked like Belenenses might be back in it when Waldiran was on target on 53, but Ronny converted a penalty two minutes later to put Rio Ave back on track, and sub Jacques got the fourth on 72.

Back to the bottom, and penultimate in the table Paços de Ferreira recovered from mid-week elimination in the Taça to beat Académica 1-0 at home, but it took a penalty, converted by Júnior a minute into the second half, to clinch the points.

There is a two-week break in SuperLiga action now. The return, on January 4th, sees a clássico, the first Lisbon derby between Benfica and Sporting at the new Luz , and crucial for the title hopes of both.


Sporting kept in touch with FC Porto at the top of the SuperLiga Saturday with a 2-0 win at home to União de Leiria, but they left it until late in the game to make their domination tell in terms of goals, Lourenço, on as sub, getting the first on 75 minutes and Pedro Barbosa scoring from the spot six minutes later. União had had a perfectly good goal by Maciel disallowed on 67 for a non-existent offside.


Boavista lost only their second game at home Friday, 0-3 to Gil Vicente. It was Gil's first away win of the season, and they must have been surprised at the result and the score. In fact, Boavista more or less dominated the game territorially but could not make their domination tell, and it was Gil who took their chances: Edinho got one on the stroke of half time, Luís Loureiro scored from the spot on 63 minutes and Ferreira sealed the win on 89. Boavista president João Loureiro was fuming after the game, accusing the referee of influencing the result, but while it's true that Boavista had one or two penalty appeals turned down, the fact is that they also did not take advantage of the chances they had. There were white handkerchiefs out at the end from the (very few) fans that were at the Bessa, but this was more than likely a simple glitch on what has been a pretty solid season for Boavista so far.


FC Porto maintained their five and six point lead over Sporting and Benfica respectively by beating tough nut Beira-Mar 3-0 Sunday. Wijnhard put through his own goal from a Deco corner on ten minutes to give Porto the early advantage, and if the truth be told, they never really looked like relinquishing the lead, although Beira-Mar made them fight for every ball and in 'keeper Andy Marriot had a superb last line of defence. But in a two-minute period a quarter of an hour from the end, Porto destroyed Beira-Mar's resistance with two goals, both unstoppable shots from the edge of the box by McCarthy and Maniche. Beira-Mar remain fourth.

Marítimo won the Madeira derby 1-0 over Nacional with a late goal from Alan and go fifth. Nacional stay eighth

Belenenses climbed to ninth and pushed Alverca down to 11th with a 2-0 home win, their first in the league for seven games. Mauro got the first on nine minutes, Valdiran wrapped it up on 90.

Moreirense (15th) and Gil Vicente (14th) cancelled each other out and their game finished 0-0.


Sporting beat a resilient Boavista 1-0 Saturday to keep in realistic touch with Porto at the top of the SuperLiga. Former Boavista striker Silva got the only goal with a near-post header from a Tello cross on 32 minutes.

Sporting's Lisbon rivals Benfica also won at home, 2-0 to Sporting Braga. Simão in the first half and Sokota a quarter of an hour from the end doomed Braga to a trip back north with no points in the bag.

There were early goals in Leiria, home side União opening through Maciel on two minutes and Júlio César equalising a minute later for Estrela da Amadora. João Paulo put União back in front on 19, but Estrela were still in it until the 75th minute when Edson made it 3-1. Maciel with his second piled on the misery for bottom club Estrela, 4-1 , deep into added time.

Earlier there were no goals in the game between Académica and the improving Rio Ave.


Vitória de Guimarães, floundering near the foot of the SuperLiga table and this week parted with coach Augusto Inácio, could do no more than draw 1-1 with bottom club Paços de Ferreira Friday under new coach Jorge Jesus. They were behind on 56 minutes through Paços' José Manuel, but equalised ten minutes later with a goal from Flávio Meireles.


Beira-Mar kept up their sensational early-season form Monday, beating Belenenses 2-0. They could have finished the game off in the first half with numerous chances and a missed penalty (Marco Aurélio saving on 42 minutes from Wijnhard), but strangely enough, two red cards for Belenenses players around the hour mark (Carlos Fernandes and Anchouet) that left the Lisbon team reduced to nine, had the opposite of the obvious effect, and Beira-Mar struggled to create danger around the Belenenses goal ... that is until twelve minutes fom time when Wijnhard put the home side in front, with Rui Dolores making it safe a minute from time.


Sporting and Benfica both won Sunday to keep in touch with FC Porto at the top of the SuperLiga.

Sporting coasted past Estrela da Amadora 4-1 away, helped by two red cards for the home side on 63 (Fonseca) and 74 minutes (Pedro Simões). Sporting had gone into the half-time break 2-1 up, through Rochemback and Pedro Barbosa, Júlio César splitting those goals. But once Estrela were down to ten men, Liedson added two.

Benfica won comfortably at bottom club Paços de Ferreira, despite a well-disputed first half that could have gone either way. Diminutive 19-year-old winger João Pereira got two first half goals, on 27 and 44 minutes, to break the back of Paços' resistance, and Fernando Aguiar's 64-minute header merely sealed the result.

Sporting Braga climbed to fourth after a clear 3-1 win over União de Leiria. Wender gave Braga a 1-0 lead on 20 minutes, and it was not until the second half that they could extend it, through Swedish midfielder Soderstrom on 55. It looked as if João Paulo might make a game of it with a goal a quarter of an hour from the end, but Pena made it 3-1 almost immediately and the points were in the bag for Braga.

Gil Vicente drew 4-4 (!) at home to Nacional of Madeira. Josiesley Ferreira started the ball rolling for Gil on two minutes, Serginho equalised on ten and by the hour mark the final result was established, through Edinho, Casquilha and Lary (Gil) and Paulo Assunção, Adriano and Patacas (Nacional).

Vitória de Guimarães continue their miserable run of form, losing this time 0-1 at Rio Ave. Evandro got the only goal early in the second half, leaving Vitória third from bottom with just ten points from 13 games. Rumour has it that coach Augusto Inácio may shortly be made the scapegoat for Vitória's hugely disappointing start to the season.

Two first half goals from Alex Afonso helped Alverca to a 2-1 home win over Académica, Marinescu pulling one back for Os Estudantes in the second half.


FC Porto lost two points Saturday in their traditionally difficult trip to Madeira to face Marítimo. Rincón put the home side in front on 16 miknutes, but Derlei won a (debatable) penalty on 22 and converted it, and then he got a second on 36 from a pass by Pedro Mendes. It was against the run of play, so a little justice was restored on 66 when Rincón got his second to equalise. It was Porto's third draw - they have yet to lose - and it it gives chasers Sporting and Benfica some hope that the northerners are catchable. If the two Lisbon giants win this weekend, Sporting will be five points behind and Benfica six.

Porto's neighbours Boavista continue their solid season. They missed the presence of top scorer Ricardo Sousa, suspended, but central defender Éder got the only goal of the game on 16 minutes to give Boavista the points and lift them provisionally to fourth. Boavista have the best defence in the SuperLiga: just seven goals conceded in 13 games, proving that they are not missing Portuguese international Ricardo, sold to Sporting in the summer.


Both the Lisbon Grandes won by 2-0 Sunday.

Sporting climbed to second with headers from João Pinto and Silva, one in each half, to beat Sporting Braga. Brazilian midfielder Rochemback missed a first half penalty.

Benfica were helped on their way to victory over a plucky Rio Ave side by a non-existent first half penalty, Tiago diving in the box; Simão converted. Left back Cristiano headed the second in the second half.

Sporting are seven points behind FC Porto, Benfica are third, eight points adrift.


FC Porto are unstoppable at the top of the Liga. They received lowly Gil Vicente Sunday without star Deco and captain Jorge Costa and still managed to come out 4-1 winners in front of just 16,000 in what was the last game at the Antas Stadium before the permanent move to the nearby Estádio do Dragão. They went in at half time only 1-0 up through Maniche, but McCarthy, Alenitchev and Derlei completed the damage in the second half, Edinho pulling one back for Gil.

Surprise team Beira-Mar jumped provisionally to second with a 1-0 win at Académica, Juninho Petrolina getting the goal on the hour.

Vitória de Guimarães are slow in showing, only managing a 2-2 draw at home to Alverca, for whom striker Rodolf Lima got two, one at the start and one at the end, sandwiching goals from João Tomás and Nuno Assis.

Nacional remain eighth after a 3-1 home win over Moreirense. Lima put the visitors in front on 13 minutes, but Alexandre Goulart and Adriano before half time and Serginho in the second half gave the Madeiran side the points.

União de Leiria jumped from 15th to 11th with a 1-0 home win over Paços de Ferreira, struggling to pull away from the relegation zone. Bilro got the only goal.



Belenenses scored a goal in the opening and closing minutes to frustrate Marítimo in a lively 2-2 draw in Restelo. Antchouet opened, Van der Gaag and Briegel put the Madeiran side in front before half-time, but Pelé headed home from a corner in the sixth and final minute of added time (when the referee had indicated that there would be only four).


Bottom club Estrela da Amadora recorded a rare win Friday, 2-1 over theoretically much stronger opposition, Boavista. In the week of the club's elections for president, and with new coach Miguel Quaresma at the helm, Estrela looked a different team. Júlio César got them off to a flying start with a goal on six minutes, Boavista equalised on 56 through the inevitable Ricardo Sousa, but Egyptian winger Sabry gave Estrela all three points with a winner twenty minutes from time. Boavista's Filipe Anunciação was sent off in the dying minutes for a second yellow.


Benfica drew 1-1 with Marítimo in Madeira Wednesday in a game re-scheduled from Day 9. Dinda got a trademark long free-kick on 64 minutes to give the home side the lead, but after 81 Simão got his sixth of the season on the break to snatch a point for Benfica that lifts them to third in the table behind the inevitable other two Grandes, FC Porto and Sporting.

The Superliga has a two-week break now for international games and the Taça de Portugal.


Sporting went clear second in the SuperLiga Monday, seven points behind top club FC Porto, after they beat Paços de Ferreira 2-1 on their own turf. Pedro Barbosa was the hero of the night with two goals, one a drive from the edge of the box on 16 minutes after a neat back-heel by Liedson, the other a penalty on 75 after Liedson had been brought down. Zé Manuel had equalised on 51, but the sending-off of Paços' Beto on 58 weakened the home side's resistence. Paços remain in the relegation zone.


FC Porto dropped points for only the second time this season with a 1-1 away draw Sunday at Moreirense (played in Braga). Porto went in front through Benni McCarthy on 22 minutes, smashing a loose ball in at the back post, but Moreirense were on level terms six minutes later, Manoel sneaking in unmarked at the back post to head in from a corner. Porto hit the post through Derlei before the break and had several chances to take the lead in the second half but were denied by the excellent Nuno Claro in the Moreirense goal. Moreirense had their own chances to score, notably through Manoel again, through clear on goal with only Baía to beat but stroking his shot wide. And in the dying minutes, Moreirense claimed a penalty when Bruno Mestre appeared to have been brought down by Ricardo Carvalho. Porto remain eight points clear of Sporting Braga, however.

Earlier in the evening, Benfica were just too strong for Alverca and came out 3-0 winners. Midfielder Tiago proved decisive with two goals, on 12 and 81 minutes, Geovanni getting the other on 73. Benfica climb to equal third on twenty points along with Boavista and Beira-Mar, nine points behind Porto. Benfica have a game in hand on the leaders.

Surprise side Beira-Mar were within a whisker of going second, leading Vitória de Guimarães until the dying seconds. Wijnhard scored two second half goals, João Tomás equalised a quarter of an hour from the end and Guga snatched a point for Vitória in added time. Vitória remain in the relegation zone with just nine points from eleven games.

Improving Rio Ave leapfrogged over the disappointing União de Leiria in the table by beating them 3-0. Evandro got two of Rio Ave's goals, Ronny the other.

On Saturday, Sporting Braga, under Jesualdo Ferreira, who was sacked last season by Benfica, beat bottom club Estrela da Amadora 2-1 to go second. Ex-FC Porto striker Pena got the first on eight minutes, Igor got another eight minutes into the second half and Semedo made a game of it on the hour.

Boavista climbed to third with a hard-fought 2-1 home win over Nacional of Madeira. Top scorer Ricardo Sousa again proved vital with a trademark free-kick on 70 minutes. Central defender Paulo Turra extended the lead two minutes later with a header from another free-kick, while Paulo Sérgio gave Nacional a late glimmer of hopw in added time.

Early front-runners Marítimo are in free-fall. They lost Saturday 0-2 at home to Académica, for whom Delmer and Fábio Felício scored in each half. Marítimo drop to seventh.


Gil Vicente drew 0-0 with Belenenses in the first game of Day 11 of the so-called SuperLiga Friday, and the game was so very poor that that's really all there is to say about it ...


Sporting Braga and Boavista shot each other in the foot Monday with a 0-0 draw that helps neither club's aspirations for a European place, the most that either can hope for this season given FC Porto's clear superiority. There weren't many chances in a very competitive but relatively clean game, but Boavista's Rui Óscar had to clear off the line from Wender in the third minute, and Ricardo Sousa hit the bar with a free-kick in the second half. Either club could have risen to second in the Superliga with a win, but as it is, Sporting Braga are 5th, Boavista 7th, 10 and 11 points adrift of the top respectively.


In the first official game at the new Luz Stadium, Benfica came a cropper (1-2) against the surprise team of the season so far Beira-Mar, the first ever win by the team from Aveiro on Benfica's turf. Benfica had enough chances in the first half to kill the game but went in only 1-0 up through Simão, his shot deflected past the Welsh 'keeper Marriot five minutes from half-time. Sandro and Wijnhard turned the game around for Beira-Mar in the space of ten minutes in the second-half, and the visitors had the nous to hold on to the lead until the end. Beira-Mar jump above Benfica into equal second along with Sporting on 19 points, eight behind FC Porto.

Académica got their first win in the Municipal Stadium of Coimbra, 2-1 over Gil Vicente. Delmer scored twice for Os Estudantes in the second half, Paulo Alves getting a consolation penalty in the dying minutes for Gil.

Gabriel and Paulo Gomes gave União de Leiria the first-half breathing space they needed to beat Alverca 2-1 in their last game at the borrowed Marinha Grande stadium before they move to the new Municipal Stadium at Leiria. Despite a goal pegged back through Zeferino in the first minute of the second half, Alverca were unable to turn the score around.


