FC Porto finished 2005 on a high note, winning 2-0 on their visit to strugglers Vitória de Guimarães. In-form Ricardo Quaresma got the first with a superb shot from wide on the left on 21 minutes. Jorginho, on as sub, missed an open goal on 52 minutes when he tripped over his own bootlaces, but made up for it five minutes later with Porto's second. Porto remain top.
Nacional coldly dispatched Boavista on their own turf, the Porto club's first home defeat of the season. Fomer Bessa player Goulart got the first on four minutes, a Viveiros through ball finding him unmarked in front of goal. Boavista's Fary allowed the formidable Diego to save his penalty kick on 26 minutes, and although the home team had most of the play, they could not transform their pressure into goals, down to Diego, the post (a Diogo Valente free kick) and lack of ruthlessness in front of goal. Ruthless was Nacional's top scorer André Pinto, on as sub on 56 minutes; within ten minutes his two goals had put the game beyond Boavista. Nacional go clear second, four points behind FC Porto.
Penafiel look more and more doomed, bottom with only seven points. This time it was Estrela da Amadora and a goal from Semedo on five minutes that did the damage.
The Liga takes a break now until 8 January.
Benfica went provisonally second in the Liga Wednesday with a 1-0 win at plucky, depleted (with five players leaving the club this week) Vitória de Setúbal in new coach Hélio's first game in charge. Vitória had themsleves to blame for choosing defence in the second half, and their giant 'keeper Moretto to thank for a number of fine saves. but in the dying minutes, a delicate Geovanni lob was taken down by Nuno Gomes to the left of goal and he in turn lobbed into the only spot in the goal that Moretto couldn't get to for just the fifth goal to be conceded by Vitória all season. But Vitória looked a little ragged on the night, understandable perhaps with the traumatic season behind the scenes they've had so far this season. It was their second reverse in a row and drops them to fifth, and they may be wobbling. On the other hand, this was Benfica's fourth consecutive 1-0 win and they are now just three points behind FC Porto, who visit Vitória de Guimarães Thursday.
Sporting Braga are certainly wobbling, but they can point a finger at the referee for having a hand in their 1-2 defeat at Gil Vicente, who climb out of the relegation zone. Braga went in front on 27 minutes, João Tomás crashing in a typical header from a corner by Jaime, but early in the second half, a long range shot from Gouveia hit the bar and came down on the line. The referee Elmano Santos gave a goal, and the decision shook Braga and heartened Gil. Braga's game fell apart, and they could not even take advantage of numerical superiority after Gregory was sent off on 67 minutes; on 85, Nandinho's free kick was deflected off the wall and past Paulo Santos. Sporting Braga, with their fourth successive away defeat, loka shadow of the side that was threatening to run away with the Liga a month ago; they are now in sixth, on equal points with Vitória de Setúbal and five points behind FC Porto.
The Cameroonian striker Meyong is back amongst the goals; he got the only one in Belenenses victory at Académica, his 11th of the season, lifting the Lisbon side above the Coimbra side in mid-table.
União de Leiria were 1-0 down at home to struggling Naval, Glauber scoring from the spot on the half hour. But five minutes before time, Maciel put União level, and on the stroke of time, Harison gave the home side a 2-1 win and all three points. União climb to eighth while Naval, second from bottom on 11 points, already look favourites for the drop along with Penafiel.
Two second-half goals from Rincón gave improving Marítimo all three points on their trip to Paços de Ferreira. Paços had gone in front with a goal in the first half from Júnior . Marítimo join Paços and União de Leiria in mid-table on 21 points.
Sporting finished the year with a bang, beating Rio Ave 3-0 at Alvalade Tuesday. Liedson was back in form, scoring two vital goals, with Tonel getting the other. Full back Rogério is leaving for Fluminense, but he earned a standing ovation when he was injured in the first half and left the field in emotional tears. Sporting go provisionally second, four points behind FC Porto, who have a game in hand. Day 16 of the Liga was brought forward to midweek to avoid Christmas and to give the players an extended break until the weekend of 08 January.
Boavista drew for the eighth time this season Sunday, at home to struggling Vitória de Guimarães. Boavista took the lead on 34 minutes, central defender Cadú scrambling in at the back post after a looping cross from José Manuel on the left. Vitória came out fighting in the second half and proved that their position in the relegation zone is not a true one given the value of their squad. Five minutes into the second half, Saganowski picked up a loose ball 25 metres out and let fly, giving Carlos no chance. Twenty minutes from time, Zé Manuel saw a second yellow which left Boavista depleted for the run in, but paradoxically, it was they who caused the most trouble for Vitória's defence. Boavista remain in seventh, Vitória are fourth from bottom.
FC Porto consolidated their position at the top of the Liga Saturday with a 3-1 win over 'red lantern' Penafiel. It was the bottom club that went in front before a minute was up through Bruno Amaro. But with Penafiel trying to defend their lead from the word go, and Porto putting on the pressure, it was only a question of time before the home side were back in it, and so it was. In the five minutes before the break they were 2-1 up, with goals from Lucho Gonzalez, the second a penalty after Weligton had fouled Quaresma. Ten minutes into the second half it was all over, Quaresma crossing low from the left for Lisandro Lopez to tap in.
Nacional remain second despite losing 0-1 at Benfica. It took a controversial goal from Nuno Gomes twenty minutes from time to secure the points. Petit lofted a cross in from the left, Luisão clearly fouled 'keeper Diego in the challenge and Nuno Gomes swept in the loose ball from the edge of the six-yard box. A generally unadventurous Nacional had been close to taking the lead on the hour but Nuno Viveiros hit the bar when he might have scored. Benfica defender Alcides was sent off in the closing miutes for a second yellow. Benfica are fifth.
Sporting Braga returned to their winning ways after three straight defeats with a 2-0 home win over Académica. Both goals came from dead ball situations, the excellent Nunes heading in from a Jaime free kick on 32 minutes and João Tomás thundering in to head home from a Hugo Leal corner on 65. Braga are fourth.
Vitória de Setúbal's heroic march up the table faltered with a 0-1 reverse at Marítimo, Rincón getting the only goal twenty minutes from time. Vitória remain third.
Belenenses dragged themselves out of the relegation zone with a 2-0 win at home to Paços de Ferreira. Rolando put them in front on 33 minutes, and Meyong made it safe with his tenth goal of the season on 75.
Gil Vicente remain in the drop zone after going down at regular Rio Ave, José Gomes scoring on 63 minutes.
Estrela da Amadora are hovering near the bottom and missed a chance to give themselves some breathing space when they went down 1-2 at home to União de Leiria. Paulo César put the visitors two-up within half an hour, the first goal coming from an awful error by Maurício, losing the ball in front of goal. Anselmo pulled one back in added time of the first half, but Estrela could not pull it round. União had Paulo Gomes sent off fifteen minutes from the end for a second yellow.
Sporting brought back all three points from their visit to Figueira da Foz (Naval) Friday, but in a scrappy match they needed a first-half penalty from Moutinho (his first goal for the senior side, after he had been brought down by 'keeper Taborda) and a second-half own goal from China to do it. Sporting climb provisionally to third, while Naval, under new coach Álvaro Magalhães, remain second from bottom. This was their sixth straight defeat, and their eighth consecutive game without a win.
A goal on 49 minutes from central defender Auri against Belenenses put Vitória de Setúbal into third in the Liga Monday. The feat would be great enough, but it becomes greater when the inability of the Vitória administration to pay overdue salaries is taken into account. The Belenenses slump continues under José Couceiro, and they are now just above the waterline.
Benfica overtook Sporting and moved into fifth Sunday after comprehensively beating Boavista in front of over 50,000 at the Luz, although there was only a goal in it, Alcides in the dying seconds of the first half crashing in a header at the back post from a Petit corner on the left, Benfica's twelfth.
Sporting Braga continue to slip, conceding their third defeat in a row, their fourth in five. This time it was at Paços de Ferreira, Rui Dolores netting in added time of the first half.
Mid-table teams Académica and Rio Ave slogged out a 2-2 draw, but it took a Marcel penalty (his ninth goal of the season) on the stroke of time to secure the point for Académica. Chidi had put Rio Ave in front on 22 minutes, Danilo had equalised on 54 and Gaúcho had given Rio Ave hope of the three points on 55. Rio Ave played the last half hour reduced to ten after full back Milhazes saw red.
Vitória de Guimarães, in their first game post-Jaime Pacheco, scrambled a little away from the bottom with a 1-0 win at bottom club Penafiel, who are firmly rooted there with just seven points, four behind Naval. Benachour got the only goal a minute from time. Penfiel's N'Doye got a red card ten minutes from time.
Gil Vicente got a sniff of safety with a 2-0 win over slowly sinking Naval. Luís Coentrão in added time at the end of the first half and Nandinho with a penalty near the end were the scorers.
FC Porto secured their top spot Saturday with a 3-1 win at irregular União de Leiria. União were one-up after 35 minutes through Fábio Felício, but before the break they were two-one down, the goals coming from Larangeiro (through his own goal) and Lisandro Lopez. Diego put the cherry on the cake with a third on 90 minutes.
Nacional remain in second just a point behind Porto after winning the local Madeiran derby 2-1 at the Choupana. They went in front against Marítimo on 36 minutes through Bruno , their local rivals equalised on 66 through Kanu, but Bruno got his second and the Nacional winner in added time.
Sporting lost their first game under coach Paulo Bento when they went down 0-1 at home to lowly Estrela da Amadora Friday. Manu scored the only goal of the game to give Estrela three valuable points in their struggle to stay up, while Sporting's top striker Liedson, back after an internal suspension on disciplinary grounds, had a penalty saved by Estrela 'keeper Bruno Vale. Sporting stay fifth but may be overtaken by Benfica or Boavista if either team win the match between them at the Luz on Sunday.
After going out of the UEFA Cup Thursday, Vitória de Guimarães made a pile of their woes Monday, going down 0-3 at home to União de Leiria. They were two-down within seven minutes, through Touré and Paulo César, and the latter got a second just before the break to effectively finish Vitória off. Vitória's Saganowski was sent off on 36 minutes, União's Tixier on 92. The northerners languish second from bottom on ten points, and coach Jaime Pacheco, who said after the game that he is not one to walk away from a job, may not get the chance to do anything voluntarily. União are in 11th.
Sporting Braga suffered their second league defeat in a row, and their first home defeat of the season, when they went down 1-0 to the surprising Vitória de Setúbal . A goal early in the second half from Fábio did the trick and put cash-strapped Setúbal, who join Braga on 26 points, two points behind FC Porto at the top.
In a superb first half against bottom club Penafiel, Boavista scored the two goals that decided the game to keep up with the pace with Benfica in 6th/7th on 22 points. Senegalese striker Fary was involved in both goals, setting up Diogo Velente and João Pinto for their first half goals. A back-post header early in the seond half from Odair kept the result open until the end.
Nacional, previously unbeaten away, missed a prime opportunity to go clear at the top of the Liga when they slipped up at struggling Belenenses, for whom this was the first win in ten games. Cameroonian striker Meyong, with his ninth goal of the season, got the winner five minutes from the end. Nacional remain one point behind FC Porto.
Nacional's Madeiran neighbours Marítimo lost by an identical score at home to Benfica, who remain sixth. Pedro Mantorras, on in the second half for Karyaka, took advantage of a mistake by defender Valnei twenty minutes into the second half to score the only goal of the game and give Benfica a heartening three-points ahead of their vital Champions League game at home to Manchester United Wednesday.
Sporting extracted a point from their visit to the Dragão Friday. They went in front early in the second half through Deivid, but Porto equalised on 65 through Jorginho , and that's the way it stayed
FC Porto went to the top of the Liga Monday with a narrow 1-0 win at Gil Vicente. On a sodden pitch due to torrential rain, Porto went in front after just 30 seconds, Lucho Gonzalez heading home. They were not without their scares during the rest of the game, but managed to hold on to join Nacional in first place.
Sporting went equal fourth with Vitória de Setúbal Sunday when they beat Vitória de Guimarães 2-0 at home. Carlos Martins had a hand in both goals, crossing for Deivid to head the first on 51 minutes and scoring the second ten minutes later from a frontal free-kick. Vitória, oddly given their value on paper, remain second from bottom.
Benfica remain sixth after an impotent 0-0 draw at home to Belenenses, for whom 'keeper Marco Aurélio was the star.
Vitória de Setúbal have gone 413 minutes without conceding a goal. This time they left it late to score themselves, Auri netting on 89 minutes, but it was enough to beat Rio Ave at home and take them to fourth on 23 points, four behind Nacional at the top. Rio Ave remain in mid table.
Naval continue to sink. Paços de Ferreira scored as early as four minutes through Ronny but Saulo equalised for Naval. Five minutes into the second half, Júnior put Paços back in front from the spot, then Naval's Léo Guerra was sent off, and Ronny got his second minutes later to leave the score 3-1.
Also in trouble are Estrela da Amadora, going down this time at Académica, who lifted themselves out of danger with the win. Marcel got the only goal of the game a quarter of an hour from the end, his eighth of the season. Within minutes, recidivist Amoreirinha and Manú had seen second yellows meaning that Estrela finished the game with nine.
Bottom club Penafiel managed a point at União de Leiria. The home side went in front on 77 minutes through Fábio Felício, but on the stroke of time Bibishkov levelled the score.
Marítimo and Boavista drew 1-1 Saturday in, it must be said, a rather lame game. Indeed it was half an hour before either side got a shot on goal, the 'keepers Marco and Carlos being good enough to keep out respectively João Pinto and Kanu . It was the latter that got the first goal on 42 minutes, collecting a low cross from the left by Evaldo and turning to place his shot in. Three minutes into the second half Boavista were level, Fary netting from the spot after Souza had been fouled. Boavista are 6th on 19 points, while Marítitimo are four points back in 8th.
Nacional's sensational season continues. An Alonso goal on 28 minutes was enough to beat hitherto leaders Sporting Braga 1-0 at home to take over the top spot on 27 points, one ahead of Braga. It was only Braga's second defeat of the season.
Belenenses' slump continues, the team going down 0-1 at home to Marítimo Monday. It was their eighth game in a row without a win, and they lie three places off the bottom when the objective all at the club assumed at the beginning of the season was Europe. It was Madeiran side Marítimo's first away win of the season, and they're presently safe in mid-table. Manduca scored the only goal of the game from the spot after Belenenses 'keeper Marco Aurélio had fouled Kanu.
Nacional went equal second with FC Porto Sunday after winning 2-0 at mid-table Rio Ave. André Pinto and Miguelito got the goals in the second half.
Sporting go fourth with a 1-0 win at Penafiel, Liedson taking advantage of a blunder by 'keeper Avelino at the back post following a Moutinho free kick. Penafiel remain rock bottom with just six points.
Joining Sporting on 20 points, six off Braga's pace, are Vitória de Setúbal, who continue to impress despite delays in salary payments that might have disrupted lesser teams. This time they beat Rio Ave 3-0 away on their 95th birthday, all the goals coming late in the game through Pedro Oliveira and Fábio (2). After a bright start, Naval have begun to stumble.
Boavista joined Benfica on 18 points after doing enough to defeat União de Leiria 2-0 in front of mostly empty terraces at the Bessa. Central defender Hélder Rosário went rampaging down the right on 51 minutes and fed João Pinto who tucked the ball through Fernando's legs. Sub William Souza swivelled to poke the ball in on 72 minutes for Boavista's second. União were hindered by the sending off of striker Ferreira on 38 minutes after head-butting Tiago.
Estrela da Amadora failed to help themselves out of the relegation zone by managing only as 0-0 home draw against Paços de Ferreira.
Sporting Braga won a thrilling top-of-the-table clash against Benfica 3-2 Saturday. Brazilian central defender Anderson headed Benfica ahead on 21 minutes from a cross by Petit. It was the first goal that Braga had conceded at home all season. The Lisbon giants controlled most of the rest of the first half, but in the second, Braga came out with all guns blazing and showed why they are sitting pretty at the top of the table with some excellent attacking football. Cesinha equalised for them on 67 minutes, flicking a shot from a Jorge Luís cross that ex-Braga 'keeper Quim should have kept out, but it bounced over his body and in. Then Braga were in front, Maxi heading in five minutes from time. The referee João Ferreira 'conveniently' invented a penalty for Benfica in added time, Nem adjudged to have handled, but the ball clearly came off his chest. Nuno Gomes sent Paulo Santos the wrong way, and Benfica were level, expecting a point. But then Maxi popped up again to head the winner, but from an offside position. The referee gave seven minutes of added time, presumably to see if Benfica could get back; they couldn't.
Braga will now remain top for at least another week, stretching their lead over Benfica to eight points. There is no getting away from the fact that they are serious candidates for the title.
One of their main challengers will be FC Porto, chronic candidates themselves. Porto thrashed Académica 5-1 with two goals apiece from Argentinians Lucho Gonzalez and Lisandro Lopez and one from César Peixoto. Virtually Académica's lone voice of dissent, striker Marcel, got a consolation goal for Os Estudantes.
FC Porto meet Rangers in midweek in a crucial Champions League match, and will be encouraged by this effortless romp. In contrast, Rangers suffered a heavy 0-3 defeat at the hands of 'Old Firm' rivals Celtic.
