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liga news - 2004

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23/12/04

FC Porto go into the new year clear at the top of the SuperLiga after they drew 1-1 at Marítimo Wednesday in a game pending from the 14th jornada. Brazilian striker Pena scored against his old side to put the Madeirans in front on 11 minutes, stabbing home a loose ball from close range after Baía had fumbled a low cross. On the half hour the teams were level, Bosingwa heading a Diego cross back across the face of the goal for Luís Fabiano to tuck home, although the Brazilian striker looked offside.

Sporting have brought their fifth round Taça de Portugal tie against Pampilhosa of the Segunda B forward from the12th to the 4th of January. This will effectively wipe out star striker Liedson's suspension for accumulation of yellow cards, meaning that he can face Benfica in the vital SuperLiga derby on the 9th.

21/12/04

Sporting joined FC Porto and Benfica on 28 points at the top of the SuperLiga Monday with an ultimately fair, but on the way controversial, 4-2 win at Vitória de Guimarães.

The first point of controversy started before a ball was kicked: Vitória were going to play Elpídeo Silva, loaned to them for a season from ... Sporting. While there are gentleman's agreements on this issue, meaning that Silva couldn't play, the Portuguese Football Federation has invalidated any such condition, and any loaned -out player should now be allowed to play against his 'team'.

Silva grabbed this chance and scored two on the night. The first, on nine minutes, was from a through ball that actually caught him offside, but the linesman didn't see it, and the second, on 69, saw him deftly back-flicking a ball over the head of Ricardo from close range.

In the meantime, Beto equalised for Sporting at 1-1 on the half-hour with what appeared to be a foul on the 'keeper Miguel, forcing him to drop the ball over the line. Then Liedson put Sporting in front just before the break with a neat flick, but not before he had seen a yellow card in a previous incident, meaning that his tally was now 5 for the season and that he would miss the next game against ... Benfica!

Carlos Martins cracked in a drive that Miguel could ony turn over his own line ten minutes into the second half, then came Silva's second to reduce the gap, but it was Carlos Martins who put the game beyond Vitória's reach with a strong run on the counter-attack and a crisp shot beyond Miguel's right hand ten minutes from time.

20/12/04

Vitória de Setúbal threw away two points at home to União de Leiria Sunday, but União had a bit of help from the ref on the way. Top scorer Jorginho, coveted by several big clubs, put Vitória in front on 57 minutes, sweeping in a cross from the left. Ten minutes later, Bruno Moraes, who insisted on taking the kick when Jorginho was the one designated, allowed the brilliant Brazilian ´keeper Helton to save twice from the spot, the kick being re-taken because he had moved off his line the first time.

Then on 83 minutes, the most controversial moment of the game: Vitória 'keeper Marco Tábuas was out to the left of the goal collecting the ball after a free-kick had been awarded to União on the touchline near the half-way line. The referee allowed the kick to be taken quickly with another ball, meaning there were two balls on the pitch. Tábuas realised what was happening and tried to scramble back, but it was too late; Caíco lofted a massive shot from a good thirty metres out that sailed into the top corner of the net, and União had snatched a point.

After a tremendous performance last week to beat Benfica 4-1, Belenenses crashed to earth in Madeira, going down 0-2 to Nacional. The game had a certain symmetry about it: Miguel Fidalgo got his second of the season after eight minutes to give Nacional the lead, and Adriano got his second eight minutes from time to clinch the points.

Rio Ave notched up their ninth (!) draw of the season, 1-1 at Marítimo. Bino put the Madeiran side in front on the half hour, but Niquinha levelled ten minutes from time.

Struggling Académica couldn't get the three points they desperately need against a Beira-Mar disrupted by the exit of another coach (Manuel Cajuda). They did take the lead through Luciano on 35 minutes, but Kingsley stole a point for the visitors on the hour.

Revérsio and Nandinho got the goals in the last ten minutes to give Gil Vicente a 2-0 win and the points over Estoril.

19/12/04

Benfica joined FC Porto at the top of the SuperLiga Saturday after a 1-0 win at home to lowly Penafiel. In the first half, Benfica put together some of the best football seen at the Luz for some time, but once they got their goal, an Argel header from a Petit free-kick on 22 minutes, they sat back and played more on the break, which didn't much please the 30,000 watching.

Benfica overtook Boavista, who took a 3-0 tumble at Sporting Braga thanks mainly to a terrible first quarter of an hour in which Luís Loureiro, on two minutes, had time to pick his spot with a loose ball on the edge of the area, and Tiago, on 12, passed back to Carlos ... who wasn't there, the ball trundling in off a post. To their credit, Boavista kept their game together, but their lack of firepower up front was more than obvious, despite good efforts from Cafú, past the post, and Zé Manuel, saved well by Paulo Santos. The game was up ten minutes from time when sub Paulo Sérgio made the line on the right after a series of one-two's and crossed well for another sub, Baha, to score his first of the season.

Benfica and Porto both have 28 points, but Porto have a game in hand. Boavista are provisionally third with 27, and Braga jump to fourth with 26.

18/12/04

FC Porto came back to mundane SuperLiga earth Friday after their triumph in Japan, and the World Club Champions had as much trouble with lowly Moreirense, or possibly more, than they had with South American Champions Once Caldas last weekend. Moreirense gave as good as they got in midfield, where Porto looked very tired (Maniche, Man of the Match in Yokohama, dragged his exhausted body off the field late in the second half), but they had no fire power up front, and whereas Porto also found it difficult to create clear chances, the one they had they took: on 25 minutes, Luís Fabiano took the ball to the line to the right of goal and crossed low for Maniche to slide in at the back post and score.

Porto go top temporarily, ahead of Boavista, who play at Sporting Braga Saturday. But Porto will still have a game in hand, versus Marítimo, to be played on 22 December.

13/12/04

Benfica came a cropper at Belenenses Sunday, leaving with their tail between their legs on the wrong end of a 1-4 defeat. A deadly ten-minute burst of attacking football in an excellent first half for Belenenses saw them three-up at half time through Antchouet, Lourenço (a penalty) and José Pedro. José Pedro added another in the second half, a fierce drive from the edge of the box, and Benfica's only response was a late consolation from Tomo Sokota. Benfica, without central defenders Luisão and Ricardo Rocha, struggled to keep a lively Belenenses at bay, although they had more play in the second half. But once again they failed to take top spot in the SuperLiga when they had the chance.

That place goes to Boavista, who beat Académica 1-0 at home Friday, leaving it until the dying minutes to break the deadlock through central defender Éder.

Sporting in turn had a chance to jump to first Saturday but came up against a brick wall in the form of a solid Sporting Braga. The Lions could justly complain about a bad decision that saw a perfectly good goal by Hugo Viana ruled out for offside. It ended 0-0.

Also on Saturday, Rio Ave confirmed their irregular season with a 1-0 win over high-flying Vitória de Setúbal, captain Gama getting the only goal.

Back to Sunday, and Vitória de Guimarães continue on a mini-revival, beating Penafiel 3-1 away. Romeu got two first-half goals to send Vítoria on their way, Luís Mário extended their lead in the second half and Edgar Marcelino pegged one back for Penafiel.

Estoril beat co-strugglers Nacional of Madeira at home, Arrieta just before the break and Fellahi just before the end the scorers. Nacional are a shadow of the side that qualified for Europe last season.

After the Lord Mayor's show ... Beira-Mar followed up a triumphant victory at FC Porto last weekend with a 1-3 defeat at home to Moreirense. Lito put Moreirense in front, Tanque Silva equalised for the home side but Fernando restored the lead on the stroke of half time. Armando put the game beyond Beira-Mar twenty minutes from time.

Gil Vicente got a good point at improving União de Leiria. They went in front on 25 minutes through Luís Coentrão, but Bruno Tiago put through his own goal to give União a point.

After fourteen jornadas, Boavista are top on 27 points, followed by FC Porto, Benfica and Sporting, all on 25, although Porto have a game in hand. Vitória de Setúbal are fifth and sixth on 23. At the bottom, Académica take over from Moreirense as 'red lantern' on 11, a point behind Nacional and Moreirense.

07/12/04

Benfica were fortunate Monday to snatch all three points at home to a plucky but ultimately ineffectual Estoril. It was Estoril who went in front after just four minutes, Fellahi flicking a ball square for João Paulo to tap into the empty net. Then Benfica's perennial saviour Simão was at it again, first with a low drive from the edge of the box on 33 minutes that went in off the post, and then with a penalty just before half time for a non-existent foul on Karadas; the Norwegian blatantly dived but fooled the referee. Between Benfica's first and second goal, Manuel Fernandes was sent off for kicking out at Paulo Sousa, and the numerical inferiority conditioned their play for the last hour of the match, playing on the back foot most of the time, much to the displeasure of the scant crowd.

The unconvincing win puts Benfica up level with FC Porto on 25 points. Estoril find themsleves in the relegation zone.

06/12/04

In one of the closest championships for many seasons, there are now just five points separating the top eight sides, with Benfica still to play Monday (home to Estoril) and with a chance to join FC Porto at the top. Boavista and Sporting Braga both has the chance to topple Porto from the top spot Sunday but both failed.

Boavista stay second, along with Sporting, a point behind Porto. The Panthers travelled to Moreira dos Conegos to face the local side. It was all square until ten minutes from time when João Pinto (later sent off) put Boavista in front, but the very next minute, Manoel gave Moreirense a point, but they remain bottom.

Sporting Braga looked to have an easy task at home to Penafiel, but the visitors are improving and Clayton gave them all three points on the hour.

Sporting are right back in contention after an eventful game in Coimbra. Sporting were two up at half time through who else but Liedson, whose two goals make his tally 12. But as has happened more than once this season, Sporting took their foot off the gas and Académica drew level in the second half through Adriano and Luciano, but their cause was weakend with the expulsion of Faísca on the hour, and Sporting capitalised on their numerical superiority to steal the points through Rogério a quarter of an hour from the end. Sporting's Tinga was sent off in the dying minutes.

Vitória de Setúbal joined the pelotão at the top with a just 2-0 win against an uncharacteristically pallid Marítimo, who had Leo Lima sent off on 70 minutes. Eusébio put through his own goal after a quarter of an hour, and central defender Hugo Alcântara headed in a free-kick within five minutes of the second half whistle.

Gil Vicente dragged themselves out of the relegation zone with an excellent 3-1 win over irregular Rio Ave. Braima put Gil in front on the half hour, Evandro equalised early in the second half but then Júlio César on 48 minutes and Tonanha on the stroke of time finished Rio Ave off.

On Saturday, a single goal by midfielder Nuno Assis gave Vitória de Guimarães all three points against Belenenses. The two teams swap places in mid-table.

União de Leiria continue to recover after a shaky start and are back in the leading group after a 3-0 win at Nacional, who now find themselves near the relegation zone. Not for the first time, Helton in the União goal kept them in the game in the first half, and then it was Edson who broke the back of Nacional´s resolve with two goals late in the second half, his second a free-kick from a good thirty metres. Krpan made it three in added time.

04/12/04

FC Porto suffered their second SuperLiga defeat of the season, their first at home, 0-1 to Beira-Mar, but it was ironically Beira-Mar's first win under coach Manuel Cajuda. A free-kick on 38 minutes by Beto, later sent off for a dubious second yellow, proved decisive for the team from Aveiro. From then on it was merely a question of holding the fort, and with the excellent Paulo Sérgio in goal, saving the day on more than one occasion, and a less than focussed Porto side, it proved possible for the black-and-ambers.

Porto can now be passed at the top by Boavista, who visit Moreirense on Sunday. Beira-Mar in turn leap out of the relegation zone.

 

30/11/04

FC Porto had to hang on by the skin of their teeth Monday to beat Vitória de Setúbal in their top of the table clash. Porto never really got their game going but nevertheless did enough to win 1-0 , despite losing Jorge Costa just before the break for a second yellow. The captain had headed Porto in front on 24 minutes from a corner by Diego. Vitória were unaable to make inroads into the depleted Porto rearguard throughout the second half and although they had most of the possession, they cannot really complain too loudly about the result. Porto return to top spot in the league.

29/11/04

Benfica missed the chance of going top Sunday when they went down 0-1 at União de Leiria, the single goal scored by Fangueiro on 13 minutes. Benfica's play was largely disconnected and directionless, but they still managed to create several chances, three of which (from Simão, Sokota and Zahovic) were brilliantly saved by União's Brazilian 'keeper Helton. Benfica have won just one from their last five.

Benfica's Lisbon neighbours Sporting did not have the same problem and romped past bottom club Moreirense 4-1 at Alvalade. Chilean striker Pinilla scored only his second for Sporting on eight minutes to send them on their way and Carlos Martins curled a shot in from the edge of the box to give Sporting a two-nil lead at half-time. Former Sporting midfielder Afonso Martins reduced the margin with a header ten minutes into the second half causing Sporting to wobble momentarily, but then they took control again on 64 with a drive from Hugo Viana, and Liedson topped up his season's tally with a late header. Sporting draw to within a point of Benfica.

Gil Vicente's revival continues under Ulisses Morais, and they stole a point in Madeira against high-flying Marítimo. The home side took the lead on the half hour through Leo Lima, but Luís Coentrão secured a point for Gil twenty minutes from time.

Another team that has come around is Penafiel. After a shaky start, they are putting together some promising results, and pushed Académica downwards with a 3-1 win. Clayton opened the scoring on 20 minutes, Rafael Gaúcho equalised for Os Estudantes five minutes before half-time, but Penafiel finished them off with two goals in two minutes in the second half, through Wesley with a penalty on 67 and Roberto.

Struggling Vitória de Guimarães nabbed their first away win of the season at Estoril, Nuno Assis netting the only goal of the game a quarter of an hour from the end. Estoril's cause was not helped by Elias getting a second yellow and the consequent red five minutes from time.

Rio Ave put in another positive performance and trounced Nacional 4-1, whose sixth away defeat this was. Delson on two minutes set the tone, and Paulo César made it two just before the break. Franco and Saulo added two more in the second before André Pinto got a consolation for Nacional on 82. The Madeiran side qualified for the UEFA cup last season, but are a big disappointment this time around.

28/11/04

Sporting Braga went equal second with Benfica and FC Porto Saturday after they beat Belenenses 2-1 in Restelo. Antchouet put the home side in front on 57 minutes, but it took Braga just two minutes to draw level, Pelé putting through his own goal in an untidy scramble. Wender from the spot gave Braga the three points on 73 minutes.

27/11/04

Boavista went top of the SuperLiga Friday with a workmanlike win over Beira-Mar, yet to win under Manuel Cajuda. Boavista did not create so many chances but were clinical with the clear chances they had. Cafú bundled in on 25 minutes, but it wasn't until the last ten minutes that Boavista killed the game, with a goal from Zé Manuel and a second from Cafú. Boavista are one point ahead of FC Porto and Benfica, who both have a game in hand.

23/11/04

Académica and Belenenses drew 1-1 Monday in the last game of the 11th jornada of the SuperLiga. Dário put Os Estudantes in front, five minutes before the break, but he fouled a defender to score. Jorge Tavares equalised for the visitors a quarter of an hour from the end. Belenenses remain eighth, Académica jump to 13th.

22/11/04

Benfica missed the chance to go clear at the top of the Superliga Sunday when they let a two-goal lead slip twice to finally draw 3-3 with Rio Ave at the Luz. They were two-up after 20 minutes, both goals coming from top scorer Simão. Franco pulled one back on 25 but Sokota restored the two-goal advantage on the half-hour. The second half saw a much more timid Benfica, and a smart Rio Ave capitalised on that with further goals from Paulo César on the hour and Jacques ten minutes from time.

Benfica join FC Porto at the top on 22 points, while Rio Ave, for whom this was the eighth draw from eleven games, are bubb,ing under the European places.

Vitória de Setúbal could have gone top themselves had they beaten Gil Vicente in Barcelos, but Gil are proving a tougher nut to crack under Ulisses Morais and two goals from Nandinho, on 18 and 58 minutes, proved enough to throw them a lifeline at the bottom of the table. Manuel José had given Vitória hopes on 50.

Sporting Braga beat Estoril 2-0 to move up to fifth with Marítimo, but left it until very late to make sure of the win. Jaime Alves put them in front on 13 minutes, and Cicero made sure of the three points three minutes from time.

Vitória de Guimarães continue to struggle to drag themselves out of the bottom reaches. Sunday saw them draw 1-1 at home to União de Leiria. Vitória went in front on 33 minutes through Hungarian defender Dragoner, but União, who remain mid-table, equalised through Caíco on 65.

Moreirense are another side that are struggling, this time managing only a 2-2 draw at home to Penafiel. It was all settled in the first half, Wesley putting Penafiel in front as early as the second minute and Fernando Aguiar extending the lead on 19. Lito led the Moreirense revival on 25, and Nuno Diogo put through his own goal three minutes later to give the home side a point of honour.