Sporting dropped two home points against Rio Ave Saturday (1-1) to remain second in the SuperLiga but now at a distance of nine points from top club FC Porto, who appear to be running away with it even at this early stage. Sporting had tremendous difficulties overcoming the well-organized and combative Rio Ave who went in front in the dying seconds of the first half, Evandro popping up at the back post to finish off an excellent low cross from the left by captain Gama. A desperate Sporting finally snatched a point five minutes from time, to the relative relief of the 33,000 present, Silva getting his first of the season with a strong header from a free-kick by the otherwise out-of-form Rochemback.

Marítimo missed a chance to get nearer FC Porto when they could only draw 1-1 at Vitória de Guimarães. Vitória were in front on the half hour through Djurdjevic with a shot from about the penalty spot, but Alan gave Marítimo a point on 48 minutes, taking advantage of a bad clearance by Vitória ´keeper Palatsi.

Paços de Ferreira got their first three points following the return of coach José Mota on their visit to soft-touch Estrela da Amadora (0-1), firmly planted at the bottom with just four points from ten games. Renato Queirós got the only goal of the game on 34 minutes. There were white handkerchiefs from the Estrela fans at the end of the game, and coach João Alves' job must now be hanging by a thread.


FC Porto opened Day 10 of the SuperLiga with a 1-0 win over difficult but unadventurous Nacional of Madeira. It was Porto's ninth win - the team have dropped only two points, those in the second game of the season, a 1-1 draw at now-struggling Estrela da Amadora. Porto were without influential midfielder Deco, suspended for being sent off against Boavista earlier in the week. (He may be suspended for a long time after being accused at throwing a boot at the referee on the night.) Porto missed his ideas Friday, and it took a corner and a header from central defender Ricardo Carvalho on 53 minutes to break the deadlock.



On Wednesday, Benfica were the visitors as Académica inaugurated the Coimbra Municipal Stadium, to be used at EURO 2004. It was a game that had been postponed from Day 3 precisely to have crowd-pulling Benfica present at the inauguration. As it was, the game drew no more than 20,000 to the 30,000-seat stadium - a sign of how difficult it will be to ever fill the venue outside of the EURO 2004 competition.

Académica went ahead through an Argel own-goal after six minutes, but Benfica took just twenty minutes to turn it round with two fabulous strikes from Sokota and Simão. Sub Roger also scored a cracker ten minutes from time to give Benfica a calm run-in to the final whistle.


FC Porto consolidated their position at the top of the SuperLiga table Monday with a hard fought, some would say unjust, victory at their close rivals Boavista, whose first defeat this was (see match reports). Boavista drop to 6th.


Sporting overcame an early shock to fully justify their three pojnts with a 2-1 win in a bad-tempered match at Alverca Sunday. Alverca had a lively start and went ahead on eight minutes, Torrão clipping a cross shot from the edge of the box past Ricardo's right hand. Sporting needed twenty minutes to level, and it came from a dubious penalty, João Pinto appearing to exaggerate a fall in the box, Rochemback converting from the spot. It was left to Brazilian striker Liedson to pop up at the back post on 54 minutes to give Sporting the win, although they had enough possession and chances to win more comfortably.

Beira-Mar are the surprise team of the SuperLiga so far, beating União de Leiria 4-2 and climbing to fourth. On the half-hour, Douala put the visitors in front but Kingsley equalised almost immediately. Sandro put Beira-Mar in front on 65, just after UDL's Edson had been sent off. Then on 83 minutes, Juninho Petrolina gave Beira-Mar a two-goal margin, and in the last ten minutes there was time for Ludemar to give União a little hope and Rui Dolores to finally dash it.

Belenenses can't be trusted for consistency, it seems. This time they went to Madeira and came back with four goals in their baggage, conceded to Nacional. Captain João Fidalgo headed Nacional in front from a corner on 40 minutes. Then in a six-minute spell in the second half, Adriano and Serginho Baiano (2) set the final score of 4-0.

Rio Ave escaped from the relegation zone, for the moment at least, with a 3-1 win over hapless Estrela da Amadora. Júlio César put Estrela in front on 13 minutes, but the team retreated to defend and it was their undoing. Junas managed an equaliser before the break, and in the second half Jaime and Evandro, ten minutes from time, put paid to Estrela's hopes.

Manoel gave Moreirense the lead on the hour at home to Académica, and Os Estudantes left to added time to equalise through Marcelo.

Vitória de Guimarães had drawn 1-1 at Gil Vicente Saturday. Guga put the visitors ahead on 14 minutes, and captain Casquilha gave Gil a point five mnutes from half time.


Sporting Braga went equal second with Marítimo Friday after beating bottom club Paços de Ferreira 1-0 away. Paços, under the guiding hand of the returning José Mota, may count themselves unlucky with two balls against the post and Braga's internatioanl 'keeper Quim putting in an excellent display - one double save in the second half was out of this world. They might also feel a little miffed at the manner of Braga's goal, Wender guiding a Barroso free-kick in with his hand on the hour. But the fact is that Paços remain bottom, and Braga, looking good for a European place, are flying high at the other end.


Sporting beat Beira-Mar 3-1 Monday to go fourth in the SuperLiga. But it was not as easy as the score might suggest, although one thing certainly was easier: the pitch had been re-laid since the last Sporting home game, and it was a pleasure not to see great tufts rising at each passing footstep.

This is not a strong Sporting team; Beira-Mar often looked superior, especially during the first part of the second half. But it was Sporting's superior firing power that won the day.

The first three goals were headers, Liedson getting Sporting's first on nine minutes, Sandro equalising on 25 and João Pinto putting Sporting in front on the stroke of half time. Beira-Mar controlled the first part of the second half and might have reduced the score midway through the half when Kingsley was through on goal. But the game was killed 15 minutes from time when Liedson got his second, pouncing on a loose ball in front of goal to poke it past the 'keeper.

Sporting climb to fourth behind FC Porto, Marítimo and Boavista.


Benfica said goodbye Sunday to the National Stadium (their home between the demolition of the old Luz and their move as from next week into the new one). And they did it with a narrow win (2-1) over Gil Vicente. Sokota got Benfica's first on 28 minutes, Ferreira II equalised for Gil three minutes later but Simão got the Reds' winner on the hour. Gil got six yellow cards, Benfica none, which goes some way to reflecting the type of game it was. Benfica rise to fourth, level on points with Sporting Braga.

Marítimo remain second behind FC Porto after securing a point (2-2) in the last ten minutes through central defender Van der Gaag at União de Leiria. Earlier, in a fifteen minute spell in the middle of the first half, Marítimo had gone in front through Gaúcho but UDL had turned it round through Paulo Gomes and Douala.

Sporting Braga lost a good chance to keep in touch with the leaders when they dropped a home point to struggling Rio Ave. Wender put Braga in front from the spot on 22 minutes, and Portuguese international 'keeper Quim kept Rio Ave at bay in their response until the 63rd minute when Jaime shot from outside the box and the ball was deflected in.

Estrela da Amadora, promoted this season, are in all sorts of trouble and may well say goodbye to their coach João Alves after yet another defeat, this time at the hands of Alverca at home (0-3). Zé Roberto got an early goal for the visitors on four minutes and was later sent off, as was Estrela's Lázaro. Then in added time at the end of the game, the promising Rodolfo Lima nabed a brace and piled on the woe for sorry Estrela.

Day 8 closes Monday with a Sporting v Beira-Mar on the newly-laid pitch at Alvalade XXI.


Saturday's three SuperLiga games gave three away wins.

The heaviest was FC Porto's at Belenenses (1-4), but it all looked so rosy early on for the Lisbon side, Gonçalo Brandão heading in from a corner after just five minutes. The first 15 minutes or so was the only period when Belenenses looked like they might do something, however; after that Porto began to impose their physical, tactical and psychological strength on the game, and then there was only one team in it.

Derlei headed in a cross from the left by Nuno Valente on 18 minutes, and on 33, Deco crashed a first time volley in at the back post from a looping cross from the left by Maniche. When you might have expected Belenenses to react after half time, it was Porto who came out with all guns blazing, César Peixoto netting in a one-on-one with Belenenses 'keeper Marco Aurélio after just a minute. Pelé might have dragged Belenenses back into it immediately aftewards with a drive that struck the post, but it was Marco Ferreira who killed the game on 52 minutes, Marco Aurélio once again beaten in a one-on-one.

Earlier, the other Porto team Boavista had trounced disappointing Paços de Ferreira 0-3, helped by the sending off of Paços' Zé Manuel for an aggression on Fary after just 24 minutes and a flurry of goals in a five minute spell around the half hour through Ricardo Sousa, Pedro Santos and Fary (a penalty). Boavista have yet to lose, but are still six points behind top team Porto. The bad news for Boavista was that captain and Portuguese international, the midfielder Fréchaut, fell and fractured a tibia and will be out of action for at least a couple of months. He has just returned after a similar injury.

Académica, who said goodbye to their captain and top scorer Dário in the week (he went to Dubai), missed him and went down 0-1 at home to Nacional of Madeira and a goal by the inevitable Adriano on 77 minutes.


Coach Augusto Inácio will have breathed a sigh of relief as his Vitória de Guimarães broke a six-game run of straight defeats Friday with a 3-0 victory over Moreirense. The pressure on the players was evident as they came out at full speed, knocking the visitors off their balance and going ahead on four minutes after a game of header tennis in front of goal, finished off by Hugo Cunha. A Bruno Alves free-kick on 35 minutes, deflected off the wall and wrong-footing Moreirense 'keeper Nuno Claro, sent Vítoria in at half-time with a comfortable lead.

Moreirense came back after the break with a little more organisation and a little more fight, but this did not translate into goals, and it was Vitória who went further ahead on the stroke of time with a penalty from Fangueiro. The win means a leap out of the relegation zone, at least temporarily, for Vitória. It also means that Inácio holds onto his job, at least for the time being.


The Portuguese Referees Association (APAF) has warned that the referee for the upcoming local derby between Vitória de Guimarães and Moreirense, Carlos Xistra, may need special protection following recent comments aimed at referees by Vitória president Pimenta Machado. The first few games of the SuperLiga have generated much controversy due to the perceived bias of referees expressed by some clubs (notably Vítoria, with six defeats in a row, and Sporting). Starting this season, referees have begun to be nominated by the Liga, whereas they were allocated to games by draw up until the end of last season.

Meanwhile, SuperLiga referee Paulo Costa has welcomed the idea of bringing in foreign refs, unburdened by club affiliation, for matches.


There are no SuperLiga games this weekend due to call-ups for international games. See next weeks fixtures here.


Sporting Braga travelled south Monday and returned north with three points in the bag from a hard-fought, even battle at Alverca, once again (at this ground) in front of a meagre attendance. Former FC Porto striker Pena put the visitors in front on 16 minutes, assisted by Swedish midfielder Söderstrom on the edge of the box. Full-back Amoreirinha put Alverca on a level footing five minutes into the second half with a close-range effort (he was to miss a similar chance on the stroke of time), but twenty minutes before the end Braga's club captain and free-kick specialist Barroso came on as sub and changed the course of the game. His first kick was a free that Alverca 'keeper Yannick pushed around the post, but on 77 minutes the Frenchman was not so lucky, letting another free from Barroso skid under his body. Alverca tried to react, but the nearest they got was that Amoreirinha snap shot on the stroke of time that sailed just over.

The result sees Sporting Braga join Boavista and Beira-Mar in third place on 13 points, while Alverca remain relatively comfortable on ten.


FC Porto copied the result of their eternal rivals Benifca Sunday, beating Académica 4-1 with a hat-trick from Brazilian forward Derlei. Académica were actually one-up within seven minutes through Dário, but by half time Porto had put three on the board through César Peixoto and Derlei (2) and five minutes after the break, Derlei added another to fix the final score.

Beira-Mar continued their strong recent form to beat struggling Estrela da Amadora 3-0, Kingsley and Juninho scoring in the first half, Zeman adding one in the second.

Gil Vicente beat disappointing União de Leiria 2-0 at home, Nuno Amaro and Casquilha getting a goal in each half.

Rio Ave left the bottom of the table and put Paçõs de Ferreira there by beating them 2-1. Paços took the lead early in the second half through José Manuel, Franco and Idalécio giving Rio Ave the points later in the half.

Vitória de Guimarães are in all sorts of trouble, losing their sixth game in a row, this time in Madeira and by 4-2 to Nacional. Bessa and João Tomás got the Vitória goals, equalised both times by Adriano. Then in the dying minutes, Adriano got his hat-trick and Serginho got another to give Vitória even more headaches than they already had.


Marítimo, who had faltered after a brilliant start to the season that saw them on top of the table, were back on track Saturday after beating Sporting 2-1. Sporting looked the better side early on and went in front on 23 minutes, Liedson heading neatly home from a Tello cross. But Marítimo were back in it on the hour, Marcelo Carioca clipping a free-kick beyond Ricardo's left hand and through a gaping hole in the side-netting. Then in the dying minutes, Silva claimed a penalty up one end, the ref waved play on, Marítimo swept to the other end on the counter and Rincón crossed from the right for Alan to head in from close range. Marítimo go back to equal top with FC Porto.

Later in the evening, Benfica strolled to an easy 4-1 vitory over Moreirense, helped by the sending off of two Moreirense players: Vítor Pereira five muintes from half time and Armando ten minutes from full-time. Simão and Fehér got two before the break, Simão slotted in a penalty ten minutes into the second half, Manoel pulled one back on 70 minutes and on the stroke of time, sub Roger got the goal of the match and an early candidate for goal of the season: Ricardo Rocha touched the ball inside to the Brazilian, he jinked the ball up with his right foot, swivelled, volleyed with his left and the ball dipped perfectly over the desperate grasp of Nuno Claro. Benfica jump from 10th to 6th.


Boavista dominated practically the whole game Friday at home to Belenenses, and were playing against ten men for most of the second half after Eliseu had been sent off, but they could still only force a 1-1 draw faced with a resilient Belenenses defence. It was the team from Lisbon that went ahead just before the break, Antchouet beating the offside trap and rounding William to knock home. Boavista threw everything at the visitors in the second half, and Yuri hit the bar before the same player cut the ball inside for Ricardo Sousa to sweep in a last minute equaliser, deflected off Filgueira. Belenenses coach, formerly of Boavista, Manuel José was scathing of the referee, but he will be secretly happy with the point against a Boavista side that is beginning to show real promise under Erwin Sanchez.