Porto move into second in the Liga, two points behind Braga and, for the moment, three ahead of Nacional, who play at Rio Ave Sunday.
The Liga resumed Friday, after a rest for internationals, with Vitória de Guimarães easing the pressure on coach Jaime Pacheco, notching up a 2-0 home win over Gil Vicente, although both clubs continue to wallow near the bottom of the table. A goal by Benachour late in the second half and another from Paulo Sérgio early in the second gave Vitória the three points that puts them on ten, one behind Gil. Vitória were helped by the sending off of Gouveia after just a quarter of an hour for striking Flávio Meireles, but Cléber might have seen the same colour red in the second half for striking Braima.
Académica closed the 10th jornada with a 1-0 home win over pitiable Vitória de Guimarães. Os Estudantes climb out of the relegation zone while UEFA Cup survivors Vitória remain second from bottom with seven defeats to their 'credit'. Marcel got the all important goal after a quarter of an hour, and his team's cause was helped by the sending-off of Medeiros on 39 minutes for elbowing Paulo Adriano. Académica had the chance to put a cherry on the cake in the dying minutes, but Nilson saved Nuno Luís' spot kick. After the game, Vitória coach Jaime Pacheco offered his resignation, taking on his own shoulders the blame for Vitória's disastrous start to the season. Tuesday will tell if it is accepted or not by the Vitória board.
It's getting pretty exciting at the top of the Liga, with unpredictable results and minnows rising.
Rio Ave scared a Simão-less Benfica in front of 35,000 at the Luz, but only managed to come away with a draw. Cleiton put the vistors in front on 24 minutes with a veritable golaço, volleying in at the back post a lofted cross from the right by Zé Gomes. Petit equalised seven minutes later with a free-kick from a frontal position. But Rio Ave were far from being in awe of the Lisbon giants and went ahead again ten minutes into the second half, Chidi clipping home from ten metres, although the ball had been laid off by Gaúcho in an offside position. It looked like all the points might be going Rio Ave's way, and deservedly so for their organised play and team spirit, but then on 85 minutes, Benfica won another free.kick in a frontal possition, and Petit once again got it past the wall and in to leave the score 2-2.
Later, FC Porto had fewer problems at a dispointing Paços de Ferreira, and won 1-0 with a goal on 11 minutes from Ricardo Quaresma, a volley from the edge of the box after a run to the line on the left and cut-back by Ibson.
Going strong and sticking with the leaders are Nacional of Madeira, goals in the last twenty minutes by Anic and Goulart (penalty) giving them all three points at home to Naval.
Estrela da Amadora had central defender Maurício sent off after only ten minutes at Vitória de Setúbal, which understandably conditioned their play. But Vitória still could only manage one goal, albeit the decisive one, through Fábio on 42 minutes.
Gil Vicente haven't won for five games, this time drawing 2-2 at home to Penafiel. Carlos Carneiro put Gil in front on 27 minutes, but Gil grabbed the lead within fifteen minutes of the second half, N'Doye and Bibishkov getting the goals. Carlitos saved a point for Gil wth the final strike of the day on 66 minutes.
On the tenth day the record finally fell; Sporting Braga, the last unbeaten team in the Liga, are unbeaten no more. On the always-difficult visit to Marítimo, they went down 1-0 to a Kanú goal on 37 minutes, Van de Gaag heading on a Briguel throw-in for the diminutive Brazilian forward to hook in from just inside the area. It was only the second goal that Paulo Santos, newly called up to the national side, has let in all season. Braga will still remain top until the next jornada, with at least a two-point lead.
The teams lined up:
Marítimo: Marcos, Evaldo, Mitchell Van Der Gaag, Nuno Morais, Briguel, Fahel, Wénio, Mancuso, Marcinho, Manduca, Kanu (Júnior Bahia 84).
Sp. Braga: Paulo Santos, Paulo Jorge (Paulo Monteiro 34), Nem, Jorge Luiz, Davide, João Tomás, Jaime, Luís Filipe, Abel, Madrid, Vandinho.
Belenenses have yet to win under José Couceiro, drawing 1-1 at home to Boavista. It was a game which was far from bad-tempered but in which Boavista saw seven yellow cards (!) and an extra one to make red for Areias after the full back handled in the area leading to Belenenses' first goal on 72 minutes, top scorer Meyong netting from the spot. (Areias had, however, saved Boavista with a double clearance of certain goals late in the first half). Meyong also saw red three minutes later after lashing out at Cadú, which left the teams equal numerically. Three minutes from time, João Pinto cracked a fierce shot from way out that bamboozled Marco Aurélio in the Belenenses goal, but the veteran ´keeper made amends at the death with a superb save from a Cafu header after a pinpoint cross by João Pinto.
José Couceiro lamented the sending off of Meyong, which he believed influenced the result. He also regretted the racist chanting from a part of the meagre crowd (2,000 at most) specifically against Boavista's Fary and Cafu, declaring himself anti-racism from wherever it comes. Boavista coach Carlos Brito considered the result unjust given Boavista's better second half, but it's a fact that he seems to be the king of the draw: last season his Rio Ave clocked up 17 draws, and Boavista already have six so far this season.
The teams lined up:
Belenenses: Marco Aurélio, Sousa, Pelé, Gaspar, Vasco Faísca, Silas (José Pedro 62), Pinheiro, Sandro, Fábio Januário (Romeu 78), Paulo Sérgio, Meyong.
Boavista: Carlos, Manuel José, Hélder Rosário, Cadú, Areias, Tiago, Lucas, João Pinto, Paulo Jorge (Diogo Valente 82), Fary (William Souza 55), José Manuel (Cafú 76).
Sporting notched up their first win under coach Paulo Bento Friday with a fortunate 2-1 home defeat of União de Leiria, in a game dictated by some truly awful refereeing decisions. Sporting took the lead on seven minutes, Beto curling a free-kick past an out-of-position Fernando in the União goal. On 29 minutes came the first of the decisions that would corrupt the result. União striker Ferreira headed against the bar and Renato headed the rebound into the goal. Ricardo, on the ground palmed the ball out, but it was a good foot over the line. In absence of any decision by the linesman, referee Augusto Duarte waved play on. In the dying moments of the half, João Moutinho moved the ball across the edge of the area, spotted Rogério, laid it off and the Brazilian full back drove the ball past Fernando, who might again have stopped it.
Eight minutes into the second half, União were back in the game with central defender João Paulo rifling home a poor headed clearance by Sá Pinto. Later, it was Sporting's turn to have a grievance against the referee when Fábio Felício's nasty studs-up challenge on João Moutinho went unpunished. Sporting battened down the hatches for the run-in, taking the ball to the corner flags to waste time - not a popular move for the home fans. But they got the three points that take them provisionally to level on points with local rivals Benfica. União, who lost for the first time in four games, remain in mid-table on 11 points.
Sporting Braga extended their lead at the top of the Liga to five points Monday with a comfortable 2-0 win at home to Belenenses. Apart from the first half hour, when Braga put some lovely fluid football together, it wasn't the best we've seen of them this season, but it was certainly enough to see off a Belenenses side in free-fall: this was their fifth successive league defeat, plunging them into the relegation places, and the arrival of new coach José Couceiro has done nothing as yet to steady a strangely creaky ship. Couceiro himself admitted after the game that the psychological state of his team is the factor most urgently in need of repair.
It was during Braga's purple patch in the first half that they got the key goal, an unmarked João Tomás heading in at the back post on 17 minutes from a perfect free kick by Jaime wide and deep on the right. They needed to be more ruthless in their finishing as the result was in the balance, despite Belenenses' limp efforts to react, right until added time when Belenenses defender Sandro kicked the ball off Castanheira's toe and straight over an unsuspecting Marco Aurélio. Sporting Braga march on - unbeaten and with just one goal conceded - and although coach Jesualdo Ferreira won't admit it, they must be serious candidates for the title, even at this early stage of the season.
Sporting completed the set of Grandes losing points this jornada with a 2-2 draw at Boavista, the same score as their first game under new coach Paulo Bento at Gil Vicente last weekend. Sporting were two up at half time, much against the run of play, through Nani (a cracking individual effort that started in his own half) and Liedson from a corner, but within ten minutes of the re-start, Boavista were on level terms, thanks to two interventions from Zé Manuel, on as sub at half-time: first he crossed for the most delicate of glanced headers from João Pinto to find the net, then his shot could only be parried by Ricardo with William Souza lurking to head in the simplest of goals.
Nacional moved up to third with a 2-0 win at Estrela da Amadora. Some woeful defending gave André Pinto on 42 minutes and Alexandre Goulart on 76 the goals that gave Nacional three points to take back to Madeira.
Nacional's neighbours Marítimo stole a point at Rio Ave with a 2-2 draw. Manduca put the Madeiran side in front on 24 minutes, but sub Evandro equalised just before the break. The same Evandro crossed for Chidi to swing the game Rio Ave's way still before the break, for Mancuso to secure a point for Marítimo ten minutes into the second half.
União de Leiria were two-up at half time at home to Gil Vicente thanks to two goals from striker Lourenço, and they finished off the job in added time of the second half with another from winger Maciel.
Vitória de Guimarães were victims of the shock of the day, losing 0-2 at home to Paços de Ferreira. Vitória's mini-revival of form and fortune was squashed by second-half goals from Didi and Edson.
Bottom club Penafiel stay there, but enjoyed their first win of the season, 1-0 at home to Académica, Bruno Amaro netting fifteen minutes from time.
FC Porto and Benfica both dropped points on a soggy Saturday evening, giving Sporting Braga the chance to extend their lead at the top of the Liga if they can beat Belenenses Monday.
FC Porto had 70% of possession at home to cash-strapped but plucky Vitória de Setúbal, but they couldn't make the possession pay against a concrete defence in which central defender Auri and goalkeeper Moretto starred, the game ending 0-0. Vitória's players continue to perform heroically despite months of wages in arrears.
On a pond of a pitch in Figueira da Foz, Benfica were also up against plucky opposition, the difference being that Naval also attacked and attacked well, Bruno Fogaça standing out with his strong running. It was Fogaça who put Naval in front on 72 minutes, turning Leo on the left and rifling in from an angle. But the lead lasted only eight minutes: Benfica's Nélson splashed down the right and fed Nuno Gomes who chose his spot and slotted in to draw the game 1-1. Benfica were without injured captain and winger Simão Sabrosa, and they missed him.
FC Porto moved to second, three points behind Sporting Braga, with a 1-0 win at Nacional. The goal, when it came two minutes into the second half, was a beauty, Ricardo Quaresma taking a long pass from McCarthy on his chest on the right and curling a cross over with the outside of his right foot for Hugo Almeida to thunder a header in, the ball hitting the crossbar, post and crossbar again before spinning in.
Sporting once again struggled, drawing 2-2 at Gil Vicente, despite a new face in the dugout: Paulo Bento, who has taken over from José Peseiro. Sporting scored at the death of each half; first Douala on 45, seemingly off side from a pass by Nani, and then Liedson deep into added time of the second half, ramming home a loose ball close in. The goals sandwiched by two headers from set pices: Gregory from a free on 49, and Carlos Carneiro from a corner on 69, both showing up Sporting's defensive frailties.
Marcel put Académica in front on just eight minutes at home to União de Leiria, but União stormed back and won it 3-1 with goals from Ferreira (2) and Fábio Felício.
Vitória de Guimarães continue to improve and got three points on their trip to troubled Vitória de Setúbal, Saganowski scoring on 36 minutes.
Kanu and Manuduca within the first half hour settled it for Marítimo at home to Naval, who got a consolation on 75 minutes through Gilmar.
Two goals from Edinho for Paços de Ferreira and two from N'Doye for bottom club Penafiel meant the points were shared at Paços.
Sporting Braga guaranteed retention of the Liga top spot Saturday with a 1-0 win over northern rivals Boavista. The first half was an even affair, marked only by the only goal of the game on the half hour, Andrés Madrid sweeping in a loose ball after Boavista 'keeper William and central defender Cadú had lost sight of a corner. The second half was all Braga's, especially after the sending off of Boavista sub William Souza on 66 minutes for a reckless two-footed tackle on Luís Filipe, and they might have been further in front on several occasions. It was Boavista's first defeat of the season, and the only game in which they have failed to score away from home, but on this showing they cannot aspire to much more than a scraped European place.
Later in the evening, Benfica were troubled in the first half by a lively Estrela da Amadora in front of 37,000 at the Luz, but they blossomed after the break to take the points with a 2-0 win, both goals headers, both from crosses from the right by the new Luz favourite, the full back Nélson: on 49 minutes, an unmarked Karyaka headed in from close range, and on 62 minutes, Nuno Gomes timed his jump perfectly at the far post to make contact and set the final result. Benfica move provisionally into second place in the Liga.
Belenenses slumped to their fourth consecutive league defeat Friday, 1-2 at home to Rio Ave. In a scrappy match, it was Belenenses that went in front through Meyong, driving in from the edge of the box for his seventh of the season. But on the hour, Sousa 'appeared to bring down' Gaúcho in the box and saw a second yellow, Milhazes scoring from the spot. On 70 minutes, a free kick from Cleiton deflected off Pelé to confuse Marco Aurélio and give Rio Ave the three points.
New Sporting coach Paulo Bento will not be able to sport the 'Treinador' armband for the match at Gil Vicente - Bento has not got the Grade 4 coaching badge required and must take his place in the dugout as an Assistant Coach.
The Liga is set to annouce a new sponsor Wednesday, after the current one, the on-line gambling site betandwin.com, caused so much controversy (the only entity legally permitted to advertise gambling services is Casa Pia, organisers of the national lotteries). The estate agents Era are expected to be anmounced as the new sponsors.
Boavista climbed to fourth in the table Monday, four points behind leaders Sporting Braga (who they play next weekend), thanks to a 2-0 home win over Gil Vicente. The referee Elmanpo Santos was in a generous mood on the night, giving Boavista two questionable penalties and sending off Rodolfo Lima with two yellows, the first, for a virile challenge on João Pinto, very exaggerated. That was on just 16 minutes, and Gil were already one-nil down, Senegalese striker Fary slotting hom from the spot after Jõao Pinto made the most of former Boavista player Braima's outstretched arm to win the penalty.
Although Boavista had numerical superiority for 70 minutes, it often looked the other way round, with Gil winning most ball in the midfield, especially in the second half. But they weren't really doing much witht he ball they got, and in the last ten minutes Boavista seemed to come round from a trance and start attacking the Gil goal, helped especially by the entrance of midfielder Paulo Jorge, who looks very useful. It was during this late flurry of activity that Boavista got their second, another dubious penalty decision after sub William Souza fell in what looked like a 50/50 tussle with Rovérsio. Souza brushed himself off to side-foot the spot kick in.
The crisis at Sporting deepened Sunday with a not altogether unexpected 0-1 home defeat to Académica, the Lions' third defeat in a row and the first time Os Estudantes had beaten Sporting at Alvalade in 40 years (!). A well organised Académica had little trouble containing a flaccid Sporting throughout, and on the break they scored one and could have had at least two others.:The admirable Marcelo got the vital goal on the half hour, Filipe Teixeira feeding him after Custódio had lost the ball in midfield; the same Marcelo hit a post on 42 minutes; and late in the second half, he was through on goal after yet another counter attack but was foiled by an oddly secure Ricardo.
There were white handkerchiefs at the final whistle, some the size of tablecloths, suggesting mischief aforethought. And after the game there was trouble around the ground as irate sportinguistas gave vent to their spleen. A banner hoisted by the claque Juve Leo before the game left no doubt as to the fans' mood: "Mediocre Directors, Incompetent Coach, Soul-less Players - This is not our Club!" Coach José Peseiro could be the first to suffer from the backlash that is bound to come from this defeat, but his players are not responding, and they must take their share of the blame.
There were white handkerchiefs at Penafiel, too, where Luís Castro's side went down 0-1 to Vitória de Setúbal, whose players continue to be model professionals despite the less than professional way they have been treated by the management, with no salaries paid since the beginning of the season. Binho got the solitary goal ten minutes from time.
Elsewhere, Naval leapfogged over mid-table rivals Belenenses by beating them 2-1 at home. Lito put the newly-promoted side in front on 26 minutes, bundling over from close range. The inevitable Meyong equalised just before the break, his sixth of the season. But Cazarine got Naval's winner seven minutes into the second half.
União de Leiria beat Paços de Ferreira 3-0 in front of a 'crowd' of just 500 at the local Estádio Municipal, one of the 30,000-seat stadia custom-built with mainly public funds for Euro 2004. The teams went in at half time drawin 0-0 thanks to a penalty miss by União's Harison on the half hour, but they came out with all guns blazing for the second and stuck it to Paços with goals from Renato, Ferreira and Maciel.
Maurício put Estrela da Amadora in front on 35 minutes at home against Marítimo with a huge drive from a full 35 yards, and they were two-up six minutes later with a neat solo effort from promising winger Manú. But just before the break, Kanu headed Marítimo back into the game, and on 52 minutes Pedro Simões put through his own goal to say goodbye to two points for his team. Marítimo's Wénio was sent off for a second yellow five minutes from time.