21/11/04

Saturday brought a night of some surprise in the Superliga.

Boavista, fresh from a 6-1 spanking by Sporting last week, rebounded with a vengeance against local rivals, league leaders and ... European Champions FC Porto. Porto dominated in terms of possession and territory for most of the game, but unlike last week's leaky-boat display, Boavista were rock solid in defence, and Porto were clearly lacking a guiding hand in midfield, Diego and Carlos Alberto both out through injury. In addition, they were reduced to ten men on 35 minutes, McCarthy lashing out at Milhazes behind the referee's back but the linesman seeing all.

The second half saw Boavista continuing an at times desperate but always plucky rearguard action, and towards the end, they had various chances to score, most notably a lob at goal from Martelinho that went wide with Baía way out of position. Then in added time came the goal. Cafú was in an off-side position as he ran onto a through ball and slotted it past Baía, but Boavista had been disallowed a goal in the first half when Toñito had headed fairly in, so that it could be said that justice prevailed.

Boavista climb to third, two points behind Porto, who remain top, at least until Sunday when Benfica can go above them if they beat Rio Ave.

Sporting would be equal with Boavista if they had been more clinical at Beira-Mar. The home side went ahead on 34 minutes, Kingsley heading home a simple goal after McPhee had headed a back-post cross back across the goal. The joy of Beira-Mar, who have yet to win under Manueol Cajuda, was short-lived. On 39 minutes, Carlos Martins laced a ball through to Douala and the Cameroonian forward tucked it past Srnicek in the Beira-Mar goal.

Seven minutes into the second half, it was the same Douala who put Sporting in front, meeting a low Liedson cross from the right and forcing the ball in off a defender from close range. And so it stayed, with Sporting always threatening and Beira-Mar always potentially dangerous, until added time, when Heitor beat the off-side trap and lobbed a cross from the right over Ricardo with his head.

20/11/04

Nacional and Marítimo drew in the opening game of the 11th jornada Friday. Manduca put Marítimo in front on the stroke of half-time after a mistake from Hilário, but Argentinian defender Ávalos secured a point for Nacional four minutes into the second half with a cross-cum-shot. Alan was sent off in the second for Marítimo, who remain fourth.

16/11/04

Rio Ave chalked up their 7th draw of the season, 1-1 at home to Vitória de Guimarães Monday. Evandro put Rio Ave in front on the stroke of half-time, and Alex equalised for Vitória twenty minutes into the second half. Rio Ave remain mid-table, while Vitória are still rooted near the bottom, just above the relegation zone.

15/11/04

Before Sunday, Boavista had the best defensive record in the league, along with FC Porto: six goals conceded in nine games. Their disastrous visit to Sporting doubled this total.

Jaime Pacheco had his men blatantly playing it cagey from the word go, and they never really stood a chance against a Sporting side firing on all cylinders. Cameroonian winger Douala got the first, a glanced header at the near post form a corner, setting the ball rolling against his former club. Even so, as half-time approached, there was the feeling that if Boavista could reach half-time just one down, then they could perhaps turn it around in the second half. But Hugo Viana got two in a minute just before the break, bothe helped by woeful defending from the northern side, to effectively put the game beyond Boavista's reach.

Pacheco made some changes at half time, bringing on centre-forward Flores - they had been relying on diminutive João Pinto as target man int he first half - but the difference was negligible. Sporting were irrepressible. Custódio made it four on 49 minutes, Flores managed a consolation on 78, but in the last ten minutes, Liedson and Pinilla, scoring his first league goal for Sporting, piled on the misery to leave the score 6-1. Boavista will find it hard to recover psychologically from this catastrophe, and they have to travel across town next weekend to meet the mighty FC Porto. Sporting looked sharp and can be optimistic about the coming weeks.

Sporting take fifth place from Boavista, who move down one.

Earlier in the evening, União de Leiria, once again playing in front of a mere coule of thousand spectators in one of the stadia purpose-built for Euro 2004, drew 0-0 with Sporting Braga . Braga stay sixth, UDL ninth.

14/11/04

Benfica lost top spot to FC Porto Saturday when they could only draw in Madeira against Marítimo, while Porto travelled to Barcelos to beat Gil Vicente.

In a scintillating first quarter of an a hour, Marítimo looked like they might take Benfica to the cleaners with their fluid, attacking football. Pena, on nine minutes, put them in front, and they were creating so many openings that it seemed like only a matter of time before a second would go in. But Simão, so often Benfica's saviour, was jsut that again here when he stroked a free-kick over the wall and in on 15 minutes. The rest of the half was fast and furious, with Marítimo having the best of play, but the second was an anti-climax, apart from an Alan shot early on that was a certain goal until Moreira, snaked a hand up to tip over. And 1-1 it remained.

Earlier, FC Porto had got all three points at Gil Vicente with a 2-0 win thanks to goals from man-of-the-match Ricardo Quaresma on the half hour and Costinha at the curtain. Porto continued their press blackout in protest at coach Víctor Fernandez's suspension, which ends next week.

Porto have 22 points, Benfica 21 and surprise team Vitória de Setúbal 20. They beat Madeiran side Nacional 1-0, the only goal scored by sub Igor a quarter of an hour from time.

Belenenses got back to their winning ways with a 3-0 win over Moreirense. Neca laid the first stone of the home side's victory on 18 minutes, and Rodolfo Lima and Amaral in the second half made the three points safe and sound.

Beira-Mar continue to struggle under coach Manuel Cajuda, who chalked up his sixth defeat since coming in to replace Mick Wadsworth. Penafiel's 2-1 win over the side from Aveiro dragged them out of the relegation zone, while Beira-Mar are ever closer to it. The game was decided early on, Fernando Aguiar opening the scoring for Penafiel on three minutes, Paul Murray equalising on 10 and Wesley scoring from the spot on 22.

13/11/04

Académica managed their first away win of the season Friday on their trip to Estoril, who had come to the game off the back of two straight wins. It was a poor spectacle, the teams separated by a single goal, scored by Gaúcho ten minutes into the second half. Ten minutes from time, Académica's Nuno Piloto was sent off shorlty after he had come on as sub, but Académica managed to hang on for all three points.

09/11/04

After a tight and tense first half that ended even, FC Porto exploded in the second to sweep past Sporting 3-0 in Monday night's clássico.

McCarthy opened the scoring on 57 minutes, Ricardo challenged by Jorge Costa and fumbling a high ball that fell for the South African to drive home. Sporting were still in it but were practically out on 80 when Diego shrugged off two defenders on the right and shot in from an angle. And they were out for the count on 86 when Carlos Alberto took a square pass from Diego and was calm enough to pick his spot from close range.

Porto move up to second within one point of Benfica. Their Víctor Fernandez, banned for two weeks, watched from the stands, and no one appeared at the press conference in protest. He was banned for contesting a refereeing decision in the recent cup tie against Vitória de Guimarães.

Sporting lost their first game after five straight wins in all competitions and are seventh, six points adrift of their Lisbon rivals.

The teams lined up:

FC Porto: Vítor Baía, Seitaridis, Jorge Costa, Pedro Emanuel, Ricardo Costa (Areias, 40 m), Costinha, Maniche; Ricardo Quaresma (Carlos Alberto, 78 m), Diego (Raul Meireles, 87 m), Derlei, McCarthy.

Sporting: Ricardo, Enakarhire, Beto, Polga, Rui Jorge, Rogério, Custódio, Hugo Viana (Carlos Martins, 71 m), Rochemback (Pedro Barbosa, 71 m), Douala (Pinilla, 59 m), Liedson.

08/11/04

Benfica went clear at the top of the SuperLiga Sunday with a conclusive 4-0 victory over challengers Vitória de Setúbal. Benfica put in a display that was patently lacking in midweek in Stuttgart, and Vitória were never really in it except for the last quarter of an hour.

Norwegian striker Karadas got the first, heading a Simão corner firmly home at the back post. Five minutes into the second half, it was Karadas who crossed low for Sokota, on for the badly injured Nuno Gomes (knee), to take his time and slam home from close range. On 71 minutes, Geovanni persisted in his run into the box and capitalised on some dreadful defending to knock home the loose ball, and a minute from time, Simão cracked home a volley from an acute angle at the back post.

Rio Ave lost their unbeaten record with a 0-3 stumble at Sporting Braga. Jaime and Castanheira in the first half and João Tomás early in the second sentenced Rio Ave.

Estoril continue to surprise. Home side Moreirense went in front through Fernando five minutes before the break, but Estoril turned it around late in the second half to win 2-1 through Dorival and Yuri.

Krpan as early as the third minute gave União de Leiria the three points at Académica, but they were helped by Dário missing a pnealty in the second half.

Gil Vicente remain bottom despite a well-earned draw in Madeira against Nacional, 0-0 the score.

07/11/04

Marítimo and Boavista both went (provisionally) to the top of the SuperLiga Saturday, along with Benfica and Vitória de Setúbal..

Marítimo drew 1-1 at Vitória de Guimarães. Brazilian striker Manduca put Marítimo in front as early as the seventh minute, but it needed a merely goalward free-kick from Hungarian central defender Dragoner, that found its way into the net following a foul and the resultant sending-off of Evaldo, to put Vitória even, and that's the way the score remained.

Boavista were rather fortunate to have two penalties given to them, and two opposition players sent off. In fact, they were behind to Penafiel from the half-hour, a magnificent strike from Clayton , who jinked inside from the right and curled in a shot that pinged off the left-hand post and in. It wasn't until the 77th minute that Boavista saw their pressure (generally aimless, it must be said) bear fruit. Nuno Silva stopped João Pinto from getting to a cross and saw a yellow and a penalty awarded against his team. José Manuel converted. Then on 91 minutes, the same Nuno Silva 'tripped' the same João Pinto, got a second yellow and consequent red and José Manuel got a second penalty. In added time, Odair also saw red.

06/11/04

The opening game of the ninth jornada of the SuperLiga was a ding-dong battle, both Beira-Mar and Belenenses going for the win and providing an excellent game of football, which ended up all square at 3-3.

Belenenses' top scorer, the Gabonese Antchouet, was the man of the match with a hat-trick that he started after only two minutes. 'Tanque' Silva with a textbook header drew the home side level just before the break, and he gave them the lead just after it. Antchouet put Belenenses back level on 67 minutes, Heitor, on as sub just minutes earlier, restored Beira-Mar's lead on 77 and Antchouet sealed the final score two minutes later, tapping in from a perfect low cross by Brasilia.

Belenenses remain ninth, Beira-Mar 13th.

02/11/04

Vitória de Setúbal drew level with Benfica at the top of the SuperLiga Monday with a 1-0 win over hapless Vitória de Guimarães. It was a tight game with few clear chances, but Ricardo Chaves managed to break the deadlock ten minutes from time, firing in a loose ball that deflected wildly off a defender and into the roof of the net. Setúbal play Benfica at the Luz next weekend.

Earlier, high-riding Marítimo put two past Sporting Braga without reply in Madeira. Leo Lima gave Marítimo the lead on the half-hour, but it was only two minutes before the end that they could rest easy through Bibishokov.

The two results leave the top of the SuperLiga very tight. Benfica and Vitória de Setúbal both have 17 points, FC Porto and Marítimo are on 16 and Boavista and Sporting are on 14.

FC Porto's players were the object of serious verbal abuse after the draw with Nacional in Madeira Sunday ... from their own fans, members of the SuperDragões claque, recently at odds with the now-Chelsea coach José Mourinho. The players were insulted at the airport in Funchal, and the insults were resumed at Sá Carneiro Airport in Porto. Then members of the claque, in cars, 'escorted' the team coach to the hotel where the players are staying prior to Tuesday's vital CL clash with Paris St Germain. And at the hotel the insults continued, with some pushing and shoving to boot. The official claques are normally spoilt by the clubs, receiving free or subsidised tickets and transport and financial help for things like banners and even offices. The next few days will see what the club's reaction will be to the latest excesses of the biggest FCP claque.

01/11/04

Benfica stole a point with the last kick of the game at Gil Vicente to keep top spot in the SuperLiga, but they can count themselves very lucky not to come away empty-handed. Gil were the more combative and organised of the two sides, although Benfica clearly dominated in terms of possession. But it was Gil who went in front five minutes from time through former Benfica forward Nandinho, tapping a low Jorge Ribeiro cross home from close range. An uninspired Benfica found it very hard to react, and they found it even harder when Greek full back Fyssas saw a second yellow five minutes from time for simulating a foul in the area. But in the dying seconds, Karadas was fouled on the edge of the area, and on his 25th birthday, Simão stepped up and cracked the free-kick through the wall and past the otherwise excellent Paulo Jorge. Gil could have done with the three points, though - they remain rooted at the bottom with just four from eight games, but they looked a more organised side under new coach Ulisses Morais.

Earlier in the evening, Boavista climbed to third, along with Sporting and Vitória de Setúbal, with a 2-1 win at Belenenses. This game was also decided in the dying minutes, Tiago thumping home the loose ball after Marco Aurélio had knocked out Zé Manuel's cross. Boavista had gone in front on seven minutes of an exciting first half through André Barreto, volleying in at the back post from a cross by Frechaut. Belenenses drew level after a quarter of an hour through Gabonese striker Antchouet, knocking the ball past the splendid Khadim in a one-on-one. Former Boavista midfielder José Pedro was sent off halfway through the second half, which put Belenenses on the back foot, and then came the late goal from Tiago.

The result of the day was Estoril's 5-0 drubbing of Beira-Mar, struggling under coach Manuel Cajuda who replaced Mick Wadsworth last month. They were 3-0 up by half-time through Arrieta (2) and Dorival, and Yuri, on as sub, put two more nails in Beira-Mar's coffin in the second half.

Rio Ave are the only unbeaten team in the SuperLiga apart from FC Porto. This time they went beyond the habitual draw and saw off Académica 3-1. Gama just before the break and Ricardo Nascimento just after gave them a cushion, pricked by a Luciano penalty on 71 minutes. It wasn't until added time that Rio Ave could make the result safe through Paulo César.

União de Leiria continue to be a shadow of the side they have been in recent seasons and could thank 'keeper Helton for their blank sheet in the 0-0 home draw with Moreirense. The game, played in the 30,000-capacity stadium purpose-built for Euro 2004, was watched by a mere 2,300 fans.

 

31/10/04

FC Porto let two points slip in Madeira Saturday. They appeared to be heading for a clear if not resounding 2-0 win over Nacional with goals from Diego, a free-kick after only a minute, and Benni McCarthy six minutes into the second half. But it all went pear-shaped for them in added time with two goals in quick succession, both from corners. First Bruno knocked one over from the left for Raúl Meireles to head into his own goal, then Alexandre Goulart took one from the other side, Adriano rising to head past a helpless Baía. There were 12 yellow cards shown.

Earlier, Sporting drew within two points of Porto with their third consecutive win, this time 3-0 at a muddy Penafiel. All the goals came in the second half through Liedson (49 and 88 minutes) and Custódio (72).

30/10/04

This weekend's SuperLiga games will be preceded by a minute's silence for Jacinto João, former Vitória de Setúbal player and Portuguese international who died of a heart attack Friday at the age of 60.

25/10/04

Benfica returned to the top of the SuperLiga Sunday with a 2-1 win over a well-organised and difficult-to-handle Nacional. It took Benfica an hour to break down the resilient Madeiran defence, but the breakthrough came with a cracking shot from 25 metres by Karadas. Sokota added a second twenty minutes later, diving at the near post to head in a Simão cross from the right. They must have thought it was plain-sailing from that point on, but Alexandre Goulart scored with a speculative free kick five minutes from time to give Nacional some hope, never realised.

Benni McCarthy scored both goals in FC Porto's 2-0 win over Penafiel, taking them to 15 points, one behind eternal rivals Benfica.

Struggling Académica surprisingly beat high-flying Marítimo 1-0, the Madeiran side's first defeat under Mariano Barreto. Paulo Adriano's goal on 24 minutes was enough.

União de Leiria got their first away win of the season, 1-0 at Beira-Mar, Fábio Felício on 51 minutes separating the teams.

Gil Vicente remain firmly rooted to the bottom of the table after losing 1-2 at Vitória de Guimarães. Silva and Bráulio got two first half goals, Júlio César giving Gil a fighting chance with a goal on the hour.

24/10/03

Vitória de Setúbal leapt to the top of the league Saturday with a 3-2 win at Sporting Braga. A flurry of goals mid way through the first half gave Sporting Braga a 2-1 lead at half time, their goals coming from João Tomás and Wender, cancelling out the lead established by Jorginho. But in the second half, Vitória turned it round with goals from Manuel José (52) and Ricardo Chaves (77). Vitória sit proudly at the top, at least until tomorrow when Benfica and Marítimo play. Braga drop one place to fifth.

Sporting, meanwhile, continue with their mini-revival, a 2-0 win over Belenenses taking them up to sixth. But they left it until very late on to decide the game: on 85 minutes, Liedson headed in from a Hugo Viana corner, and two minutes later Douala shot home after good work from Carlos Martins. For now, coach José Peseiro's job looks safe.