Sporting left it until the dying seconds of added time to snatch all three points Monday from a resilient but overly defensive Gil Vicente on the still atrocious Alvalade XXI pitch. Gil kept everything out until the 94th minute when Rodrigo Tello hit a ball from the edge of the box that deflected wildly past the excellent Paulo Jorge in the Gil goal. Sporting go third, along with Boavista and behind FC Porto and Marítimo.

While there were around 30,000 at Alvalade XXI, Benfica's win over Nacional Sunday at the National Stadium was watched by just 9,750 paying spectators, ammunition for the opposition in the club's upcoming elections for president. "In a club like Benfica, which has always prided itself on its ability to move multitudes, there have never been such low gates," said presidential candidate Jaime Antunes.


Benfica beat Nacional 1-0 at the National Stadium Sunday, although they never convinced. Tiago got the goal on 25 minutes, his shot deflected past the Nacional 'keeper. He was later to be sent off after a second yellow, evening up the numbers after Alexandre Goulart had been sent off in the first half.

Miran after a quarter of an hour gave Estrela de Amadora their first win of the season (1-0), and Marítimo their first defeat, leaving FC Porto clear at the top of the league.

Beira-Mar visited and surprisingly beat Sporting Braga 2-0 with a goal in each half through Kingsley and Juninho Petrolinho.

Paços de Ferreira continue to struggle post- José Mota and went down 0-3 at home to Alverca. Rodolfo Lima, Ramires and Vargas got all the goals in the second half.

União de Leiria managed a 2-1 win over Moreirense, although the visitors went in front on four minutes through Lima. UDL left it until the second half to come back, equalising first through Maciel on 56 and nabbing the points on 90 through Bilro.

Académica lost out to the odd goal (0-1) against Belenenses, Antchouet scoring the winner ten minutes from time.


FC Porto went clear top of the SuperLiga Saturday with a hard-fought 2-1 win at Vitória de Guimarães, whose fifth consecutive defeat from six this was, leaving them firmly in trouble at the bottom of the table.

Vitória got off to a flying start on five minutes, Hugo Cunha crossing for former Porto striker Romeu to score, but it took only five more minutes for Porto to be back in it, a Nuno Valente cross headed home by the Ninja, Derlei. Porto left it until twelve minutes from time to nab the points, Costinha scoring a typical headed goal from a corner by Deco.


Boavista remain unbeaten so far this season, winning 2-1 Friday at Rio Ave. Senegalese striker Fary, last season's top scorer in the SuperLiga, put the Panteras in front on 37 minutes, tapping in a cross from the left by Rui Oscar. Vandinho cut inside from the right and beat the otherwise excellent William at the near post to put Rio Ave on level terms on 57 minutes, but Éder glanced home a free-kick from Ricardo Sousa on 65 to give Boavista all three points and put them up into 3rd, at least temporarily, with 12 points from six games. Rio Ave, despite a bright performance Friday, have yet to win a game and remain second from bottom with just two points.


Surprise early-season flop Vitória de Guimarães lost their fourth game in a row at Belenenses Monday to round off Day 5 of the SuperLiga. Belenenses'goals came from two headers, the first a diving one from Carlos Fernandes after a corner by Neca on 30 minutes, the second on 70 by Neca himself, twisting to direct the ball astutely past Miguel from a cross by Valdiran. Belenenses jump from 12th to 7th, while Vitória remain fourth from bottom.

On Sunday, the clássico between FC Porto and Benfica, the last at a packed (45,000) Antas stadium, was an even affair but the teams were separated by two incredible mistakes by Benfica defenders. On the half hour, Maniche crossed from the right and the ball was drifting harmlessly away from the goal until Benfica right back Miguel tried to chest it down for 'keeper Moreira. Derlei was lurking, nipped in and flicked the ball past a helpless Moreira. On 52, a Porto corner by Ricardo Fernandes on the right was glanced magnificently into his own goal by Argel. And the game was up. FC Porto join Marítimo at the top on 13 points, while Benfica have just five from four games.

Beira-Mar got their second win of the season with a 4-1 rout of disappointing Paços de Ferreira, with only three points to their name and apparently missing the discipline instilled by coach José Mota who left the club in the summer for Santa Clara. Sandro and Wijnhard, José Manuel replying for Paços, put Beira-Mar ahead at half-time, while Kata and Wijnhard with his second rounded off a convincing victory for António Sousa's men.

Alverca also got their second win, beating Rio Ave 1-0 at home with an excellent solo effort by Rodolfo Lima ten minutes from time. Newly promoted Rio Ave are second from bottom with just two points from five games.

União de Leiria broke their duck in terms of victories with a useful 2-0 win at normally tricky Nacional. João Paulo on 26 minutes and Laranjeiro on 83 did the business.

Estrela da Amadora sink ever further into early trouble, their 1-5 defeat at Gil Vicente meaning that they have conceded 16 goals in five games, and with just one point, they are rooted firmly at the bottom of the table. Estrela must have thought it was their day when Júlio César scored after just a minute, but Gaspar had equalised before half time and the second half brought a whirlwind of goals from Gil through Josiesley Ferreira, Paulo Alves (2) and Luís Loureiro .


Sporting lost out on the points in the dying minutes at Moreirense Saturday (1-0). The home side had been the more lively for most of the first half, with several chances either wasted or saved by Ricardo in the Sporting goal. In the second half, Sporting came back well, especially after the entrance of sub Lourenço who caused great damage down the left; Silva hit the bar with a header and Lourenço hit the post with a snap shot, Clayton failing to convert the rebound.

But in the third minute of added time, Moreirense sub Lito appeared to foul Sporting defender Anderson Polga on the left touch-line before crossing for Manoel to beat Ricardo to the ball and knock it home. Seconds earlier, Sporting had had a penalty disallowed for a foul on Silva. In the 'flash interview' Sporting coach Fernando Santos called the result "a lie", and the final incidents are bound to be the subject of TV and bar discussions for many days to come.

Earlier in the evening, Boavista and Académica ground out a drab 0-0 draw which was worthy of no more comment than exactly that.


After winning their first four games 1-0, Marítimo remain unbeaten but dropped their first points of the season at home to Sporting Braga Friday, and they conceded their first goal of the season on 10 minutes when Wender finished off a cross by Paulo Sérgio from the right. Marítimo had to wait until the 53rd minute for their top scorer last season, Gaúcho, to equalise from the spot. Marítimo remain top, at least until Sunday when FC Porto can catch them if they beat Benfica in the clássico.


The FC Porto-Benfica Clássico scheduled for Sunday is set to be a sell-out. There are 30,000 seats reserved for club members, 10,500 tickets have been sold and 5,500 are still to go.


Boavista drew 1-1 at Alverca Monday, with goals respectively from Gabriel and Ricardo Sousa (see match reports). The result leaves Boavista 5th with eight points from their four games, Alverca 12th with four.


Benfica threw away a supreme opportunity to get three points and keep in touch with the leaders Sunday when they drew 3-3 with Belenenses at the National Stadium. Benfica were on top throughout, and Belenenses, while containing well and arriving often at Benfica's penalty area, posed little threat to Moreira's goal ... until the end. Two debutants scored for Benfica: diminutive winger João Pereira on 27 minutes and giant (1m94) Brazilian centre-back Luisão on 87. Meanwhile, Fehér had made it 2-0 for Benfica on 54 and Sané had pulled one back for Belenenses on 82. Then Sané got Belenenses' and his second a minute from time to make it 3-2, and deep into stoppage time, sub Leonardo was on hand at the back post to squirm a header past Moreira and leave Benfica devastated.

Benfica's local rivals Sporting has an easier time of it at Alvalade XXI, but had to cope with their own inadequacies in the second half and an atrocious playing surface which is swiftly becoming infamous. After five minutes, there were divots littering just about every point on the pitch, and both teams struggled in the conditions to put on a show, although Sporting were clearly superior, especially in the first half. Sporting coach Fernando Santos was critical of the pitch after the game, and intimated that Sporting might have to play somewhere else while it's sorted out. One thing's for certain: it cannot continue in this state for EURO 2004. Rochemback opened the scoring on 20 minutes with a well-placed drive from outside the box, and Toñito finished off a nice one-two with Silva on 34 to decide the game.

Earlier in the day, Rio Ave drew 1-1 at home to Beira-Mar, thus winning only their second point in four games. Defender Franco opened the scoring on 15 minutes, but Marcelinho equalised for Beira-Mar from a corner five minutes before half-time.


Marítimo chalked up their fourth win in a row (all by one goal to nil) and sit at the top of the SuperLiga with maximum points. Alan got the only goal at Paços de Ferreira on 63 minutes after great work by young midfielder Danny.

FC Porto continue on Marítimo's tail, after their third win, 3-1 at União de Leiria. Coach José Mourinho returned to Leiria (actually Marinha Grande, where UDL are playing until their EURO 2004 stadium is completed), and two of the players he took to Porto from his old club made the first goal on the half-hour, Nuno Valente crossing for Derlei's neat header at the back post. A União player who may move to Porto later in the season equalised on the hour, Maciel heading home a glorious cross from the right by Bilro. União were down to ten men by that time, Edson sent off for diving, and it began to show as the game wore on. Then in a five minute period Porto were safe: Ricardo Fernandes swung a lovely free-kick beyond Helton's grasp on 71 minutes, and Marco Almeida got the third on the break.

Newly-promoted Estrela da Amadora are struggling already, losing (1-2) for the third consecutive game and now rooted firmly at the bottom of the table. Manoel put Moreirense in front on 20 minutes, former Benfica forward, the Egyptian Sabry, equalised on 27 but Tito got a penalty five minutes from time to leave Estrela with a big headache and coach João Alves's position in doubt. There were no more than 500 spectators at the game.

Also struggling, and still blaming the referees, are Vitória de Guimarães who also lost their third game, this time 1-2 at home to Académica, with coach Vítor Oliveira taking charge for the first time since the resignation of Artur Jorge. They were queuing up unmarked in the Guimarães box on ten minutes, but it was captain Dário who jumped to the head of the queue to put Académica in front with a clean shot. Vitória equalised on the stroke of half time, Manuel José squeezing a shot in at the near post with Fouhami badly beaten. Tixier headed the winner from a corner twenty minutes from time.Vitória might have had a couple of penalties, but they cannot put all the blame for their shaky start on the referees.


In a lively game Friday between two northern teams Sporting Braga and Gil Vicente, the interest of which was sustained throughout with no small thanks to a positively permissive referee, Pedro Henriques, it was Braga who finally came out on top, but they didn't have it all their own way. Gil were in front on six minutes, central defender Gaspar rising to head home from a corner on the right. Braga's equaliser, a minute before half-time, was a carbon copy, Wender doing the honours. The goal took the wind out of Gil's sails, and the second half was barely five minutes old when Brazilian striker Pena, the former FC Porto no. 9, persevered to bundle home a ball which had been parried by Paulo Jorge in the Gil goal. It would turn out to be the winner. The three points puts Sporting Braga up there at the top with Marítimo, who have a game in hand.


Belenenses trounced local rivals Estrela da Amadora 4-0 Sunday in a game re-scheduled from Day One. Eliseu put the Blues in front on 34 minutes, but a hat-trick in a twenty-minutes second-half spell by Gabonese forward Antchouet did the main damage.


Gil Vicente got their first win of the season Wednesday, 2-0 at home to Paços de Ferreira, in a game re-scheduled from last Friday because of floodlight failure. Gil's goals were bookends to the game, Josiesley Ferreira scoring in the first minute and Cadu putting throiugh his own goal at the curtain. In between, Paços did themselves no favours, playing with nine men for the last half hour, Paulo Vida and Luís Miguel taking early baths.


In the last ever FC Porto v Sporting clássico at Porto's old Antas Stadium, the Dragons showed no mercy and ripped the Lions to 4-1 shreds. They were helped by a very early goal and some generous defending by Sporting, but the merit for the victory was all theirs, dominating as they did in just about every sector.

Derlei got them off to the best possible start with a near post header from a cross by full-back Paulo Ferreira after just three minutes. They had to wait about 50 minutes for the second, though, Jankauskas taking advantage of a mix-up in the heart of the Sporting defence to clip the ball past Ricardo. The Sporting 'keeper was similarly helpless on 64 minutes when Maniche struck a snap shot past him from the edge of the box, although he got a fingertip to it.

Sporting's pride didn't let them throw in the towel, however, and Rochemback fired in a perfect free-kick ten minutes from time. Shortly afterwards, debutant Liedson had a prime opportunity to narrow the gap and make the last ten minutes electric. He failed, and Porto it was who extended their lead, Benni McCarthy, on as sub, planting a spot kick on the stroke of full-time.

The teams lined up:

FC Porto: Vítor Baía, Paulo Ferreira, Jorge Costa, Ricardo Carvalho, Nuno Valente, Costinha, Maniche, Deco (Pedro Mendes, 81m), Alenitchev (Bosingwa, 89m), Derlei, Jankauskas (McCarthy, 73m).

Sporting: Ricardo, Miguel Garcia, Beto, Hugo, Rui Jorge (Luís Filipe, 52m); Custódio, Rochemback, João Pinto, Tello, Toñito, Lourenço (Liedson, 52m).


Belenenses drew 1-1 at home to União de Leiria Monday. Neca put the Lisbon side in front with a free-kick on 12 minutes, but Cameroon winger Douala, in a one-on-one with Marco Aurélio, equalised for UDL twenty minutes from time.


Marítimo chalked up their third successive win of the season to go top of the SuperLiga Sunday. The unlucky victims this time were Rio Ave, falling to a single goal by Brazilian striker Gaúcho after a quarter of an hour.

Beira-Mar got their first win of the season, beating Alverca with a single headed goal from Paraguayan central defender Alcaraz.

Nacional cracked four past hapless Estrela da Amadora, who look like they will struggle after promotion to the SuperLiga. Patacas put the Madeiran side in front in the first half with a free-kick. In the middle of the second half, Mário Carlos got two in the space of ten minutes, and the club's top scorer last season, Adriano, selaed the win in the dying minutes.



Boavista went (provisionally) to the top of the SuperLiga Saturday with a 1-0 win over Vitória de Guimarães. It was a dire game of football, with containment and the accompanying fouls being the order of the day. Boavista got the result via a penalty ten minutes into the second half when Flávio Meireles handled in the area. The Vitória defender saw a second yellow and Ricardo Sousa scored from the spot. Vitória coach Ignácio complained about the referee (that he didn't give another penalty for a foul on Fangueiro) and about the ball-boys, who unsportingly took their time to return balls. But neither side, on the football played, deserved to win. There were just 6,000 fans at the Bessa to witness the proceedings, and there is no reason to suppose that any more will be atteacted to the next game if all they can expect is the stuff on show this evening.