Benfica won at FC Porto for the first time in 14 years Saturday (see match report) thanks to two goals from in-form Nuno Gomes, dedicated to Benfica legend José Torres, suffering from Alzheimer's. Porto fans were streaming away from the ground a full 15 minutes from the end, and there was whistling and white handkerchiefs waved after a limp Porto display and what is becoming routine chaos in defence, with no direct blame to birthday-boy 'keeper Vítor Baía, 36.
Porto coach Co Adriaanse was reported several weeks ago as saying that he would be off if he ever saw white handkerchiefs in the crowd (the Portuguese way of fans demonstrating their disapproval of the team). But in the flash interview after the game, he claimed that he had never said such a thing. And at the post-match press conference, he said that the handkerchiefs were being waved by "Benfica fans". Benfica coach Ronald Koeman has now won seven and drawn two of the nine head-to-heads the two Dutch coaches have been involved in.
The result puts Benfica one point behind Porto at the top of the Liga, which is headed by Sporting Braga as Nacional, with the chance to join them, could only draw 0-0 at Vitõria de Guimarães, who had full-back Mário Sérgio sent off.
Sporting Braga jumped to the top of the Liga Friday with a 2-1 win at Rio Ave. Going into added time, it seemed as though the equilibrium of the game would be reflected in the scoreline, but then Braga's excellent full back Jorge Luíz crossed from the left, Rio Ave 'keeper Mora flapped at the ball and it dropped for Vandinho to lunge in and bundle it over the line at the back post. Braga had taken the lead on 28 minutes, a shot by Nem banged into his own goal by Milhazes, and Rio Ave had equalised on 54 minutes with another own goal, this time André Madrid from a free-kick, spoiling Paulo Santos' record of no goals conceded in the first six-and- a-half games of this season's championship.
Saturday's Clássico between FC Porto and Benfica at the Estádio do Dragão is a sell-out (52,000). The last 1600 tickets went Tuesday.
Sporting Braga joined FC Porto and Nacional at the top of the Liga Tuesday with a 1-0 win at home to Naval. Vandinho got the only only goal on just four minutes, and it was enough to give the Arsenalistas all the three points.
Benfica won their third consecutive league game Monday with a rather fortunate 2-1 win over an improving Vitória de Guimarães. Benfica were the first to nudge in front on 19 minutes, Nuno Gomes misheading a cross into the path of Miccoli, who needed only to push it into the net from close range. The next minute saw the moment of the game but no goal: Neca spread a long ball out tto the right, Benachour crossed it first time on the volley, Targino swivelled and met it also first time on the volley from 15 metres, and Moreira dived low to his right to keep it out. It was the same Targino who equalised for Vitória on 33 minutes, diving unmarked and low to head home a Mário Sérgio cross from point blank range. And it was yet again the same Targino who was raked callously in the calf by Petit on the hour and had to go off injured, while the Benfica midfielder, incredibly, remained on. Five minutes later, Simão cut inside from the left, as is his wont, and shot goalwards, the ball taking a wild deflection off Medeiros and wrong-footing Paiva.
Guimarães could curse their bad luck: they created more chances than Benfica, especially in the first half, the impressive Tunisian international Benachour hitting the bar and seeing another shot cleared off the line by Nélson with Moreira beaten. The fact is, though, that this was their fifth defeat in six games. But they can look at their performance on the night with optimism; the results will surely come.
FC Porto missed the chance to go clear at the top of the Liga Sunday when they could only draw 2-2 at Marítimo. The Madeiran side, under the guidance of Brazilian coach Paulo Bonamigo in his first game at the club, were a revelation in the first half, pushing Porto back and creating all sorts of problems for their extremely creaky defence. After only six minutes, Marítimo were in front, Manduca glancing a header past Baía from a free-kick. A minute later, Mancuso headed in, only to be denied by the referee for a blatantly inexistent off-side.
So Porto were lucky to go into the break just one down, but they came back with more vigour and a stronger midfield, and the withdrawal through injury of Manduca, who was causing Porto the most problems in the first half, left Marítimo with far fewer resources to resist Porto's push. Then in a two-minute spell midway through the second half, first sub Lisandro Lopes lashed home a loose ball, then César Peixoto strode through on the break to drive home under Marcos' body, and it looked as if Porto might have turned it around. And it looked even more likely when Nilson Sergipano was sent off ten minutes from time for a second yellow, but then five minutes later, Marcinho took the ball forward unchecked and sent a long shot dipping low past Baía's left hand. There was still time for Marítimo's Valnei and coach Bonamigo to see red cards, but there wasn't apparently time for Porto to take advantage of the by-the-end depleted Madeirans, and in fact, all things considered, Porto may be grateful to have got even a point.
Sporting are definitively going through a crisis. After crashing out of the UEFA Cup Thursday, they were well and truly trounced 0-3 at Paços de Ferreira, thereby missing the chance to leapfrog over FC Porto and Nacional at the top and go into first place. Sprting were skewed defensivley from the start by a strange decision by coach José Peseiro to put Anderson Polga at left back, and they spent the firat half living on their wits. But as the half came to a close, they were two down: Ronny drove home from a short free-kick in front of goal on 42 minutes, then in added time, Didi prodded home after central defender Beto had only been able to divert a low cross against his own post.
Sporting adjusted the back four in the second half with the entrance of Paíto to left back, and their play was slightly more coherent, but Paços were on a roll, and their overall superiority was undelined with almost the last kick of the match, Júnior loping off down the right and cracking a shot high and past the left hand of Ricardo, on for Nélson in thje second half. Coach Peseiro's position at Sporting is now looking increasingly fragile, and he may go sooner rather than later.
All the other games of the day had the same result: 2-0.
Nacional's Goulart and Chilikov got the two in the second half to beat Penafiel at home and go equal top with FC Porto on 14 points.
Fernando on 20 minutes and Joeano near the end gave Académica all the points at home to Gil Vicente.
Ricardo Chaves on 37 minutes and Fábio ten minutes from time gave Vitória de Setúbal the result over União de Leiria. On the hour, União's captain João Paulo collapsed and a Féher-type incident was feared, but the heat (30º+) was later blamed and the player is 'comfortable' in hospital.
Rio Ave and Boavista cancelled each other out of a possible second spot in the Liga Saturday when they drew 1-1 in Vila do Conde. In a dull first half, influenced very much by an awkward wind, Rio Ave were the better side but could not make their 'superiority' count. The game brightened up in the second half and Boavista took the lead on the hour, Manuel José diving to head in from close range a cross by his near namesake José Manuel. It seemed as if Boavista coach Carlos Brito would be bringing the points away from his former club, but in the very last minutes, sub Agostinho slung a ball into the area from deep and Gaúcho got a head to it to send it past William. And so the points were shared between two teams that, on this showing, deserve no more than mid-table safety and the consequent obscurity.
Belenenses missed a chance to go second in the Liga and will very probably lose ground on the top places after going down 0-2 at home to Estrela da Amadora at the Restelo Stadium in Lisbon Friday. Estrela jump, at least momentarily, to eighth from 14th.
Belenenses have been producing some fine football so far this season, but here they seemd to seize up and under-performed in just about every department. On the other hand, Estrela looked like they knew what they wanted to do, did it and kept their heads afterwards. Both the Estrela goals came in the first half, both from defensive blunders and both from the feet of the same man: Semedo. He struck first on 12 minutes, intercepting a weak headed back-pass from Faísca and hooking it in past Marco Aurélio. And he was on hand again at the curtain of the first half, pouncing when full back Amaral lost control of the ball on the edge of the area.
Belenenses needed to come out after the break with more cohesion and objectivity. They showed neither and the game inevitably went Estrela's way, with the added mishap for Belenenses of having their centre back Gaspar sent off in added time for a second yellow.
Boavista climbed to 6th in the Liga betandwin.com Monday with a 2-1 win over strugglers Académica, who tumble to second from bottom with only two points from five games. Fary put Boavista on the road on five minutes with a simple header at the back post from a Diogo Valente corner. Just ten minutes later, though, Luciano jumped on a loose ball and prodded it home from close range after William had parried a Fernando shot. It was left to the 'Golden Boy' João Pinto to settle it for Boavista on the hour, volleying home from ten metres after Areias had met a cross to head back and tee him up.
Sporting moved to within a point of FC Porto at the top of the Liga Sunday with a 1-0 win at home to Vitória de Setúbal. The game was skewed on 20 minutes when Vitória's 'keeper Moretto was sent off for bringing down Deivid, through on goal (when in fact it looked to be Bruno Ribeiro who had brought him down). But Sporting missed the chance to take the lead when Liedson stroked the penalty within the reach of substitute 'keeper Marco Tábuas. Sporting got their goal on 35 minutes when Deivid chested down a cross from Paíto, strode past his marker and shot under the body of the oncoming Tábuas.
Sporting should have capitalised on the lead and the numerical superiority, but they did the opposite and appeared to wilt as the minutes ticked by, much to the disapproaval of the 30,000 crowd. The substitution of Liedson for defender Beto ten minutes from time was the last straw, and the final whistle brought whistles and white handkerchiefs from the Sportinguistas in the stands, angry at coach José Peseiro 's perceived lack of boldness.
Sporting Braga and Nacional both missed a chance to join FC Porto at the top, both with 0-0 away draws, at Estrela da Amadora and União de Leiria respectively.
Naval, in their first ever season in the top division, continued their confident start with a 1-0 win at home over Rio Ave, Nélson Veiga netting on 35 minutes.
Gil Vicente moved up to sixth place with a 2-0 win over Paços de Ferreira. Gregory and Williams got the goals in the first half.
An at-times inspired FC Porto beat an on-the-night subdued Belenenses 2-0 Saturday, and the margin could have been greater but for an excellent display by Belenenses 'keeper Marco Aurélio, making his 200th consecutive appearance for the club. His Porto counterpart Vítor Baía kept Belenenses out in an early flurry of opportunities for the Lisbon side, notably with a tip-over of a looping long-range volley from Paulo Sérgio. But it was Porto who took the lead with a maginificent goal on 18 minutes, Benni McCarthy picking up a pass from Diego on the edge of the box and swivelling to confound his marker Pelé and clip the ball low into the left-hand corner past Marco Aurélio's right hand. Belenenses rarely got to grips with Porto's marking and general dynamism, and it was the Dragons who scored again, (an off-side) Jorginho latching onto a back-heel by McCarthy to choose his spot with only Marco Aurélio to beat. FC Porto will remain top, whether shared or not, only the rest of the jornada's games will tell.
Earlier in the evening, Vitória de Guimarães had proved to be the less inept of the two as they beat Marítimo 1-0 at home, the useful Saganowski knocking in from close range after Mário Sérgio had taken advantage of an infantile mistake by Manduca on the right to cross low.
Benfica made it two clear wins on the trot Friday, with an aggregate score of 7-1, five of the seven being scored by Nuno Gomes. Penafiel were the unlucky ones this time, and if they thought that they might stand toe to toe with the Lisbon giants, their presumption was knocked out of them within 12 minutes of the start, Nuno Gomes and Simão netting loose balls from set pieces. Simão's goal was a cracking half-volley after his free kick had bounced back off the wall. Benfica almost fatally took their foot off the gas in the second half, and on 80 minutes Penafiel's Marco Ferreira headed in from close range after a sweeping move upfield. But just three minutes later, a moment of inspiration from in-form Nuno Gomes, flashing home a cross shot after he had been put through by Petiti on the right, restored the two-goal cushion at 1-3 and it was plain sailing from there on in.
On a more negative note for Benfica, the squad had stayed Friday night in a hotel in Porto ... and in the early hours of Saturday, the team coach was vandalised.
Sporting missed the chance to go clear top of the Liga betandwin.com Monday when they went down 1-2 in Madeira to Nacional. The Lisbon Grande dominated for much of the game and went in front early in the second half, Brazilian striker Deivid unleashing a corker from a full thirty metres that flew into the top right hand corner of the net. On 67 minutes, however, a free-kick from the right was met by Sporting's Luís Loureiro, challenging for the ball with Alexandre Goulart, and the Sporting player succeeded only in glancing a header past his own 'keeper. Then on 79 minutes, Miguelito crossed from deep on the left for André Pinto to hit it first time and in.
Earlier in the evening, Belenenses had dispatched luckless Vitória de Guimarães 3-1 in Lisbon. It was Vitória who went in front on 16 minutes through Benachour , but the northern side's fortunes dipped dramatically thereafter. Meyong equalised on 20 minutes from the spot, the same player headed in from a corner ten minutes into the second half (bringing his total for the season to five and making him the Liga's top scorer) and Silas effectively finished Vitória off ten minutes after that with a neat strike from a José Pedro pass. Vitória are in deep trouble, with no points from their four games and a goal difference of 2-10.
At the weekend, Benfica registered the most resounding result, a 4-0 trouncing of a weak União de Leiria at the Luz. Nuno Gomes scored a hat-trick, following on from central defender Anderson's scrambled goal on just three minutes.
FC Porto could do no more than draw 0-0 at the Estádio Municipal de Braga against what is going to be a very difficult Sporting Braga.
Paços de Ferreira beat Académica 2-1 at home with goals by Júnior and Geraldo in the last minute, sandwiching an equaliser by Marcel just before the break.
Manú put Estrela da Amadora in front on 16 minutes at Rio Ave, but the home side clawed the game back with an equaliser by Gaúcho on 27 miutes and a winner by Marquinhos ten minutes from time.
Vitória de Setúbal got all three points at home to Gil Vicente thanks to a Pedro Oliveira free kick on 14 minutes.
Mancuso got Marítimo's first goal in their 2-2 draw at home to Penafiel, but then Roberto equalised five minutes into the second half, and in a burst of goals on 80 minutes, Youssouf put Marítimo in front again, and Roberto equalised again to give Penafial their first point of the season. The result led Marítimo to sack coach Juca . The team has just two points from four games.
On Friday, Naval had squeezed a 2-2 draw out of Boavista at home. Guga put the visitors in front after only four minutes, Naval levelled on ten through Bruno Fogaça, Fary restored Boavista's lead on 37 but Cadu put through his own goal from a free-kck on 58 to give Naval another point in their quest to survive in the top division.
Tickets for the first clássico of the season, Benfica v Sporting at the Estádio da Luz on 10 September, go on sale on Wednesday. The price of tickets for non-associate members varies between 40 and 113 euros, rising to 45 and 118 on the day of the game.
Last season, Rio Ave were champions of the draw - they drew 17 times under Carlos Brito. This season, the coach has moved to Boavista, and his first two official games at the club have been ... draws. This time it was at Estrela da Amadora, 1-1. The score leaves both clubs in the lower half of the table, but it's early days. (see match report)
Sporting made it two out of two Sunday with a deserved 2-1 win at Marítimo. It was like a home game for the Lions, such was the constant pressure on the Madeiran goal, but it took two strikes midway through the second half from Liedson, his first goals of the season, to make Sporting's pressure count, and they were still left wondering by the end with a Rincón goal in added time. Out of form Ricardo was replaced by his understudy Nélson in the Sporting goal, and he did a solid job, having no chance with Marítimo's consolation.
The teams lined up:
Marítimo: Marcos, Ferreira, Van der Gaag (Marcinho, 76 m), Nuno Morais, Briguel, Fahel, Wénio, Komac, Walter Júnior (Filipe Oliveira, 68 m), Manduca, Youssouf (Rincon, 81 m).
Sporting: Nélson, Rogério, Beto, Polga, Edson, João Moutinho, Rochemback (Sá Pinto, 61 m), Luís Loureiro (Tonel, 78 m), Douala, Deivid (Nani, 75 m), Liedson.
But a surprise early leader is Rio Ave, who beat a luckless Vitória de Guimarães 3-1 at home. Gaúcho and Niquinha put Rio ave two-up in the first 25 minutes, Saganowski pulling one back for Vítoria on 42 minutes. Marquinhos settled it on the hour, however. Vitória are without points and bottom of the Liga.
Sporting Braga are also on maximum points after a 1-0 win at home to Penafiel, central defender Nem tapping in on 57 minutes.
Fredy gave Paços de Ferreira the points with a goal on 37 minutes at Vitória de Setúbal. The Vitória administration were the subject of protests by fans at the end of the game.
Académica came away with a point from a ding-dong battle against Nacional at the Choupana stadium in Madeira. André Pinto put the home side two-up within 38 minutes, but Marcel pulled one back for Académica before the break from the spot. The same player got a second on 66 minutes to leave it 2-2.
Benfica dropped three points at home to modest Gil Vicente Saturday with a pale display that had a half-filled Luz whistling by the end. The Águias were quite lively in the first half, perhaps because of (or despite...) revolutionary tactics from Koeman (three centre-backs, Beto, who has been playing well in the centre of midfield, out on the right, and new signing, Nélson, a right back, out on the left ...). But they came up consistently against the superb Jorge Baptista in the Gil goal, who save everything Benfica shot at him, including a penalty from Simão in the opening minutes of the second half, a penalty given for a non-existent foul by Gregory on Nuno Gomes.