Rio Ave notched up their sixth draw of the season, 0-0 at Moreirense. They remain unbeaten but have only managed one win all season. They stay mid-table while Moreirense remain just above the relegation zone.

23/10/04

Boavista missed a great opportunity to keep up with the top teams Friday when they dropped two points at home to Estoril Praia in an interesting 0-0 draw. Estoril had come off a 1-4 home drubbing to Sporting last weekend and were certainly the inferior team in the first half when Boavista dominated, creating several chances.

Estoril's Arrieta was sent off ten minutes into the second half for a second yellow, but far from it weakening their resolve, the southern team became even more compact and organised, and dealt relatively comfortably with Boavista's superiority. Indeed, they nearly snatched a surprise win in the closing minutes when Buba headed against a post from a corner.

20/10/04

A group of Benfica supporters are looking into the possibility of taking referee Olegário Benquerença to court over the 'mistakes' he made during the Benfica v FC Porto SuperLiga match Sunday. They have taken the lead from a group of Valência supporters who had the same idea in Spain, following a game against Real Madrid. One of the Benfica group, a lawyer, is in Spain to investigate the feasibility of legal action.

Vitória de Setúbal, riding high in the table, and Académica played in front of fewer than 1,000 spectators Monday evening. It was a cold, wet and windy night, Vitória's Bonfim stadium is uncovered and the game was live on SportTV - the Portuguese cable sports channel. The 50 or so Académica fans who braved the elements had fashioned a banner appealing to the Liga and SportTV: "Footbal for families, festa and emotion - with games on a Monday, there's no evolution."

19/10/04

Vitória de Setúbal climbed to fifth in the SuperLiga Monday with a narrow 1-0 win over Académica, who remain second from bottom. In front of a mere few hundred spectators on a stormy night throughout Portugal, Setúbal had the best of pay and the best chances, notably through top scorer Jorginho, but it was Meyong who got the only goal ten minutes from time from the spot, after Paulo Adriano had handled from a corner.

Benfica are to send a report on Sunday's 0-1 home defeat to FC Porto to just about anyone who will listen. On the address list are UEFA, FIFA, the Portuguese Liga and the Secretary of State for Sport. Benfica are incensed over what they see as a blatant act of bias by the referee Olegário Benquerença during Sunday's clássico, in which Benfica were denied a clear penalty and a goal was not given when the ball had crossed the line following a Baía fumble.

18/10/04

FC Porto came out better in the first clássico of the season, beating Benfica 1-0 on their own turf, McCarthy scoring the goal after just ten minutes (see match report). The game, like the run-in to it, had several controversial moments, and after the game, the presidents of both clubs swapped insults.

The win puts Porto within one point of Benfica (a Benfica win and the gap would have been seven). Benfica stay top, however, on level point with Marítimo. Into equal fifth go Belenenses and Boavista.

Belenenses were one-nil down at home to Penafiel, a penalty by Wesley on the half hour. Lourenço missed the chance to equalise for Belenenses by missing a penalty ... twice, the second time stubbing his toe and having to go off injured. But Antchouet did manage to wipe out the lead a minute into the second half, Rolando made it two on 55, Antchouet got a second on 68 and the unfortunate Nuno Silva put through his own goal to seal the win and prove that Penafeil have the worst defence in the league: they've conceded 14 goals in six games.

Boavista went crazy and put three past União de Leiria away (they'd scored just four in five games previously). Zé Manuel on 41, a 25-metre screamer, André Barreto on 69 and Zé Manuel again with a free kick on 82, did the damage.

Rio Ave are unbeaten, but can't win at home. Gaúcho gave them the lead from the spot just before the break, but McPhee headed a point for Beira-Mar on 65.

17/10/04

Sporting needed to win on their short trip to Estoril Saturday to allay fears of total collapse and avoid what would have been the inevitable sacking of coach José Peseiro. Win they did and by an expressive 4-1 margin. In the first half, Sporting striker Liedson was the difference between the teams with two goals on seven and 19 minutes that in effect finished the game off.

Estoril came out strongly at the beginning of the second half, and for a quarter of an hour there were hints of Sporting's fragility in previous games. João Paulo cut back the lead to one goal on 52 minutes, but Hugo Viana on 62 and 84 minutes finished off Estoril's hopes.

Sporting jumped provisionally to sixth, while Estoril remain 15th.

Marítimo climbed, also provisionally, to equal top with Benfica after a 1-0 home win over Moreirense. The goal came early in the second half, Wénio shooting but the ball deflecting off central defender Ricardo Fernandes and in. Marítimo had Fernando and Briguel sent off.

Vitória de Guimarães, like last season, continue to struggle. This time they lost 0-1 at Nacional of Madeira, the goal headed in on the half-hour by local boy Miguel Fidalgo , making his debut for the club.

16/10/04

Gil Vicente lost at home to Sporting Braga Friday, their fifth defeat out of six. They were beaten by an own goal by Bruno Tiago on the hour, who intercepted a cross but could only knock it past his own ´keeper. Earlier, Gil had been reduced to ten men when Gregory was sent off for a second yellow, that on 42 minutes. Braga took advantage of the numerical superiority and had the better of play, and might have gone further ahead, but Paulo Jorge saved a penalty. Near the end, Gil coach Luís Campos was so irate that he entered the field of play to remonstrate with the referee Bruno Paixão and was promptly red carded, not for the first time in his coaching career.

Gil remain firmly planted at the foot of the table with just three points from a possible 18. Sporting Braga climb to second, a point behind Benfica.

15/10/04

FC Porto's Board are meeting (Friday) to decide whether they will turn up on Sunday to face Benfica at the Luz Stadium, fearing that security conditions are not adequate for the game to be played without trouble in the stands. Benfica have made no tickets available to Porto for the game, but Porto fan groups (claques) have acquired them elsewhere.

The FC Porto claque Colectivo 95 revealed Friday that they have obtained 400 tickets, mainly from Casas do Benfica (regional Benfica supporters club branches). This means that despite Benfica's best efforts, Porto will have at least 2260 supporters at Sunday's game (the biggest Porto claque SuperDragões have 1860 tickets), possibly mixed.up with Benfica fans.

The Secretary of State for Sport, Hermínio Loureiro, and the Internal Affairs Minister, Daniel Sanchez have cast doubts on the wisdom of going ahead with the game given the aggressive atmosphere on both sides. Meanwhle, however, the PSP, the police force in charge of urban security, have said that conditions are in place for the game to go ahead without any problems, claiming that there was a separate section of the stadium allocated to the Porto fans, and that there were plans to recieve them when they arrive in Lisbon. Between 600 and 650 officers will be on duty at the game.

In view of the uncertainty as to whether the game will go ahead, FC Porto coach Victor Fernandez cancelled his customary Friday press conference.

13/10/04

The ticket situation for Sunday's clássico between Benfica and FC Porto is heating up and may pose a security risk. As reported below, Benfica offered FC Porto just over a thousand tickets for the game. Porto complained, saying that Liga rules state that they are entitled to many more. Benfica, in protest at Porto's tone, then said that the Champions wouldn't get any. And then on Tuesday, it was reported that the main Porto claque, the SuperDragões, went undercover in Lisbon to buy 2,000 tickets, which, if true, will mean that they will be mixed with Benifca fans.

08/10/04

Ten days before the first clássico of the season, the vital Benfica v FC Porto of Sunday week, the game is already practically sold out. Benfica are to make just 1550 tickets for the 65,000 capacity Luz stadium available to Porto, although Liga regulations stipulate that the visiting side should be allocated up to 30% of the total. Benfica have claimed security fears for their decision. Porto are likely to appeal directly to the Liga to reverse Benfica's position.

07/10/04

Sporting left back Rui Jorge didn't leave the bench in the weekend's home game against União de Leiria but was 'sent off' after the game for verbal abuse of the referee and will miss one game through suspension.

Marítimo's Dutch central defender Mitchell Van de Gaag has been named Player of the Month for September by the Portuguese Players Union. The top voted players were:

1 Van Der Gaag (Marítimo)
2 Manduca (Marítimo)
3 Jorginho (Vitória de Setúbal)
4 Petit (Benfica)
5 Simão Sabrosa (Benfica)
6 Ricardo Nascimento (Rio Ave)
7 Manuel Fernandes (Benfica)
8 Luisão (Benfica)

06/10/04

Sporting Braga shaded an eventful SuperLiga jornada 5 game against Nacional 3-2 Tuesday. There were ten yellow cards and three reds in a bad-tempered clash. Nacional won on reds, with Cléber (45') and Fábio Santos (88') taking an early bath, while the scores were evened up for 25 minutes in the second half when Braga's Jaime (63') also went.

Braga took the lead on 27 minutes through top scorer Wender, but Nacional went wild at the start of the second half and scored two in a minute through Ávalos and Serginho to go in front. Braga kept plugging away and equalised on 70 minutes, João Tomás beating 'keeper Hilário to the ball to head into an empty net, and the same player was on hand to knock in a Paulo Sérgio corner just three monutes later to clinch the three points for the home side. The bad tempers continued after the final whistle, and there were scuffles between players on the pitch and in the tunnel.

Braga jump to third in the table behind Benfica but on the same points as FC Porto.

05/10/04

Sporting, of the three Grandes the club that is having the most difficulties taking off this season, spluttered again Monday when they could only draw 2-2 at home to a well-organised and combative União de Leiria, who at the end will have been cursing their luck for not finishing the game off with the various chances they had.

Rogério put Sporting in front on 24 minutes, a simple tap-in after good work from the very active Liedson. João Paulo on 6 minutes and Fábio Frlício on 72 made it look like União might snatch all the points, such was the poverty of Sporting's play. But in added time, Douala found space on the right and centred low for captain Beto to nudge the ball in for the equaliser.

The poor display, and the fact that Sporting have now dropped eight points in five games, is certain to put pressure on coach José Peseiro. Given the fickleness of Portuguese fans and presidents, it would not be surprising if Peseiro were to lose his job shortly, from a club that, in recent living memory, is used to much more in terms of quality of play and results.

04/10/04

The two Grandes in action Sunday both won, and deservedly so, but were helped by the other team being reduced to ten men in the first half.

Top team Benfica travelled to Guimarães, a significant trip as it was here in January that their Hungarian striker Miki Féher died on the pitch during a game. It took two second-half free-kicks, from Simão (68) and sub Geovanni (90), to break Vitória, who looked to have snatched a point with a penalty from Moreno (77). Marco Ferreira was sent off in the first half for a second yellow.

Champions FC Porto won their first game at the Dragão this season, 3-0 over Belenenses. Maniche set them on their way on 34 minutes, slamming home a cross from Quaresma. McCarthy came on with 25 minutes left and ripped the heart out of the Belenenses resistance with two goals on 71 and 89 minutes, both from passes by the fast-improving Diego. Belenenses midfielder Juninho Petrolina lasted only 20 minutes before he was sent off for a second yellow.

Third-placed Vitória de Setúbal could only draw at Moreirense, 2-2. Fernando opened the scoring on 19 for Moreirense, but Vitória turned it round with a penalty from Jorginho (53) and one from José Rui (65). Fernando got his second on 72 to give Moreirense a point.

Penafiel notched up their second successive victory, 2-1 over Estoril. Wesley gave them a two-goal lead in the first half, reduced by a penalty from N'Doye just before the break. But that's the way it stayed.

Académica managed their first win of the season, 2-1 at home over Gil Vicente. The win takes Académica off the bottom of the table, swapping places with Gil. All the goals came in a fifteen-minute spell in the first half, Fábio putting the visitors in front on 26 minutes but José António and Joeano grabbing the points for Os Estudantes before half-time.

02/10/04

Central defender Franco scored Rio Ave's 400th goal in the SuperLiga Friday as the fifth jornada got under way. It was enough to seal victory at Boavista and take an unbeaten Rio Ave up to seven points, the same as Boavista, who have now lost their last two games.

The goal came on the half hour, Franco beating Cadu to the ball from a corner to head past a static Khadim, making his first start of the season in place of the injured William. It was virtually one-way traffic on the Rio Ave goal from that point, but wasteful finishing, bad luck, a fine performance from the Rio Ave 'keeper Mora and the absence of an out-and-out striker in Boavista's front line all contributed to Boavista's failure to claw back a point. Boavista have scored just four goals in five games - a perennial problem for them.

 

28/09/04

Belenenses missed their chance to go top of the table Monday with a 0-1 defeat at nearby Estoril. Forward N'Doye, who had scored in the recent draw at FC Porto, got the winner here, a close-range shot that deflected wildly off Andersson and in with just two minutes to go. Brasilia hit the bar with a free-kick in added time, and that was just Belenenses' luck.

27/09/04

Benfica failed to win for the first time Sunday, held 0-0 at home by a well- organised Sporting Braga side who might have come away with more than just the point but could not finish the several chances they had. Benfica remain top but are now only one point ahead of Marítimo.

Benfica's Lisbon rivals Sporting continue to backfire and only managed the same score as Benfica 0-0 at Rio Ave. Sporting's play was disjointed and increasingly desperate, although the game could have gone either way near the end when first Mora saved high from Pinilla and then Ricardo saved low from Evandro. But pressure will continue on coach José Peseiro; Sporting have just four points from four games.

Gil Vicente won their first game of the season to lift them off the bottom, 3-1 at home to Moreirense. Carlitos put Gil in front shortly after the break, but Manoel equalised for Moreirense on 77 minutes. Gil needed an own goal by Luís Vouzela and a penalty by Paulo Alves to take the points.

Also with their first win, which also lifted them off the bottom, Penafiel, 2-1 at União de Leiria. Folha and Clayton gave the visitors the impetus to win, slowed only on the hour by Renato.

So who are the new 'red lanterns'? Académica, who fell 1-2 to Nacional in Madeira. Serginho Baiano and Ferreira goals sandwiched Académica's single from Luciano , all in the second half.

26/09/04

FC Porto notched up their first win of the season Saturday, but it was a difficult one at Vitória de Guimarães. Porto went practically the whole game threatening to score and had two goals (justifiably) disallowed, by Jorge Costa for a previous foul on a defender and by Costinha for offside. Porto dominated, however, and it was with justice that they took the lead on 83 minutes, Costinha doing his trick of scoring for Porto when things are looking hairy. This time he hooked in from close range after Vitória failed to clear a Quaresma corner. And 0-1 was how the score remained.

Earlier in the evening, Marítimo continued their positive recent spell (which has conicided with the sacking of coach Manuel Cajuda) to beat Boavista 2-1 in Funchal. Marítimo went in front on 25 minutes, William parrying a Leo Lima shot to Tonel on the edge of the box, whose shot went in off a post. Boavista looked to be turning the game around in the second half until Marítimo scored from the spot a quarter of an hour from the end through Alan (who had simulated a foul by Lucas). Boavista kept their hopes alive with a Cadú header from a Carlos Fernandes cross in added time, but time had run out for them.

25/09/04

Vitória de Setúbal came down to earth with a bump Friday when they lost 1-2 at home to Beira-Mar. Vitória were second in the table and could have gone top, albeit temporarily. But Beira-Mar started strongly and should have had a penalty after only three minutes when Sandro brought down McPhee, but they got their compensation on 26 minutes with a screamer of a free-kick by midfielder Beto from a full 35 metres that flew into the top left-hand corner of the net. Vitória reacted well and put pressure on the Beira-Mar goal, but their equaliser was an untidy one, Tininho clearing against the body of José Rui, the ball rebounding into the net.

If the first half had been an open affair with chances at both ends, the second was marked by scrappy play in the midfield. But Vitória paid for their inability to turn their superior possession into goals when Beira-Mar's Paul Murray, on as sub, threaded a ball through to McPhee who hit it first time past Marco Tábuas. There were ten minutes to go, butVitória had lost their direction and the game.

Benfica's home match with Sporting Braga Sunday is generating huge interest and a bumper crowd is expected at the 65,000 capacity Luz. Benfica are on the crest of a wave, with three wins out of three. They're top of the SuperLiga while arch rivals Sporting and FC Porto are floundering in the bottom half of the table. But not all teams have the drawing power of the mighty Benfica.

Lisbon neighbours Belenenses, whose 85th birthday it was this week and who ironically played Benfica Thursday in a friendly, could only draw 2,000 to that game (in a 40,000 capacity stadium). In desperation at the low gates, the club is offering a special deal to its sócios (club members): if they bring along two companions to upcoming SuperLiga games, the three can get in for a total of 10 euros. Last season, the club was reduced to sending invitations to the customers of a gas company, one of the club's sponsors, in a desperate bid to get spectators through the gates.

23/09/04

FC Porto are going through a minor crisis. The current champions of Portugal and Europe have chalked up four draws from their last four matches, three in the SuperLiga and one in the Champions League. Wednesday's draw, 1-1, was at home to União de Leiria, a game postponed from the first jornada because of FC Porto's then European commitments.