Earlier in the evening, Sporting Braga did deserve their 2-0 win at Moreirense. Paulo Sérgio got the first in the first minute of the game, flicking in a ball dropped by ´keeper João, and full-back Jorge Luíz got the second ten minutes into the second half. On the day that he learned that he had been re-called to the Portuguese national squad, Braga's ´keeper Quim was sent off in the dying minutes for dangerous play.


The opening game of Day 3 of the SuperLiga was postponed Friday. The floodlights at Gil Vicente's Estádio Adelino Ribeiro Novo failed before the game against Paços de Ferreira . It will be played on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the game between Belenenses and Estrela da Amadora, called off on the first day, has been re-scheduled for September 7th.


Boavista got their first win of the season Monday by beating Beira-Mar away 2-0. Ricardo Sousa, previously of Beira-Mar and son of their coach, was the hero of the victory with a goal on 35 minutes and a corner which Ricardo Silva headed home on 42.

FC Porto lost their first points at the weekend in a 1-1 draw at newly promoted Estrela da Amadora. Benni McCarthy put FCP in front on the hour but Júlio César equalised ten minutes later.

Benfica dispatched theoretically tricky Vitoria de Guimaraes 2-0. Zahovic put the Eagles in front just before the break with a penalty, and Hungarian striker Feher settled it on the counter attack ten minutes from time.

Sporting found the goal four times against Belenenses through Rochemback, Lourenço and Toñito (2), but the visitors managed to pull back twice with goals from Sousa and Leonardo.

In other games at the weekend, Dário scored twice to give Académica a good win at Uniao de Leiria. Dutch centre-back Van der Gaag got the only goal to give Marítimo the points at


A not-particularly-impressive FC Porto got off to a good start in the defence of their title Sunday with a 2-0 win over difficult Sporting Braga. Benni McCarthy got the first on 23 minutes, following up a Nuno Valente free-kick that ´keeper Quim couldn't hold. Ten minutes from time, Derlei took a long pass from sub Jankauskas, strode on and crashed the ball home for the final score.

Earlier just across town, Boavista and Benfica had slogged out a battle of a game to no avail: no-goals and the spoils shared, Boavista winning 5-3 on yellow cards ... (See match reports)

Newly promoted Alverca had a great start, beating Gil Vicente 1-0 away. Rodolfo Lima got the only goal on 50 minutes after Gil 'keeper Paulo Jorge had cleared badly.

Madeiran side Nacional also got three points at home to Paços de Ferreira thanks to a goal after two mniutes from Rossato, a direct red for Paços' Pedrinha on 36 and a clincher twenty minutes from time by Serginho.

Neighbours Marítimo also won, but by a single goal at home to Beira-Mar, a penalty from last year´s top scorer for the club, the Brazilian Gaúcho. The penalty was for a foul on Kenedy, returning after a long suspension for failing a drugs test at the 2002 World Cup.

Moreirense won by the same score at home to newly-promoted Rio Ave. Lito got the only goal ten minutes from time, taking advantage of a bad back-pass by Valente.


Sporting scraped a 2-1 win over lively Académica Saturday to chalk up their first three points of the season. Académica were in front on 52 minutes, Dionattan knocking home a cross from the left by Dário. Sporting never said die, however, and came back with a bundled close-range goal from Lourenço after Silva had headed against the bar, and captain Beto got the winner inside added time at the end of the game, chesting down a Tello corner at the back post and lashing the ball into the roof of the net.


Friday has been a day for all those involved in the first caso of the season (the sudden suspension of all games involving Estrela da Amadora and Naval) to deny responsibility for events. Belenenses, who were to have played Estrela in the opening game of the SuperLiga Friday, have asked for all SuperLiga games to be suspended while a decision is taken on the Estrela/Naval question (see below).

The prices for what has become the opening game of the season, Académica against Sporting, are sure to come in for a lot of criticism. The cheapest seat for travelling fans is a whopping 60 euros ... behind the goal. The Académica administration explain away the price hike by saying that if the Liga had allowed the switch of games (away to Sporting Day 1, home to Sporting Day 18 - when the 30,000-seater Coimbra municipal stadium would be available), then there wouldn't have been a need to hike the prices. The game will be played in the 7,500-seater stadium at Taveiro - borrowed while the Coimbra Municipal Stadium is being finished.


The SuperLiga match between Belenenses and Estrela da Amadora, set to kick off the new season Friday, has been postponed. All matches involving Estrela in the SuperLiga have been suspended, as have those of Naval in the Liga de Honra (second division). Naval protested that their last game of the season in the then-called Segunda Divisão, against already promoted Rio Ave, was not the regulation 90 minutes due to a pitch invasion by Rio Ave fans. The 'result' of the game was 0-0, while Estrela won 3-2 at Portimonense. If Naval had won, they would have been promoted in place of Estrela. Two months later, and on the eve of the new season, comes the decision of the Liga, based on a directive by the Council of Justice of the Portuguese Football Federation.


Académica are asking to postpone their home game with Benifica from the end of August to the end of October so as to take advbantage of the new 30,000-seater Municipal Stadium which is being built in Coimbra (for EURO 2004) and will be ready by then.


The Liga voted in General Assembly Friday to reduce the number of clubs in the Superliga and Divisão de Honra to 16 (from the current 18). The change will take effect as from the 2005/06 season.


Académica want to rearrange their opening home game against Sporting. As their stadium is still under construction for EURO 2004, Académica originally wanted to simply swap the order of the ir games with Sporting - a tremendous crowd-puller - and play the away game (at Sporting) first. The Liga did not allow this. Now Académica are considering the idea of postponing the home game against Sporting until their stadium is finished. If this is not possible, they will have to play the game in the municipal stadium at nearby Taveiro, with a much reduced capacity.


Referees will be allocated directly to SuperLiga games next season. This is in contrast to the random draw of the last couple of seasons, very unpopular, especially with the big clubs, who believed that they would sometimes have a referee who was not up to the job.

The Liga also ruled a ceiling on the price of tickets: 60 euros (£40) for SuperLiga games, with the minimum price being 5 euros. Prices in the Divisão de Honra (Second Division) are 30 and two.


The draw took place in the Estoril casino near Lisbon Tuesday for the season 2003/2004 fixtures. The first day's highlight is a clash between Boavista and Benfica. The first day:

Marítimo-Beira Mar
Moreirense-Rio Ave
V. Guimarães-União de Leiria
Nacional-Paços de Ferreira
Gil Vicente-Alverca
Belenenses-Estrela da Amadora
F. C. Porto-Sporting de Braga






UEFA CUP: SPORTING, UNIÃO de LEIRIA (as Taça finalists)



The final day of the SuperLiga 2002/3 was, as expected, a dramatic affair. While all the accounts at the top were done and dusted, at the bottom, it was all open for five teams, two of which would take the walk of shame to the Segunda.

In the end, it was Santa Clara of the Azores and Varzim who tumbled out of the top division, despite both getting a draw in their final games. Moreirense, Académica and Beira-Mar breathed a sigh of relief ... at least until this time next season.

It was the destiny of Santa Clara and Varzim to meet each other on the last day, when they both needed a win to avoid the drop. Figueiredo gave the Azores side the lead after 33 minutes, Toni Vidigal equalised for Varzim on the hour, Portela put Santa Clara back in sight of salvation two minutes later, but Paulo Vida sealed the fate of both clubs five minutes from time. The Azores will not now have a representative in the top flight, while Varzim go down covered in shame after a disastrous second half to the season that saw them plummet from the top reaches to relegation. Their coach, Luis Campos, has the dubious honour of being in charge of two relegated sides this season, having headed also-relegated Vitória de Setúbal until a couple of months ago. Santa Clara coach Carlos Alberto Silva, formerly of FC Porto, will not continue.

Académica survived by the skin of their teeth, a single goal by Paulo Adriano on 19 minutes confirming the three points against Sporting Braga, who were already safe but finished fifth from bottom, a very disappointing position for them.

Two other teams in danger of the drop, Moreirense and Beira-Mar, also did enough to save themselves. Goals for Moreirense from Afonso Martins and Demétrios in the last quarter of an hour saw off Paços de Ferreira, who finished a highly respectable sixth, and Beira-Mar's Senegalese striker Fary secured the crown of top scorer in the SuperLiga with the deciding goal on 49 minutes at home to Marítimo (7th), much improved under Byshovets. The Russian will not be continuing, however, and nor will José Mota at Paços.

Elsewhere, FC Porto treated their last game at home to Sporting as an excuse to celebrate their title - all the team and coaching staff dyed their hair blue - and the football on show was consequently a little ragged. But Sporting are no lions this year, and folded to goals by Hélder Postiga and Contreras (own goal). Veteran Porto midfielder Paulinho Santos said farewell to competitive football. Sporting's coach Bölöni is also on his way out. Oporto's city centre was the venue for much celebrating into the early hours.

Benfica confirmed their strong finish with a 4-0 walloping of stuttering Vitória de Guimarães, who nevertheless held on to fourth place. Little-used Hungarian striker Miki Féher scored a hat-trick, prolific midfielder Tiago the other. Popular Spanish coach António Camacho has not yet said if he will continue at the club or not. Simão failed to score and let Beira-Mar's Fary in to be top scorer; although they both had the same number of goals (18), Fary had started in fewer matches.

União de Leiria secured their best ever showing in the top dicvision (5th) with a 4-2 win over Gil Vicente, who would have overtaken União if they had won. Silas (2), Leão and Maciel were on target for UDL, Lary and Paulo Alves (11 goals this season from very few starts) replied for Gil. The two clubs' coaches, Manuel Cajuda and Vítor Oliveira, are both on the move at the end of the season, although Cajuda still has one important game to play: the final of the Taça de Portugal against FC Porto on June 15th.

It was a non-event of a game in Madeira, where mid-table teams Nacional and Boavista met to see who would take 10 and 11th place. Boavista finished higher thanks to a goal on 50 minutes from Luíz Claudio. It was Jaime Pacheco's last game in charge at the club, and he will be succeeded by Bolivian Erwin Sanchez, 33, who has hung up his boots through injury.

Also meaningless was already-relegated Vitória de Setubal's 1-1 home draw with Belenenses. Vitória went out with a little of their pride restored, Belenenses got the point that kept them in the top half of the table ahead of Boavista. Mário Carlos put the home side in front early on, Eliseu equalised late in the game.

The race to see who would come into the SuperLiga from the Segunda went to the wire. Rio Ave and Alverca were already promoted, and the last place was going to Estrela da Amadora , Naval or Portimonense. Naval strolled through a 0-0 draw at Rio Ave which was going to be enough as Portimonense and Estrela were also drawing 2-2 in the Algarve. Then a minute from time, Estrela were awarded a penalty, Doriva converted it and they were in the SuperLiga, leaving all at Naval fuming. Rio Ave's point, and Alverca's defeat at Ovarense, meant that Rio Ave go up as champions.



Boavista coach Jaime Pacheco, who is leaving the club along with, probably, Ricardo, Silva and Turra., said goodbye to the home crowd at the Bessa Stadium Monday. Unfortunately, only 4,000 came along to say goodbye to him, and his team didn't give him a very good going-away present either, losing 0-1 to União de Leiria, who rose to fifth place in the SuperLiga. Maciel got the deciding goal twenty minutes from time, but it was no more than they deserved for a display that was superior to that of a Boavista side which has struggled to find itself all season. UDL are fifth going into the final day.


Sporting bade farewell to their Alvalade Stadium Saturday, but it wasn't such a fond parting. Both Sporting and Vitória de Setúbal's seasons were decided, Sporting in third place, Vitória relegated. But it was Vitória who looked the most likely to win throughout, and thanks to some abysmal defending, they did.

They were 3-1 up within 25 minutes, and it looked like a massacre was on the cards. Vitória's Meyong got the first on 13 minutes, Paulo Bento equalised, a disastrous Beto , the Sporting captain, got an own goal and Jorginho made it 1-3. João Pinto managed to claw one back for Sporting before the break, and the 'Mustang' Ricardo Quaresma, possibly on his way to Manchester United, equalised on 67 with a typical shimmy and a shot into the roof of the net from a tight angle. But a minute from time, Meyong got his second to put a dampener on Sporting's party.

After the game, a tearful Mário Jardel, who was jeered as he came off after being substituted, told reporters that he apologised to the Sporting fans for the way he has behaved this season. Many Sportinguistas blame him for the shakey start to the season, from which the team never really recovered.

On Sunday, Champions FC Porto, with a much-changed side, conceded two more points at Sporting Braga, who needed them to make sure of safety. Captain Barroso got their goal after 37, Hélder Postiga replied three minutes into the second half. Braga are now safe.

Benfica went to Gil Vicente and won 2-0, with goals from Simão just before the interval and Roger, with a superb solo effort on 56 minutes. Simão is top scorer in the SuperLiga with 18 goals. Fary of Beira-Mar has 17, Adriano of Nacional 16. He wasn't helped by his team's 0-0 draw at Belenenses.

But it's at the bottom where it's all happening. Five clubs (Moreirense, Beira-Mar, Varzim, Académica and Santa Clara) will go into the last game next weekend with a noose around their necks, and two will have to swing. (See table)

Académica went to fellow strugglers Varzim and beat them soundly 3-0. Académica are still in the relegation zone, but they are now only one point behind Varzim, who have plummeted in the second half of the season. Marinescu put Os Estudantes in front after 5 minutes, André extended ten minutes from time and Paulo Adriano got the third in the second half.

Just one point above Varzim, Moreirense also lost Sunday, 1-3 at improving Marítimo. Afonso Martins gave the visitors an early lead, but the Marítimo of Byshovets is a tough nut, and they came back well, although they left the equaliser until 52 minutes, scored by Ronaldo. Mitchell and Rincón near the end put Moreirense in a predicament.

Santa Clara are penultimate after losing 1-3 at Paços de Ferreira. All the goals came in the second half, Paulo Sousa and Jurandir (2) giving Paços the result, Tucho getting a consolation for Santa Clara near the end.