After the penalty, Benfica ebbed visibly and Gil began to grow in confidence, sensing that this might be their night. And it was: on 66 minutes, Nandinho, who spent some time at the Luz ten years ago, sent over a corner from the right that central defender Marcos António met with his head and crashed in, and five minutes from time, Edson galloped down the right on the counter attack and crossed for Anderson to beat Carlos Carneiro to the ball, only to head it into his own net.
Gil have maximum points from their two games. Benfica, scandalously, have dropped five and have scored zero goals. It is the club's worst start to the season for a decade. Koeman will need to take somehting from Benfica's next game ... at Sporting (!) ... to avoid a possible chicotada psicológica ('psychological whipping' = sacking).
The teams lined up:
Benfica: Moreira, Anderson, Luisão, Ricardo Rocha (Dos Santos, 39 m), Beto (Geovanni, 57 m), Petit, Manuel Fernandes, Nélson, Nuno Assis (Mantorras, 67 m), Nuno Gomes, Simão.
Gil Vicente: Jorge Baptista, Edson, Marcos António, Gregory, João Pedro, Elias, Braima, Williams (Rovérsio, 87 m), Carlitos (Rodolfo Lima, 60 m), Carlos Carneiro, Nandinho (Luís Coentrão, 69 m).
Earlier, Belenenses recovered from their first day setback at Sporting to beat União de Leiria 3-1 at home. Meyong on seven minutes and 42, and José Pedro on 34, gave the Blues the three points. Lourenço, on loan from Sporting but at Belenenses last season, had equalised on 17 minutes for União. In the second half, it was virtually one-way traffic on the Belenenses goal, but União found another 'keeper inspired on the night: Marco Aurélio. União have yet to win a point.
FC Porto dominated Naval in Figueira da Foz Friday and eventually came away with the three points, but not without breaking sweat and seeing the newcomers to the top flight take the game to the wire. Naval had come from an excellent 2-0 win at Vitória de Guimarães in the first jornada and kept Porto out for 99.9% of the first half until in added time, César Peixoto rose to head in from close range a corner from Jorginho, with 'keeper Taborda, who had kept Porto out on more than one occasion, all at sea. The same player got a carbon copy of that goal seven minutes into the second half, but just when Porto might have been thinking that it was a foregone conclusion from there on in, Bruno Fogaça slipped through the offside trap and slotted in past Vítor Baía on 56 minutes to make it 1-2. Hugo Almeida, on as sub, crashed home a loose ball in front of goal on 82 minutes, but César Peixoto blotted his copy book, putting through his own goal in the dying minutes to keep Porto on their toes until the end.
The teams lined up:
Naval: Taborda, Carlitos, João Paulo, Nélson Veiga, Bessa, Gilmar, Glauber (Luís Miguel, 54 m), Saulo (Léo Guerra, 62 m), Fajardo, Márcio Luís (Solimar, 74 m), Bruno Fogaça.
FC Porto: Vítor Baía, Sonkaya, Ricardo Costa, Pedro Emanuel, César Peixoto, Ibson, Lucho González, Diego (Alan, 84 m), Jorginho, Hélder Postiga (Hugo Almeida, 68 m), Lisandro López (Quaresma, 77 m).
Closing the first jornada, a Cesinha header on eight minutes from a free-kick by Hugo Leal was enough to give Sporting Braga all three points at União de Leiria's almost empty Estádio Municipal de Leiria (just 2,359 in the stands of one of Euro 2004's custom-built stadiums, capacity 25,000). Braga looked impressive as they seek to equal or improve on last season's fourth place.
The teams lined up:
União de Leiria: Costinha, Éder (Paulo César, 82 m), João Paulo, Renato, Alhandra, Kata, Paulo Gomes, Harison (Lourenço, 25 m), Maciel, Ferreira, Fábio Felício (Touré, 60 m).
Sporting Braga: Paulo Santos, Luís Filipe, Nunes, Nem, Jorge Luiz, João Alves (Filipe, 86 m), Andrés Madrid, Hugo Leal, Jaime (Davide, 58 m), João Tomás, Cesinha (Delibasic, 88 m).
The contract that gives Austrian on-line gambling site betandwin.com the right to sponsor this year's Liga is with the State Attorney's Office to check its legality under Portuguese law. The Santa Casa da Misericórdia and the Portuguese Casinos Association have protested about the arrival of a competitor on the scene, claiming that it is they that have the exclusive right to advertise gambling services in Portugal.
It took FC Porto 56 minutes to break the resistence of a plucky Estrela da Amadora, newly promoted, at the Estádio do Dragão, but Ricardo Costa's header from a César Peixoto corner, after Bruno Vale had palmed Lisandro's initial header onto the bar, was enough to beat an Estrela who were weak in the last third of the pitch.
FC Porto: Vítor Baía, Sonkaya, Ricardo Costa, Pedro Emanuel, César Peixoto; Raul Meireles (Ibson, 90 m), Diego, Lucho Gonzalez; Jorginho, Hélder Postiga (Alan, 75 m), Lisandro Lopez (Hugo Almeida, 78 m).
Estrela da Amadora: Bruno Vale, Tony, Santamaria, Maurício, Eusébio, Emerson, Coutinho; Igor Sousa (Semedo, 60 m), Rui Duarte (Igor, 60 m), Manu, Pedro Simões (Anselmo, 86 m).
Another of the promoted teams, Naval, in the top division for the first time in their history, got off to a better start with a shock 2-0 win at Vitória de Guimarães, fifth last season. A long shot from Bruno Fogaço on the hour broke the deadlock, and Lito finished Vitória off a quarter of an hour from the end. Naval had three players, Fernando, Lito and China, sent off in the last quarter of an hour for second yellows, Lito´s for taking his shirt off to celebrate his goal.
The last promoted team, Paços de Ferreria lost at home to Nacional of Madeira, for whom Adão Pinto got the only goal on 53 minutes.
The other Madeiran team in the division, Marítimo, went down 0-1 at Gil Vicente, Marcos António scoring on 51 minutes.
Rio Ave travelled to Penafiel and came away with all three points for a 2-0 win, Cleiton and Milhazes, from the spot, getting the goals in the last 25 minutes.
Benfica began their defence of the title with a 0-0 draw at a useful-looking Académica. Geovanni hit the bar with a header, and Karyaka was in a one-on-one situation but let Pedro Roma parry, but apart from that, the result was perhaps a fair reflection of what happened on the field. Benfica received seven yellow cards, two of which for right-back João Perreira, who walked in the dying minutes.
The teams lined up:
Académica: Pedro Roma, Nuno Luís, José Castro, Hugo Alcântara, Ezequias, Dionattan, Roberto Brum, Filipe Teixeira (Gelson, 66 m), Paulo Adriano (Nuno Piloto, 78 m), Fernando (Joeano, 80 m), Marcel.
Benfica: Moreira, João Pereira, Luisão, Anderson, Ricardo Rocha, Petit, Beto (Manuel Fernandes, 55 m), Karyaka (Nuno Assis, 55 m), Geovanni (Mantorras, 81 m), Nuno Gomes, Simão.
Earlier in the evening, Boavista demonstrated a different attitude under new coach Carlos Brito; no longer with the 'if it moves kick it' philosophy of Jaime Pacheco (now at Vitória de Guimarães), but at the same time with less positive aggression. The 0-0 draw with last season's cup-winners Vitória de Setúbal was proof of this, the game played out in a relatively genteel fashion in the middle of the field with very few chances at either end, the 'keepers always up to the challenge.
Boavista: William, Manuel José, Cissé, Hélder Rosário, Carlos Fernandes, Tiago, Essame, Zé Manuel (Guga, 64), João Pinto, Diogo Valente (Fary, 75), William Souza (Cafu, 83).
Vitória de Setúbal: Moretto, Janício, Auri, Veríssimo (José Fonte, 38), Nandinho, Dembelé, Ricardo Chaves, Sougou, Bruno Ribeiro, Tchamogo (Lacombe, 85), Fábio (Binho, 88).
Sporting got their season off to the best of starts Friday with a 2-1 win at home to Belenenses. Brazilian right back Rogério got things rolling with a swerving drive from 25 metres that Marco Aurélio got his fingers to but could not prevent from flying into the top left-hand corner. On the hour, Belenenses were back in it when Pinheiro drove goalwards from 30 metres, a speculative shot that Ricardo misjudged completely and the ball went sailing over him and in. Sporting restored the justice of the scoreline five minutes later when Douala skipped down the right, crossed low and hard, Marco Aurélio punched it out but only against the onrushing Deivid and in. Belenenses had several chances to net, but their finishing was poor on the night, and the result was perhaps fair given Sporting's control of the game.
The teams lined up:
Sporting: Ricardo, Rogério (Miguel Garcia, 79 m), Beto, Tonel, Tello, Rochemback (Luís Loureiro, 74 m), Sá Pinto, João Moutinho, Douala, Liedson, Deivid (Varela, 79 m).
Belenenses: Marco Aurélio, Amaral, Pelé, Rolando, Vasco Faísca (Fábio Januário, 46 m), Sandro, José Pedro, Pinheiro, Djurdjevic, Ahamada (Romeu, 68 m), Meyong (Paulo Sérgio, 69 m).
The second jornada will kick Friday 26/08 off with Naval, in their first season in the top division, at home to FC Porto. (see fixtures)
The new season kicks off in earnest Friday with a new name for the top division: Liga betandwin.com. Santa Casa da Misericórida, the institution responsible for all the public lotteries in Portugal, has protested the decision to grant the sponsorship deal to the Austrian- based on-line gambling site, saying that by law, it is the only institution in Portugal that is allowed to advertise gambling services.
Friday's Sporting v Belenenses is the opening game of the season. Sporting will be without Brazilian centre back Anderson Polga, suspended for "indiscipline" after getting into an argument with coach José Peseiro after training Thursday. Belenenses will be without Silas, suspended.
Referees will continue to be be nominated by the Liga for games in the upcoming season, it was decided Friday. There was pressure from some quarters to return to a pure draw, but for the time being, nominations prevail.
The draw was made Thursday for this season's SuperLiga fixtures. Champions Benfica have to face their two main rivals, Sporting and FC Porto, both away, within the first seven games. If it goes to the line, FC Porto will have to travel across town to Boavista.
The draw for SuperLiga and Liga de Honra fixtures will take place on 14 July in Figueira da Foz.
The Superliga clubs have begun training in preparation for the new season. It was Benfica's first day Monday. They were without Brazilian central defender Luisão, given extended holiday due to his being involved in the Confederations Cup, and full back Miguel, who is in dispute with the club over his possible transfer out. New coach, Dutchman Ronald Koeman has promised that his Benfica will be an attacking side.
Of the other of the Três Grandes, FC Porto also spent their first day at work Monday under new coach Co Adriaanse, also Dutch. Sporting, with José Peseiro still at the helm, had already begun their programme.
Benfica were received at Lisbon City Hall Tuesday by the deputy Mayor, Carmona Rodrigues (Mayor and former Prime Minister Pedro Santana Lopes is in hospital). Thousands flocked to the square in front of the City Hall to cheer the team as they came out onto the balcony.
Around 60,000 fans crammed into Benfica's Estádio da Luz Sunday night to welcome home their victorious team. They had to wait until 4 a.m. to see them, and when the players entered the pitch, there was a pitch invasion, the reduced number of stewards on duty unable to do very much to stop it.
Sporting's awful week had a terrible conclusion (a 2-4 defeat at home to Nacional, thereby missing the chance to enter the Champions League directly). And things were also not good behind the scenes. Brazilian central defender Anderson Polga refused to play, possibly a reaction to being left on the bench for Sporting's UEFA cup Final defeat to CSKA Moscow. And Cameroonian winger Douala, substituted after just 25 minutes when Sporting were already 0-3 down, refused to shake hand with coach José Peseiro as he trudged off.
The other games Sunday were as follows:
Moreirense 2-1 Braga (Eriverton, Nei; João Tomás)
Beira-Mar 2-2 Vitória de Guimarães (Rui Lima, Tininho; Romeu, Silva)
Belenenses 0-0 Vitória de Setúbal
Penafiel 1-3 Gil Vicente (Wesley; Carlos Carneiro, Nandinho, Gregory)
União de Leiria 0-3 Rio Ave (Evandro, Junas, Paulo César)
Final placings, promotions and relegations for the top divisions were as follows:
Benfica and FC Porto: Champions League; Sporting: CL final preliminary round; Sporting Braga, Vitória de Guimarães, Vitória de Setúbal (Taça finalists): UEFA Cup;
Relegated from the SuperLiga:
Estoril, Beira-Mar and Moreirense;
Promoted from the Liga de Honra:
Paços de Ferreira (Champions), Naval and Estrela da Amadora;
Relegated from the Liga de Honra:
Gondomar, Desportivo de Chaves, Sporting Espinho;
Promoted from the Segunda B (with one game remaining):
(Centre): Sporting Covilhã;
(South): Barreirense or Pinhalnovense
Benfica became Portuguese Champions for the first time in eleven years Sunday when they drew 1-1 at Boavista. This result would have been enough as it was, but they could in the event have afforded to lose because their closest rivals FC Porto could only draw 1-1 at home to Académica. Simão scored from the spot on 38 minutes (handball by Cadú) but Boavista equalised four minutes later, Éder heading in from a corner.
Benfica's triumph was celebrated all over Portugal and among the emgirant communities throughout the world. In Lisbon, thousands crammed the streets of the city centre: the traditional centre for celebrations of this type, the roundabout called Marqués de Pombal, attracted Benfica fans as soon as the final whistle went at the Bessa, and the square at Restauradores, further down towards the river, was later the venue for a huge open-air concert. Some Benfica fans who had been to the game tried to use the Avenida dos Aliados in Porto as a place to celebrate, but FC Porto fans reclaimed their turf and there were some scuffles which riot police had to intervene to quell.
The Benfica team travelled from the Bessa to the airport in an open-top bus, and then flew to Lisbon. The Luz Stadium was packed to receive the heroes.
At the Dragão, FC Porto, who needed to win to stand any chance of retaining the title, went in front in the second half through Ibson on the hour, but Joeano equalised for Académica in the dying minutes to make the result at the Bessa ... academic. Coach José Couceiro handed in his resignation after the game. It has been common knowledge for some time that Porto are in contact with AZ Alkmaar coach Co Adriaanse to take the reins next season.
Sporting finished off a terrible week (defeat and goodbye to the title at the Luz, defeat in the UEFA Cup Final at the hands of CSKA Moscow) with another terrible result: a 2-4 home defeat to lowly Nacional. Nacional were in the driving seat for most of the match. André Pinto with two and Goulart gave the Madeiran team a three-goal lead approaching half-time, and it took an Ávalos own-goal - turning in a Liedson shot-cum-cross - to peg one back for Sporting. Ten minutes into the second half, Custódio made it 2-3, but a minute from time,. Bruno ran onto a long through ball and slotted it past Nélson in the Sporting goal to complete the humiliation. The result was met with whistles from the fans, and players and coaches were threatened with physical violence after the game.
Benfica and FC Porto, second, qualify directly for the Champions League, while Sporting, third, will need to play in the final preliminary round. Sporting Braga, Vitória de Guimarães, fourth and fifth respectively, and Taça finalists Vitória de Setúbal go to the UEFA Cup.
There will be 700 police officers on duty in Porto Sunday evening: 300 for the Boavista v Benfica game, 200 for FC Porto v Académica and 200 in the city. Benfica need one point to win the SuperLiga. If they lose and FC Porto win, it will be Porto's title. Whatever happens, there will be dancing in the streets, most notably in the traditional place for such celebrations: Os Aliados in the centre of the city.
Rumours have been flying that FC Porto have offered Boavista's players between 35 and 50,000 euros a man to beat Benfica.
The four games of the final jornada of the SuperLiga that have a bearing on the top places have been shifted back to 19.15 Sunday. These games are:
Sporting v Nacional
Boavista v Benfica
Moreirense v Sp. Braga
FC Porto v Académica
All the other games are at the traditional time of 16.00.
Benfica bought up, and have now sold, the 15,000 tickets destined for the general public for the last game of the season, at Boavista's Bessa Stadium. The decision by the Boavista administration to sell these tickets en bloc to Benfica prompted protests from Boavista fans, and the Boavista claque, As Panteras Negras, threatened to boycot the last two games of the season.
Benfica are within touching distance of their first title since 1994 after they beat Lisbon rivals Sporting 1-0 at a packed Luz Saturday. Luisão got the all-important goal on 83 minutes, heading the ball out of Ricardo's hands from a Petit free-kick. Sporting captain Beto was sent off minutes later for words to a linesman. Both sides were too tense for the game to be a classic, but no one at Benfica will be minding. They now need just one point from their final game at Boavista to clinch the title.
Sporting drop to third, on the same points as FC Porto, who won 2-0 at Rio Ave.with goals from Benni McCarthy and Leandro in the second half.
The Três Grandes' final games are:
Benfica: Boavista (a)
Sporting: Nacional (h)
FC Porto: Académica (h)
Sporting Braga said a final farewell to their slim title hopes when they let the relegated bottom club hold them to a draw at home. Tanque Silva put Beira-Mar in front on four minutes, while Cesinha equalised for Braga on 37.