Porto are a team without fire, without self confidence and without luck. They were 1-0 up after only seven minutes through Quaresma, but stuttered after that, although they had chances to kill the game. Then a quarter of an hour from the end, União's striker Krpan got the goal that would prove to be the equaliser.

"We need some time but also some luck," said coach Victor Fernandez. Porto remain firmly rooted in the bottom half of the table, already six points adrift of Benfica and now with no games in hand.

The teams lined up:

FC Porto: Vítor Baía, Seitaridis (Pedro Emanuel, 64 m), Jorge Costa, Pepe, Areias, Diego (Raul Meireles, 58 m), Costinha, Maniche, Ricardo Quaresma, Luís Fabiano, Derlei (Maciel, 81 m).

U. Leiria: Helton, João Paulo, Otacílio, Renato, Torrão (Laranjeiro, 83 m), Paulo Gomes, Caíco, Fangueiro (Freddy, 60 m), Alhandra, Geufer (Fábio Felício, 43 m), Krpan.

22/09/04

A single goal by João Tomás on 34 minutes, knocking in at the back post from a free-kick that was only half saved by Palatsi, was enough to give Sporting Braga their first win of the season, at home to regional rivals Vitória de Guimarães. There were scuffles in the crowd during the second half as Braga fans clashed with police.

The result lifts Braga to sixth in the table, one place higher than Vitória.

Television dominates the football scene in Portugal, while grounds continue to go unfilled. TV coverage of the third jornada started on Friday with Boavista v Vitória de Setúbal and finished on Tuesday with Sporting Braga v Vitória de Guimarães. Then on Wednesday, television will show the game postponed from the first jornada, FC Porto v União de Leiria. Thursday is rest day, and football returns to the screens Friday with Vitória de Setúbal v Beira-Mar.

21/09/04

Sporting condeded their second defeat from three Monday, at home to Marítimo. By the end of the game, Sporting's fans (there were 28,000 at Alvalade XXI) were whistling and waving handkerchiefs in protest at the poverty of Sporting's play. This is not unheard of at Sporting, but after only three games it is.

Sporting were rattled by an early goal, Manduca tapping in at the far post a lofted free kick from the right that cleared all the defenders. Only in the second half did Sporting manage to put some football together, when Pedro Barbosa and Hugo Viana came on to shore up a weedy midfield. But Sporting's cause was not helped by a nervous Liedson, who had seen a yellow ijn the first half for protests and saw another a minute into the second half for faking a foul. Later, Marcos put in a number of excellent saves to keep Marítimo in the game, especially from Beto and Viana, but Marítimo could have sewn it up earlier, Manduca netting cleanly on 56 minutes; the referee disallowed it for a non-existent off-side.

The teams lined up:

Sporting: Ricardo, Enakarhire, Beto, Polga, Rui Jorge (Pinilla, 53 m), Rogério, Tinga, Carlos Martins (Hugo Viana, 46 m), Douala, Liedson, Danny (Pedro Barbosa, 46 m).

Marítimo: Marcos, Ferreira, Van der Gaag, Tonel, Briguel, Wénio, Chainho, Alan, Leo Lima (Bino, 76 m), Manduca (Souza, 87 m), Bibishkov (Luís Filipe, 58 m).

Sporting and Porto are languishing in the bottom half of the table while their arch rivals Benfica sit proudly on top. The way Sporting and Porto are playing, this may not change in the very near future, and should Sporting lose their next match, at Rio Ave, coach José Peseiro, previously Carlos Queiroz's right hand man at Real Madrid, may need to send his CV out.

20/09/04

Benfica went clear top of the SuperLiga Sunday with a third straight win, this time 1-0 at Académica. The bad state of the pitch did not allow for much coherent football, but Benfica had the most of what was going and Académica rarely tested Moreira in the Benfica goal. Simão was fouled on 55 minutes and Danilo should have seen a red card, but Académica were doubly favoured as Simão himself hit the post from the spot. He atoned twenty minutes later when the ball found its way through the defence to him, unmarked at the back post, and he had time to clip the ball with his left foot past Dani.

Belenenses went equal second (with Vitória de Setúbal and Boavista) after beating União de Leiria 2-1 at home. It was a story of all the sixes: Antchouet put Belenenses in front on six minutes, Lourenço extended the lead from the spot on 60 and Krpan pulled one back for União on 66.

Penafiel managed their first point of the season, drawing 1-1 at home to Rio Ave, who now have three draws to their name. Both goals came in a ten-minute period midway through the second half, Franco putting Rio Ave in front and Wesley equalising.

Nacional ended a bad week badly. After three players' run-in with the police and a 0-2 defeat in Seville, the Madeiran side went down 3-2 at Moreirense. The Northern club were 3-0 up before the hour was up, thanks to a beautiful curled shot from outside the box by Filipe Anunciação and two from lanky striker Manoel, but plucky Nacional came back through Marcelo and Cleomir. It was not enough to get any points, however.

Still without a point are Gil Vicente. They went down to a Kingsley goal after only six minutes at Beira-Mar, whose first points these were.

19/09/04

FC Porto dropped another two points Saturday when they could only draw 2-2 at home to modest Estoril Praia. In a lively first half, Estoril fearlessly took the game to Porto and looked the more exuberant of the two sides. On 13 minutes, N'Doye dispossessed Seitaridis near the halfway line, took the ball on and rifled it low past Baía. The lead lasted just four minutes, Carlos Alberto cutting in from the right and feeding Luís Fabiano who scored his first goal for the club. But just before the break, Pinheiro gave the visitors back the lead with a superbly executed free kick that swung away from Baía and into the top right-hand corner.

Porto came at Estoril with all guns blazing after the break and should have gone level on the hour when they were awarded a penalty for a suppsoed foul on Postiga, but Derlei, on as sub, hit the spot kick weakly and allowed Jorge Baptista to save. Porto did claw one back ten minutes later through central defender Pepe, and might have got all three points but for a heroic display from Baptista. But the champions are slow to get their game together, and with four points dropped, they are already five points adrift of the top, although with a game in hand on Vitória de Setúbal and Boavista. Benfica and Sporting play Sunday.

The teams lined up:

FC Porto: Vítor Baía, Seitaridis, Pedro Emanuel, Pepe, Areias, Costinha; Hugo Leal (Ricardo Quaresma, 46 m), Maniche, Carlos Alberto (Derlei, 56 m), Hélder Postiga (McCarthy, 79 m), Luís Fabiano.

Estoril: Jorge Baptista, Rui Duarte, Buba, Dorival, João Pedro, Pinheiro, Paulo Sousa, N´Doye, Fellahi (Maurel, 71 m), João Paulo (Arrieta, 64 m), Hugo Santos (Abadito, 55 m).

18/09/04

The top two sides (along with Benfica) met Friday at the Bessa and came out of it level. Boavista, unexpectedly playing attractive football given their reputation and a horrifying last game at Gil Vicente, went in front on 15 minutes against a surprisingly accessible Vitória de Setúbal, man of the match Martelinho striding through onto a head-on by André Barreto to drive home past Marco Tábuas. But the home side couldn't consolidate their domination and lead, and on 53 minutes a free kick to the back post was headed across goal by Hugo Alcântara and Jorginho, coveted by the top Portuguese teams, was there to head past William. There would still have been time for Boavista to re-take the initiative, but they weren't clear-headed enough.

At the end of the game, Boavista coach Jaime Pacheco was, unjustifiably so it must be said, critical of the refereeing. At the beginning of a new season, and in the wake of the euphoria of Euro 2004, it might be expected that those responsible for the Portuguese game might try to be a little more reasonable in their comments.

14/09/04

Rio Ave and Beleneses closed the second jornada of the SuperLiga with a thrilling 3-3 draw in Vila do Conde. Rio Ave were three-up and coasting after a brilliant first half and goals by Saulo (6 minutes), José Gomes (29) and Ricardo Nascimento (54). Perhaps to their credit, perhaps not (if you're a Rio Ave fan), they didn't sit on their lead, opened it up full throttle and could in fact have doubled their score. They didn't, and their sense of adventure/recklessness let Belenenses in once they began to build up a head of steam themselves. Brasilia (64), José Pedro with a scorcher from thirty metres (80) and Brasilia again on the stroke of time had Rio Ave kicking themselves. But for the neutral observer, it was one hell of a game.

13/09/04

Sporting slipped up in Setúbal Sunday, going down 0-2 to local side Vitória in a very open game. Jorginho and Meyong proved to be the key players for Vitória. On 50 minutes, Hugo 'brought down' Meyong in the area (a debatable decision), and Jorginho converted the penalty. On 70, Jorginho placed a pefect through ball in the path of Meyong on the right who cut inside and clipped his shot under the body of the helpless Ricardo. Sporting claimed a penalty later when Liedson and Hugo Alcântara challenged for a ball near goal, but to blame any refereeing decisions for their defeat would be to clutch at straws. Vitória looked the more together side and fully deserved the three points. They go equal top with Benfica and Boavista on six points from two games.

Earlier, Nacional had beaten Beira-Mar 2-1 in Madeira. Beira-Mar went in front on 28 minutes through McPhee, but Goulart equalised five minutes from half-time and Gouveia gave Nacional the win on the stroke of time.

12/09/04

Maniche put last season't champions FC Porto in front after only four minutes at Sporting Braga in their first SuperLiga game of the season, but Wender on the hour put a brake on any Porto euphoria, and 1-1 is how it stayed. Porto drew their first game last season ... and the rest was history ...

Benfica beat Moreirense 2-0 in a Luz stadium that was only a third full, this for the opening home game of the season. Petit bent a free kick around the wall for the first on 24 minutes, and from the edge of the area on 83 Simão planted a lay off from Karadas to finish off a useful Moreirense side.

União de Leiria got their first points with a conclusive 4-2 win over SuperLiga newcomers Estoril. It was Estoril who went in front on nine minutes through Hugo Santos, but João Paulo and Edson turned it around for Leiria before the break. The same players got a goal apiece in the second half before Estoril's João Paulo managed a second for his team ten minutes from time.

Marítimo cancelled out their 0-3 defeat to Belenenses on the first day with a 3-0 home win over luckless Penafiel, returning this season to the SuperLiga but yet to win any points. Central defender Van der Gaag put the Madeiran side in front in the first half, and Bibishkov, scoring on his debut, and Joel Santos sealed the victory in the second.

11/09/04

Gil Vicente and Boavista played out Friday what will in every respect be probably the worst game of the season, even at this early stage. For the record, Boavista won 1-0 with a goal on 38 minutes, José Manuel running onto a long ball, which went through the Gil defence like a knife through butter, and planting it past Paulo Jorge in the Gil goal.

But the goal, and the result, is neither here nor there. The story of the game is the terrible quality of play throughout and the disgraceful total of 63 (!) fouls and four (!) red cards. And neither team can blame the referee Paulo Pereira who did no more than comply with his duties.

Boavista were reduced to ten on 55 (João Pinto, direct red for stamping) and to nine seven minutes later (central defender Hélder Rosário, deliberate hand ball, his second yellow). Gil should have capitalised on the numerical advantage, but their play was as poor as their tactical sense and Luís Coentrão and ex-Boavista defender Braima also saw red, leaving it nine-a-side for the last ten minutes. But even then neither side was capable of producing any 'football' to speak of.

It was the first official game at the Estádio Cidade de Barcelos, and it was much less than half full. The Portuguese are a discerning lot, and in this case they discerned right. Any more games like this, and the stadiums in Portugal will deserve to be 'left to the flies' (as the expression goes here).

06/09/04

Moreno on 5 minutes and Silva on 21 gave Vitória de Guimarães a priceless first-half lead Sunday in their re-scheduled SuperLiga Day 2 game against Académica. Substitute Luciano , on as sub, pulled one back for Os Estudantes, but it was not enough.

 

31/08/04

Académica drew 2-2 at home to Sporting Braga Monday on a potato field of a pitch at the brand new Estádio Municipal de Coimbra. Despite the pitch, both sides managed some good football. Académica went one up on 5 minutes through midfielder Ricardo Fernandes, then Paulo Jorge equalised on 18. Joeano put 'Os Estudantes' back in front on 27, but at the beginning of the second half Ricardo Fernandes got his second goal to fix the final result.

There will now be a two-week break from the SuperLiga due to international games, although Vitória de Guimarães v Académica has been brought forward to 5 September. The game will be played at Rio Ave's ground as Vitória's stadium has been banned for one game following incidents with fans at Vitória's visit to Paços de Ferreira last season.

30/08/04

Benfica emulated local rivals Sporting with a 3-2 win in their first SuperLiga game of the season, at Beira-Mar. It was the SuperLiga début for two foreign coaches Englishman Mick Wadsworth for the home side, Italian Giovanni Trapattoni for Benfica. It was an even enough first half, with Benfica just edging it on chances, and they went two-up just before the break, Karadas knocking in a Petit corner on 41 minutes and the Norwegian returning the favour on 45, slipping the ball through for Petit to prod home from close range.

Five minutes into the second half it looked all over, Benfica going three-up through Karadas again, capitalising on confusion in the Beira-Mar box to bundle in. But then in a five minute spell Beira-Mar were back in it, Alvarez heading in from a corner on 62 and Beto driving a long-range free kick in with the help of a deflection off Miguel. Like Sporting the night before, Benfica were made to seat it out to get the three points, but in the end Beira-Mar didn't have the bite to get there.

Boavista and Nacional slogged out a frequently bad-tempered game at the Bessa, with very little coherent play from either side and few chances. Martelinho, on as sub at half time, volleyed in at the far post from a Zé Manuel cross to give Boavista the win. Nacional had a first-half 'goal' by Adriano disallowed for offside.

Newcomers Penafiel suffered the heaviest defeat of the day, going down 1-4 at home to Vitória de Setúbal. Meyong put the visitors in front after just eight minutes, but Penafiel, whose president is former Portugal coach António Oliveira, equalised five minutes later through Roberto. On 35 minutes, Clayton mssed a penalty for the home side, then shortly after they were reduced to ten men when Pedro Moreira was sent off.

Auri and José Rui got early goals in the second half to knock the stuffing out of Penafiel, although Vitória were pulled up slightly with the expulsion of Bruno Riberio for a second yellow. But Igor confirmed the result with a goal in added time.

Other newcomers Estoril drew 0-0 at home to Rio Ave, and identical score to that of the meeting between Moreirense and Vitória de Guimarães.

29/08/04

The SuperLiga got off to a great start Saturday with two excellent games.

First up was a fresh looking and adventurous Belenenses side, seemingly transformed under new coach Carlos Carvalhal, against Marítimo, who play Glasgow Rangers in the first round of the UEFA Cup. Belenenses central defender Rolando, 18, had the honour of scoring the first goal of the season on 25 miunutes, much against the run of play, it must be said. But when Antchouet netted the second on the stroke of half-time, it was going to be difficult for the Madeiran side to catch up. And so it proved in the second half, Belenenses looking the much more compact side and with more ideas. When Lourenço, on loan from Sporting, made it 3-0 from the spot on the hour, it was all over. And if anyone from Rangers was watching, they'll feel like they have a good chance against a Marítimo side that looked very rusty.

Later in the evening, Sporting appeared to be coasting as early as the 25th minute against Gil Vicente, a Marcos António own goal and one from Liedson giving them a good cushion. Marcos António atoned a quarter of an hour from the end, only for Liedson to restore the two-goal cushion a minute later. But when Fábio pulled another one back ten minutes from time, it meant a nail-biting end for the home side, but they held on for the 3-2 win.

28/08/04

The much awaited SuperLiga starts this Saturday. The first game of the season is Belenenses v Marítimo, followed by Sporting v Gil Vicente.

State TV channel RTP will televise two SuperLiga games to the world each weekend via its satellite/cable channels RTP Internacional and RTP África. One of the games will be live, and one delayed. This weekend, Sporting v Gil Vicente will be live on Saturday, Beira-Mar v Benfica delayed on Sunday.

07/08/04

Cable channel SportTV has nabbed the rights to all Superliga games for the coming season. There will be four games televised each weekend, including all those involving the Três Grandes - Porto, Benfica and Sporting - and SportTv will show three of them, with the Terrestrial channels RTP (state owned), SIC and TVI vying for the other one. One of the latter group of channels will be able to show one of the games involving the TGs each weekend.

17/07/04

The draw for the Superliga fixtures for the 2004/05 season took place in Figueira da Foz Thursday. The Três Grandes have relatively accessible opponents for the first jornada.

Académica v Sporting Braga
Moreirense v Vitória de Guimarães
Beira-Mar v Benfica
Boavista v Nacional
Sporting v Gil Vicente
Penafiel v Vitória de Setúbal
Belenenses v Marítimo
Estoril v Rio Ave
FC Porto v União de Leiria

10/07/04

The draw for the fixture list of the upcoming Superliga (and the other divisions) will take place on 15 July in Figueira da Foz.