Next week's crucial games are:
Beira-Mar v Marítimo
Académica v Sporting Braga
Santa Clara v Varzim
Moreirense v Paços de Ferreira


Beira-Mar continue their desperate fight to survive in the SuperLiga. After their astonishing 5-0 win over Gil Vicente last week, they performed an equally impressive feat Friday to beat Vitória de Guimarães 2-0 away. Vitória have their fourth palce confirmed, and that may have dampened their enthusiasm for the fray, but coach Augusto Ignácio still had to apologise to the fans at the end of the game, especially for his team's first half display that let in Areias on six minutes and Senegalese striker Fary on 29. Fary is now equal top scorer with Benfica's Simão on 17 goals. Baira-Mar provisionally climb out of the relegation zone.


Vitória de Setúbal were relegated to the Segunda Liga Monday when they drew 2-2 at home to Sporting Braga, themselves not mathematically safe. But Vitória looked like they had it all sewn up well into the second half. Jorginho on four minutes and Meyong on 18 from the spot giving them the two-goal lead at half-time. And in the second half, it was Vitória who were creating most danger, but they couldn't finish off any of the chances they created, and in the last ten minutes, Braga captain Barroso got two, the first a penalty, the second a crashing drive from outside the box, to give Braga a point and condemn the side from the South of Lisbon.


Benfica and Boavista drew 1-1 at the National Stadium Sunday in front of 17,500. It was a scrappy and at times ill-tempered match with little real excitement. Boavista went in front on 33 minutes through Pedrosa, with a free-kick from the right that somehow found its way through the crowded are and in. Five minutes later, Sokota hooked a shot in from a narrow angle with Ricardo flailing.

At the bottom, seven teams are in danger. Vitória de Setúbal, bottom, play Monday.

The result of the day was Beira-Mar's surprise 5-0 thrashing of Gil Vicente. Ricardo Sousa got two, Ivo, Fary and Carlinhos the others.

Académica under Artur Jorge are finding it hard to win and pull away from the drop zone. Their 2-2 home draw with Paços de Ferreira Sunday complicated matters for them. André and Manuel José got their goals, Serginho and Leonardo those of Paços.

Santa Clara are not going without a fight. Pedro Henriques and Ceará gave them a 2-0 win over now struggling Moreirense.


FC Porto won their last game before the UEFA Cup Final Saturday, 3-2 over Varzim. Jankauskas, Capucho (a brilliant overhead kick) and Paulinho Santos (a lovely flighted shot from the edge of the box into the top right-hand corner) put Porto clear in the first half, but José António got two almost identical goals from close range on 63 and 74 to keep the game open until the end.

On the misty Madeiran hillside that is Nacional's home, Sporting got a 1-1 draw with a less than convincing performance. Quaresma followed up a César Prates shot that rebounded off the post to side-foot home, and touched in a Gouveia cross-cum-shot to equalise, both in the second half.

But Sporting are confirmed for next season's UEFA Cup as third placed club. Vitória de Guimarães handed them the prize by losing 0-1 at Marítimo Friday, Alan getting the late winner.

União de Leiria came a cropper at home to Belenenses Saturday and allowed the Lisbon side to get within two points of them near the top of the league. Belenenses were two up at half time through Verona and Mauro, Gerson made it three after an hour and although UDL managed to pull one back through Maciel on seventy minutes, Anchouet confirmed Belenenses' superiority two minutes later to leave the score at 1-4.


Next season's SuperLiga will kick off on August 17th, a week earlier than last season.


In front of a meagre 6,700 loyal fans at Alvalade, Sporting could do no more than draw 1-1 with a lively União de Leiria, who will be kicking themselves for not sewing the game up in the first half. Brazilian forward Maciel did give them the lead on 23 minutes, but the Sporting defence was giving them carte blanche to approach their goal. The UDL forwards were slow to take their opportunities, however.

In the second half, and especially with the entry of Cristiano Ronaldo, Sporting got a little livelier and managed an equaliser on 67 minutes through Toñito. Sporting coach Bölöni claimed that his side had deserved the win, and refused to comment on the absence of Mário Jardel from the team or the bench. Those who saw the game could have corrected him: Sporting were lucky to get the point.

With the draw, Sporting said a definitive farewell to the second spot, held by Benfica, which would have been a ticket to the Champions League. Sporting still need a point to be mathematically certain of a UEFA Cup place next season.


FC Porto lost only their second league game of the season Sunday at Paços de Ferreira. Porto fielded what was essentially a second eleven to rest key players ahead of the Taça de Portugal and UEFA Cup finals, but they should have done better as they played the last half hour in numerical advantage after João Armando had been sent off. Tiago and Paulo Sousa had walked earlier for fisticuffs. But in the dying minutes, José Manuel went on a scintillating run down the left and managed to make the line where he clipped the ball back past 'keeper Nuno for Cadú to tap in.

At the bottom, Vitória de Setúbal look as good as doomed, losing 2-3 at Varzim, now headed by Luís Campos, sacked by Vitória not two months ago. Paulo Vida (2) and Pepa got the Varzim goals, Hugo Costa and Pascal scoring for Vitória.

Also in danger of the drop, Santa Clara and Académica didn't do each other any favours, drawing 0-0 in the Azores.

Sporting Braga opened up the doors to let fans in free and the team turned on the style to beat Nacional of Madeira 4-1. Nuno Rocha got them on their way in the first ten minutes with a penalty, and the same player put them two-up minutes later. After 26 minutes it was three, Arrieta doing the honours. Ten minutes into the second half, Lima made it four, and all Nacional could do was get a consolation on the hour through Tonanha.

The other Madeiran side Marítimo made sure of their safety with a 1-0 win at high-flying Gil Vicente, regular scorer Gaúcho getting the only goal early in the game.

Benfica are one point away from the Champions League after they beat local rivals Belenenses 4-2 away. Hélder and Geovanni gave Benfica a two-goal cushion before Verona pulled one back and gave Belenenses hope for the second half. But Benfica stepped up a gear in the second half and made it 4-1 by the 80th minute through the excellent Croatian Sokota and Tiago. Sub Antchouet gave Belenenses a remote hope ten minutes from time.

Also on Saturday, Vitória de Guimarães travelled to neighbours Moreirense and consolidaed their fourth spot with a 2-1 win. Romeu put them in front, Armando equalised on the hour but Rubens Júnior got the winner 15 minutes from time.


Boavista mathematically guaranteed their safety in the SuperLiga Friday with a 1-0 win over fellow-strugglers Beira-Mar. The team from Oporto were once again involved in a drab affair, not least because of their inability to construct coherent play. Beira-Mar didn't help the spectacle, playing safe until they went one-down on 64 minutes. Luíz Cláudio was fouled in the box by Filipe, and 'keeper Ricardo stepped up to slam the ball past his opposite number Paulo Sérgio. Beira-Mar reacted and at least began to put some pressure on the Boavista goal, but Ricardo was always on top of the situation. Boavista coach Jaime Pacheco will now begin to discuss his continuation at the club with president João Loureiro.


Vitória de Guimarães kept fourth spot and their distance over Gil Vicente by drawing 1-1 with them Monday. Cléber put Vitória ahead on 53, and Duah got one from close-range on 81 to give Gil a point.

In contrast to the excitement at the Antas Sunday, Marítimo and Boavista slugged out a 0-0 draw in Madeira that was possibly the worst match of the season. The first shot on goal came on 77 minutes, a free-kick from Luíz Claudio that Marcos tipped over. At the end, Marítimo coach Byshovets declared himself "satisfied" with the point.

Sporting Braga went to Leiria and wormed a point out of the visit. Gabriel gave União the lead on the half hour, but sub Castanheira got the equaliser on the hour.

Varzim continue to plummet after a promising start to the season. This time they went down to goals from Gouveia and Adriano at Nacional of Madeira and are a mere two points above the drop zone.

Vitória de Setúbal have changed their coach twice at the end of this season, but the desperate measure has not helped them. They seem doomed: they're rock bottom and four points away from safety. They lost this time at home to Paços de Ferreira, the goals coming from Renato Queirós and José Manuel, both in the second half.

Second from bottom Académica continue to cling on for dear life, a draw at home to Moreirense prolonging their hope and their agony. Vítor Pereira put the visitors in front on 22 minutes, and Marinescu equalised on 50.


After Benfica's defeat at the hands of eternal rivals Sporting Saturday, FC Porto needed just one point to clinch the title at home to struggling Santa Clara. The Azores side was no match for the power of this Porto machine and shipped five with no reply in a game that quickly became a festa in front of 45,000 delirious Porto fans. Maniche and Derlei in the first half, Derlei again, Deco and Hélder Postiga in the second were the heroes of the hour. The partying will be going on into the early hours in the Baixa of Oporto city and on the riverfront. Porto will now be looking forward to the treble (Taça de Portugala and UEFA Cup).


Sporting beat Benfica 2-1 in the last Lisbon derby of the season, played at the National Stadium while Benfica's new Luz is being completed. They did it with an impressive first half display that saw them go into the break two-up. Quaresma went on a direct run at the Benfica defence on ten minutes and let loose a shot from the edge of the box for the first, then Rui Jorge flighted over a free from the left on the half hour for João Pinto to finish off at the back post for the second.

Benfica got one back on 73 through sub Sokota, and five minutes later came the most unfortunate 'scene of the match', with Zahovic and João Pinto both sent off for a tussle in midfield. Once off the pitch, Zahovic sprinted towards João Pinto with the obvious intention of doing him harm, but the Slovenian was held back by players of both teams.


Beira-Mar continue to believe safety is possible at the bottom of the SuperLiga. The team from Aveiro got a precious three points Friday with a 2-1 win at home to Belenenses . The Argentinian Levato got two in a brilliant first half from Beira-Mar, but Belenenses got one back against the run of play in the second half through Verona.



FC Porto coach José Mourinho may have to celebrate his side's inevitable title celebrations from the stands. Mourinho was suspended for 15 days and fined 4,500 euros after his sending off in Monday's draw at Académica.


There was a great night's football Monday with the last two games of the 29th day of th SuperLiga.

FC Porto had to deal with one of the very best performances of the Portuguese season by a goalkeeper: Académica's Pedro Roma kept them out with every part of his body and could only be beaten 20 minutes from the end by a magnificent Derlei near-post header from a cross by Deco on the right. Académica had gone in front on 35 minutes with a header at the back post by central defender Raul Oliveira from a corner on the left. FC Porto coach José Mourinho was shown the red card just minutes from time for words.

The goalkeepers were not so fortunate in the other big game of the night, where Boavista returned to great exhibitions after dull but relatively effective showings in the UEFA Cup and dull and ineffective showings in the SuperLiga. Their first half against Vitória de Guimarães Monday was vintage, and they went in 2-0 up. Yuri, on for the injured Duda after only 15 minutes, proved crucial. On the half hour he strode on to lob a Silva pass over 'keeper Palatsi from the edge of the box, and eight minutes later he broke through the heart of the Vitória defence to shoot against Palatsi's body and head in the rebound.

The second half had Vitória waking up and Boavista recoiling, but not before they had extended their lead with a superb Silva volley on the swivel that gave Palatsi no chance. That was on 52 minutes and Boavista were on a roll, but five minutes later an awful gaffe by their 'keeper Ricardo made the rest of the game less tranquil than it should have been: the National Team No. 1 took a free kick wide on the right, fluffed it and it fell to Pedro Mendes, who sent it straight back over Ricardo's head from inside his own half. Vitória could have made even more of a game of it if they had managed to score from the spot seven minutes from time after Martelinho had brought down Rubens Júnior. 'Keeper Palatsi stepped up to take it and allowed a save from his counterpart Ricardo. The 3-1 result was settled.

Sporting are up in arms at the suspension of Mário Jardel ahead of next weekend's derby against Benfica. The Brazilian striker has been banned for one game following the showing of a Reebok T-shirt after he scored against Paços de Ferreira on February 2nd. the problem is that the decision from the disciplinary Committee of the Liga was known Thursday, but was only transmitted to the club Monday. If Sporting had received notification before the game against Beira-Mar Friday, the player could have missed that game and would have been available for the Benfica game.


Sunday's games had more to do with relegation issues than top of the table matters.

Azores side Santa Clara got three vital points at home to bottom club and relegation rival Vitória de Setúbal with a 1-0 win, sub Tucho netting a quarter of an hour before the end.

After a fabulous start to the season, Varzim came another cropper and plunged themselves into yet deeper trouble at the bottom when they went down 0-2 at home to high-flying União de Leiria, who begin to challenge Gil Vicente's fifth place. Brazilian Maciel got both goals either side of the break.

In mid-table, Paços de Ferreira slogged out an attractive 3-3 draw with Nacional of Madeira. Nacional went in front on three minutes through Rossato, and the same player, who is beginning to interest the top teams, extended Nacional's lead on 26. On 65, Serginho pulled one back for Paços, but Paulo Assunção restored Nacional's two-goal lead on 72. Nacional tried to protect their advantage and it would be their downfal. Renato Queiróz on 76 and Leonardo a couple of minutes from time dragged Paços back into the picture.

Climbing into mid-table go Moreirense, 2-1 winners over Gil Vicente. Gil are riding high, and their confidence helped them to move in front after only ten minutes through Manoel. But on 26, Flávio Meireles equalised for Moreirense, and Demétrios gave them the points a quarter of an hour from the end.


Benfica confirmed European football next season (at least the UEFA Cup) by beating Sporting Braga 3-1 away Saturday. They took the lead after only six minutes through Brazilian winger Geovanni, but Sporting Braga, under newly-appointed former Benfica coach Jesualdo Ferreira, gave notice that they would not be a soft touch with an equaliser by Barroso just four minutes later from the spot. The Slovenian midfielder Zahovic put Benfica back in the driving seat on 24, and Nuno Gomes confirmed the points with a good individual effort on 64. Benfica are now 11 points ahead of Sporting and look sure to clinch the second Champions League spot after FC Porto.

Belenenses beat Marítimo, also by 3-1. Verona was on target after 14 minutes, but it wasn't until the 72nd minute that they extended their lead, through Mauro. He got another before the end, and Dutch defender Van der Gaag got a consolation for Marítimo.


Benfica can extend their lead over Sporting to 11 points in the race for a Champions League spot if they beat Sporting Braga Saturday. Sporting continued to disappoint their fans with a limp display Friday at home to Beira-Mar, themselves fighting desperately for survival in the SuperLiga. Senegalese striker Fary put Beira-Mar in front early in the second half, and Jardel came off the subs bench to equalise from the spot on the hour, leaving the score at 1-1.