Vitória de Gumarães won a place in the UEFA Cup at the expense of Boavista. Romeu gave Vitória an early start with a tap-in on four minutes, and Luíz Mário finished it off in added time. Boavista ´keeper Carlos was sent off on the hour for brining down Silva, through on goal, Boavista captain João Pinto was sent off on 72 minutes for as second yellow, and Luíz Mário saw red in added time, also for a second yellow. Carlos and João Pinto will thus miss the final day's crucial match against Benfica.
Estoril and Moreirense will join Beira-Mar in the Liga de Honra next season, despite good results on the day.
Moreirense won in some style at Académica. Manoel set them on their way on 24 minutes, then two from Nei and another from Eriverton in the second half gave Moreirense a 4-0 win.
Estoril took the lead at Vitória de Setúbal with a goal from Fellahi. But just after the break, Meyong equalised, and veteran Hélio put Vitória in front on 77. Amoreirinha got Estoril's equaliser in added time.
A goal by Nandinho early in the second half was enough to give Gil Vicente the points at home to Belenenses.
Penafiel continued their good run of form with an impressive 3-1 win at Nacional. They were 2-0 in front after only 20 minutes through Fernando Aguiar and Wesley. Marcelo pulled on back in the second half but Wesley got his second to keep the breathing space.
Two first-half goals from Manduca saw Marítimo beat luckless União de Leiria 2-0 in Madeira.
Saturday is potentially a crunch day in the SuperLiga, with title and relegation issues possibly sorted out. The highlight of the penultimate day of this year's championship is Benfica v Sporting, both on the same points. If Benfica lose, they cannot win the title, but even if they win, Sporting could still lose out on the last day to FC Porto, who are at Rio Ave. Fourth-placed Sporting Braga, at home to Beira-Mar, are still in with an outside chance, but their main hope will be a Champions League place. At the bottom, only one of Gil Vicente, Estoril and Moreirense can stay up, but the latter two are favourites for the drop.
The Benfica v Sporting game will play out in front of 65,000 at the Luz. It is considered 'high-risk'; there will be 600 police officers on duty in and around the ground, and 500 stewards.
The three games of the penultimate jornada that have a direct bearing on the title race will all kick off at 19.45 Saturday:
Benfica v Sporting
Rio Ave v F.C. Porto
Sp. Braga v Beira-Mar
All the other games will start at 16.00.
The referee from Porto Paulo Paraty has been nominated to officiate the vital Benfica v Sporting Lisbon derby.
Benfica have been fined 5,000 euros for the bad behaviour of their fans at Penafiel at the weekend. Near the end of the game, a lighter thrown from the Benfica section of the crowd hit Penafiel defender Odair in the face.
Sporting returned to the top of the SuperLiga Monday after 16 jornadas off the top spot. A single goal by Tello from a free-kick on the hour was enough to beat Vitória de Guimarães and take Sporting level on points with Benfica, but they go above them on head-to-head results. The two teams meet at the Luz next Saturday in what could be the game in which Sporting clinch the title if they win, and FC Porto fail to win at Rio Ave. But Sporting will be without their top scorer Liedson, who in added time kicked the ball into the crowd in frustration at not reaching a through pass, saw a yellow and will be suspended for one game.
Sporting are on 61 points, the same as Benfica, with FC Porto on 58. Their last games are:
Benfica: Sporting (h); Boavista (a)
Sporting: Benfica (a); Nacional (h)
FC Porto: Rio Ave (a); Académica (h)
Vitória de Guimarães remain in fifth, the final UEFA Cup place, one point ahead of Boavista ... who they meet at home next weekend in what will be another classic battle.
FC Porto squandered a supreme opportunity to attack the SuperLiga top spot Sunday with a 1-1 draw scraped at practically-doomed Moreirense. Moreirense led from the ninth minutes, Nei chasing a through ball, beating Pedro Emanuel to it and slotting it through the legs of the oncoming Baía. Porto had much of the subsequent play, but it was not until a quarter of an hour from the end that they secured what could still be a vital point. Hélder Postiga flicked the ball over the head of 'keeper João Ricardo and had the presence of mind to follow it up and head in. Ricardo Quaresma was sent off in the dying minutes for words directed at one of the linesmen. Luís Fabiano had seen a yellow previously for the same reason. Both will miss Porto's next game.
Porto are on 58 points, three behind Benfica. Sporting can go top if they beat Vitória de Guimarães Monday.
It's not only the top that is tight. At the bottom, two of the three relegation palces will be decided in the last two games. Moreirense's draw with Porto gives them a very slim chance of survival. But Beira-Mar are down. Their 0-0 draw at home to Académica means they cannot now escape relegation, while Académica, who have enjoyed a miraculous revival under Nelo Vingada, are safe. Beira-Mar take with them to the Liga de Honra one of the stadiums built for Euro 2004.
The other two teams involved in the relegation dog-fight are Estoril and Gil Vicente. The former beat the latter 2-0 at home and leave the decision for another day. Vargas and Hugo Santos, in each half, offered Estoril a thin lifeline.
The other games of the day had no bearing on top or bottom. Vitória de Setúbal won 2-0 at União de Leiria with two goals from Igor, and Rio Ave drew 0-0 at home to Marítimo , their 17th draw of the season.
Benfica suffered an almighty hiccup Saturday in their quest for a first title in 11 years, going down 0-1 at Penafiel. Lowly Penafiel, who could still theoretically have gone down, produced some fine, organised football to thwart a nervous and rather aimless Benfica, and stole all three points with a neat goal from Senegalese N'Doye, loping onto a Clayton through ball and flicking it past the oncoming Quim. Benfica remain top, but only if Sporting fail to win at home to Vitória de Guimarães Monday. Penafiel jump to tenth.
Earlier in the evening, Boavista seriously jeopardised their hopes of a European place with a 1-2 defeat at home to Sporting Braga on the début as coach of Pedro Barny, taking over from Jaime Pacheco. Two headed goals in the first half by João Tomás, unmarked both times, did the damage, while Guga pulled one back from the spot in the second. Boavista remain one point behind Vitória de Guimarães, who are in fifth. Sporting Braga join FC Porto in third, both on 57, four points behind Benfica.
José Pedro on 23 minutes got the only goal to give Belenenses the win over Nacional Friday, taking them up to seventh.
Penafiel, who play league leaders Benfica at home this wekend, have hired a temporary stand that was recently used at the Estoril Open (tennis). The stand will increase the capacity of the ground to 8,000. The club originally wanted to play the game in Paris.
Vitória de Guimarães replaced Boavista in fifth and stepped up into the European places Monday with a 2-1 win at home to Penafiel. Penafiel played the much more attractive football throughout, with some excellent approach play, but they failed to pack the killer punch and gave Guimarães the points thanks to two dead ball situations. Vitória went in front on nine minutes, Dragoner scoring from the spot after Sidney had pulled down Orahovac. Roberto equalised on a quarter of an hour with a neat swivel and shot from the edge of the area. But then 13 minutes from time, Marco Ferreira curved a free-kick around the wall to send 15,000 Guimarães fans home happy. They now just depend on themselves to claim fifth spot and a UEFA Cup place; they are one point ahead of Boavista. Despite the defeat, Penafiel are safe from the drop.
Sporting's Chilean striker Pinilla, who has had rather a stop-start season so far, produced a hat-trick Sunday to give Sporting an emphatic 3-0 win at title rivals Sporting Braga. It was all square at half time, but then the Braga defence went AWOL and Pinilla said thank you very much. On 56 minutes, he beat the off-side trap to dive in and head home a cross from compatriot Tello. Then on 62, Braga had the stuffing well and truly knocked out of them with his second, a shot cracked in at the near post from a superb through ball by Moutinho. And then on 78 minutes, Tello was once again the supplier, his dipping shot from the left only parried by Paulo Santos into the path of Pinilla, with the Braga defence looking on.
The Três Grandes have now found themselves rising to the top: Benfica lead, three points ahead of Sporting and four ahead of FC Porto. Sporting Braga seem to have blown their title hopes; they are now seven points off the pace with just three games left. The remaining games of the top three are:
Benfica: Penafiel (a); Sporting (h); Boavista (a)
Sporting: Guimarães (h); Benfica (a); Nacional (h)
FC Porto: Moreirense (a); Rio Ave (a); Académica (h)
Benfica maintained their top spot for at least another week Saturday when they beat Belenenses 1-0 at home. They deserved the win for all the pressure and chances they had, but the winning goal came from a very dubious penalty decision on 68 minutes by referee Mário Mendes: Ricardo Rocha shot at goal, Amaral closed it down and the ball deflected up and hit him on the arm. Simão tucked the spot kick away.
FC Porto beat Marítimo by the same score and also with a controversial goal in a game marked by several equally controversial decisions by referee António Costa. FC Porto got the decisive goal on 25 minutes, Hélder Postiga shooting and Benni McCarthy following up to knock in the loose ball after Marcos could only parry. But the South African striker was in an offside position at the moment of Postiga's shot. On 33 minutes, Diego scored with what seemed like a good goal, a shot from outside the area, but it was disallowed for offside, presumably because McCarthy was in the 'keeper's line of vision. Then on 52 minutes, Briguel was adjudged to have fouled Postiga in the area, but Diego's spot kick was saved by Marcos. The same Briguel was sent off on 73 minutes for a second yellow.
Vitória de Setúbal put recent poor results in the SuperLiga behind them with a 2-0 win at home to Rio Ave. Ricardo Chaves and Meyong, both in the first half, got the goals.
Gil Vicente drew 1-1 at home to União de Leiria. Carlitos put Gil in front on the hour, but Edson salvaged a point for União a minute from time.
Nacional thrashed Estoril 4-1 in Madeira. Alexandre Goulart put Nacional in front on 26 minutes, Vargas equalised on 29 but it was all downhill from there on for Estoril. Goulart added another ten minutes into the second half and Adriano and Gouveia finished it all off.
Estoril remain favourites for the drop along with Moreirense and Beira-Mar, who drew 0-0, a result that helps neither side.
Académica look likely to remain in the SuperLiga after their 11th game in a row without defeat, coinciding with the arrival of coach Nelo Vingada. They beat Boavista Friday with a single goal from Luciano on 36 minutes. Boavista, still in fifth, now see their dream of European football jeopardised with Vitória de Guimarães just two points behind. Coach Jaime Pacheco handed in his resignation after the game and it was accepted by the board.
Penafiel will play their home game against Benfica on 7 May at their own Estádio 25 de Abril. The club had wanted to transfer the game to Paris, where there is a large community of Portuguese emigrants and where a full house would be assured, giving the club a healthy payday. But the uncertainty of Penafiel's SuperLiga survival (they still need a point to be mathematically safe) and the certainty that their request for a venue change would be turned down by the Liga, has taken them back to square one. Last weekend's Estoril v Benfica game was switched to the Algarve to help Estoril's finances (players' salaries have been overdue), but the decision was not well received by many as Estoril lost their home advantage - 21 of their 26 points have been won at home this season. Benfica won 2-1.
The weekend's results separated the waters somewhat at the top of the SuperLiga.
Benfica filled the Estádio do Algarve with 30,000 delirious benfiquistas Sunday, caught on a wave of optimism, for what should have been Estoril's home game, shifted 300 kms south for financial reasons. Estoril, in desperate trouble at the bottom, almost caused an upset. Paulo Sousa put them in front on 12 minutes with a cross that found its way into the net. The 'Canaries' then shut up shop, especially since they were down to ten men on 24 minutes through a second yellow to Rui Duarte. Despite their pressure, Benfica left it until a quarter of an hour from the end to equalise, through a Luisão header from a corner by Simão. Estoril's defiance was further shaken by a second red card, to João Paulo for words to the ref on 78. Then on 82 minutes, Benfica's frequent saviour, Pedro Mantorras , did it again, lashing a low cross in from close range. Mantorras has played just 268 minutes of football this season after a long lay-off through injury, but this was his fifth goal.
Benfica put three points between themselves and Sporting in second, while Estoril are third from bottom on the same points as Moreirense and Beira-Mar , but all three are seven points from safety and looking doomed.
Sporting Braga are third, a point behind Sporting and four behind Benfica. They will be kicking themselves for not making more of their visit to Penafiel Monday. N´Doye scored the only goal of the game to give Penafiel three points in their fight to avoid the drop.
FC Porto's Ricardo Quaresma scored with a first-time shot with the outside of his right foot from the edge of the box on the stroke of time at bottom club Beira-Mar . It puts Porto on equal points with Sporting Braga.
It now looks like it will be one of these four clubs that will take the title, but Sporting have the 'inconvenience' of having to fight on two fronts as they are still in the UEFA Cup. FC Porto have, on paper, the easiest run-in. Remaining games are:
Benfica: Belenenses (h); Penafiel (a); Sporting (h); Boavista (a)
Sporting: Braga (a); Guimarães (h); Benfica (a); Nacional (h)
Braga: Sporting (h); Boavista (a); Beira-Mar (h); Moreirense (a)
FC Porto: Marítimo (h); Moreirense (a); Rio Ave (a); Académica (h)
Rio Ave lost their first game of the season at home, going down 0-1 to a Carlos Carneiro goal just before the break that helped Gil Vicente put seven points between themselves and the drop and dented Rio Ave's hopes of European football..
Marítimo kept their slim hopes of Europe alive with a convincing home win against Vitória de Setúbal, who seem to have settled for a push for the Taça. The Madeiran side were two-up before the break from Eusébio and Manduca, and went three up on 68 through Pena. Jorginho got a consolation for Vitória from the spot on 84.
Nacional's poor season continues; they went down 1-0 at União de Leiria, a goal from Ferreira ten minutes into the second half doing the damage.
Sporting threw away a chance of putting real pressure on rivals Benfica by conceding a draw at home to Académica Saturday. Sporting had most of the play and nearly all of the chances, but their shooting was off and the result stayed at 0-0. They move to equal points with Benfica, who can go three clear if they beat Estoril in the Algarve Sunday.
Boavista also threw away the chance to put some space between themselves and Vítoria de Guimarães in the race for a European place when they could only draw 1-1 at home to bottom club Moreirense , who need the points to escape the drop. Hélder Rosário put Boavista in front on 13 minutes, heading home a free-kick from deep by Nélson. Moreirense could have been in front by half-time, but Nélson headed off the line from Manoel, and then Delfim thundered a shot against the bar. But they got the point they deserved with a volley on the turn by Lito on 63 minutes following a neat through ball from Primo. Boavista remain in fifth.
Guimarães took a step back on their march towards Europe Friday with a 0-1 reverse at Belenenses, who responded well to a midweek dressing-down from their president to put in a healthy-looking diisplay. Belenenses could have been two-up within three minutes but two fine saves by Guimarães' best player Palatsi from Rui Ferreira and Andersson kept them out. It wasn't until the 68th minute that they made their superiority pay, Paulo Sérgio swivelling in the box to lose his marker and choose his spot.
Guimarães remain in 6th, Belenenses are five points behind in 8th.
There is unease in many quarters about the legitimacy, or at least ethics, of transferring this weekend's SuperLiga game between strugglers Estoril and Benfica 300 kilometers south to the Estádio do Algarve . The Estoril board are claiming that they ar ein their rights, and that the move will bring much needed revenue to the club because of the much larger capacity (30,000 as opposed to less than 10). But Estoril badly need points to escape relegation and would have benefited from palying at their home ground. Sporting president, Dias da Cunha, reflected the misgivings of many when he said Wednesday: "I think that behind this, there's a certain promiscuity in terms of interests of someone [Benfica director José Veiga] who, if he doesn't have now, then once had interests in Estoril and is now, apparently, in charge of football at Benfica."
Sporting moved to within a point of Lisbon rivals Benfica Monday when they beat bottom club Moreirense 3-1 away. Douala put them in front on the half hour from a Liedson pass, but they must have feared the worst on 67 minutes when Fernando whipped a free-kick in low from the right and the ball went between Ricardo's legs. But it took only three minutes for Sporting to regain the lead, Sá Pinto shooting the loose ball into an empty goal after João Ricardo had parried a Moutinho shot. And just five minutes later, the game was up for hapless Moreirense when Ricardo cleared up field straight into the path of Liedson, who carried the ball on to strike crisply home for his 25th of the season. Moreirense continue bottom, now five points away from safety.
Sporting Braga moved to within one point of leaders Benfica Sunday with a 2-0 win over Belenenses. Two goals midway through the first half, by Jaime (17m) and João Tomás gave Braga the points.
A wonderful strike from outside the area by Romeu gave home side Vitória de Guimarães all three points against Estoril Praia. Vitória are now just one point away from Europe (Boavista are on 28), while Estoril are four points from safety.
Académica drew away from the relegation zone with a resounding 4-1 win over Penafiel. Académica went into the break two up through Marcel and Dário. Roberto reduced the lead early in the second half, but Dário with his second a quarter of an hour from the end and Sarmento five minutes later settled the score.
A Carlos Carneiro goal just after the hour gave Gil Vicente three precious points against Marítimo in their quest to escape relegation
Nacional and Rio Ave could do no more than draw 0-0 in Madeira.
Benfica dropped two home points Saturday when they could only draw 1-1 with a difficult União de Leiria. It was União who went in front on 17 minutes, Caíco crossing for central defender João Paulo to head home. União 'keeper Costinha turned in a brilliant display to keep Benfica out for most of the game until deep into added time when unmarked sub Mantorras headed in a Simão free kick.