01/07/04

The next edition of the Superliga, due to kick off on August 29th, will use the Roteiro, the ball used at Euro 2004. The Roteiro has its detractors; it is said that it is too light and has an unusual flight.

 

19/05/04

The new SuperLiga season will begin on 29 August of this year (one week after the SuperTaça Cândido de Oliveira - between the winners of the SuperLiga and the Taça de Portugal, FC Porto and Benfica, respectively) and end on 22 May 2005.

11/05/04

Final Day numbers:

20 - Benni McCarthy was the top scorer of the season, but he needed a hat-trick in FC Porto's 3-1 win over Paços to pip Nacional's Adriano (19) for the Silver Boot . Boavista's Ricardo Sousa was the top Portuguese scorer with 14.
2 - The number of Portuguese players in the top ten. The other was Benfica's Simão with 12.
63 - McCarthy's hat-trick also helped Porto to pip Benfica (62) as the top scorers of the season. Poor old Estrela da Amadora were the lowest scorers with just 22 goals from 34 games.
63,000 - The attendance at the Luz for the final game, all biting their nails as União de Leiria held Benfica to a 0-0 draw. Sporting were winning at Vitória de Guimarães and would have gone second if União had managed to sneak a win.
3 - the number of games Sporting lost in the last four games to let Benfica catch them at the tape.
21 - The number of home games Benfica had gone before Sunday without failing to score.
19 - Porto won across the board; they also conceded the fewest goals. Estrela were once again at the other extreme. They conceded 74 (!)
0 - the number of games that Porto drew at home.
0 - the number of games that Porto lost at home.

(See final results and tables)

10/05/04

Everything was decided in the SuperLiga and Liga de Honra Sunday. Benfica clinched second place, behind FC Porto and ahead of Sporting. Alverca were the third club to go down after Estrela da Amadora and Paços de Ferreira. Estoril were champions of the Liga de Honra and go up with Penafiel and Vitória de Setúbal . Down from the Liga de Honra and into the Segunda B go Portimonense, Sporting Covilhã and União de Madeira.

08/05/04

The crucial Vitória de Guimarães v Sporting game this weekend will, after all, be open to the public after the Liga decided to suspend its ban on the Vitória stadium. The ban was initially put into place because of the conduct of Vitória fans towards the end of the season, notably at Paços de Ferreira.

04/05/04

Benfica leapfrogged over Sporting in the table Sunday when they beat their Lisbon rivals 1-0, Geovanni getting the all-important goal three minutes from time with a swinging shot from a full 30 metres. Benfica need only draw their last game, against União de Leiria, to clinch second and a place in the Champions League next season.

União have nothing to play for, but Sporting must travel to Vitória de Guimarães, who need at least a point to be sure of staying up. That match will be played behind closed doors following crowd trouble from Vitória fans at a recent game against Paços de Ferreira.

Geovanni's goal was followed by a mini-pitch invasion by about a dozen Sporting fans of the Juve Leo claque. The incident was badly handled by the police (only one 'fan' was arrested) and will ring alarm bells wih only a month or so to go before Euro 2004. Sporting president Dias da Cunha blamed Benfica's Argel and Zahovic for provoking the crowd.

Nacional (1-2 at Alverca), Sporting Braga (2-1 at home to Académica) and Marítimo (2-0 at home to Gil Vicente) all confirmed their tickets to the UEFA Cup.

Boavista missed out on Europe for the second successive year after losing 0-2 at União de Leiria, who jumped over them in the table. Beira-Mar, who had looked European material for much of the season but then slumped badly, beat Moreirense 1-0 and can still overtake them in mid-table.

Alverca, Académica and Gil are three of the five teams who can still go down. One of them or Vitória de Guimarães (1-0 at already relegated Estrela da Amadora) or Belenenses (1-1 at already relegated Paços de Ferreira) will take the drop, with Alverca the team in the worst position (see table).

Going into the last day, Brazilian striker Adriano of Nacional is top scorer in the Superliga with 18 goals, followed by Benni McCarthy on 17. (see table)

Replacing the three clubs going down will be Estoril Praia, who were already promoted before the weekend, Vitória de Setúbal, straight back up, and Penafiel, who have been out of the top flight for a decade or so. Former national team coach António Oliveira is now president of Penafiel.

01/05/04

On the penultimate day of the Superliga, FC Porto lost only their second game of the season, 0-1 at Rio Ave. On a pond of a pitch, neither side was able to play any football to speak of, but it was Rio Ave who had the stroke of luck that gave them the three points, Miguelito cutting in from the left and shooting low, the ball squirming between the legs of stand-in 'keeper Nuno and in. Rio ave had Mozer and Danielson sent off, Porto Ricardo Fernandes.

Porto's starting line-up contained none of the players that will probably start the Champions League Semi-Final second leg on Tuesday, but it did contain the Ninja, Derlei, starting for the first time since early in the season when he suffered a serious knee injury in a game at Alverca. Friday's game was a chance to field two players who can now officially qualify as 'champions': Pedro Ribeiro and Evaldo.

Rio Ave climb to fifth and look certain to 'qualify' for Europe ... only they can't because they didn't duly register with UEFA. This is a great shame because Carlos Brito has constructed a well-disciplined team with some exceptional individual players, such as Evandro (15 goals) and Miguelito. In any event, the team has beaten its own record of points for a season (48, as opposed to 46 in 1997/98)

 

28/04/04

Sporting Braga have officially complained about incidents following the team's 0-1 defeat at Vitória de Guimarães Monday. There was a pitch invasion at the end of the game, and the team coach was stoned, presumably by Vitória supporters. The Vitória stadium is one that will be used at Euro 2004.

27/04/04

Vitória de Guimarães took a giant step towards SuperLiga safety and sent Paços de Ferreira to the Liga de Honra Monday with a 1-0 win over local rivals Sporting Braga , themselves needing points to confirm a place in the UEFA Cup. Rogério Matias got the all-important goal on 70 minutes.

The final club to go down will be one of Académica, Belenenses, Vitória de Guimarães or Alverca. Games involving those clubs on the last two days are as follows:

Day 33 - 02/05/04
Estrela da Amadora v Vitória de Guimarães
Sporting Braga v Académica
Paços de Ferreira v Belenenses
Alverca v Nacional

Day 34 - 09/05/04
Vitória de Guimarães v Sporting
Académica v Estrela da Amadora
Belenenses v Sporting Braga
Moreirense v Alverca

26/04/04

FC Porto capped the news of their title (Sporting lost Saturday) by beating struggling Alverca 1-0 in front of a full house at the Estádio do Dragão, Bosingwa heading the goal five minutes into the second half.

Nacional of Madeira confirmed their place in the UEFA Cup next season with a 3-0 win over Beira-Mar, Rossato getting all three.

Nacional's neighbours on the island Marítimo are still waiting to confirm their place alongside them after losing 0-3 at Moreirense. Manoel got the first early on, and a late salvo from Vítor Pereira and Tito confirmed the score.

At the bottom, Paços de Ferreira are down but not mathematically out, even after the 2-3 reverse at fellow strugglers Académica. Paulo Adriano put Os Estudantes in front in the first half, but then Renato Queirós and Ricardinho put Paços in front in the second. But they couldn't hold onto what would have been a precious win, and Tonel and Marcelo gave Académica the three points.

Belenenses gave themselves a dose of oxygen by beating Rio Ave 3-0. Leandro and Hugo Henrique in the first half and Marco Paulo ten minutes from time got the goals.

25/04/04

Sporting handed FC Porto the title Saturday when they lost 0-1 at União de Leiria. Porto became mathematical champions and the team celebrated in their hotel ahead of their game against Alverca Sunday. Sporting are now in direct competition with their local rivals Benfica for a Champions League place, following Benfica's 3-1 home win against Estrela da Amadora. Sporting play Benfica next weekend.

Sporting were without Perdo Barbosa and Rui Jorge, both suspended, and found it difficult to make headway against a well organised União, who extended their unbeaten run to ten games and still have a hope of qualifying for Europe. Alhandra got the only goal five minutes into the second half with a tap-in, the Sporting defence allowing all sorts of room to Douala on the left.

Earlier in the evening, Benfica had little trouble in seeing off Estrela da Amadora, already consigned to the Liga de Honra. Nuno Gomes with a penalty and Sokota gave Benfica a two goal lead before the break, and although Davide pulled one.back for Estrela five minutes before the end, there was still time for an excellent goal from Miguel, cutting in from the left and chipping Veiga in the Estrela goal.

24/04/04

Boavista left it until deep into added time Friday to win at Gil Vicente 1-0. Boavista had had most of a scrappy match, and certainly deserved the win on their second half display, but Gil were highly critical of the referee for adding so much time (five minutes stretched to almost ten) and for not calling Fary offside as he stormed in to kncok home Ricardo Sousa's low cross. The Senegalese Fary was seriously injured in the goal as he piled into the oncoming Gil 'keeper Paulo Jorge.

Given the 'Golden Whistle' investigations, Boavista players and coach dedicated the win to Valentim Loureiro, former president of the club and father of current president João, who is caught up in the scandal. Boavista maintain their faint hope of European football next season. Gil are not yet out of the woods of relegation.

20/04/04

After Day 31 of the SuperLiga, FC Porto can almost order the Championship sashes: Porto could only draw 0-0 at Beira-Mar, but Sporting crashed 1-2 at Boavista to leave Porto needing only one win from their last three games to clinch the title. Meanwhile, third-place Benfica trounced Sporting Braga away to move to within three points of their Lisbon rivals Sporting, with a mouth-watering Sporting v Benfica clássico lined up for two weeks' time. If Benfica win that by three goals and win their other two games, and Sporting win their other two games, then Benfica will finish second and go to the Champions League.

The other European places are still quite open: Nacional and Braga should qualify, and as Rio Ave and Moreirense are ruled out through an administrative mix-up, the other place should go to Marítimo or Boavista, the former the favourite.

At the bottom it's getting very hairy: Estrela are already down, Paços de Ferreira, despite a tense win at home to Vitória de Guimarães, look set to follow Estrela. But it looks like any one from four for the last place: Académica, Alverca, Belenenses or Vitória de Guimarães, who slipped back into the drop zone after the setback at Paços.

Final SuperLiga games:

Day 32 - 25/04/04
União de Leiria v Sporting (24/04)
Benfica v Estrela da Amadora (24/04)
Vitória de Guimarães v Sporting Braga (26/04)
Académica v Paços de Ferreira (25/04)
Belenensesa v Rio Ave (25/04)
FC Porto v Alverca (25/04)
Nacional v Beira-Mar (25/04)
Moreirense v Marítimo (25/04)
Gil Vicente v Boavista (23/04)

Day 33 - 02/05/04
União de Leiria v Boavista
Sporting v Benfica
Estrela da Amadora v Vitória de Guimarães
Sporting Braga v Académica
Paços de Ferreira v Belenenses
Rio Ave v FC Porto
Alverca v Nacional
Beira-Mar v Moreirense
Marítimo v Gil Vicente

Day 34 - 09/05/04
Benfica v União de Leiria
Vitória de Guimarães v Sporting
Académica v Estrela da Amadora
Belenenses v Sporting Braga
FC Porto v Paços de Ferreira
Nacional v Rio Ave
Moreirense v Alverca
Gil Vicente v Beira-Mar
Boavista v Marítimo

Mathematically up to the SuperLiga, after ten years, are definitely Estoril Praia, who beat Desportivo das Aves 1-0 at home but benefited from Varzim's 0-2 defeat at Santa Clara . Favourites to go up with Estoril are Penafiel and Vitória de Setúbal, who both won at the weekend.

Porto rested a lot of first-choice players Sunday ahead of the semi-final first leg of the Champions League against Coruña Wednesday, and perhaps not surprisingly could only draw 0-0 at Beira-Mar , themselves trying to recover a little of the prestige of the early season.

Saturday was a crunch day for Sporting and their remote hopes of the title. Their visit to Boavista ended up a bitter affair, the Lions going down 2-1 and losing two men, Rui Jorge and Pedro Barbosa, to red cards in the second half. Sporting had gone in front on the hour through Liedson, with a subtle flick of a Tinga cross, but after Sporting were reduced to ten, Boavista, playing their best football of the season, took advantage and drew level on 83, Fréchaut meeting a Ricardo Sousa free before ´keeper Ricardo could get to it. Four minutes later, two Boavista subs combined to get the winner: Ali shot from 25 metres, Ricardo couldn't hold it and Fary was following up to hook home. Sporting's players and technical staff were severely critical of ref Bruno Paixão, who rated 1/10 in sports daily A Bola.

Earlier in the evening, Benfica had put three past Sporting Braga by half time, and coasted the rest of the way. Miguel, Sokota and Simão got the goals.

In the tussle to get into Europe, Marítimo beat Madeiran rivals Nacional 2-0 Monday with goals from Pepe in the first half and Chainho in the second. It means that Marítimo remain four points clear of Boavista, the only serious threat to their presence in Europe next year. Nacional remain fourth, five points ahead of Marítimo.

Rio Ave can't play in Europe because of an administrative mix-up, but they continue to sit proudly in sixth, beating Académica 3-2. Joeano got two for Académica and his team-mate Tixier put through his own goal, all within the first 20 minutes, to give Académica the lead at the break, but Ronny and Niquinha gave Rio Ave the points on 70 and 75 minutes and kept Académica looking over their shoulders at the drop.

Alverca did themselves a power of good with a 1-0 win over co-strugglers Belenenses. Alex Afonso got the only goal in added time of the first half.

Paços de Ferreira beat Vitória de Guimarães by the same score, winger José Manuel giving Paços a remote chance of salvation five minutes from time. Vitória fans travelled to the Mata Real stadium but did not go in, as a protest at the perceived exhorbitant price of tickets (40 euros). Late in the game, Vitória fans in the street started throwing stones over the wall and into the Paços fans' stand and onto the pitch.

Gil Vicente continued their recovery with a 1-0 win over solid Moreirense, Josesley Ferreira getting his tenth of the season on 12 minutes.

Estrela da Amadora continue to plug gamely away, despite the fact that they are already down, and they notched up a point Friday with a 0-0 draw at home to União de Leiria.

15/04/04

FC Porto drew 0-0 against Nacional in Madeira Wednesday in a game from Day 27, postponed because of Porto's European commitments. Porto, running a little cool in domestic games recently, had trouble against a combative Nacional who are cruising to a well-deserved UEFA Cup place. The Madeirenses came nearest to scoring around the 40 minute mark when Paulo Assunção hit the bar, and two minutes later Baía flapped the ball towards his own goal only for Nuno Valente to clear off the line. Things got a little bad tempered in the second half, and various players might have seen a red card, notably Maniche for an awful challenge in midfield, but it remained all level in all respects until the end.

Porto are now five points ahead of Sporting, with four games left. Nacional are in 4th place, two points ahead of Sporting Braga.

13/04/04

In a tense game at the Restelo stadium, Belenenses beat Beira-Mar 1-0 to drag themselves out of the relegation zone, leaving Alverca and Paços de Ferreira there (Estrela da Amadora are already relegated). Antchouet got the single goal on 13 minutes.

12/04/04

Benfica look to be heading for a third place in the SuperLiga behind FC Porto and Sporting, and with just four games left, the fans seem to have caught on; there were just 16,000 in the 65,000-seater Luz Saturday to watch the 2-1 win over Paços de Ferreira.

Bruno Gama made his début for Sporting Braga in their 2-2 draw at União de Leiria. Nothing strange there ... except that Gama is just 16 years and three months old.

Alverca, plummeting down the table, have had a harrowing time of late. In their last five games they have lost five, scored none and conceded 12.

11/04/04

No change at the top of the SuperLiga after a full day of action Saturday. The top three teams all won, FC Porto and Benfica with some difficulty, Sporting at a canter against bottom club Estrela da Amadora.

Porto left it until five minutes from time to get a 1-0 win at home to Marítimo, and it took central defender Ricardo Carvalho to head home a Deco corner at the back post.

Sporting remain second after a 4-0 win at home to Estrela da Amadora that definitivley consigns Estrela to the Liga de Honra next season. Brazilian striker Liedson got a hat-trick to bring his tally for the season to 14, while Romanian Niculae got the other. Estrela have scored just 20 goals all season and have conceded 66.

Like Porto, Benfica left it until five minutes from time to beat Paços de Ferreira, themselves in deep trouble at the bottom of the table and favourites to follow Estrela down. Nuno Gomes had put Benfica in front just after the break and Zé Manuel had equalised on 67 before sub Geovanni shot home to keep up Benfica's hope of catching Sporting in second place.

At the top, Porto are on 74 points with a game in hand on Sporting on 70 and Benfica on 64.

Vitória de Guimarães are finally out of the drop zone after beating Rio Ave 2-0 with an early goal from Djurdjevic and a late one from Rúbens Junior. Their place is taken, at least temporarily, by Belenenses who meet Beira-Mar on Monday.