Académica will charge spectators to watch their next home game against FC Porto. In recent months, the club has opened up the doors at their borrowed ground in Taveiro (while their own Euro 2004 stadium is being built), but the temptation of a guaranteed big crowd, and big receipts, to watch the future champions was too much ...


Benfica played their first game in the National Stadium Monday (while thier own Luz is being demolished) and scraped a 2-1 win against plucky Varzim.that leaves them nine points ahead of Sporting in the increasingly one-sided race for the runners-up spot in the SuperLiga. Benfica dominated the first half and went in 1-0 up with a header by Argel from a corner by Geovanni. In the second half, however, Varzim came back strongly and drew level with a marvellous shot from the edge of the area by former Benfica player Rui Baião. But Benfica's will was dominant, and Tiago broke through on goal and coolly stroked the ball past the otherwise excellent Miguel, who had kept his side in the game with a series of fine saves. In the final minutes, Benfica's Petit was sent off for a second yellow, and Benfica's midfielder Miguel headed off the line from Marcão.

A 68th-minute goal by Guga gave Vitória de Guimarães a 1-0 win over Belenenses that consolidates Vitória's fourth place in the SuperLiga ahead of Gil Vicente.


FC Porto need just two more victories to clinch the title, and nobody is now in any doubt that it's theirs. Moreirense proved a tough bone to chew Saturday, but Porto still took all three points with a 2-1 win. Sérgio Lomba put through his own goal on 38 minutes, and César Peixoto gave Porto a bit of brething space on the hour with a penalty. Demétrios gave Moreirense some hope a quarter of an houtr from the end.

Sporting put in a performance that belied their recent weak run to beat Marítimo 3-0 in Madeira, never an easy feat. Bölöni started with three players who do not usually get a look in: César Prates, Sá Pinto and Kutusov, and they all played well and were decisive in the win. It was Argentinian defender Quiroga who got the ball rolling, however, from a corner on 26 minutes. Seven minutes into the second half, Sá Pinto got a penalty after João Pinto had been fouled in the box. And ten minutes later, in the move of the game, César Prates combined well with Quaresma on the right before swinging in a vicious low cross that Kutusov met at the near post to head home.

Vitória de Setúbal are not going down without a fight, beating survival rivals Académica 3-1. Marinescu put Académica in front on 18 minutes, but the lead was short-lived. Nélson put Vitória back level on 20 minutes and Celino on the half hour made sure that the home side went in leading. Half an hour into the second half, Jorginho made certain of the result.

Beira-Mar are complicating their own life. They could only manage a 2-2 draw Saturday at home to Sporting Braga. Wender put the visitors ahead in the first minute. Senegalese striker Fary equalised on 23 and got a second just two minutes later. But Wender also got his second just after the break, and it was enough to snatch a point.

Nacional of Madeira deepened the misery at Azores side Santa Clara with a 2-1 home win. Rossato got two, on 29 and 57, and Ceará pulled one back for Santa Clara ten minutes from time.

Beira-Mar and Vitória de Setúbal remain at the bottom on 26 points, Santa Clara and Académica have 27.


Boavista lost another three points Friday, and Gil Vicente climbed closer to an historic fourth place when they won a scrappy game 1-0. Defender Gaspar bundled the ball in from a corner on 37 minutes to give the home side the points, but the fortuitous nature of the goal summed up the game - it was all down to luck, given that neither team appeared to be depending on design.

Earlier, Paços de Ferreira had beaten União de Leiria 1-0, taking a certain revenge for their defeat at the hands of UDL in the semi-final of the Taça. Serginho got the decider a minute into the second half..


Dates of games for the 28th day of the SuperLiga were announced Friday. Because of Easter, there are no games on the Sunday.


Belenenses and Gil Vicente drew 1-1 Tuesday in the final game of Day 27. Manoel scored his ninth of the season on 12 minutes to give the visitors the lead, and Anchouet got the equaliser on the stroke of half-time. Gil remain fifth, Belenenses seventh, five points behind.

Belenenses opened up the doors to spectators to try to encourage a return to a stadium that rarely get attendances of more than a couple of thousand.


FC Porto brushed aside bottom club Vitória de Setúbal 3-0 Saturday with a line-up including many second-string players in an effort to spare the 'first-team' ahead of Thursday's UEFA Cup clash with Lázio. Marco Ferreira put the Dragons in the lead on 35 minutes, and while Vitória put up a brave fight, including a penalty save by Marco Tábuas from Maniche on 40 minutes, it was an uphill struggle, not helped by Hugo Alcântara's expulsion two minutes later. And neither was their cause helped on 70 when Ricardo Pessoa sliced a wild 'clearance' over Tábuas and into his own goal. Alenitchev settled the score with a volley a quarter of an hour from time.

Sporting found themselves waving forlornly at a Benfica side edging its way beyond reach in second when the Lions could only draw 1-1 at home to Vitória de Guimarães. The only consolation for them is that they maintain the gap in the race for a UEFA cup spot ahead of Vitória, who are in fourth. Sporting were chasing a lead set by Fangueiro after 14 minutes and caught up on the hour through central defender Hugo. But a mixture of poor finishing by them and inspiration by Vitória 'keeper Palatsi kept the score even until the end.

It's from the bottom of the table that the most suspense will now come. Beira-Mar remain two points ahead of bottom club Vitória de Setúbal, despite their 1-0 defeat at Varzim , who manage to climb out of immediate danger. A penalty from Paulo Vida after 26 minutes gave them the points and their first win under coach Luís Campos.

Two points ahead of Beira-Mar are Santa Clara and Académica, fighting not to be the third relegated team.

Santa Clara lost 1-3 at home to União de Leiria. It took the visitors an hour to take the lead through Maciel, but Santa Clara re-established equality through João Pedro . Five minutes from time, however, Hugo Almeida restored UDL's lead on the counter attack and in the closing minutes Maciel got his second and his team's third.

Académica managed a 2-2 draw at home to Nacional of Madeira. Captain Dário put Os Estudantes in front from close-range five minutes before the break, but Carlos Alvarez sent them in level with an equaliser on the stroke of half-time. Marinescu put Académica back in front in the second half, and it looked like they might sneak it until two minutes from time when Cleomir gave Nacional a point. Nacional had two sent off (Ricardo Esteves and Hugo Carreira), Académica one (Tonel). Académica's 'keeper Hilário was injured and had to be replaced, causing the referee to add 13 minutes onto the end of the game.

The other Madeiran side Marítimo continue to improve under new coach Byshovets, winning 1-0 at uneven Sporting Braga. Pepe got the all-important goal ten minutes into the second half.


Benfica kept up their trek towards a Champions League place Saturday with a 3-1 win at Paçõs de Ferreira (they had won 7-0 in the first half of the season). It was a bad-tempered game, especially in the second half, with three players sent off: Cadu of Paços (for slapping Nuno Gomes), and team-mate Beto and Benfica's Hélder for second yellows. The game itself was virtually over within 25 minutes, Nuno Gomes scoring two (the second after a superb counter-attack involving Geovanni and Miguel) and Simão scoring from the spot (his 17th of the season). Renato Queiroz pulled one back for Paços before the break to give the home side some hope of a turnaround, but the second half was a ragged affair and neither side managed to change the scoreboard.

Earlier in the evening, Boavista drew 1-1 at Moreirense but could complain about their luck and possibly the referee. They hit the woodwork three times, had an authentic penalty appeal turned down (trip on Yuri) and the Moreirense goal came after Afonso Martins had handled before crossing for Jorge Duarte to put the home side in front in the first half. Sub Luiz Claudio headed Boavista level in the second half from a cross by another sub Jocivalter, but Boavista were left fuming by the end; and coach Jaime Pacheco was ordered from the bench by the referee, apparently for less than complimentary comments.



The two clubs still in the UEFA Cup had opposite fortunes in the SuperLiga Monday.

FC Porto proved their resilience in Madeira. They were losing 0-1 to Nacional and a goal from their top scorer Adriano, but they made key subsitutions and turned it smartly around in the second half to win 2-1 with goals from Derlei and Ricardo Carvalho.

Boavista, on the other hand, dominated the first half of their home game with Belenenses and went in at half-time1-0 up through Silva. But in the second half, against a more organised Belenenses team led by former Boavista coach Manuel José and on an increasingly waterlogged pitch, they threw it away with slack defending and gifts to the Belenenses attack that let in Anchouet, Carlos Ferndandes and Chico Silva to make the final score 1-3.

On Sunday, Vitória de Guimarães and Sporting Braga fought out a 1-1 draw that allowed Gil Vicente (winners over Sporting Friday) to catch up on Vitória in fourth spot. Both goals came in the last 20 minutes, Castanheira putting Braga in front on 73 minutes, Romeu equalising two minutes later.

União de Leiria are still in sixth after a 0-0 draw with Académica, who remain in the relegation zone.

Madeira side Marítimo consolidated their mid-table position in their first game under new coach Nikolai Byshovets with a 2-0 win over faltering Varzim, both goals coming from top scorer Gaúcho on 34 and 83 minutes. After a promising start to the season, Varzim are plummeting towards the relegation places.

Going the other way are the continually improving Moreirense, 2-0 winners at now bottom club Vitória de Setúbal. Vítor Pereira early on and Demétrios ten minutes from time secured the result. Vitória have yet to win a game under new coach Diamantino, and there were disturbances caused by angry home fans after the game.

Beira-Mar dragged themselves off the bottom and continue to believe in salvation with an impressive 3-1 home win over Paços de Ferreira. It was all over within the hour: João Armando put through his own goal to give Beira-Mar the lead after only three minutes, Cadu equalised five minutes later, but two goals from Senegalese striker Fary on 16 and 59 minutes settled the score.

On Saturday, Benfica had consolidated their second place and access to the Champions League with a 1-0 win at home over Santa Clara. Benfica did not impress in what was the farewell to the Luz Stadium, due to be completely demolished, and Santa Clara often looked the more organised side. But a foul on Nuno Gomes in the second half and the penalty taken by captain Simão Sabrosa - the last goal to be scored in A Catedral - made sure that Benfica said goodbye to their traditional home on a relative high.


Sporting are making things difficult for themselves in their bid to make the runners-up spot and thus a place in the Champions League. Gil Vicente did the double over them Friday by beating them 1-0 at home (they'd beaten them 3-0 in Alvalade). Luis Coentrão got the winner on 41 minutes, but he was off-side and had also pushed a defender to get the goal ... Benfica can extend their lead over Sporting to seven points if they win on Saturday.

Benfica's last ever game in their legendary Luz stadium, against Santa Clara Saturday, is heading for a sell-out. The capacity of the depleted stadium (a quarter is missing to make way for the new one being built alongside it) is 50,000, and almost all of these tickets had been sold by Friday evening. Another 50,000 are on sale for entry to the pitch for the post-match show, starring Brazilian singer Daniela Mercury.


Vitória de Guimarães consolidated their fourth place, eight points behind Sporting, when they beat Varzim 0-1 away Monday. It was an evenly-fought game, but seven minutes from time, Rodolfo fluffed a back pass to Paulo Santos in the Varzim goal and Rafael pouinced to take the points back to Guimarães. It was Luís Campos' first game in charge at Varzim after being sacked at Vitória de Setúbal - not an auspicious start.,


Sporting lost ground to local rivals Benfica for second place in the SuperLiga when they drew 1-1 at home to Boavista Sunday (See Match Reports). Boavista were down to ten men after five minutes, but even that advantage was not enough to shake Sporting out of the rut they find themselves in. The team and the coach were jeered off the pitch once again. They now trail Benfica by four points.

Benfica found easy pickings at Académica Saturday, coming out 4-1 winners. Three of their goals were scored by defenders, Armando, Miguel and João Manuel Pinto. Simão scored the other, his sixteenth of the season, consolidating his lead at the top of the goalscoring table. Dário got a consolation for Académica, still teetering on the brink of relegation.

FC Porto sail calmly on to the title, winning 2-0 at home to União de Leiria Sunday. Midfielder Alenitchev opened the scoring on 18, and midfield partner Deco closed it on 81. They maintain a 13-point lead over Benfica.

Azores side Santa Clara left the relegation places for the first time in months with a 3-1 win over fellow-strugglers Beira-Mar. Tucho put them in front on the stroke of half-time, then Ricardo Sousa equalised from the spot for the visitors on 57. But in the last fifteen minutes, Fonseca and Tucho, again, sealed the result.

Vitória de Setúbal creep above Beira-Mar at the bottom, but only just. Nacional took the lead through Rossato in their game at Setúbal's Bonfim Stadium, Hugo Henriques equalised, Adriano got his 13th of the season to restore Nacional's lead and Vitória left it until 12 minutes from time to establish the final result, 2-2, through Meyong.

Paços de Ferreira ´keeper Pedro kept them in their game at home to Marítimo, the game ending as it had begun, 0-0. Sporting Braga and Gil Vicente fought out the same result.


Belenenses lost their first game under coach Manuel José Friday when they went down 1-3 at Moreirense. Belenenses were leading at half time with a goal by Verona, a goal which prompted unjustified scnes of revolt in the crowd. Referee Pedro Proençã had to wait eight minutes to return to the dressing room at half-time, claiming lack of security, and the game was 20 minutes late re-starting for the same reason. Once the riot police had been installed at the front of the main stand to protect the linesman on that side, the second half began and Moreirense turned the tables, ultimately deserving their win with goals from Demétrios, Víitor Pereira and Afonso Martins. Belenenses' full back Sousa was sent off fifteen minutes from time for a bad foul.

The last game ever at the Luz stadium, legendary home of Benfica, will be against Santa Clara next Saturday, March 22nd, kick-off at 17.15. The ground, already eaten into to allow for the advance of the new stadium being built next door, will be demolished in the coming months. (Fixtures)


The SiuperLiga takes a break this weekend while the quarter-finals of the çTaa de Portugal are played out.


In the last ever clássico at Benfica's Luz Stadium before it is demolished at the end of the season, Benfica were unable to contradict the form books and went down 0-1 to top team FC Porto in front of a packed house. Benfica remain in second ahead of Sporting, but Porto's lead is now 13 points, and with only ten games left, it's a lead that looks increasingly insurmountable. (See Match Reports)


Boavista climbed to ninth in the SuperLiga Monday with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Sporting Braga at the Bessa Stadium in Oporto, centre-backs scoring all the goals. Brazilian Paulo Turra put Boavista in front on nine minutes, slamming home a loose ball after Braga ´keeper Quim had collided with his own centre-back Antia, later substituted. Then Artur Jorge did the same for Braga five minutes into the second half, poking home a loose ball from a corner. In the dying minutes, Turra's Brazilian teammate Éder bundled in another loose ball after Quim had been beaten to the jump at the near post by Cafú.