The draw will reduce Benfica's lead at the top to just one point if either Braga, at home to Belenenses Sunday, and Sporting, at Moreirense Monday, win.
FC Porto moved to within four points of Benfica with a 2-1 win at home to Vitória de Setúbal. Vitória were without several key players, saved for Tuesday's Taça semi-final against Boavista, but still managed to take the lead on 26 minutes through Meyong. Postiga put Porto level five minutes from half-time, and on the hour, Ibson laced a superb ball through the Vitória defence for Quaresma to run on and strike it first time from the edge of the area past Moretto, who had recklessly come out of his goal.
Boavista seriously compromised any lingering thoughts they might have had of securing the title this season with an abject display at bottom club Beira-Mar, who scraped home 1-0 , thus keeping their dreams of SuperLiga safety alive. A dismal first half took 40 minutes to build up to a move of any note, a header from Beira-Mar's Tanque Silva saved by Carlos.
The second half could not possibly have been worse, and it did in fact produce some incident. On 57 minutes, Milhazes handled in the area, McPhee stepped up to take the kick but Carlos went down to his left to turn it wide. But the close shave did not wake Boavista up, and on 74 minutes, Beira-Mar midfielder Beto received a throw-in on the left, cut inside (with permission from the Boavista rearguard) and unleashed a shot from a full 30 metres that shot like an arrow into the top right-hand corner of the net, with Carlos helpless. Boavista finally reacted, but the reaction came too late to produce any meaningful effect.
Beira-Mar lift themselves off the bottom, albeit dependent upon other results this weekend, while Boavista remain in 4th, but can be overtaken by FC Porto.
Estoril's 'home' game against Benfica, corresponding to the 30th jornada of the SuperLiga, will be played 300 kms from both clubs ... in the Algarve, on the south coast of Portugal. Estoril are desperate to cash in on the wave of enthusiasm that is carrying the best supported club in the country, Benfica, to a possible first title in ten years. It was mooted that the game could be played in the tiny António Coimbra da Mota stadium in Estoril, with possibly a temporary stand built at one end to accommodate the Benfica hordes. Then there was the idea of playing the game in the National Stadium, located between Estoril and Lisbon, or even playing it at the Luz. But Estoril have finally plumped for the Algarve and the stadium that was purpose-built for Euro 2004, with a capacity of 30,000.
1-0 was the favourite score in games for the 28th jornada this weekend.
Sporting Braga joined Sporting in second place in the SuperLiga Monday with a narrow 1-0 win at Estoril, who had the best chances of the game and can count themselves unlucky to be left with no points on the night and continuing in the relegation zone. Jõao Tomás got the only goal on 17 minutes.
Earlier, neither Belenenses nor Académica could find the net and it ended 0-0 at a bare Restelo Stadium.
On Sunday, The two Lisbon giants had opposite fortunes.
Benfica lost 0-1 at Rio Ave thanks to a goal in added time from Miguelito, following a charge to the line on the right and low cross by sub Saulo. Rio Ave have not been beaten at home for 14 months. The defeat shortens Benfica's lead at the top to three points, ahead of Sporting and Sporting Braga.
Sporting won 1-0 at home to 'Red Lantern' Beira-Mar, but their goal was also in the dying minutes, the ball bouncing in off Liedson's thigh after a Polga header had rebounded off a post. Earlier, McPhee had headed what seemed to be a valid goal over Ricrado, but it was given as offside. Beira-Mar are four points off safety at the bottom.
Vitória de Guimarães continue their drive towards European football with a 1-0 win at União de Leiria. Their goal, by Marco Ferreira, keeps them in 6th, four points behind FC Porto and two in front of Rio Ave.
Penafiel are looking safer as each jornada goes by. This time they beat Moreirense with a goal on half time by Roberto. Moreirense remain second from bottom.
Vitória de Setúbal and Gil Vicente could only draw 0-0, leaving Vitória in mid-table and Gil just above the water line.
On Saturday, Boavista got their first double in their history over their bitter city rivals FC Porto with a 1-0 win. Cadú with a header at the back post from a Lucas free kick on 52 minutes put Boavista above Porto in the table by dint of their superior record over the Dragons in the two league games this season. Both teams are six points adrift of Benfica at the top.
Marítimo beat local Madeiran rivals Nacional 2-1 Friday, kicking off the 28th jornada, but they left it until the dying minutes to get the result. Fernando put them in front on 38 minutes, Adriano levelled for Nacional four minutes into the second half, and Ferreira kept Marítimo's European dream alive a minute from time.
Sporting Braga continued as dark horses in the chase for the SuperLiga title Monday with a 1-0 home win over União de Leiria. Vandinho got the all-important goal on 39 minutes that keeps Braga second, ont he same points as FC Porto and Sporting but six points behind Benfica.
Benfica beat Marítimo 4-3 in a thrilling encounter at a well-filled Luz Sunday to maintain their six-point lead at the top of the SuperLiga. In a crazy first half-hour, Nuno Gomes put Benfica in front on six minutes, Pena equalised a minute later, Pena put through his own goal five minutes after that and Nuno Gomes volleyed in a Geovanni cross on 22 minutes, before Marítimo captain Van der Gaag reduced the score to 3-2 on 28. Three minutes into the second half, Pena got his second to make it all square, and the game could have gone either way until with five mniutes left, local hero Pedro Mantorras jumped in to poke home a loose ball.
FC Porto made hard work of it to dispatch modest Gil Vicente at home, but in the end it was the three points that counted, and Porto had won their first home game in the SuperLiga since December. Hélder Postiga got the all-important goal on 37 minutes from a corner by Quaresma.
The two bottom clubs both lost at home, and their coaches resigned.
Bottom club Beira-Mar seemed like they were heading for a positive result when McPhee scored on 17 minutes, but they collapsed in the second half. Roberto equalised for Penafiel on the hour, Wesley extended their lead five minutes later and Clayton clinched the result five minutes from time. Beira-Mar's third coach of the season, Luís Campos handed in his resignation after the game.
Second from bottom club Moreirense also lost their coach, Vítor Oliveira, who resigned after the 0-1 home defeat at the hands of Belenenses, for whom ´keeper Marco Aurélio performed wonders. A late goal from Belenenses defender Sousa had Moreirense fans waving white handkerchiefs, and Vítor Oliveira was on his way.
Académica defender José Castro put his side in front from a Hugo Leal corner on just seven minutes, and it was enough to give Os Estudantes all three points against Estoril and lift them out of trouble at the bottom, while Estoril are third from bottom..
Vitória de Setúbal, still with Europe in mind, brought three points back from Madeira with a clear win over Nacional. They went in at half-time 1-0 up through star player Jorginho, and went further ahead five minutes into the second half through Bruno Morais. Wendell gave Nacional some hope, but Jorginho got his second near the end to make it 1-3.
Sporting kept their title hopes alive Saturday with a resounding 4-0 thumping of rivals Boavista, and on Boavista's turf for only their second home defeat of the season. Boavista were hoping to offset the 6-1 thrashing at Sporting earlier in the season, but after a bright start, it just didn't happen. It took only 20 minutes for Sporting to open the scoring, Pedro Barbosa passing for the Liga's top scorer Liedson to fire past William. And it took only another ten minutes for them to go further ahead, Beto heading in from a corner.
Boavista applied pressure in the second half and came close on a number of occasions, but their ship was irreparably holed on 67 minutes when Éder brought down Sá Pinto in the box and was sent off, Liedson scoring from the spot. Coach Jaime Pacheco followed Éder on 74 minutes after protests, and five minutes later Carlos Martins, on as sub, put the final nail in Boavista's coffin.
There was trouble off the pitch at the break and after the game. Boavista claim that Ricardo Sá Pinto, playing in his 200th SuperLiga game, hit one of their directors, João Freitas. And at the end, there were scuffles in the tunnel and Boavista´s William and Sporting's Rui Jorge and Sá Pinto were red-carded by referee Lucílio Baptista.
Sporting are three points behind Benfica, who receive Marítimo Sunday. Boavista are fourth, three points behind Sporting.
Rio Ave chalked up their 15th draw of the season Friday, 0-0 at Vitória de Guimarães. They were hamstrung after only 20 minutes with the seemingly unjustified sending off of defender Denielson, but with the help of 'keeper Mora, they managed to hold out for the rest of the game. Vitória reamain in 6th, four points behind Boavista and two ahead of Rio Ave.
FC Porto's South African striker Benni McCarthy has been suspended for three games and fined 1750 euros following his sending off for elbowing Rui Jorge in Monday's clássico against Sporting . Porto also lose Pedro Emanuel for accumulation of yellows and Seitaridis for a straight red, both for one game.
Sporting ran out clear and comfortable 2-0 winners of Monday's clássico against the once mighty FC Porto, reduced to a shambles in less than a season post-Mourinho. Sporting had most of the intitative and most of the ideas, while FC Porto were determined to shoot themselves in the foot: McCarthy was sent off on 33 minutes for elbowing Rui Jorge in the side, and Porto were reduced to nine men on the hour when Seitaridis was expelled for handling in the area to stop the ball getting to Liedson. Liedson cracked home the resulting penalty for his 21st of the season, and while they should have made more of the numerical advantage, Sporting did enough to subdue a meek Porto, and the victory was sealed four minutes into added time, sub Carlos Martins completing a smooth move down the left involving Pedro Barbosa and Rui Jorge.
The teams lined up:
Sporting: Ricardo, Rogério, Enakarhire (Miguel Garcia, 68 m), Beto, Rui Jorge, Pedro Barbosa, Sá Pinto (Carlos Martins, 71 m), João Moutinho, Hugo Viana, Douala (Niculae, 82 m), Liedson.
FC Porto: Vítor Baía, Seitaridis, Jorge Costa, Pedro Emanuel, Nuno Valente, Ibson, Costinha, Maniche (Ricardo Costa, 72 m), Leandro Bomfim (Bosingwa, 57 m), Ricardo Quaresma (Luís Fabiano, 76 m), McCarthy.
Sporting needed the win to not lose sight of Benfica at the top, but there are now four teams on 45 points: Sporting Braga, Sporting, FC Porto and Boavista, all six points behind Benfica.
The SuperLiga has a two-week break now to leave players free for upcoming international duty.
Sporting Braga kept pace with the top teams Sunday with a 1-1 draw at always-difficult Rio Ave. The home side went in front on 23 minutes, Evandro hitting the net with a perfect free kick. But Braga came back in the second half and equalised on the hour, top scorer João Tomás finishing off a neat move and a low cross from Abel. Braga are now on 45 points, along with Boavista and FC Porto, who face Sporting on Monday. Rio Ave continue to nudge the European places, but this was their 14th draw of the season, from 26 games.
The bottom of the table mirrors the top in terms of closeness. Académica did themselves no end of good with a 2-1 win at União de Leiria. Paulo Adriano and Dário put Os Estudantes 2-0 up within a quarter of an hour, but Ferreira gave União a ray of hope 20 minutes from the end. There were just 3,000 in the 30,000-capacity Leiria Municipal stadium, built for Euro 2004.
There were just 500 to watch Estoril beat fellow strugglers Moreirense 2-0. João Paulo got the first on 17 minutes, but Estoril were down to ten men before half time when Paulo Sousa was sent off for a violent challenge on Manoel. That did not stop the 'Canaries', however, and Fellahi made the result safe in the second half with a free kick.
Gil Vicente were two up within 40 minutes at home to Nacional through Carlos Carneiro and Fábio Januário, but Alonso pulled one back just before half time. The game was in the balance until ten minutes from the end when Nuno Amaro extended Gil's lead. André Pinto pulled another back for Nacional in added time, but it was too late to make a difference.
Right to the bottom go Beira-Mar, who were the victims of two Marco Paulo goals on 50 and 90 minutes at Belenenses.
At the bottom are Beira-Mar on 23 points. Above them are Académica and Moreirense on 25. And above them are Estoril and Gil Vicente on 26.
Benfica went (provisionally) six points clear at the top of the SuperLiga Saturday with a trouble-free 2-0 win at Vitória de Setúbal. They were helped by the sending off of Vitória defender Veríssimo on 27 minutes following a foul on Simão as he was headed for goal, but their victory cannot be challenged. Manuel Fernandes put the Águias in front just before half time with a long shot that Vitória 'keeper Paulo Ribeiro let slip through. Then on 64, Geovanni shot home after a cross form Miguel, and the game was done and dusted. Vitória de Setúbal remain 12th.
Boavista lost ground to Benfica when they could only draw 1-1 at Penafiel. Penafiel had most of the first half, adopting Boavista's famous pressing game to leave the Panteras with little space. Both goals were scrappy affairs from corners. The first, on 28 minutes, saw Odair deflecting a loose ball in with his thigh to give the home side the lead. In the second half, Boavista improved and on 55 minutes, Diogo Valente's corner was finally touched in by Carlos Fernandes . Boavista go second, ahead of FC Porto but on the same points. Penafiel move five points clear of the drop zone.
Vitória de Guimarães beat European-place rivals Marítimo 2-1 Friday ... in Madeira, Marítimo's first home defeat of the season in the SuperLiga. Vitória went in front on just seven minutes, Alex heading in from a corner. Vitória scored the next goal too, but it was Rogério Matías who put through his own goal, on 68 minutes, to give Marítmo an equaliser. Ten minutes later, and ten minutes from time, Alex got his second. Vitória are now in sixth place in the table, just two points behind Sporting, who play FC Porto on Monday.
Boavista joined Sporting Braga in fourth place in the SuperLiga Monday with a hard-earned 2-0 win over Belenenses getting the double over them this season. Boavista were in front after only seven minutes, Guga driving in from the edge of the area after Wílson had headed away a cross. Belenenses were well organised, but created few chances, whereas Boavista had several chances to increase their lead, often foiled by the excellent Marco Aurélio in the Belenenses goal. It was not until the final minute of added time that they managed to extend their lead, Pelé pulling back Cafú in the box, Zé Manuel slotting home the penalty.
This crazy season continues, with another Grande going down at home Sunday. Sporting were without three key members of their super-midfield (Rochemback, Custôdio and Carlos Martins) at home to Penafiel, but that should not have been an excuse for such a pale performance. Penafiel proved to be a very well organised side and gratefully took all three points back up north with goals from Roberto and N'Doye in a fifteen minute spell midway through the second half following poor defending by Sporting. Penafiel had sub Nílton, who had been on for only fifteen minutes, sent off in added time for pushing Tello in the face. Sporting are now six points adrift of their Lisbon rivals Benfica who sit, somewhat unexpectedly, at the top.
Into the European places arrive Vitória de Guimarães, who are going through a bit of a revival after coach Manuel Machado threatened to resign. They beat the other Vitória, de Setúbal, 3-1 at home. Silva opened for Guimarães on a quarter of an hour, but Meyong equalised eight minutes later. Silva sent his side into the changing rooms 2-1 up with a second on the stroke of half time. Then on 66 minutes, Djurdjevic sentenced the result.
Beira-Mar lifted themselves off the bottom with a 2-1 win at home to Estoril, who drop to second from bottom. Ahamada put them in front on seven minutes, João Paulo equalised for Estoril on 25, and that's the way it stayed until the final minute when McPhee gave Beria-Mar the win.
The other two games of the day ended in 0-0 draws. It was Rio Ave's 13th draw of the season at Académica, who drop to bottom. The other was between Moreirense and União de Leiria.
Benfica went clear top of the SuperLiga Saturday with a 2-0 win over Gil Vicente. The Águias dominated for practically the whole of the game, but it was not until ten minutes into the second half that they made their superiority tell with a goal from the returning Pedro Mantorras, a shot from outside the area after a pass by Manuel Fernandes. Gil were reduced to ten men for the last twenty minutes with the expulsion of Roversio, and Benfica confirmed the result two minutes from time through Miguel, fed by sub João Perreira. Benfica are three points clear of FC Porto, while Gil are hovering just above the relegation zone.
Earlier in the evening, Sporting Braga lost ground to Benfica when they could only draw at home to Marítimo. Pena, who previously played for Braga, put Marítimo in front on 52 minutes with a sweet strike at the near post from a low cross from the right by Luís Filipe. Then on 70 minutes, Van der Gaag got the first of his two yellow cards for handling in the box and Wender thumped home the spot kick. The Dutch central defender was later sent off for a second yellow. Braga are in third, while Marítimo join Rio Ave in sixth place.
FC Porto suffered their worst home defeat in the league for 30 years Friday when they went down 0-4 to Nacional. The last team to beat them by the same margin was Belenenses in the 1974/75 season. Porto have not won at home since before Christmas.
Miguel Fidalgo beat the offside trap to tap in on three minutes. Porto tried to react but into the second half, and on the hour, they fell further behind through Alonso. Nuno Viveiros added a third ten minutes later. The humiliation was complete on 83 minutes with a free-kick from Bruno, an ex-Porto player.
The result means that Porto can be overtaken at the top this weekend by Benfica and Sporting Braga and caught by Sporting. They will now have to pick themselves up from this disaster to face Inter Milan in the Champions League Tuesday.
Nacional, for whom this was an historic result, climb to within two points of the European places.