Also moving away from the bottom are improving Académica, this time pushing Alverca nearer danger with a 4-0 win over the team from the Ribatejo. Joeano in the first half and Tonel, Marinescu and Filipe Alvim in the second got the goals. Alverca had Amoreirinha sent off in the second half.

Back at the top, Nacional of Madeira moved fourth after beating Gil Vicente 2-1. Yuri put the visitors in front on 34 minutes, but Nacional equalised through Serginho four minutes later. Just before the break, Gil's Hugo Luz was sent off and Adriano missed a penalty, but Nacional were to snatch all three points with a header from Rossato on 77 minutes.

Nacional overtake Sporting Braga who could only draw 2-2 at União de Leiria. It was an even game, Paulo Jorge putting Braga in front and Freddy equalising in the first half, then Paulo Sérgio returning the lead to Braga in the second half only for Renato to give União a point.

10/04/04

Boavista's miserable season continued Friday with a 1-2 defeat at Moreirense. Former Boavista striker Demétrios was the key, scoring on 35 and forcing Paulo Turra into heading an own goal on the hour. Ricardo Sousa headed a ray of hope into Boavista's game two minutes from time after a more positive spell from the visitors, but it wasn't enough.

Moreirense leapfrog over Boavista and are now within two points of the European places, but like rivals Rio Ave, they did not complete the proper registration procedures with UEFA and cannot qualify for the UEFA Cup. Boavista, although still mathematically in touch with Europe, cannot expect to get there on this form, and they play Sporting next week.

Since coach Jaime Pacheco's return to replace Erwin Sanchez five games ago, Boavista have lost four and drawn one. He was scathing of his players after the game, and warned that a big clearout is on the cards come the close season.

06/04/04

Marítimo beat Belenenses 2-0 at home Monday to maintain hopes of European football next season. First half goals from Alan and Van der Gaag were enough to take the three points that Belenenses also sorely needed in their fight against relegation. Marítimo are equal 6th with Rio Ave on 42 points, while Belenenses remain just above the relegation zone on 28.

It was lucky Sunday for Sporting. Their 3-2 win at Braga effectively reduced the gap between them and FC Porto at the top to four points, while it stretched the lead over third-place Benfica, who could only draw at Rio Ave, to six points.

Sporting were 2-0 up by half-time through Silva and Liedson, and 3-0 up on 67 minutes with a penalty from Pedro Barbosa. But then they got the jitters and let Braga come back to 2-3 in the last quarter of an hour with two goals from Hugo Henrique. Braga were down to ten men for the last 40 minutes (Barroso) and down to nine for added timne (Maurício).

Benfica slipped up at the impressive Rio Ave and came away with only one point from a 1-1 draw. The inevitable Evandro put Rio Ave in front on 50 minutes and Tiago got Benfica's goal just six minutes later. Benfica remain third, Rio Ave sixth - which would give them access to the UEFA Cup, although a problem has arisen over their registration with the FPF which may cause them to be disqualified from ... qualifying.

Nacional stumbled in their quest for UEFA, but remain a strong 5th. They lost 1-2 at mid-table Moreirense for whom Tito opened the scoring on 27 minutes. Serginho equalised for the Madeiran side soon after the break but Lito got the winner a quarter of an hour from the end.

Beira-Mar's challenge for UEFA has stalled after a brilliant first half to the season, and they could do no more than draw 0-0 at home to Académica, who continue to hover just above the drop zone.

Paços de Ferreira are looking increasingly doomed, losing 1-2 at home to improving União de Leiria. Freddy put the visitors in front early in the second half, Zé Manuel put Paços level on 79 but four minutes later Luís Filipe got the clincher. Paços are second from bottom, four points away from safety.

04/04/04

FC Porto suffered their first SuperLiga defeat of the season when they were finally beaten Saturday by lowly Gil Vicente, and without much contestation. Although Porto had most of the possession and chances, it was Gil who scored the goals, both of them with some help from the Porto defence. Gaspar was free at the back post on 63 minutes to volley past Baía, although the Porto 'keeper got a hand to it, and Luís Coentrão rounded Baía three minutes later after the 'keeper had let a harmless back-pass of a shot rebound off his post into the path of the Gil midfielder. Porto were thus deprived of a record that only Benfica have managed, and Sporting can reduce the gap at the top to just four points if they can beat Sporting Braga Sunday.

Earlier in the evening, Boavista were also unexpectedly beaten by bottom club Estrela da Amadora. Estrela went in front though Alex Garcia on 17 minutes, Senegalese striker Fary equalised on 26 but Miran scored the clincher five minutes from time to put Boavista ever further from a UEFA cup place. In the four games since his return, Boavista coach Jaime Pacheco has won just one point.

03/04/04

Vitória de Guimarães secured three vital points in their fight for survival in the SuperLiga Friday with a 1-0 win at direct rivals Alverca. Alverca had the best of the first half, Vargas and Alex Afonso missing clear chances, butVitória came through in the second and got the vital goal on the hour, a shot from outside the box by Nuno Assis that found its way through a packed defence and past a rooted Yannick. Vitória had a chance to make it two from the spot, but Bessa drove the ball against the bar. Vitória are now just one point behind Alverca, who are plummeting in the table.

 

30/03/04

Belenenses secured three precious points Monday in their fight against relegation with a 2-0 win at home to Gil Vicente. Both goals were scored by Hugo Henrique , just before the break and just before the end. He also missed a penalty.

29/03/04

FC Porto did what was expected of them Sunday and beat modest Moreirense 1-0 at the Estádio do Dragão, but they were made to work for it by a well organised Moreirense side, and the goal only came in the dying minutes, sub Carlos Alberto faking a foul outside the box and floating the resulting free-kick in off a post with the otherwise excellent João left standing. It was João who had fouled Benni McCarthy after just two minutes, but the South African striker shot poorly for the same João to save.

Benfica kept up the four point gap between them and Sporting with an easy 2-0 win over Alverca. Both goals came within twenty minutes of kick-off through Sokota and Luisão. Alverca have lost three in a row and will have to start rowing quickly if they want to avoid the drop.

Rio Ave kept up their good run with a 1-1 draw at União de Leiria. Jaime scored for Rio Ave on 14 minutes, but Douala gave União a point on 66.

Vitória de Guimarães may just avoid the drop. They beat Beira-Mar 2-0 with goals from Medeiros in the first half and Kata (own goal) in the second. From UEFA Cup contenders, Beira-Mar have slipped dramatically, with just three points from their last eight games.

Still challenging strongly for that UEFA Cup place are Sporting Braga, although they had to wait until five minutes from time for Foley to score and take the three points from poor old Estrela da Amadora, this season's whipping boys.

28/03/04

Sporting kept their second-place intact Saturday with a difficult 1-0 win over lowly Paços de Ferreira, desperate to get points to avoid the drop. Paços had the best chances of the game, notably through Zé Manuel, but a mixture of poor finishing and intrepid 'keeping from Ricardo kept their side of the scoreboard blank. Sporting, on the other hand, struggled to create very much and only scored with the help of the linesman; Liedson was offside on 88 minutes when Niculae shot, the ball was parried by Pedro and Liedson took advantage of his position to knock the ball in.

The score was identical in Madeira where Nacional kept up their push for Europe against Boavista, also chasing a European place but losing ground fast; they are without a win in the last three, coincidentally the games for which Jaime Pacheco has been in charge on his return. It was an abysmal game, marked by two clueless teams and a gale force wind that made sensible football very difficult. Rossato broke the stalemate five minutes from time with a free kick that William saw late.

27/03/04

Académica took a step away from relegation Friday with a 2-0 win at home against Marítimo, who took a step back from possible UEFA Cup qualification. Fredy on 20 minutes and Joeano 20 minutes from the end did the job. Marítimo's Wênio was sent off on 65. Académica are now four points clear of the drop zone.

23/03/04

Belenenses played for the point on their visit to Moreirense Monday and got it with a 0-0 draw. They could, however, really have done with the three as they are left just one point above the drop zone that now contains Paços de Ferreira, Vitória de Guimarães and Estrela da Amadora. Moreirense remain safely tenth.

22/03/04

Benfica left it late to score the goal that gave them three points at Beira-Mar Sunday. Nuno Gomes, who had come on as sub for Zahovic on the hour, drove a low shot past Marriot a quarter of an hour from the end after good work from former Beira-Mar midfielder Fernando Aguiar. Three minutes later, Benfica's young winger João Perreira was sent off for a foul from behind on Juninho Petrolina, which left Benfica holding on to the score until the end.

The three points take Benfica to within four point of second-placed local arch rivals Sporting, who slumped to a 0-4 defeat at Rio Ave Saturday. Second place gives a shot at the Champions League and so is a precious prize. After a bright first half to the season, Beira-Mar have lost five of their last half a dozen games and appear to be waving goodbye to Europe.

In with a good chance of a UEFA Cup spot are Sporting Braga, who went to top-of-the-table rivals Boavista and grabbed a point to climb above Nacional into fourth. Nacional's home game with FC Porto has been postponed until April 14th. Braga's tussle with Boavista was just that, but for a change there was little vindictiveness on show. Nor was there much football, however, and it wasn't until the 68th minute when Wender turned Filipe Anunciação on the left, made room for himself and banged his shot into the roof of the net off the crossbar. Braga had little time to enjoy their lead; four minutes later, Nem put a suicidal ball across the face of his own defence and Ricardo Sousa, hardly believing his luck, took the ball on and knocked it past Quim for 1-1. An improved Boavista under returning Jaime Pacheco are six pooints behind Braga but still with an outside chance of Europe.

At the bottom of the table, Académica took a small leap away from danger with a 1-0 win at Gil Vicente, Joeano scoring early in the second half.

Paços de Ferreira also did their case no harm with a 1-0 win at home against doomed Estrela da Amadora. Fernando Gaúcho got the vital goal on the half-hour.

Alverca are not out of the woods yet and can't afford many more results like Sunday's: a 1-4 home defeat at the hands of União de Leiria. UDLwere three-up by the break through Edson (2) and Douala. Alverca pulled one back on 67 through Zé Rui, but their central defender Marco Almeida put through his own goal five minutes from time to make the score look even worse for his side.

21/03/04

Sporting's challenge for the title went into meltdown mode Saturday with a spectacular 0-4 collapse at Rio Ave, who are now pushing for a UEFA Cup place. Rio Ave were three-up by half-time through Evandro, Jaime and Paulo César, and put an extra dollop of icing on the cake a quarter of an hour from the end with a second from Evandro, his 14th of the season.

Sporting coach Fernando Santos looked shell-shocked but was realistic after the game: "We underestimated Rio Ave ... Only a catastrophe could take the title away from FC Porto now." Porto are seven points ahead of Sporting with a game in hand. Worringly for the 'Lions', they must now also look over their shoulders at an improving Benfica who will only be four points behind if they win at Beira-Mar Sunday.

20/03/04

Vitória de Guimarães won a precious point towards their fight for SuperLiga survival Friday when they drew 1-1 at Marítimo, themslves in need of points to achieve UEFA Cup qualification. Nuno Assis put the visitors in front on 24 minutes, but Souza ensured a point for the Madeiran side on the hour.

18/03/04

FC Porto's visit to Madeira to play Nacional, scheduled for this weekend, has been postponed until April 14th to allow Porto to prepare for next week's Champions League clash against Lyon.

16/03/04

Sporting at least kept track with FC Porto Monday with a predictable win over Alverca at home (2-0). In fact the goals were difficult to come by, but they came eventually; On the half-hour, Carlos Martins broke free in midfield, took a few strides forwards and drove in a shot that deflected of central defender Marco Almeida, formerly of Sporting, to flat-foot the otherwise excellent Frenchman Yannick in the Alverca goal. Two minutes from time, Rochemback took a free-kick from the edge of the penalty area on the right and Liedson got free to head past Yannick. Sporting remain seven points behind Porto, and seven points in front of Benfica, who are in third. The game became very bad-tempered as it wore on in the second half, and Alverca's Veríssimo was sent off for a supposed aggression (that didn't actually happen) on Niculae.Alverca remain near the top of the lower half of the table.

15/09/03

Benfica suffered Sunday to get past a resolute Marítimo defence at the Luz (in front of only 18,000 fans) but eventaully came out 1-0 winners thanks to a penalty five minutes from time by Simão after Pepe had handled in the area. The win puts them within four points of second-placed Sporting, but the Lions have a game in hand (at home to Alverca Monday).

Things continue to look very complicated for Vitória de Guimarães at the bottom of the table, this time defeated 0-2 at home by Gil Vicente, who climb into relative mid-table safety. Yuri, on loan from Boavista, got one on 18 minutes and another a minute from time.

Académica missed a great chance to pull away from Vitória with a disastrous 0-3 home defeat to Moreirense. Sérgio Lomba and Tito put the visitors in the driving seat just before the break, and Castro confirmed the three points a quarter of an hour before the end.

Rio Ave lodged themsleves firmly in the top half of the table with a 4-1 win at down-and-out Estrela da Amadora. A twenty-minute period in the second half saw Rio Ave four-nil up through Julio César (2), Evandro and Gama, while Ibraima got the consolation for Estrela five minutes from time. There were just 500 at the Reboleira stadium to witness Estrela's humiliation; the team has conceded 59 goals in 26 games.

Beira-Mar continue on a downward spiral, losing this time 1-2 at União de Leria. Hugo Almeida, on loan from FC Porto, put União in front on 12 minutes, João Paulo equalised on 17 but Renato got what proved to be the winner ten minutes from half-time.

The dog fight at the wrong end of the table now officially includes Belenenses went down Saturday at home to Nacional. Minute 13 was unlucky for Belenenses, Serginho popping up to net. Nacional are now fourth and looking serious contenders for a UEFA Cup place.

The teams most likely to drop with Estrela da Amadora are two from Belenenses, Académca, Vitória de Guimarães and Pacos de Ferreira. The latter lost 1-2 at Sporting Braga , who join Nacional in equal fourth. Geraldo put through his own goal just before the break to give Braga the lead, Zé Manuel equalised on 50 minutes but on 67, former FC Porto striker Pena got the winner.

Everyone else are also-rans to top team FC Porto who inevitably beat local rivals Boavista 1-0 Saturday in front of 42,000 at the Estádio do Dragão. An organised Boavista, under returning coach Jaime Pacheco, kept Porto at bay in the first half, but collapsed in the second and ultimately lost to a McCarthy strike twenty minutes from time (see match report).

09/03/04

Rio Ave drew 0-0 at home to Sporting Braga Monday in the last game of the 25th day. Braga re-established their 4th place, while Rio Ave consolidated their mid-table position.

08/03/04

The status quo was maintained at the top of the SuperLiga Sunday with Benfica winning 2-1 at Gil Vicente. Brazilian winger Geovanni put Benifca in front on the half hour with a golaço; Armando took the ball to the line on the right, clipped it back and Geovanni was running in to crack a superb drive home from the edge of the box, with Gil ´keeper Paulo Jorge helpless. Braima equalised from outside the area on 66 minutes, but young sub Manuel Fernandes scored his first goal in a Benfica shirt 12 minutes from time. Benfica remain seven points behind sporting and 14 behind FC Porto. Gil remain mid-table but must now look over their shoulders ...

Madeiran side Nacional are, at least temporarily, in fourth after beating Académica 2-1 at the difficult Choupana stadium. But it was Académica who took the lead, Fábio Felício scoring from the spot. Only Nacional are a hard nut to crack these days, and sure enough, they came back in the second half with two goals from the inevitable Adriano, the SuperLiga's top scorer with 17. Académica's 'keeper Pedro Roma was sent off twenty minutes from time for handling outside the area. His team are sitting just above the water line.

It was another 'keeper who scored the strangest goal of the day in Vitória de Guimarães' draw at Moreirense. Vitória's French 'keeper Palatsi gave his team the lead in the first half whem he saw his opposite number João off his line and punted the ball over him and in. Armando got an equaliser midway through the second half to leave Vitória in the bottom three. Moreirense are in a comfortable mid-table position.

Marítimo trail their Madeiran rivals Nacional by two points after they dropped two at home to União de Leiria. Two goals within a minute midway through the first half left the teams at 1-1, Van der Gaag putting Marítimo ahead, Douala equalising, and the Cameroonian forward put the visitors in front just before the break. A quarter of an hour into the second half, Rincón saved a point for Marítimo.

At the bottom of the table, Estrela da Amadora have all but thrown the towel in. This time they went down 0-3 at Alverca, who thus continue to draw away from the drop zone. Vargas with two and Zeferino did the damage. Estrela have now conceded 55 goals in 25 games.