Paços de Ferreira pulled off a major surprise Sunday by trouncing fourth place Vitória de Guimarães 4-1 away. Paços had scored just two goals away all season before this game, which makes the surprise even greater. Their finishing was deadly on the night, whereas Vitória had more of the play, more attcks and more shots on goal, but they could only break the Paços defence once, Paços 'keepr Pedro in excellent form. Paços were two up after 11 minutes, Renato Queiróz with a header and Pedrinha with a penalty. Vitória woke up and pulled one back throuh Fangueiro on 25, and would have had a chance to level minutes later when they should have been awarded a penalty. But it was Paços who went further in front, former Boavista forward Serginho latching onto a bad back-pass by Ricardo Silva and going on to tuck the ball past Palatsi. Renato Queiróz got a second just before the break with a header that was almost identical to his first, and the score stayed at 1-4 until the end, Vitória putting in the effort but finding themselves impotent against a very convincing Paços side.

Sporting missed a great chance to draw level with Benfica in second Saturday when they could only draw 1-1 at a misty Belenenses. João Pinto sent the Lions in one up at half time, the diminutive forward somehow beating 'keeper Marco Aurélio to a cross and heading in, but ten minutes from time, the even more diminutive Belenenses midfielder Rui Borges cut in from the right and clipped a shot over Tiago, although the Sporting ´keeper got a hand to it.

Also on Saturday, Vitória de Setúbal earned a precious point in their fight against the drop when they travelled to União de Leiria and squeezed a 1-1 draw out of the visit. Hugo Almeida got the União goal on the half-hour from a long throw by Bilro, but Vitória came back and nicked a point in the dying minutes with a shot from Jorginho after good work on the right by Cândido Costa.

Back to Sunday, there was another 1-1 draw, this time in Madeira. Visitors Moreirense went in front on 17 minutes with a free-kick from Vítor Pereira, but Nacional got an equaliser on 38 through Patacas, and that's the way it stayed.

Bottom club Beira-Mar kept their hopes of survival alive with a 1-0 win over fellow strugglers Académica. Ferreira supplied the only goal of the game.

A Paulo Alves penalty gave Gil Vicente the lead over Varzim after 38 minutes, but it wasn't until five minutes from time that they extended their lead, this time through Rui Figueiredo. Pepa got a consolation for Varzim in added time. The 2-1 win means that Gil move above União de Leiria into fifth, just three points behind Vitória de Guimarães.


Marítimo let two points slip Friday when Santa Clara's Bruno Ribeiro shot an equaliser in added time. Central defender van der Gaag had given Marítimo the lead on 14 minutes. Marítimo are in an unusually tight position for them: three points only above the relegation zone. Their fans showed their discontentment at the end with whistles and white handkerchiefs. Coach Nelo Vigada's job could be on the line.

FC Porto are top of the rankings for the Primeira/SuperLiga over the last five seasons (A Bola). The top ten teams in order are:

FC Porto
União de Leiria
Vitória de Guimarães
Sporting Braga
Gil Vicente



Sporting kept in touch with second-placed Benfica Monday when they beat Moreirense 2-1 away. Jardel got them off to a flying start on 11 minutes, heading in at the back post from a corner by Quaresma. It was his 180th goal in the Portuguese Liga. Armando pulled one back on 50 minutes, also with a header from a fre kick by former Sportinguista Afonso Martins. But midfielder Rui Bento created the most beautiful moment of the game, lofting an exquisite chip from the edge of the box over Roberto and into the top left hand corner of the net. Sporting's Toñito was sent off twenty minutes from time.

Nacional took the lead on five minutes via the prolific Adriano, at home to União de Leiria, in a game that was re-arranged from yesterday due to fog. UDL took fifty minutes to respond, but they did through Hugo Almeida. A quarter of an hour later, Adriano got his second, but in the closing minutes Maciel won a point for União.

União de Leiria have announced that women and students will be able to get in free to the next 'home' game (at Marinha Grande while work continues on the Leiria municpal stadium in preparation for Euro 2004) against Vitória de Setúbal.


FC Porto, with a depleted side due to suspensions and injuries, still managed to get the three points against struggling Beira-Mar Sunday (3-0). Goals in the first half by César Peixoto (penalty) and Helder Postiga basically killed the game, but Lithuanian striker Jankauskas, on as habitual sub, added another near the end to emphasise Porto's dominance of play. Beira-Mar remain bottom.

Fourth place Vitória de Guimarães lost 1-2 at lowly Azores side Santa Clara. Pedro Henriques got the first and was later sent off, Fonseca extended Santa Clara's lead a quarter of an hour from the end and Ricardo Silva gave Vitória a glimmer of hope five minutes later.

The most eventful game of the day was at Varzim, where the local side drew 1-1 with Boavista. The visitors took the lead a minute from half time, Luiz Claudio heading home a Martelinho cross. But before the break, Varzim's Quim Berto floated in a free-kick, Ricardo seemed to have the ball under control but the linesman said he had carried it over the line and awarded a goal. The second half saw three players sent off (Boavista´s Pedro Santos and the Jorges Ribeiro and Luiz of Varzim) and a penalty wasted by Luíz Claudio, allowing Miguel to save.

Académica continue to improve under Artur Jorge, and Marítimo returned to their irregular ways after the victory over FC Porto last weekend. Os Estudantes got two, one in each half, from André and captain Dário, his ninth of the season.

João Armando just before the break and Cadú a quarter of an hour from the end gave Paços de Ferreira the points at home to Gil Vicente. It was Gil's fourth straight defeat.

Nacional's game with União de Leiria was postponed until Monday due to fog.

On Saturday, Benfica performed a spectacular turnaround at Vitória de Setúbal. Two-nil down to goals by Pascal and Rui Miguel after twenty minutes and struggling, As Águias managed to peg one back before the break through a Simão free-kick, and then early in the second half drew level with an own goal by Carlos. It was the signal to let fly, and the rest of the game was one-way traffic, Benfica adding four more through Simão (2), Tiago and Sokota, his first goal in a year and a half because of injury. Simão's hat-trick takes his personal tally to 14, making him the SuperLiga's top scorer. The heavy defeat prompted the resignation of Vitória's coach Luís Campos. He had offered to resign last month, but this time his resignation was accepted.

On Friday, Sporting Braga drew 1-1 at home to Belenenses. Captain Barroso got a penalty for Braga, Verona replied for the visitors.


FC Porto's influential Brazilian midfielder Deco has been suspended for two games for retaliating after a tackle by Marítimo's Pepe during Porto's 1-2 defeat in Madeira Saturday. The decision by the Liga's Disciplinary Committee may have repercussions since similar situations have warranted only a one-match ban. Deco will miss the crucial Benfica v Porto match of Day 24.


Vitória de Guimarães kept in touch with the top spots Monday by beating Académica 1-0, but they left it until two minutes into added time to decide it through Brazilian midfielder Rafael, on as sub in the first half.


The weeekend's SuperLiga games threw up one or two surprises, the biggest being Marítimo's 2-1 home win over FC Porto, putting a stop to the northern side's 14-game run of wins and 29-game unbeaten run. Dutch centre back Mitchell Van de Gaag headed the Islanders into the lead on 17 minutes, but Derlei put Porto back in it on 67. The SuperLiga's top scorer Gaúcho got his 12th of the season on 71 to give the Madeiran side the points. FC Porto's Deco and Marítimo's Pepe were both sent off after 35 minutes for tussling.

Porto maintain their position at the top, but their lead is reduced to ten points, second club Benfica winning 2-0 at home to Nacional of Madeira. Slovenian midfielder Zlatko Zahovic got both goals in the first halçf and then went off injured. Benfica's second half display had coach Camacho fuming, but they kept the points.

Three points behind them in third remain Sporting. They beat Sporting Braga 2-0 at home, with two second half goals from Mário Jardel. His first was a header that appeared to be cleared off the line by defender Telmo, but the linesman said that it had gone in. His second was a penalty after Artur Jorge had handled to stop João Pinto having a clear chance.

Gil Vicente surprisingly lost at home to second-from-bottom Santa Clara. George put the Azores side in front on 48 minutes, Gil equalised through Nunes but Bruno Ribeiro provided the shock winner a minute from time. It was Carlos Alberto's first win as Santa Clara's coach.

União de Leiria missed the chance to climb above Gil to fifth by conceding a 2-2 home draw to improving Moreirense, whose tenth unbeaten game in a row this was. União were two up after an hour through Douala and Maciel, but Afonso Martins and Demétrios, a minute from time, turned it around for Moreirense.

Coach Manuel José was on the bench for the first time to see his Belenenses reverse recent bad fortune and whack Varzim 4-1, Brazilian Ludemar scoring an excellent hat-trick. Carlos Fernandes got the home side's other goal, while Paulo Vida had pulled one back for Varzim at 2-1.

Boavista once again struggled to score against an ultra-defensive Paços de Ferreira. They missed a penalty in the second half when Silva allowed Pedro to save, and they also hit the post, but the result (0-0) can also be blamed on a lack of adventure from the home side and solid organisation from the visitors. Paços' midfielder Paulo Sousa was sent off in the dying minutes for a second yellow.


Captain Jorge Costa and midfielder Costinha of FC Porto have been suspended for two games and one game respectively following an incident that occurred in the league match with Benfica back in October. Benfica's Simão Sabrosa was fouled, the FC Porto players thought he exaggerated in his reaction and these two players slapped him while he was on the ground, out of sight of the referee. Another Porto player, Maniche, was fined. FC Porto are expected to appeal against the decision.


FC Porto may as well get fitted for the championship sashes. They extended their run of wins to 13 Sunday by beating stiff opposition, Vitória de Guimarães, 2-1 . But they did not have it all their own way. They were 2-0 in front by the break, César Peixoto and Capucho providing the goals, but they took their foot off the gas in the second half and almost let Vitória come back, former portista Romeu giving them a shock on 64 minutes. The game was open until the end, but Porto held on to keep their winning record.

Paços de Ferreira and Belenenses were involved in a classic 'game of two halves'. At half time it was 0-0, both sides finding it hard to make inroads, but then in the second half, Belenenses were 2-0 up within 15 minutes through Antchouet and Ludemar. Renato Queirós pulled one back on 62 for Paços and five minutes later Belenenses' Filgueira was sent off for a second yellow. It proved to be the turning point, with Puntas scoring twice in the last ten minutes to make the final score 3-2 and give three precious points to Paços.

Captain Dário scored two, early and late in the game, to give Académica the points against Gil Vicente.

Nacional's Cleomir left it until a quarter of an hour before the end to score the winner at home to Beira-Mar.

Jorginho scored the only goal in Vitória de Setúbal's first home win of the season, over Marítimo, which takes the pressure off coach Luís Campos, at least temporarily.

There were more goals at Moreirense, where the home side drew 2-2 with visitors Sporting Braga. Vítor Pereira put Moreirense in front on the half hour, but in the second half, Abiodun equalised on the hour. It looked like Arrieta had given Braga the points five minutes from time, but Afonso Martins pulled Moreirense level in added time with a direct free-kick.


The battle for second place in the SuperLiga, and financially vital qualification for the Champions League, is proving the most interesting aspect of the competition, now that it seems more than likely that FC Porto will run away with the title itself. The two Lisbon giants Benfica and Sporting have been neck and neck, but Saturday's games separated them a little.

Benfica travelled to in-form União de Leiria and put in one of their best displays of the season, combining fighting spirit with effective automatism that comfortably saw off an on-the-night under-par União. On 15 minutes, Tiago and Zahovic combined on the edge of the box and the Slovenian midfielder's back-heel was met by Nuno Gomes who shot and scored. Tiago, one of the brightest lights at the Luz this season, extended Benfica's lead just before the break.

Going into the second half two-up, and playing as they were, Benfica could not let that lead slip, and eight minutes in Tiago got his second from a Simão cross, and the thing was done and dusted.

Sporting saw themselves slip to three points behind their local rivals when they could go no further than a 1-1 draw at Varzim. They should have won easily, in fact, but a mixture of poor shooting and heroic goalkeeping from Miguel kept them out except for once, ten minutes before half time, when João Pinto shot hopefully goalwards and the ball deflected off the leg of defender Sérgio Carvalho, fooling Miguel. The defender made amends on the hour, popping up at the back post to ram home a Quim Berto corner that had sailed over the outstretched arms of a mis-positioned Tiago in the Sporting goal.

Cash-strapped Académica have once again sold the total number of tickets for their forthcoming home game against Marítimo to a local company, thereby ensuring full receipts from a relatively unattractive game that would otherwise not bring in a full house. The company will use the tickets for marketing/ promotional purposes. This is the sixth consecutive game that the club has followed this policy. The city of Coimbra, and Académica, will have a new 30,000 seater stadium after Euro 2004.


Santa Clara of the Azores drew at home to Boavista Friday in a match bereft of almost any quality whatsoever. The home side went in front after only eight minutes, Figueiredo driving home from the edge of the box through a ruck of players. Boavista debutant Filipe Anunciação hit the bar at the close of the first half, but the Axedrazados drew level on the hour with a firm header from Silva, from a corner by Pedrosa. The bad state of the pitch, and the fact that Boavista were missing nine possible first-teamers, did not help maters.


Sporting drew to within one point of second-placed Benfica and five ahead of fourth-placed Vitória de Guimarães Wedensday when they beat Académica 1-0 at home in a game re-scheduled from January 16th when it was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch. Sporting failed to impess, however, and it needed a goal from sub Niculae on 68 minutes, following up an effort from Jardel parried by ´keeper Hilário, to secure the points. Académica have now lost two in a row and continue perched precariously just above the relagation zone.

Boavista, who travel to the Azores to play Santa Clara Friday, have nine players injured and three suspended. The club has registered and called five juniors to fill the gaps.


With Euro 2004 just round the corner and two magnificent new stadiums (capacity 65,000 and 52,000 respectively) growing by the day, the attendances at this weekend's home games of the two Lisbon Grandes Benfica and Sporting were a reflection of the general economic crisis and the crisis that Portuguese football is going through: 9,500 and 9,100 respectively.