Sporting Braga moved up to third in the SuperLiga Monday with a convincing 4-1 win over Vitória de Setúbal in Setúbal's Bon Fim stadium, where Vitória had beaten Braga last week in the Taça. Braga were two-up at half time through Jaime on six minutes and top scorer João Tomás on 38. Setúbal pulled one back on 52 minutes through Igor, and there was the flicker of a possibility of a comeback, extinguished on the hour by sub Barroso , who had been on the pitch for only four minutes. Paulo Sérgio provided the coup de grâce on the stroke of time.
The top of the SuperLiga table opened up slightly after Sunday's games.
Benfica joined FC Porto at the top with a 1-0 win against Nacional at the traditionally difficult Choupana stadium. Nacional should have had a penalty as early as the fourth minute, but the referee didn't blow for a foul by Luisão on Emerson. Benfica's goal came three minutes into the second half, Nuno Gomes heading in a Simão cross. Nacional had a prime opportunity to equalise on 78 minutes after Quim had brought down Wendell in the box, but top scorer Adriano fluffed the spot kick.
Earlier, Benfica's Lisbon rivals Sporting had travelled across town to Belenenses with the hope of keeping in touch with Porto. Sporting were poor on finishing on the night, and it was left to Pelé on the hour to give Belenenses the points, thanks in part to some woeful defending from Sporting. Sporting slip to third, three points behind Porto and Benfica. Belenenses remain safely in mid-table.
The biggest score of the day was União de Leiria's 5-1 thrashing of troubled Beira-Mar, who slip to bottom spot. União were three up within 25 minutes through João Paulo, a penalty, Krpan and Fábio Felício. Beto pulled one back for Beira-Mar on 35, but any hopes that they could turn the game around evaporated on 71 minutes when Caíco netted União's fourth. Fábio Felício got his second to rub it in in added time. Bair-Mar coach Luis Campos suggested after the game that he was considering hi position as coach. If the club got a new coach, it would be the fourth of the season.
Rio Ave climbed into the European places with a 1-0 win over Moreirense, but they had many difficulties, the only goal coming from Gaúcho on 35 minutes. Rio Ave are unbeaten at home.
Rio Ave took over the sixth spot from Marítimo, who have been wobbling recently. They were chasing a 1-0 lead as early as the eleventh minute at home to bottom club Académica, a free-kick from Marcel. But right at the curtain, Silas headed in an Alan cross to save Marítimo's blushes. The draw lifts Académica off the bottom.
FC Porto kept their lead at the top of the SuperLiga Saturday, but it was a close-run thing. Penafiel caught the Champions cold to go in front on two minutes through their top scorer, Wesley , who headed in a cross from former Porto player Clayton. The home side proceeded to protect their lead, and it must be said that they managed it to perfection for almost the entire game, and might even have extended it ten minutes from time when Clayton was through on goal and opted to go for glory when he had teammates perhaps in a better position, Baía saving Clayton's shot with his foot. A minute later Porto were on level terms, central defender Pedro Emanuel heading in a Nuno Valente free kick from the right. Then in the final seconds of added time, Benni McCarthy latched onto a loose ball in the area to hit home the winner.
Boavista slipped to four points behind the leaders when they could only draw at Estoril, but in the end, they were perhaps forrtunate to get even that. Estoril took the lead on 15 minutes through central defender Dorival, cancelled out by Boavista striker Hugo Almeida ten miutes later to make it 1-1. And so it stayed until the 82nd minute when Boavista full back Nélson 'passed' to Arrieta for the Spanish forward to put Estoril back in front. But it was just the beginning of a late flurry of goals: four minutes later, Boavista 'keeper Carlos sent an enormous kick towards the Estoril goal, Almeida headed on and Zé Manuel swivelled to volley home from the edge of the area. A minute later, Vargas beat the hapless Nélson on the right and crossed low for Arrieta to thump home from close range. But then in added time, (a possibly off-side) Hélder Rosário beat 'keeper Jorge to a deep cross to make it 3-3.
On Friday, Vitória de Guimarães continued their recent good form with a 3-1 win at Gil Vicente. Ednilson put through his own goal on 37 minutes to give Vitória the lead, extended on 44 through Djurdjevic. Carlos Carneiro pulled one back for Gil on 64, but Vitória captain Cléber made sure of the three points for his side five minutes from time.
The latest clássico of the season ended in a 1-1 draw Monday. In a tight, tense game, FC Porto took the lead against Benfica after 66 minutes through McCarthy, but ten minutes later, Geovanni rose unmarked to head the equaliser from a Petit corner. Later, McCarthy rattled the bar, but a draw it was.
The other of the Três Grandes was also in action Monday. Sporting received neighbours Estoril Praia and made a meal of beating them. Romanian striker Niculae, making a rare start, put Sporting in front after only eight minutes, but the Lisbon side left it until the last quarter of an hour to clinch the points, helped by the complete collapse of Estoril's concentration and spirit. Rochemback added one on 76 minutes, then ten minutes later Estoril's Amoreirinha, on loan from Benfica, helped Liedson to his first of the night, and on the stroke of time, the same defender brought Liedson down in the area. The Brazilian striker dusted himself off and whacked home his 20th goal of the season, this time from the spot.
The win moves Sporting up to second, but the Três Grandes are all on the same points (42), two ahead of Sporting Braga and Boavista..
Draws seem to be the order of the day in this jornada; there were another three Sunday to add to the two Saturday.
Vitória de Guimarães and Nacional drew 1-1 in Guimarães. Vitória took the lead five minutes into the second half with a superb half-volley at the back post from Luíz Mário, but Nacional, improving as the season progresses, snatched a point a quarter of an hour later with a header from the inevitable Adriano after a slick move down the right.
Académica, desperate for points, scored three at home to Vitória de Setúbal, but it was not enough to take all three points. Académica went in at half-time one-up through Paulo Adriano on 13 minutes, and Kenedy extended this lead early in the second half. But in a ten-minute period midway through the half, Meyong and Bruno Moraes made it all square. Académica sub Dário returned the lead for them on 83 before Igor, on as sub for Vitória, decided the final score two minutes from time.
Rio Ave chalked up their twelfth draw of the season, this time goalless, at desperate Beira-Mar who needed a win to take them out of the relegation places.
The only non-draw of the day was also the surprise of the day came as lowly Moreirense beat high-flying Marítimo 1-0, a goal on seven minutes from Eriverton proving enough.
Both of the SuperLiga games played Saturday finished goalless. Boavista had the better of the chances against a highly defensive União de Leiria at the Bessa, including a superb solo effort on 70 minutes by Cafú that ended with him crashing the ball against a post, but it was symptomatic of Boavista's failure to hit the target and the game finished as it started. The other goalless game was between mid-table sides Penafiel and Belenenses.
On Friday, Sporting Braga revived their challenge on the top spot with a 2-1 win over Gil Vicente. Wender and João Alves put Braga in a comfortable lead going into the break, and it was only in added time at the end of the game that Gil managed a consolation through Fábio Januário.
Boavista join Braga on 40 points, one behind FC Porto and Benfica, who play Monday. Also playing Monday are the other team vying for the lead, Sporting, who receive Estoril.
Benfica's top scorer Simão Sabrosa is in danger of missing next Monday's vital clássico agaisnt FC Porto after he was caught on camera apparently elbowing Vitória de Guimarães player Alex. The referee didn't see the incident, but there has been a rash of similar incidents recently, and Porto's striker Benni McCarthy will miss the game for precisely the same reason.
In the same game, Vitória's Rafael hit Benfica's João Pereira after the final whistle and is suspended for three games. Penafiel's Mariano is suspended for two games for the same reason.
Benfica got the duble over Vitória de Guimarães with a 2-1 win at the Luz Monday. The result puts the Lisbon giants on the same points as FC Porto ... their next opponents in the SuperLiga. The pair are two points clear of Sporting and Boavista.
Vitória started the brighter on the night, putting together some slivk passing moves and pushing Benfica back, but on the break, Benfica went in front on 11 minutes, Geovanni playing a superb one-two with Nuno Gomes before rifling in past Palatsi. The goal gave Benfica a chance to get their game together, and it was natural that they should extend their lead, which they did two minutes from half-time, Nuno Gomes again laying a ball back for Nuno Assis to score against his old club.
Benfica were sent reeling in the first minutes of the second half, however, as winger César Peixoto, on loan from FC Porto and putting in a superb display, beat Miguel to the ball at the back post to head home a hopeful cross from deep. Benfica were on the ropes for most of the rest of the game, and Vitória had several chances to draw level, notably through Targino, through on goal with only Quim to beat but putting the ball in the side netting, and Silva, who missed two or three good opportunities. Silva was later sent off for words to the ref, but the Vitória coach Manuel Machado criticised the presence of double standards by the match officials.
Sporting and Boavista both lost ground to FC Porto at the top of the SuperLiga Saturday with draws in their respective games. They are both now two points behind, with the other top club Benfica to play Monday.
Sporting made the short trip north to Leiria to draw 0-0 with the local side União. The game marked the return to action after injury of Romanian striker Mariusz Niculae, who came on for Sporting ten minutes from time.
Boavista also travelled north, to Vila do Conde to draw 2-2 with local side Rio Ave. Rio Ave were quick off the mark and were two up within the first quarter of an hour, both through Evandro , the first with a header from a corner, the second capitalising on a dreadful mistake by Hélder Rosário who fluffed a pass on the edge of the box, letting the Brazilian in to round 'keeper Carlos and tap in. To their credit, Boavista kept their game together and stemmed Rio Ave's flow, getting back in the game early in the second half with a diving header from Toñito at the back post. Evandro blotted his copy book on 63 minutes with a second yellow and consequent red, but Boavista didn't make the most of the numerical advantage and were themselves reduced to ten on 77 minutes with the direct expulsion of striker Hugo Almeida for words to the ref. Then five minutes from time, Boavista equalised with a very odd goal indeed, the ball ballooning out towards the edge of the box on the left and winger Zé Manuel heading it back towards goal, keeper Mora watching helplessly as it drifted over him and into the net.
Vitória de Setúbal dropped two home points with the same score against Moreirense. They were twice up, through Jorginho on seven minutes and Bruno Moraes on 21, but Orlando had equalised on 17 and Sérgio Lomba fixed the final score ten minutes into the second half.
Marítimo drew, too, at home to struggling Beira-Mar, the score 0-0.
Penafiel were twice up at other strugglers Estoril, but the Canaries came back to win 3-2. Wesley put Penafiel in front on ten minutes, Buba equalised before the break. Roberto restored Penafiel's lead ten minutes into the second half, but Vargas got two on 71 and 77 minutes to give Estoril three precious points in their fight to avoid the drop. Penafiel's Mariano was sent off two minutes from time.
Bottom club Académica did themselves a power of good with a 1-0 win at Gil Vicente, Marcel getting the only goal as early as the seventh minute. Académica are still bottom but keep within three points of safety.
There were no SuperLiga games Sunday due to the General Election in Portugal, (won by the Socialist Party with an absolute majority).
FC Porto got a head start on the pack at the top of the SuperLiga table Friday with a slim 1-0 win at Belenenses. Neither side created very many chances, but it was Porto who got the goal that was worth three points, Costinha heading in from a Quaresma corner two minutes into the second half. Belenenses claimed a penalty ten minutes from time when Lourenço was brought down in the box, but the referee gave nothing.
Sporting Braga fell to four points behind Porto with a 1-0 defeat at Nacional, Adriano the scorer on 57 minutes. The Madeiran side continue to improve after a shaky start to the season and are now within three points of the European places.
Sporting's top scorer Liedson stormed out of the stadium at half-time of Sunday's 5-0 hammering of Rio Ave, it was revelaed Tuesday. The player was angry that captain Sá Pinto insisted on taking the penalty that was to be Sporting's second goal. Liedson, with 18 goals so far, is hoping to be the SuperLiga's top scorer for the season and normally takes the penalties.
This is proving to be the most competitive SuperLiga for many years. By the end of the weekend, four teams shared top spot on 38 points: FC Porto, Sporting, Benfica and Boavista, while Sporting Braga are in fifth, just one point behind the pack.
The result of the day was Sporting's 5-0 thrashing of hitherto useful Rio Ave. Rio Ave may have been missing the strength and inspiration of their best player Ricardo Nascimento, recently sold to South Korean football, but that's no excuse for a defence that literally collapsed after a steady opening. That was despite an early goal from Liedson, heading in after Rochemback had chased and crossed a seemingly hopeless ball on the right. But on 35 minutes, Rio Ave began to wobble after Sá Pinto scored from the spot following a hand ball. And the last ten minutes of the first half proved fatal for Rio Ave as Liedson and Sá Pinto both doubled their tally to leave the half-time score at 4-0. If it seemed impossible that Rio Ave could turn this one around, it became more impossible still on 53 minutes when an unmarked Hugo Viana headed in. The rest of the game was marked by Sporting taking their foot off the gas and Rio Ave almost visibly willing the final whistle.
FC Porto under José Couceiro seem no better than under Vítor Fernandez, at least that's a conclusion that could be drawn from the 0-0 home draw with Vitória de Guimarães, who are improving since coach Manuel Machado's recent threat to quit the club. Porto used new signings Ibson and Cláudio Pitbull from the start, but they are playing like a group of strangers - a far cry from the powerhouse stuff they were producing last season.
Boavista were 3-0 up on the hour against the recently impressive Marítimo, Diogo Valente with two and Hugo Almeida with the third. But they let the Madeiran side get a sniff at the draw, Cadú putting through his own goal on 68 minutes and Alan getting another on 75 to make the run-in less calm than it might have been for Boavista.
Penafiel drew away from the relegation places with an impressive 3-0 win over a sorry União de Leiria. Roberto on four minutes, Wesley on 12 and N'Doye a minute from time supplied the goals.
Moreirense got three valuable points with a 1-0 home win over Gil Vicente that drags them out of relegation trouble for the time being. Orlando got the vital goal a quarter of an hour from full-time.
Beira-Mar continue in trouble, despite a point won at home to Vitória de Setúbal. Meyong scored from the spot to put Vitória in front on 19 minutes, but Beto equalised early in the second half for Beira-Mar.
Marcel with a goal a quarter of an hour from the end gave bottom club Académica the points over Nacional to keep their hopes of survival alive, although there's a long way to go yet.
Sporting Braga and Benfica slugged out an intense but ultimately uneventful top-of-the-table clash Saturday in a packed (30,000) Estádio Municipal in Braga. Most of the play was in midfield and the goalkeeeprs had very little to do until the last quarter of an hour when Quim saved brilliantly from a close-range header by Paulo Jorge and Paulo Santos stopped a Petit free-kick. But it ended 0-0, leaving Benfica momentarily top and Braga equal second with FC Porto, who receive Vitória de Guimarães Sunday.
Belenenses climbed to tenth in the table Friday with a 3-0 home win over Estoril, who held up for most of the first half before succumbing. Lourenço opened the scoring five minutes from half-time from the spot after he had been fouled in the area by Dorival. But it was not until the final ten minutes that first Paulo Sérgio and then Rodolfo Lima confirmed the result. Estoril are in danger of dropping into the relegation zone if other results go against them this weekend
None of next weekend's SuperLiga games will be played on Sunday due to the legislative elections that will take place on that day. (see fixtures)
Boavista missed a prime opportunity to go level with FC Porto and Benfica at the top of the SuperLiga Monday when they could only draw 0-0 at Vitória de Setúbal. After a scrappy but even first half, Setúbal dominated the second and might have won easily if their shooting had not been so off. Boavista go equal fourth with Sporting, two points behind FC Porto and Benfica and one behind Sporting Braga. Vitória join the other Vitória, de Guimarães, in eighth, four points off the European places. (see results and tables)
FC Porto striker Benni McCarthy has been suspended for three games after being found guilty of assaulting Académica player Danilo during their recent game. The decision was based on television footage. Danilo said: "I think he got off lightly." The club had appealed against a two-game ban, but that has now been extended to three. McCarthy will miss the upcoming clássico against Benfica. McCarthy's teammate Pedro Emanuel has received a two-match suspension for a similar offence, this time during the recent game against Sporting Braga.
Lisbon rivals Benfica and Sporting had precisely opposite fortunes Sunday, leaving Benfica equal top with FC Porto and Sporting two points behind in fourth.
Benfica had little trouble dispatching a very weak Académica, who must be favourites for the drop after this limp display. Benfica got their first on 32 minutes, Geovanni heading in from a corner. It looked more comfortable for them on 58 after Simão cut inside on the left and unleashed a trademark shot from 25 metres that Pedro Roma could only follow with his eyes. Then ten minutes from time, it was Simão again who ran onto a Petit through pass to slot home his 13th of the season for a result that was more convincing than the display. Académica remain firmly rooted at the bottom of the table, six points adrift of safety.
Benfica's Lisbon neighbours Sporting were on the wrong side of the same score in Madeira. Marítimo, with a superbly organised performance, put three past them with no reply, the third coming when they were down to ten men after Pena had been sent off. Alan got the first from the spot on 27 minutes after Anderson Polga pulled back Bibishkov. Then an unmarked Pena headed in a corner five minutes into the second half. He was then sent off for a second yellow on 66 minutes, but Sporting could not capitalise on their numercial superiority, and ten minutes later, Bibishkov strode onto an Alan through pass and swept the ball past Ricardo for the clincher. Marítimo climb back into the European places.