07/03/04

Sporting kept alive the faint glimmer of hope of winning the title with a 2-0 win at Beira-Mar Saturday. The game was up within a minute and before ten minutes had ticked away. First Liedson was fouled in the box by Toni, Pedro Barbosa slotting home from the spot, and then Tello crossed from the left for Rochemback to loop a rare header in. The rest of the game was a scrappy affair and, perhaps fortunately, almost entirely invisible in the last half hour as the fog came down. Sporting are the same seven points adrift of FC Porto, while Beira-Mar, with only one point in the last four games, still remain in touch with the pack chasing a UEFA Cup place.

Boavista dropped another two points at home to struggling Paços de Ferreira. Cafu headed Boavista in front as early as the seventh minute from a Ricardo Sousa corner, but Paços were level on 28 when the impressive Manduca, also with a header, popped up at the back post to beat William from a Zé Manuel cross. The home fans whistled the team off the pitch at the end of the game, and the Boavista Board subsequently announced that they were firing coach Erwin Sanchez (see general news).

06/03/04

FC Porto breezed through their SuperLiga game Friday with one eye on the Champions League. Belenenses were the victims this time, 4-1. McCarthy got two, one on either side of the break. Belenenses claimed that he fouled Filgueira for the first, and that the second, a penalty, came from an inexistent foul by Wilson on Sérgio Conceição.

Belenenses coach Augusto Ignácio also questioned the criteria used to dish out yellow cards. Certainly, Filgueira got one in the first half for a foul identical to the one that Jorge Costa committed on Antchouet in the second, without seeing a card. And Costinha and Maniche escaped cards for veritable aggressions on the legs of Belenenses players.

But Porto's dominance was never in question, and this was rammed home by Ricardo Costa on 64 minutes and Deco on 83. Brasília got a consolation for Belenenses on the stroke of time, but it was just that: a consolation. The club is perilously close to the drop zone and will soon have to start picking up serious points.

FC Porto coach José Mourinho was pleased with the performance and also that most of the key players came through the game unscathed, in view of the important game on Tuesday against Manchester United. But, he said: "... our main objective is the SuperLiga. We've done our bit in the Champions League ... although we have legitimate aspirations of going though."

02/03/04

FC Porto maintained their unbeaten run and took a step of three more points towards yet another title Monday with a difficult but, and this is the key, inevitable win over improving Académica in front of 20,000 at the Municipal Stadium in Coimbra. Benni McCarthy got the only goal a quarter of an hour from the end with a free-kick from just outside the area that deflected wildly off Flávio Dias in the wall to leave the otherwise excellent Pedro Roma flat-footed. Porto are now seven points ahead of Sporting, Académica still perilously close to the drop.

Goals were apparently rationed Monday because in the other game there were none, Alverca sneaking a point at Sporting Braga.

01/03/04

Benfica dropped two points at home to modest Moreirense Sunday to fall seven points behind second-placed Sporting, this on the weekend when the club celebrated 100 years of existence. There was only one team in it for most of the game, but the one-way traffic could not be converted into goals until the 55th minutes, rugged midfielder Fernando Aguiar heading in from a Petit free-kick. Benfica's inability to net was their downfall, Demétrios equalising from a Tito cross four miutes from the final whistle. He had little time to feel good about his goal, however; two minutes later he saw a second yellow, but even then Benfica were unable to take advantage of their numerical superiority in the five minutes remaining.

It was one of three draws on the day. Beira-Mar's quest for a UEFA Cup place has been stuttering in recent weeks, and Sunday was no exception. Visiting the 'red lantern' Estrela da Amadora, Miran and Junininho Petrolina were the main protagonists. The former gave Estrela the lead on 13 minutes, the latter equalised on 36, the former renewed the lead on 54 minutes and the latter saved Beira-Mar's blushes two minutes from the end. Beira-Mar could have jumped to fourth but are now in seventh on equal points with Boavista. There were just 800 spectators at Reboleira to witness the thrills, however.

União de Leiria were two down at home to Gil Vicente with goals from Luís Loureiro (penalty) and Gaspar near the end of the first and second halves respectively, but right on time and four minutes into added time União found the inspiration to draw level through Edson and João Paulo.

The only team to win on the day was Rio Ave, who plunged a disappointing Paços de Ferreira into deeper trouble at the foot of the table. Evandro got a very early goal (two minutes), Puntas pulled Paços back from the brink on 73 but Evandro pushed them over two minutes later with his second of the game, 11th of the season. Paços are second from bottom on 20 points.

 

29/02/04

Central defender Beto, with a neat, curled free-kick ten minutes from time, was the only one who managed to break the deadlock enforced by visiting Madeiran team Marítimo to Alvalade Saturday. Sporting had most of the play and chances, but were unable to make a significant mark on Marítimo's resistance.

Also with the majority of play were Boavista at Belenenses, but they came away with just the one point after a 1-1 draw, the same result as earlier in the season. Belenenses were in front midway through the first half, against the run of play, through Hugo Henrique. Early in the second half, Cafú, returning to his old club, headed home a Calvino free-kick from the right. Ten minutes from time, Boavista's Colombian defender Viveros was sent off for a foul on Antchouet, who was breaking through.

28/02/04

Struggling Vitória de Guimarães threw themselves a lifeline Friday with a hard-fought 2-1 'home' (at borrowed ground Maia) win against UEFA-chasing Madeiran side Nacional. Vinicius on 25 and Guga on the hour gave Vitória some breathing space, Serginho pulled one back on 68, and until the end, Vitória were on the ropes. But they held out for the precious three points that leave them still in the relegation places but nearer the escape hatch.

24/02/04

Boavista dropped another two points at home Monday against Rio Ave in the game that closed Day 23 of the SuperLiga (of 34). Boavista were in front on 21 minutes, Fary crossing from the left for Ricardo Sousa to control superbly in front of goal, draw two defenders and tuck the ball in for his 11th of the season. The Porto club made the mistake from that point on of trying to safeguard the lead, and they ended up shooting themselves in the foot in the dying minutes; sub Martelinho tried to dribble out of defence, lost the ball and Rio Ave netted scrappily through Jaime.

Boavista are in a bunch of five teams that can realistically hope for the spare UEFA Cup place. The others are: Sporting Braga, Marítimo, Nacional and Beira-Mar. Rio Ave are looking safe in mid-table.

23/02/04

Sporting lost two points in their direct challenge of FC Porto at the top of the SuperLiga when they could only draw 1-1 with Gil Vicente in Barcelos. They were down to a Luís Loureiro penalty after just 18 minutes and suffered with the expulsion early in the second half of Rui Jorge, rugby-tackling Nandinho, through on goal. Sporting drew level on 70 minutes, Carlos Martins scoring from close range.

Benfica lost three points in the (ever-more-hopeless) challenge for the title and, more importantly, two points to Sporting in the challenge for a Champions League place. They lost 2-3 at the impressive Nacional of Madeira, who stubbornly insist on giving the big teams shocks. The inevitable Adriano put the Madeirenses in front on 10 minutes, Simão equalised on the half hour and Nuno Gomes gave Benifca the lead on 51 minutes. But within five minutes, Nacional had turned it around the other way through Adriano (his 15th of the season - he is top scorer in the SuperLiga) and captain Gouveia. Nacional are now challenging for a UEFA Cup place.

Alverca beat relegation rivals Paços de Ferreira 2-1, all the goals coming in the first half, two of which in the first ten minutes. Fernando Gaúcho put the visitors in front on four minutes, but Bruno Aguiar restored equality five minutes later. On 34 minutes, defender Amoreirinha gave Alverca the three points.

Bottom side Estrela da Amadora lost once again, but it took a penalty early in the second half by Gaúcho against his former club to give Marítimo the three points in Madeira.

Moreirense and União de Leiria drew 0-0.

22/02/04

It's difficult to imagine who is going to stop FC Porto from marching on to the SuperLiga title this season, and it's equally difficult to imagine how Vitória de Guimarães are going to get themselves out of the mess they find themselves in. The two met Saturday. Vitória are second from bottom and fighting for their SuperLiga existence, but Porto brushed them aside 3-0. Maciel got the first on the half hour in a one-on-one with Palatsi, Jankauskas got the second in added time at the break after a flowing counter-attack involving Deco and Maciel, and McCarthy netted from the spot in added time at the end.

A topic of incidental interest was how the pitch at the new Estádio do Dragão would play. It had been sown in the autumn but had never taken well, so this week the club ripped it up and laid turf. And it played beautifully, welcome news ahead of Thurday's Champions League clash with Manchester United.

In the other SuperLiga game Saturday, something went haywire with Belenenses and lowly Académica appeared to be on something. Académica climbed out of the relegation zone with a whopping 5-0 win at their now bottom-of-the-table rivals. Tonel and Paulo Sérgio in the first half, and Joeano, Flávio Dias and Lucas in the second left their hosts in a state of shock. Os Estudantes are now just a point behind Belenenses, and the Blues will need to come to their senses under new coach Augusto Ignácio if they are to avoid a nervous end to the season.

21/02/04

Sporting Braga are getting over a bad run and beat UEFA-spot-chasing rivals Beira-Mar away Friday, 2-0, to change places with them and climb to fourth. Wender on 63 (his ninth of the season) and Igor on 77 got the goals.

20/02/04

FC Porto's Estádio do Dragão should be used for Saturday's game against Vitória de Guimarães after the pitch was lifted and new turf laid following problems with the old turf taking. Should the pitch still not be ready, the match can be switched to the nearby Antas Stadium (the old home of the club) at 24 hours' notice.

17/02/04

Belenenses coach Augusto Ignácio returned Monday to Vitória de Guimarães, the club which sacked him earlier in the season, and brought away all the points with a 1-0 win, Hugo Henrique getting the goal a quarter of an hour from the end. The game was played in the town of Maia; Vitória's ground is banned following crowd incidents at the recent game with Boavista. Vitória are looking shaky in penultimate place. Belenenses move up a place to 13th.

Alverca caused the surprise of the evening with a 2-1 win at Rio Ave. Ronny put the home side ahead on 21 minutes, but Rodolfo Lima (his ninth of the season) and Alex Afonso turned the result around before the break. Alverca are close on the heels of Belenenses in the flight from relegation. Rio Ave remain ninth.

16/02/04

FC Porto got over the last major obstacle on their way to the title Sunday when they drew 1-1 with Benfica at the Luz (see match report). They are now five points ahead of Sporting and remain nine ahead of Benfica. They also won their first piece of silverware of the season: the BES Cup. Sponsored by the Banco Espirito Santo, the cup is awarded to the team with the best record of the Três Grandes when they play against each other: Porto have two wins and two draws.

Fourth place Beira-Mar surprisingly went down 1-2 at Paços de Ferreira, themselves needing the points to get clear of the drop zone. Manduca and Fernando Gaúcho got the two first-half goals that knocked the wind out of Beira-Mar's sails, and although João Paulo pegged one back with a quarter of an hour to go, it was too little, too late.

Sporting Braga drew level with Beira-Mar on points after a 0-0 draw at home to Marítimo.

Nacional of Madeira are having a whale of a time. They beat União de Leiria 1-0 away and climbed to sixth. The inevitable Adriano got his 13th on 57 minutes and becomes the season's top scorer so far.

Bottom club Estrela da Amadora got a point at home to Gil Vicente (1-1) but it won't be enough to blow away fears of the drop. Pedro Simões put Estrela in front on ten minutes, Mauro equalised on 50.

15/02/04

Académica gave themselves a boost to escape from the bottom of the table Saturday with a 1-0 win at home to Boavista. In a very scrappy game, one goal was enough to separate two equally inept sides; on 65 minutes, Paulo Sérgio, loaned from Sporting, clipped a shot past William's right hand from the edge of the box. In added time, Boavista midfielder André, formerly of Académica and just back from suspension, was sent off for a nasty challenge on Joeano. This was Académica's first win in three months.

14/02/04

An off-colour Sporting had to fight hard against a combative Moreirense for a 1-0 win at Alvalade Friday. Brazilian midfielder Rochemback got the single goal on 34 minutes, driving a loose ball through a crowd of players from the edge of the area. Sporting move to within four points of FC Porto and will be hoping for a favourable result in Sunday's clássico between Benfica and Porto. Unusually, the 'favourable' result would be a win for local arch-rivals Benfica.

10/02/04

Boavista left it until the dying moments of added time to clinch the three points in a scrappy game at home to Alverca, who had been in front since the 42nd minute, Amoreirinha nudging home a loose ball in the six-yard box from Alverca's first attack. They spent the rest of the game holding onto the lead, while Boavista threw everything at them. But, it must be said, Alverca were defending solidly until added time (for some reason seven minutes) when a free-kick by Ricardo Sousa from the right was glanced in by Luíz Claudio. Then another cross from the right by Filipe Anunciãção was headed home from close range by a falling Fary. Alverca's coach José Couceiro complained about the referee's supposed double standards, but if the truth be told, he can only blame himself for sitting on the narrow lead for all of the second half.

The win puts Boavista into fifth, a point behind Beira-Mar, and leaves Alverca still hovering just above the relegation zone.

09/02/04

Benfica moved to within two points of Sporting in second place Sunday with a straightforward 2-0 win at neighbours Belenenses, both goals coming in the second half through Sokota and João Perreira. Benfica remain nine points behind FC Porto but meet them at the Luz next Sunday in what will be a crucial six-pointer.

Beira-Mar are on their own in fourth place after drawing 1-1 at home to Rio Ave. Wijnhard gave Beira-Mar the lead on nine minutes, but Jaime equalised on 27, and that's the way it stayed.

Marítimo climbed to sixth with a 2-0 win over Paços de Ferreira in Madeira. Alan just before the break and Rodrigão on the hour provided the goals.

Moreirense dragged themselves further into safety with a single-goal win over bottom club Estrela da Amadora, Sérgio Lomba doing the damage on 19 minutes. Estrela have just 11 points from 21 games and barring a miracle must surely now be down and out.

Also at the bottom, Académica slugged out a 1-1 draw with fellow strugglers Vitória de Guimarães in front of 8,000 at the Estádio Municipal de Coimbra. Vitória opened the scoring on just three minutes through Rafael, but Académica got a valuable point on 52 minutes with a penalty by Fábio Felício.

08/02/04

Sporting dropped two points to FC Porto Saturday when they drew 3-3 at Nacional of Madeira. Sporting struggled throughout the game but were ahead with a Sá Pinto goal on 38 minutes, but Gouveia equalised on 42. Adriano, who had earlier missed a penalty, put Nacional in front five minutes into the second half, sub Niculae made it level on the hour and another sub, Lourenço, put Sporting in front on 73 minutes. But three minutes from time, Alvarez followed up a shot by Adriano, half saved by Ricardo, to make it 3-3.

Earlier in the evening, FC Porto had done their duty by beating União de Leiria 2-1 in the new Estádio do Dragão. They were two-up before the break through Maniche and Maciel, but Freddy made them run for their money with a lob at the back post that beat Vítor Baía hands down a quarter of an hour before the end.

A negative note in the game was the atrocious condition of the pitch, which had been left for almost three months to mature but was as bad as the inauguration day, large divots appearing from the off and throughout the game. The Estádio do Dragão will be used for the opening game of Euro 2004 and one of the semi-finals.

FC Porto are now seven points ahead of Sporting, and Benfica will be just two points behind their Lisbon rivals if they win at Belenenses Sunday.

07/02/04

Gil Vicente opened Day 21 with a 1-0 home win over Sporting Braga, who missed the chance to go fourth. Josiesley Ferreira got the winner, his ninth of the season, on 42 minutes and drags Gil Vicente up into the middle of the table.

06/02/04

Almost three months after the last game there, the new Estádio do Dragão will be the venue for an official match Saturday when FC Porto take on União de Leiria in the Superliga. Porto returned to their old Antas stadium while the pitch at the new one was treated and given time to take hold.

04/02/04

Benfica beat Académica 2-0 Tuesday in what was essentially a tribute match in honour of óéMikls Fehr. The game was played out in the utmost decorum, without a single yellow card. The first half was a splendid affair, with both sides playing good, open football. It was Benfica, though, who broke the deadlock on 22 minutes, Zahovic glancing a header past Pedro Roma from a deep Petit free-kick. Geovanni, on as sub, made it two on 67 minutes, knocking in a cross from another sub, Alex.

03/02/04

Beira-Mar moved up to fourth with a win snatched in the last minute at Alverca Monday. Scoring came late in the game: Wijnhard got his eighth of the season to put the visitors in front on 68 minutes, Ronald Garcia equalised for Alverca five minutes later but Sandro gave the side from Aveiro all the points in added time.

Sunday's 'highlight' had been the disgraceful scenes at the Estádio D. Afonso Henriques in Guimarães where local club Vitória drew 1-1 with Boavista. At the end of the game, Vitória's Afonso Martins and Boavista's Éder got into a fight which spread to their team-mates, the directors of the clubs and the crowd, who threw objects at the players, directors and match officials as they left the pitch. Guga had missed a first half penalty for Vitória, Ricardo Sousa had got one (his tenth goal of the season) for Boavista on the hour after himself being fouled by 'keeper Palatsi (who was sent off in the dying moments for a second yellow), and Rafael had equalised with a header five minutes later.