Sporting's Brazilian striker Mário Jardel, who scored a hat-trick on Sunday against Paços de Ferreira, may face at least a one-match ban. In his goal celebrations, he lifted his shirt to reveal a T-shirt with 'Reebok' stamped across the chest. Earlier in the season, Beira-Mar´s Senegaleses striker Far was banned for showing a T-shirt with the image of a Moslem prophet. Jardel famously promoted a brand of Guaranã (a Brazilian soft drink) in the same way last season, but this type of advertising has been prohibited this.


Benfica were suprised Monday by a plucky and organised Moreirense that took the game to them at the Luz and went in front on the hour, former Málaga winger Agostinho popping up at the back post to hit home a low cross via the legs of Moreira in the Benfica goal. A win for Moreirense might have been a just result as they were displaying the more coherent football, but Camacho brought on veteran Drulovic and the Yugoslavian forward was soon decisive, floating a free-kick from deep to the far post, where winger Simão was lurking and had two bites of the cherry before lofting the ball into the roof of the net for his eleventh of the season, the SuperLiga's top scorer along with Gaúcho of Marítimo. Benfica are in second, thirteen points behind FC Porto and four ahead of Sporting, who have a game in hand. Moreirense stay thirteenth.

Vitória de Guimarães go clear fourth, two points behind Sporting, after they beat Vitória de Setúbal 1-0, with help from two Hugos. Hugo Alcântara put through his own goal early in the second half, and Hugo Costa was sent off for a second yellow a quarter of an hour from the end. Setúbal are in deep trouble, stuck in the relegation zone.


The FC Porto tank trundled on on Sunday, beating Gil Vicente 5-3 in Barcelos. Gil were in front on ten minutes through Nandinho, but it was a short-lived period of hope for Gil, Helder Postiga equalising and then Costinha getting two on the stroke of half-time to give Porto a bit of breathing space. A quarter of an hour into the second half, Maniche made it 4-1 to Porto and it looked all over. But this Gil is a tough nut to crack, and team spirit brought it back to an almost miraculous comeback, with Gaspar and Manoel reducing the difference to one goal. But Porto, stung into action by the prospect of losing the points, edged further ahead once again, Jankauskas firing home to establish the final score. It was Porto's 12th league win in a row.

Third-placed Sporting needed to beat Paços de Ferreira to stay in the hunt for second place, and they did just that, reversing the 4-0 scoreline from the away game earlier in the season. Brazilian striker Mário Jardel looks to be back in form after a sorry start to the season, netting a well-taken hat-trick in this game. Ricardo Fernandes had opened the scoring. (See Match Reports)

There were goals-a-plenty in many of the games of this jornada. In the Madeiran derby, Nacional travelled down the hill to beat Marítimo 3-2 in front of a packed Estádio dos Barreiros (entrance was free). André Pinto gave Nacional the lead on nine minutes, extended on 32 through Alvarez. A Dinda free-kick from 35 yards put Marítimo back in the game, and they drew level seven minutes from time through Gaúcho with his 11th of the season. But there was time for Gouveia to give Nacional the points, taking avantage of some sloppy defending by Marítimo.

Bottom club Beira-Mar haven't won at home for ten jornadas. They didn't manage it this time, either, at home to an improving União de Leiria, but they did get a point. They took the lead through Levato on 18, but UDL were in front by the break, through Silas and Douala. Carlinhos secured that point for Beira-Mar with an equaliser five minutes into the second half.

The other bottom club, Santa Clara, also got a precious point at Belenenses. After losing their coach Marinho Peres, the home side, under stand-in Néné, could still not get back to their winning ways. The two goals came in a burst after a quarter of an hour. First centre-back Odair headed Belenenses in front from a corner, then another centre-back Sérgio Nunes equalised, also with a header but this time from a free-kick.

In the lowest-scoring game of the day, one goal by Taílson on 40 minutes was enough to give Sporting Braga the points at home to faltering Varzim.


Boavista shook a little pressure off their shoulders Saturday with a splendid 4-1 win over fellow-strugglers Académica. It was Boavista's best win of the season, and Académica's first defeat under coach Artur Jorge.

Os Estudantes took the lead after just six minutes, Marinescu glancing a header past Ricardo from a free-kick on the right. But it took only five minutes for Boavista to pull it back, Silva thundering in at the near post to head home a Pedrosa corner from the right. And before half-time, Boavista were in the driving seat with a second, again from Silva, picking his spot in front of goal after a neat pass from the right by Yuri, making his début as titular.

On 56 minutes Boavista gave themselves an enormous amount of breathing space, Jorge Couto feeding Martelinho down the right and his cross headed firmly home by Yuri. Académica's Manuel José was sent off soon afterwards, which further weakened their cause, and they were out of it five minutes from time when Pedrosa capped a smashing exhibition by following up a parried save by Hilário to place the ball high and past his left hand.



The Big Three all won this weekend and, curiously, all with the same result - 1-0.

Leaders FC Porto had a hard time of it to extend their run of wins to 11, but they managed it against local rivals Boavista with a Jankauskas goal twenty minutes from the end. Boavista themselves desperately need the points to get them out of an unusually lowly position for them. Saturday's result sees them at a thirty (!!) point distance from FCP. (See Match Reports)

Second-placed club Benfica played their home game with Beira-Mar in Torres Novas because of the incidents in the recent Vitória de Guimarães v Benfica game, and it looked as though the venue might put a jinx on them as they battled in vain for the goal that would keep the status quo at the top of the table (eleven-points behind FCP). New-signing Geovanni got his first for the club ten minutes into the second half, converting a Carlitos cross at the back post.

Sporting stay in third place thanks to a 1-0 win at Azores side Santa Clara Saturday. The state of the pitch didn't allow for great feats, but there was room for a tiny work of art: after only eight minutes. João Pinto chipped what looked like a harmless ball towards Toñito on the edge of the box, the former Santa Clara player took it on his chest, swivelled and hooked a glorious shot past Jorge Silva's left hand. One of the goals of the season so far.

Up to fourth go União de Leiria, recovering well from a shaky start to the season. They beat uneven Marítimo 3-0 Saturday with goals from Douala and Silas in the first half and João Paulo at the final curtain.

Belenenses' Marinho Peres had his resignation accepted by the club's board after Friday's defeat at Académica. Sunday saw another coach on his way: Luís Campos handed in his resignation after Vitória de Setúbal went down 0-1 at home to high-flying Gil Vicente. Vitória had what looked like a good Rui Miguel goal disallowed two minutes from time, and then Manoel netted for the visitors on 90. Vitória slip into the relegation zone.

Out of it rise Moreirense, also favoured by a last minute goal by former Boavista player Demétrios to beat Varzim 1-0.

Near the bottom continue Paços de Ferreira, beaten at home by Sporting Braga with a goal mid-way through the second half by Spanish forward Arrieta, on as sub.

Nacional held Vitória deGuimarães to a 0-0 draw in Madeira, which takes Vitória up to within two points of Sporting in third, but the Lisbon club have a game in hand.


Académica, unbeaten since Artur Jorge took over as coach in December, got three precious points in their fight against the drop Friday when they beat Belenenses 2-1 at home. Captain Dário put Os Estudantes in front on 13 minutes, Djalmir equalised for Belenenses on the hour but Marinescu clinched victory for the team from Coimbra a minute from time. It was Belenenses' sixth game without a win after a promising start to the season, and coach Marinho Peres immediately put his job at the disposal of the board. Académica jump to 14th, Belenenses stay 8th.


Gil Vicente are fifth in the SuperLiga after beating Madeiran side Nacional 2-0 at home. Paulo Alves got his ninth goal of the season to put Gil in front on 34 minutes, and Manoel settled the score five minutes from time.


FC Porto began the second half of the season in sparkling form, notching up their 10th successive win by beating Belenenses 3-1 away. Verona took advantage of a misunderstanding between ´keeper Baía and central defender Pedro Emanuel to put Belenenses in front after 16 minutes, and the lead lasted until the first ten minutes of the second half, when FCP captain Jorge Costa netted two. Near the end, Deco went on a mazy run and laid the ball off for Russian midfielder Alenitchev to set the final score. Porto had not won in the Estadio do Restelo for six years.

Struggling Boavista gave themselves a little respite from relegation worries with a hard-fought 1-0 win over fellow-strugglers Vitória de Setúbal. Luiz Claúdio got the all-important winner after just two minutes.

Moreirense got off to a winning start at Beira-Mar, Alex scoring after seven minutes. The same player headed the visitors into a two-goal lead on 35 minutes, and Beira-Mar were chasing their tails from that point on. On the hour, Senegalese striker Fary narrowed the margin, but the result remained.

Sporting Braga and Santa Clara shared the points in their match, the result decided in the first half. George lobbed 'keeper Quim to put the Azores side ahead, but Antiã headed in a Barroso free kick to give the home side some consolation.

Varzim could not get past Paços de Ferreira at home and the game finished 0-0.

Sporting's postponed match against Académica (waterlogged pitch) will be replayed on February 5th. It will mean that the club will play five games in 15 days, including a trip out to the Azores to face Santa Clara.


Benfica won for the first time in eight years in Madeira Saturday, beating Marítimo 2-1. Central defender Hélder got the opener for the visitors, ten minutes into the second half from a cross by Simão. The home side drew level five minutes later when Bruno, on his return from FC Porto, crossed for another central defender, Van der Gaag, to head home. It was left to a striker Nuno Gomes to crack home the winner from outside the box a quarter of an hour before the end. The game marked the début for Benfica of Brazilian winger Geovanni, on loan from Barcelona. Benfica consolidate their second position, eight points behind FC Porto with one more game played.

The other game to be played Saturday, Sporting v Académica, was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch. After a week of dry, sunny weather, the heavens opened over Lisbon Saturday causing flooding in various areas of the city. The game seems likely to be played on Wednesday.

With half the season over, sports daily A Bola has published what it considers to be the teams of the competition so far:

All Portuguese: Quim (Sporting Braga), Mário Sérgio (Paços de Ferreira), Jorge Costa (FC Porto), Gaspar (Gil Vicente), Nuno Valente (FC Porto), Costinha (FC Porto), Tiago (Benfica), Nuno Assis (Vitória de Guimarães), Barroso (Sporting Braga), Simão (Benfica), Hélder Postiga (FC Porto)

Mixed: Marco Aurélio (Brazilian, Belenenses), Mário Sérgio (Paços de Ferreira), Jorge Costa (FC Porto), Contreras (Chilean, Sporting), Edson (Brazilian, União de Leiria), Costinha (FC Porto), Tiago (Benfica), Deco (Brazilian, FC Porto), Barroso (Sporting Braga), Simão (Benfica), Hélder Postiga (FC Porto)


Vitória de Guimarães missed a supreme opportunity to go second in the Superliga Friday when they went down 1-2 at 'home' (in Vila do Conde) to an improving União de Leiria side. UDL went in front on 20 minutes when Maciel beat Rogério Matias to the ball in front of goal and lunged to push it past Palatsi. Rafael equalised for Vitória two minutes into the second half with a header from a cross from the left, but Renato sealed the win, bundling in the ball at the back post from a corner.


Belenenses and Vitória de Setúbal drew 0-0 in the final match of Day 17 Monday. The cold evening kept the fans away and just 3,000 turned up to watch Vitória prove superior to the home side, belying their relative positions in the SuperLiga. Belenenses 'keeper Marco Aurélio kept them in the game with a fine performance, while they were hobbled early on by the sending off of central defender Wilson with a direct red. In the second half, the numbers were evened up when Jorginho was also sent off. Belenenses climb above União de Leiria into seventh while Vitória go thirteenth, swapping places with Boavista on goal difference.


The gloom continues to gather over Boavista's season. Last season's runners-up once again failed to score at home to Nacional of Madeira (0-0), despite having more possession, and are just three points above the relegation zone. Their cause was not helped by the sending off in the second half of midfielder Pedro Santos for a second yellow. Nacional defended stoutly and remain two points above Boavista.

Moreirense stay in the relegation zone despite drawing away at Paços de Ferreira. Vítor Pereira scored for them on the half-hour, but José Nando equalised for the home team seven minutes from time. Paços have gone six games now without a win.

Beira-Mar have also gone six without a win. This time it was Marítimo who did the damage, putting three past them in Madeira where they are virtually unbeatable. Brazilian striker Gaúcho, with one foot in Japanese club Yokohama Marinos, got two to take his season's tally to ten, one on the stroke of half-time and one after 57 minutes. Dinda got the third on 83.

Santa Clara are stuck at the bottom after managing only a 0-0 draw at Varzim, who sneak up to fifth on the same points as Gil Vicente.


FC Porto look home free in the title race, despite the fact that there is still half the season left. They strolled past rivals Sporting at Alvalade Saturday night and it is doubtful now whether anyone has the stuff to stop them. An early goal by Costinha from a Deco corner was enough to take the points on the night, but Porto could have had a hatful had it not been for an obstinate Tiago in the Sporting goal. Sporting were woeful in the first half but picked up in the second with the entrance of Jardel and Sã Pinto. They were no match for the solid, machine-like Porto, however, and coach Bölöni was the target for the Sporting fans's ire. Sporting are now 14 points behind the northerners.

Porto also benefited Saturday from the 1-1 draw between Vitória de Guimarães and Benfica. Vitória went into the lead three minutes into the second half through a close range Bessa effort, and Benfica equalised through Zahovic, but the goal came after Benfica's Simão had brought down Nuno Assis; the ref gave nothing.

The second half was in fact full of controversy. At one point, a firecracker thrown from the Benfica end hit Vitória's Marcinho, causing him burns to the arm and ankle. The game was held up for ten minutes while the police went into the crowd to arrest the culprit, and was held up for several minutes soon afterwards as Vitória supporters ripped up chairs and threw them onto the pitch. In the dying minutes, Benfica's Carlitos was brought down in the area; again, the referee gave nothing. Benfica are now eleven points behind Porto, Vitória fourteen.

In Saturday's other game, Gil Vicente put paid to União de Leiria's recent good run with a 3-1 win. Gil were two-up in a five minute period in the first half, both goals assisted by Ali, both scored by Paulo Alves. João Paulo pulled one back for UDL on 23 minutes, and the game remained open until added time of the second half when Gaspar got Gil's third. Gil overtake UDL and climb to fifth.

On Friday night, Sporting Braga and Académica slugged out a dour 1-1 draw, Barroso giving Braga the lead with a trademark free-kick after 57 minutes, Dário putting things level ten minutes later. Braga remain mid-table, Académica continue their crawl out of trouble at the bottom.


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