Beira-Mar remain in trouble at the bottom after yet another defeat, this time 0-2 at Gil Vicente. Rovérsio put Gil in front on 16 minutes, firing in from a corner, but it was only when Carlos Carneiro back-heeled in a minute from time that Gil could rest easy.
The other team in the relegation zone are Moreirense. They went down heavily, 1-4, at Nacional. André Pinto scored two within the first ten minutes to give the Madeiran side a healthy springboard to victory, and they made it three before the break through Wendell. Lito pulled one back, still before the break, but a further goal for Nacional from Alonso in the second half saw the three points staying in the islands.
José Couceiro's first game in charge at FC Porto went off well, but only after a few scares along the way at Estoril. Porto must have thought they had the game practically sewn up within 25 minutes, Bosingwa and then Quaresma scoring. But Fellahi scored from the spot on 37 after Costinha had handled, and in the second half the Champions had 'keeper Vítor Baía to thank for keeping out a number of Estoril raids. Porto return to the top of the table, at least provissionally, while Estoril remain hovering above the relegation places.
Rio Ave sneaked into the UEFA Cup places with a 1-0 home win against Penafiel, Gaúcho getting the only goal of the game on 23 minutes. Rio Ave are unbeaten at home this season.
União de Leiria overtook Belenenses in the table by beating them 1-0 at home, but they left it till late, Renato popping up at the back post to thump in a cross from the left on 87 minutes.
Sporting Braga went down 1-0 at Vitória de Guimarães Friday, leaving the way open for one of the three Grandes or Boavista to overtake them at the top this weekend. There was more huff and puff than guile in the game, and the two teams were separated by a goal scored, significantly, from a set piece. Vitória's captain Cléber clipped in a low free kick from just outside the area that looked to be covered by Braga 'keeper Paulo Santos, but the ball squirmed under his hands and in.
Sporting Braga defend their top spot Friday with a trip to local rivals Vitória de Guimarães. A win will mean that Braga stay top for a second consecutive week. (See UEFA article)
Luís Fabiano and Pedro Emanuel of FC Porto and Hugo Almeida, also of FC Porto but loaned to Boavista, all face one match bans following various on-field offences during the weekend's games, not spotted by the referee but clear from televised footage. FC Porto central defender Pepe has also been banned for one game for accumulation of yellow cards, and Porto midfielder Maniche has been banned for two games after a violent foul and aggressive dissent.
Sporting missed a great chance Monday to go clear at the top of the SuperLiga, drawing at home against a very useful Vitória de Setúbal. It was Jorginho, the much sought-after Brazilian forward who had a foot in Sporting in December, who put the cat amongst the pigeons on 51 minutes with a lob from a full forty metres to fool Ricardo, off his line. But it only took Sporting another seven minutes to equalise, Pedro Barbosa with a quick corner that found its way through defenders and attackers alike to sneak in at the back post.
The draw leaves Sporting in second, one point behind surprise leaders Sporting Braga on 36. FC Porto, Benfca and Boavista all have 34.
FC Porto dropped another three points at home Sunday, this time to a superbly organised Sporting Braga, who leapt to the top of the SuperLiga. João Tomás headed Braga in front from a corner on 20 minutes, but Diego equalised from the spot ten minutes later after Nem had body-checked Seitaridis in the box. Four minutes from half-time, Wender, in an offside position, headed in a João Alves free-kick from the left, putting Braga in the lead going into the break. In the second half, Porto tried to get back into it but with more heart than head, and it was Braga who extended their lead a quarter of an hour from the end, João Tomás chasing a through ball and having it deflected against him and into the net by a faulty clearance from Vítor Baía.
At the end there were white handkerchiefs waved from those Porto fans who hadn't already left the Estádio do Dragão in disgust, which augurs ill for coach Fernandez in the coming days and weeks.
Boavista dropped two points at home to Gil Vicente and lagged in relation to Sporting Braga. Central defender Gregory put Gil in front on 11 minutes, knocking home a loose ball close in. Boavista struggled to break a well-organised Gil, but managed it on 52 minutes when João Pinto, on as sub, tapped in following a parry from Paulo Jorge. Ten minutes from time, Carlos Carneiro was left unmarked to nod in a Nandinho cross on the break, but Boavista are nothing if not resilient, and a minute from time, Hugo Almeida, on loan from FC Porto, deflected in a deep cross from Carlos Fernandes to give the home side a point.
An early goal from Wendell and another from him and Miguel Fidalgo in the second half gave Nacional a 3-0 win on their visit to luckless Beira-Mar, who remain second from bottom.
The other Madeiran side in the SuperLiga, Marítimo, travelled to northern club Penafiel and took all three points thanks to a 38th minte goal from former Porto and Braga striker Pena.
Belenenses' Gabonese striker Antchouet took his tally for the season to 12 with two at home to in-form Rio Ave. His first was five minutes before half time, his second in the last ten minutes. In between, José Gomes gave Rio Ave some hope on 71.
Estoril's draw with União de Leiria was decided in the first half, Pinheiro putting Estoril in front on 25 minutes and Ferreira equalising for União on 38.
Benfica won away from home Saturday for the first time since early October to keep in touch with the top places, the victims Moreirense. Benfica controlled the first half and went in front on just eight minutes with a header by Nuno Gomes from a cross by Simão. Then on 36, midfielder Nuno Assis, making his début, made it two. Moreirense, reduced to ten late in the second half through injury, managed to pull one back through Armando a quarter of an hour from time, which left the result up in the air until the end, but it finished 1-2.
Académica continue to languish at the bottom of the table after losing 0-2 at home to Vitória de Guimarães, whose coach Manuel Machado appears to have given himself a reprieve after handing in his resignation in midweek. Marco Ferreira opened the scoring on 73 minutes, and Targino delivered the coup de grâce in added time.
Both FC Porto and Sporting won Sunday to go equal top of the SuperLiga, one point ahead of Braga and Boavista and three ahead of Benfica.
Sporting had few problems dispatching Gil Vicente 3-0 away, thanks largely to an inspired Sá Pinto with two goals. His first, on the half hour, was an enormous shot from a full thirty metres that caught Paulo Jorge off his line and dipped under the bar. His second, on the hour, was no less spectacular - a chip from a narrow angle on the left when everyone was expecting a cross. The result was sewn up on 77 minutes when the Chilean Tello, on as sub for Hugo Viana, crossed for Liedson to head in neatly for his 16th goal of the season.
Gil continue to hover dangerously just above the relegation zone.
The referee Jorge Sousa had to be substituted at half time through injury.
FC Porto were less impressive at União de Leiria but won by a single goal, a header by Ricardo Costa from a corner (badly awarded) on the right by Quaresma. Porto were on the ropes in the last twenty minutes after they were reduced to ten men when McCarthy was sent off for a second yellow. They were lucky it wasn't nine as Luís Fabiano should have gone in the first half for a cynical elbow on Renato.
The surprising Rio Ave went sixth with a 2-1 win at home to struggling Estoril. The 'Canaries' went in front after just two minutes, Arrieta scoring from the spot after the ref had given hand ball in the area. Franco headed Rio Ave back in it on the hour, then five minutes from time, there was a 'book-end' penalty, this time in Rio Ave's favour, which Ricardo Nascimento slotted home. Estoril remain just above the relegation places.
In the other game of the day, Marítimo and Belenenses both missed chances to win the game but it finished 0-0.
Not for the first time this season, the white handkerchiefs were out the Luz after Benfica fizzled against a well organised Beira-Mar to lose 0-2. After the good performance against Boavista last week (4-0), benfiquistas might have been expecting something more, but the team was ko'd by two strikes from Tanque Silva. The first on 35 minutes was a shot from just inside the area. On 66, the same player headed in from a Paul Murray cross.
Benfica are now fifth, two points behind Sporting Braga, top, and Boavista, who reacted to last weeks 0-4 defeat at the Luz in quite the opposite way to their victors then. A reorganised side put in a very positive performance against Nacional, who beat Sporting last week and for whom João Carlos Pereira was making his unhappy début as coach. Boavista dominated midfield and had most of the chances, benefitting from the sending-off of Cléber shortly after the re-start for a second yellow. Winger Diogo Valente put Boavista in front on 49 minutes with a snap shot from the edge of the area on the left that swung past Hilário. But they didn't clinch the three points until the last minutes, when sub Martelinho broke down the right and slipped the ball across the goal for Nélson to slam in.
Vitória de Setúbal return provisionally to the European places with an emphatic 4-0 trouncing of Penafiel at home. The game was decided in a ten-minute period midway through the first half with goals from Meyong, Bruno Ribeiro and Bruno Morais, while Morais , got his second just after the break to definitively kill Penafiel's hopes.
Vitória de Guimarães and Moreirense drew their derby 0-0, leaving Vitória safely in mid-table and Moreirense still in the relegation zone.
Sporting Braga went provisionally top of the SuperLiga Friday with a comfortable 2-0 win at home to struggling Académica, who despite the arrival of Nelo Vingada as coach are just not finding their rhythm. Braga went in front on the half hour with a curled free kick from Brazilian Jaime which Pedro Roma touched but only into the roof of the net. Roma was half at fault for Braga's second on the stroke of time, Jõao Alves catching him out of position with his shot from the edge of the area.
Vitória de Setúbal dropped out of the European places Monday when they lost 1-2 at home to Belenenses, whose first away victory this was. Vitória had most of the play and chances, but it was Belenenses who went in front on the hour through Juninho Petrolina. Vitória might have thought they'd got at least a point when Manuel José curled a free-kick through the wall five minutes from time, but with just a minute left, Marco Paulo gave Belenenses three precious points to at least temporarily relieve the pressure on them and put them mid-table.
With the halfway point reached in the SuperLiga, it couldn't be closer at the top: The Três Grandes, FC Porto, Sporting and Benfica, all have 31 points. They are followed by Sporting Braga and Boavista on 30. It's certainly tight at the top.
Sporting threw away the chance to go clear top when they went down 2-3 at Nacional. They were two-down in the first half, Adriano and Emerson scoring in a two-minute spell midway through the half. Liedson with a penalty, his 15th goal of the season, and Custódio with a header, in another two-minute period on the hour, put Sporting back in it. But Sporting's left back Paíto was sent off for a second yellow ten minutes from time, and it was from an attack down his side that Nacional got the winner, Goulart making the line on the right and crossing for Adriano to dive in and head home. It was a fitting going away present for coach Casimiro Mior, who returns to Brazil Monday.
Later in the evening, Benfica reacted well after a dismal performance at Sporting last weekend to thrash Boavista 4-0. The Chequereds were incapable of putting more than a couple of passes together the whole game, and Benfica, strengthened with the returns of key players Miguel and Luisão, capitalised on this to run riot. But it took a penalty from Simão on 40 minutes, after Milhazes had naively brought down Nuno Gomes in the box, to break the stalemate. Boavista's Zé Manuel was sent off for words to the ref on 57 minutes, and Nuno Gomes got a couple within the next ten minutes to practically kill the game. Crowd favourite Pedro Mantorras, slowly coming back after a long and painful recovery from injury, came on as sub and got his first goal since November 2002 in added time to seal the score.
Sporting Braga could have gone clear top if they had done what might have been expected of them, and that was to beat Moreierense at home. But all they could manage was a 0-0 draw.
Marítimo go seventh with a 2-1 win over Estoril. Bibishkov got two, on 24 and 61 minutes, and Vargas got a consolation for Estoril near the end.
Rio Ave continue their climb towards Europe. Paulo César on 18 minutes and Idalécio just after the break got the goals that gave them a 2-0 win over União de Leiria.
Penafiel snatched a win at Gil Vicente in the final minutes, Nuno Silva the scorer.
FC Porto dropped another two points Saturday at an organised Académica, desperate for points at the bottom of the table. The final scoreline of 0-0 reflects well Académica's lack of adventure and Porto's lack of effective finishing. Nevertheless, the Champions go back to the top, at least temporarily, while Académica remain rooted at the bottom.
The other game of the evening looked like it was going the same way, thanks in part to a fine display by Beira-Mar 'keeper Srnicek, but on the stroke of full time, he could only parry a shot into the path of Serginho who struck to give Vitória de Guimarães the points. The result leaves Vitória in mid-table on 22 points while things are looking black for Beira-Mar, second from bottom and a single point above Académica.
FC Porto confirmed their shakey season Sunday when they could only draw 1-1 at home to Rio Ave, although they were fortunate even to get the point against an impressive Rio Ave, whose tenth draw of the season this was (sports daily A Bola gave all the Rio Ave players 7/10 ... except for captain Mozer, who got 8 and was voted man of the match). Gaúcho put the visitors in front on 28 minutes, and Luís Fabiano saved Porto's blushes on 72. The draw leaves FC Porto second on 30 points, the same as local rivals Boavista, one behind Sporting, who are the new leaders.
Into fourth go Sporting Braga, one place above Benfica. The Arsenalistas travelled to Beira-Mar, still wobbling despite the arrival of Luís Campos, the club's fourth coach of the season, and thrashed them 4-1. Baira-Mar went in front with a Paul Murray goal just before the break, but a devastating ten-minute spell midway through the second half, with goals from Wender, João Alves, Cesinha and João Tomás, sealed the points for Braga..
Gil Vicente continue to improve under new coach Ulisses Morais and leapfrogged over mid-table rivals Belenenses with a 1-0 win there. Nandinho got the all-important goal on 37 minutes.
Nacional reversed a recent bad spell to win 1-0 at Penafiel. Captain Gouveia gave the Madeiran side the points a quarter of an hour from the end.
Académica sank to the bottom of the heap with a 0-1 defeat at Moreirense, Danilo putting through his own goal two minutes before the interval.
União de Leiria and Marítimo slogged out a 0-0 stalemate in front of little over 3,000 at the Leiria Municipal Stadium, a 30,000-seater built for Euro 2004.
Sporting went (provisionally) top of the SuperLiga Saturday with a well-deserved win over eternal local rivals Benfica. The game was not without its controversy, with several dubious refereeing decisions and two players sent off. But two goals from the Liga's top scorer Liedson, separated by one from Nuno Gomes, made the final score 2-1. (See match report).
Provisionally second go Boavista who beat Vitória de Guimarães at home by the same score. There was controversy in this match also. After 27 minutes, Zé Manuel made the most of a clumsy challenge from Hungarian defender dragoner and brushed himself off to slot the penalty past Palatsi. Dragoner partially made up for it on 55 minutes with a corner from the right that Alex headed home. But then in added time, and for the fifth time this season, Boavista scored: a Lucas shot was parried by Palatsi and sub Diogo Valente was on hand to tuck the ball away, although he was offside when Lucas shot.
The Sporting v Benfica clássico (Saturday at 20.45) is practically a sell out, with only 500 or so tickets left to be sold Saturday. This means the attendance will be approaching 50,000 in Sporting's Alvalade XXI stadium. The game has been classified as 'high risk' by the authorities and there will be 450 police officers on duty in and around the stadium. The claques from the two clubs will be out in force: for Sporting, Juve Leo expect to have around 3,500, Directivo Ultras XXI, 800 and Torcida Verde around 300. For Benfica, the No Name Boys will have around 800 and the Diabos Vermelhos 700.
Both of the teams are on 28 points, just one behind top side FC Porto.
For Sporting, Liedson plays, despite returning late from the Christmas break. The Liga's top scorer has been fined by the club but not suspended. His compatriot, the midfilder Rochemback , is fit after injury
The Sporting squad:
Goalkeepers: Ricardo, Tiago
Defenders: Beto, Polga, Enakarhire, Rui Jorge, Miguel Garcia, Paíto.
Midfielders: Custódio, Rogério, Hugo Viana, Rochemback, Carlos Martins, Pedro Barbosa, Moutinho.
Forwards: Douala, Sá Pinto, Pinilla, Liedson
Benfica's Slovenian midfielder Zahovic and Croatian striker Sokota have both been dropped for the game, while striker Nuno Gomes and defender Ricardo Rocha return after injury.
The Benfica squad:
Goalkeepers: Quim, Moreira.
Defenders: Argel, Dos Santos, Fyssas, João Pereira, Ricardo Rocha, Alcides.
Midfielders: Bruno Aguiar, Manuel Fernandes, Petit, Carlitos, Paulo Almeida, Geovanni, Simão
Forwards: Mantorras, Karadas, Nuno Gomes.
In the first SuperLiga game after the Christmas break, Estoril suprised Vitória de Setúbal at home to take all three points. The first half was all Vitória, with Cameroonian striker Meyong heading them in front on ten minutes. Such was Vitória's dominance of the early stages that Estoril's first shot on goal came on 35 minutes, Fellahi hitting the side netting. It was another Cameroonian, however, central defender Buba, who put Estoril level on the hour, appearing unmarked to sweep home a corner from the edge of the box. Then 10 minutes from time, a mix up in the area led to Veríssimo putting past his own ´keeper to make it 2-1.
The result puts Estoril in mid table, while Vitória wasted a prime opportunity to go fourth.