Rio Ave are on a roll. They beat difficult side Marítimo 2-1 with goals either side of half-time by Valente and Evandro, his ninth of the season. Dinda got a consolation for the Madeirenses a minute from time.

Belenenses let victory slip from their grasp in added time at União de Leiria, Freddy cancelling out an Antchouet goal scored on 64 minutes. A worrying aspect of the game was the terrible state of the pitch at the Leiria Municipal Stadium, one of those to be used at Euro 2004.

Paços de Ferreira are determined to drag themselves out of trouble and did themselves a power of good with a see-saw 3-2 win at home to Gil Vicente. Zé Manuel opened and closed their account, and in between, Pinheiro (own goal) and Yuri replied for Gil. Manduca got Paços' other goal.

Brazilian striker Adriano got his 11th of the season on 22 minutes to give Madeiran side Nacional all the points at bottom club Estrela da Amadora, looking increasingly doomed with just 11 points from 20 games, six points from safety.

Day 20 is completed Tuesday with Benfica v Académica, postponed to allow Benfica to be at Miklós Fehér's funeral in Hungary.

01/02/04

No change at the top, with Sporting and FC Porto sharing the points in a tense but relatively civilised 1-1 draw at Alvalade (see match reports). Porto complained of Sporting striker Liedson's exaggeration of the treatment he got from the Porto defenders, but could not really complain about the final result, given the balance of play. Porto remain unbeaten and five points ahead of Sporting.

Sporting's João Pinto tumbled into the advertising hoardings late in the second half and dislocated his shoulder. He may be out of action for several weeks. While the Porto players were distracted with the injury, Sporting took a quick throw-in that led to the penalty and Sporting's equaliser. Porto's coach José Mourinho was incensed: "As far as I'm concerned, and after what I saw in this game [he was very critical of Liedson's attitude], all I want to do is ask the president to let me leave at the end of the season, a long way away from here."

 

31/01/04

Moreirense are proving a tough nut to crack these days. They made it three wins and two draws from the last five with a 1-1 draw at Sporting Braga Friday. Paulo Jorge put through his own goal to give Moreirense the lead on 24 minutes, but Paulo Sérgio gave Braga a point after 57. Moreirense's Tito was sent off for a second yellow on the stroke of time. Braga's push for Europe has stalled somewhat with only one point from the last three matches.

27/01/04

Boavista edged it at home to fifth-placed Beira-Mar Monday, despite being down to ten men after only twenty minutes, Mário Loja pulling down former team-mate João Paulo who was through on goal. Beira-Mar had most of the play in the first half and most of the chances, but it was Boavista who got the win with a goal five minutes from time: Raul Meireles squared a free-kick to Ricardo Sousa, who hit home from ten metres. The players rushed to the bench and waved a no. 29 Miklós Fehér Benfica shirt in homage to the Hungarian striker who died Sunday. There had been a minute's 'silence' for Fehér at the beginning of the game, filled with applause from the terraces.

Benfica's Fernando Aguiar got the only goal in a game that nobody won Sunday. For the record, Benfica got the three points at Vitória de Guimarães.

Nacional trounced high-flying Sporting Braga 5-1. The Madeiran side were two-up by half-time through the terrible twosome Rossato and Adriano. Gouveia added one on 50, Wender pulled one back on 65 but Rossato and Adriano struck again before the end to clinch a fine win.

Gabriel and Douala put União de Leiria two-up before the break at Académica, and although Marcelo pulled one back on 66 minutes, the score stayed at 1-2.

There was the same score at Gil Vicente, who hosted Rio Ave. But the guests were not very polite, turning around a 1-0 reverse (Josiesly Ferreira) and transforming it into a 1-2 win through Evandro (penalty) and Junas, all the goals coming in the second half.

Tito got the only goal from the spot on 52 minutes that gave Moreirense all three points at home to desperate Paços de Ferreira.

26/01/04

(See óémikls fehr)

25/01/04

The top two, FC Porto and Sporting, both won Saturday, whetting the appetite for next Saturday's crucial clash between the two; five points separate them.

Porto cruised to a 2-0 home win against bottom club Estrela da Amadora thanks to two first half goals from Benni McCarthy. Sérgio Conceição and Carlos Alberto made their starting debuts, the former back home after five years in Italy.

Later in the evening, Sporting were down at Belenenses to a well-worked goal by Marco Paulo on the half-hour, but Ricardo Sá Pinto equalised soon after. Sporting were helped by the sending-off of Marco Paulo on 63 minutes, followed by the goal which gave them the lead from João Pinto on 67. Belenenses had another player sent off on 80 minutes, Wilson, and made it 3-1 through Liedson on the stroke of time.

24/01/04

Lowly Alverca looked like they were heading for a surprise win at normally difficult Marítimo, with a goal by Alex Afonso on the half hour and Marítimo midfielder Danny sent off on the hour. But five mniutes from the end, Alan sent a speculative shot goalwards from the edge of the area and it was deflected past Yannick by central defender Marco Almeida. Even so, in the final minutes, Alverca had a perfectly good goal by Torrão disallowed for offside. The point won is little for both sides, Marítimo in the hunt for a European place, Alverca for safety.

FC Porto have submitted a written complaint to the Liga with respect to the limited number of tickets allocated to the club for the game at Sporting a week today. Sporting have allowed Porto under 1,500 tickets, when they claim that they are entitled to 30%. They are also unhappy that the tickets are divided into various sectors, raising security doubts.

23/01/04

Eight days before the crunch Sporting v Porto game, which is set to be a reliable indicator of the destination of this year's title, the hosts have announced that there are only 4,000 tickets remaining of the initially 50,000 available. Sporting trail Porto by five points; a win will put them within two points of the top, a defeat will probably be realistically the end of their chances.

21/01/04

There was no change in any of the 18 positions of the SuperLiga after the weekend's results. (See table)

20/01/04

The two draws Monday made it six out of nine for Day 18 of the SuperLiga.

Belenenses travelled across Lisbon to face bottom club Estrela da Amadora and must have fancied their chances, especially when they went two-up in the first half through Leonardo on 34 minutes and an own goal from Hugo Carreira on 42. But they made the mistake of thinking it was all over bar the shouting, and it was Estrela who had the final shout: Estrela's top scorer Júlio César got a penalty on 87 minutes and another at the death to give Estrela a vital point in their fight against the drop.

União de Leiria and Vitória de Guimarães slugged out a 0-0 draw, liable, if anything, to keep fans away from the new stadiums.

Alverca's 0-0 draw with Gil Vicente Sunday was watched by 300 people. Fewer than Benfcia's midweek training sessions.

19/01/04

Benfica eventually got the better of tough nut Boavista Sunday in a bad-tempered tussle at the new Luz. The home side were two-nil up through Sokota and Argel, Boavista came back to draw level through Ricardo Sousa and Filipe Anunciação, but Benfica took advantage of Boavista being down to ten men to get a third through Sokota, and Boavista just didn't have enough to come back again. (see match reports)

The referee, Elmano Santos, showed nine yellow cards and two reds, both to Boavista (Rui Oscar and Martelinho). He has refereed seven games this season and shown seven red cards.

Benfica in third maintain the six point gap between them and Sporting in second, and the 11-point gap between them and top team FC Porto, but they increase the advantage over fourth club Sporting Braga to four points. Boavista remain seventh.

Two goals in the second half, one for each side, saw Nacional (Serginho, 69) draw at lowly Paços de Ferreira (Júnior, penalty, 81).

Niquinha, in his 100th game for the club, put Rio Ave in front on 37 minutes at home to Moreirense, but just five minutes later, Demétrios equalised with a spectacular overhead kick. And that's the way it stayed.

Alverca and Gil Vicente shared the points in a dull 0-0 draw.

18/01/04

FC Porto and Sporting both won Saturday to maintain the status quo at the top of the SuperLiga and put the pressure on Benfica, who face Boavista Sunday, to win or be left irredemiably behind.

Porto were Sporting Braga's first official opponents at the beautiful new Estádio Municipal de Braga (although the pitch, as in practically all of the new stadiums built for Euro 2004, leaves a lot to be desired), and they showed why they are firm favourites to retain the title they won last season. The difference between the two sides was fundamentally one of coolness of finishing, and Porto's three Ms - Maniche, Maciel and McCarthy - finished Braga off with three first half goals on 14, 21 and 45 minutes respectively. Braga stay fourth.

Earlier in the evening, Sporting had beaten Adadémica 2-0, without really shining. Brazilian striker Liedson put them in front with a first-time strike of a loose ball on 41 minutes, and current star-of-the-show veteran Pedro Barbosa capped it all off at the finish with a one-on-one with the 'keeper that left him with an empty net. It was Sporting's eighth consecutive victory in the SuperLiga, and they seem to be the only team with the stamina to accompany Porto into the final straight. Académica remain above the relegation zone, but only barely.

17/01/04

High-flying Beira-Mar and Marítimo drew two apiece Friday in the opening game of the 18th day of the SuperLiga. The Madeira side took the lead on the half-hour through Wênio, Zeman equalised on 54, Alan put the islanders in front again twenty minutes from time and João Paulo saved a point three minutes later. The draw leaves Beira-Mar in fifth on 31 points with Marítimo trailing by just two points in sixth.

14/01/04

There were just 10,000 at Beira-Mar's 1-1 home draw with Gil Vicente Monday. The 30,000-seat Estádio Municipal de Aveiro will be used at Euro 2004.

13/01/04

In the last game of the first half of the season, Beira-Mar maintained fifth spot in the league but struggled against an improving, and after the 49th minute depleted (dismissal of Nuno Amaro), Gil Vicente . Beira-Mar needed a penalty, by top scorer Wijnhard, a quarter of an hour before the end to cancel out a Ferreira goal on 38 minutes. The game was the first official one at the Aveiro Municipal Stadium.

At the halfway stage, FC Porto are the team to beat for the second season in a row. At this stage last year, they had the same record (won 14, drawn 3, lost 0 ... but all victories at home) and similar goals for and against (39-11 this, 32-12 last). This year they have a five-point advantage over second placed Sporting; last year the difference was eleven points ... over Benfica.

12/01/04

Benfica dropped two more points Sunday, this time at União de Leiria, to fall six points behind Sporting, who are in second, and eleven behind FC Porto in first. Although we are only now at the halfway stage, the gap is looking increasingly insurmountable given Benfica's irregular performances, Sporting's growing strength and FC Porto's tradicional invincibility.

It was a ding-dong, see-saw of a match in Leiria. Luís Filipe, on loan from Sporting and playing in his first game, got Leiria's first on the break on 18 minutes, Sokota equalised after some sloppy defending on the half hour, but Douala followed up a Luís Filipe shot that pinged back off a post to send the home side in front a couple of minutes before half-time.

Nuno Gomes, put Benfica level on 57 with a typical piece of opportunism close in, and he got another ten minutes from time to put Benfica in front for the first time, but that man Douala wiped the smiles off the faces of the Benfica faithful three minutes later with a rifled shot from a long range pass from the back. It was 3-3 and both sides kept at it to get the final blood, but that's the way it stayed.

There were 18,000 in the new Leiria Municipal Stadium, capacity 30,000. The question arises: if UDL can't fill their new stadium for the visit of giants Benfica, the biggest draw in the Portuguese game, when will they be able to? And the answer must be: rarely or never.

Sporting Braga are proving that their drive up the table is no fluke with another win, the victims this time Belenenses, 2-1. Antchouet managed to give Belenenses the lead early in the second half, but Braga came back with a goal from ex-FC Porto striker Pena on 64 minutes and got the winner ten minutes from the end with a penalty from top scorer Wender. It was Belenenses' third defeat in a row.

Moreirense travelled to Alverca and came back with all three points with a 2-1 win. Alverca struck first early on through their top scorer Rodolfo Lima, but Moreirense got two second half goals through Tito (penalty) and Demétrios to leave Alverca hovereing dangerously above the relegation zone.

Bottom club Estrela da Amadora appear to be determined not to go down without a fight. They beat other strugglers Académica 2-1, all the goals coming in the last quarter of an hour. Estrela's top striker Júlio César scored on 75, Dionattan equalised three minutes from time with a free-kick, but Estrela nicked it in the dying moments through Lula.

On Saturday, FC Porto had little difficulty in beating traditionally complicated Paços de Ferreira 2-0, two Benni McCarthy goals in a seven-minute spell in the first half doing the trick.

The two Madeira clubs were involved in grey 0-0 draws. Marítimo were held by Boavista in Funchal, while Nacional travelled to in-form Rio Ave to steal a point.

10/01/04

Sporting had to battle hard Friday, at least initially, to beat Vitória de Guimarães 2-1 and get yet another three points in their chase of FC Porto. It was Sporting's seventh Liga victory in a row, but it plunges Vitória into even deeper trouble at the bottom of the table. It was Vitória who went in front, though, Romeu beating Ricardo to the ball to head in from a Rubens Junior free-kick.

That was on 22 minutes, but just eight minutes later, captain Pedro Barbosa, re-born of late, fired in a shot from the left that João Pinto diverted in from close range. Five minutes later, Rafael clashed with Rui Jorge near the corner flag and the Vitória player was sent off. It proved the turning point in the game, as Sporting took advantage of the extra space almost immediately. And on 42 minutes, Pedro Barbosa swung in a free-kick for Sporting's second and the goal that would eventually decide the match.

The second half was very scrappy, with the reduced Vitória unable to make any headway against a Sporting side in control of the game. To completely pack up Vitória's bags of woe, captain Cléber was sent off for a second yellow on the stroke of time.

09/01/04

Leiria's Municipal Stadium was given the thumbs up Thursday by the Liga and the Fire Service, which means that it can be used Sunday in the game between União de Leiria and Benfica.

Similarly, Monday's SuperLiga match between Beira-Mar and Gil Vicente will be the first of a competitive nature at the Aveiro Municipal Stadium. The decision was made after an inspection by the Liga, the company responsible for the construction olf the stadium and the GNR (Guarda Nacional Republicana).

The two stadiums have recently been completed and will be used at Euro 2004.

06/01/04

FC Porto, in their first game without influential forward Derlei through injury, struggled to overcome plucky Rio Ave Monday in Porto's 1,000th game at the Estádio das Antas. Indeed, they were heading for a 'scandalous' goal-less home draw until the dying minutes when sub Jankauskas forced a foul by Bruno Mendes in the area. Benni McCarthy sent the otherwise excellent Mora the wrong way from the spot to maintain a five-point gap over Sporting at the top of the SuperLiga. But Sporting and third-placed Benfica will be heartened by Porto's obvious vulnerability on the night.

Into fourth go the impressive Sporting Braga under the management of former Benfica coach Jesualdo Ferreira after a 1-0 win at Académica, who continue to totter perilously close to the drop-zone. Igor got the winner, from a pass by Wooter, on 23 minutes. Braga are now just three points behind Benfica. A worrying sign was the more-than-half-empty Estádio Municipal de Coimbra, a taste, perhaps, of things to come post-Euro 2004.

05/01/04

In the most important fixture of the day, Sporting travelled across town and spoiled Benfica's party in the first game of their centenary year and the first Lisbon derby at the new Luz stadium in front of 60,000 expectant Benfica fans (see match reports). Sporting needed two penalties to make the difference, but the difference was deserved, and the Lions came out 3-1 winners.

The teams chasing the top three had a bad afternoon.

Beira-Mar surprisingly went down 1-3 at struggling Moreirense. Vítor Pereira and Primo put the home side in front in the first half, Kingsley pulled one back early in the second but Lito confirmed the points for Moreirense on 68.

Marítimo lost 1-2 at an improving Gil Vicente, Josiesley Ferreira giving Gil the lead just before the break, Fábio Januário extending it on 57 and Mitchell van der Gaag giving the Madeiran side a hope on 71.

A ten-man Boavista (Jocivalter sent off after only a quarter of an hour) left it until ten minutes from the end to get the points (1-0) against a resilient and at times dangerous União de Leiria. Cafú, on as sub, made his own luck by dispossessing two UDL defenders to slot the ball past Helton. Minutes earlier, another Boavista sub, Ricardo Sousa, had hit the bar with a penalty.

Vitória de Guimarães beat fellow strugglers Estrela da Amadora by the same score to keep a hold on safety at the bottom of the table. Diminutive Nuno Assis got the only goal three minutes into the second half, a header from a cross by Rafael.

Two Serginhos did early damage to Alverca's aspirations on their trip to Nacional of Madeira: Serginho Baiano got the first on 16, Serginho Cunha got the second on 20. Alverca were unable to make any headway, and Alexandre Goulart struck the final blow near the end to give Nacional a comfortable 3-0 win.

On Saturday, Paços de Ferreira had finished off Belenenses in Restelo with two very early goals. The first, by Puntas, was the quickest of the season at just 15 seconds. Zé Manuel got the second on seven minutes.

 

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