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liga news - 2009

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22/12/09

Leixões and Olhanense shared the points (2-2) on a waterlogged pitch in Matosinhos on Monday, ironically at Leixões' Estádio do Mar ('sea'). Coherent football was very difficult, but what the game lacked in finesse it made up for in goals and suspense: Pouga put Leixões in front with a header on 29 minutes, Rabiola squeezed the ball in at the back post from a cross by Ukra a minute later to equalise. Tiago Cintra headed Leixões back into the lead on 63 minutes, two minutes after coming on as sub. But Castro gave the Algarve team a vital point fifteen mintes from time. The last minutes were farcical as the rain continued to lash down. Leixões are 14th, just one point ahead of Olhanense on ten points, while Belenenses are bottom with the same ten points.

Leixões: Diego, Laranjeiro, Nuno Silva, Tucker, Bruno Gallo (Wénio 80), Seabra, Fernando Alexandre, Hugo Morais; Braga (Faioli 65), Pouga, José Manuel (Tiago Cintra 61).

Olhanense: Ventura, Tengarrinha, Sandro, Éder Baiano, Stephane, Paulo Sérgio (Pietravallo 93), Castro, Rui Baião, Ukra, Rabiola (Zequinha 83), Toy (Nwokolo 66).

21/12/09

Benfica beat FC Porto at a rain-soaked Luz on Sunday in the last clássico of 2009. It was a well deserved win: Benfica were sharper in all departments on the night, and Porto managed just a couple of shots on goal, which either went wide or high or were fielded by a very safe Quim. Benfica were especially superior in the first half, with the surprise starter Urreta causing Fucile all kinds of problems on Porto's right hand side, Carlos Martins organising things well in the centre in the absence of Aimar, and Luisão and David-Luíz stopping everything that came their way. On 21 minutes, a Cardozo shot was blocked on the line by Álvaro Pereira, the ball was cleared badly by the Porto defence, David Luíz punted it back into the goalmouth and Saviola had the nerve to collect it and plant it neatly past Helton's right hand.

It was a perfectly just result going into the break, and although the game evened out in the second half, it was a perfectly just final result, too. Porto were lacking colour and bite on the night, Benfica took advantage of that and drew evel on points with Braga at the top, leaving Porto trailing by four points. The championship is not over by any means, but it will be a massive psychological boost for Benfica, who have been a little shakey of late.

Porto's Hulk and Sapunaru, who was sub and did not leave the bench during the game, both saw red cards after the final whistle for incidents in the tunnel, allegedly involving security personnel.

Benfica: Quim, Maxi Pereira, Luisão, David Luiz, César Peixoto, Javier Garcia, Ramires (Filipe Menezes 72), Carlos Martins (Luís Filipe 66), Urreta (Weldon 66), Saviola, Cardozo.

FC Porto: Helton, Fucile, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Álvaro Cardozo, Fernando, Guarín (Varela 46), Raul Meireles (Belluschi 78), Hulk (Farias 77), Rodriguez, Falcao

Nacional and Académica fought a furious battle in Madeira, Nacional coming out 4-3 winners in front of 1,227. Mateus was first on the score-sheet on two minutes, tiero equalised for Académica on nine, and Ruben Micael put Nacional back in front on 35. In the second half, Edgar Silva extended Nacional's lead on 51, Sougou pulled one back for the Students on 57, Amuneke made it 4-2 on 65 and Miguel Fidalgo scored against his old club on 73. Nacional take fourth spot, three points ahead of Sporting, while Académica are 12th.

Nacional: Bracalli, Patacas, Felipe Lopes, Tomasevic, Nuno Pinto, Cléber, Rúben Micael (Halliche 89), Leandro Salino, Pecnik, Mateus (Amuneke 45), Edgar Silva (João Aurélio 68).

Académica: Rui Nereu, Pedrinho, Amoreirinha, Berger, Emídio Rafael (Lito 72), Nuno Coelho (Miguel Fidalgo 54), Tiero, Cris, João Ribeiro (Hélder Cabral 54), Sougou, Ederzito.

Vitória de Setúbal did themselves a power of good by beating high-flying Marítimo 3-2 at the Bonfim. André Pinto gave the home side the lead on 14 minutes, but Alonso equalised for the Maderian side from the spot a minute later. Keita, however, scored just before the break to take Vitória into the changing rooms 2-1 up. João Guilherme equalised for Marítimo again on the hour, and it looked like the game was heading for a draw until Keita found the net on the stroke of time for his second … although some observers gave it as an own goal by Alonso. The result takes Vitória out of the relegation zone and into 11th place. Maritimo are 8th.

Vitória de Setúbal: Mário Felgueiras, Collin, Zarabi, André Pinto, Ruben Lima, Sandro, Djikiné, Álvaro Fernandez (Kazmierczak 75), Hélder Barbosa, Paulo Regula (Luís Carlos 64), Keita (Ivo Pinto 91).

Marítimo: Peçanha, Paulo Jorge, João Guilherme, Fernando (Robson 46), Alonso, Roberto Sousa, Bruno (Taka 76), Marcinho, Manú, Baba, Djalma (Briguel 88).

União de Leiria beat Belenenses 1-0 in front of 891 (!) spectators at the Municipal Stadium in Leiria, Cássio on target on 63 minutes. Speaking after the game, Belenenses coach João Carlos Pereir said: "Belenenses are doing a fine job." Later in the evening, he was sacked. Belenenses are second from bottom; União jump to 6th, just a point behind Sporting.

União de Leiria: Djuricic, Paulo Vinicius, Mamadou Tall, Bruno Miguel, Ronny, André Santos, Marco Soares, Silas (Carlão 62; Cervantes 89), Pateiro (Elias 80), Tiago Luís, Cássio.

Belenenses: Bruno Vale, Mano, Beto, Diakité, Tiago Gomes, Gávillan, Péle (Fredy 65), Barge, Ivan (Dani 88), Lima, Yontcha.

20/12/09

Sporting beat Naval 1-0 away on Saturday in a scrappy game, not helped by a pitch in very poor conditions. Sporting once again proved that they have a lot of work to do to find some kind of rhythm and spark, both missing on Saturday. But the win takes them up to fourth in the table, 12 points behind Braga at the top.

For the one goal of the game, Liedson headed down a Moutinho cross for Saleiro to bundle the ball in from close range on 35 minutes. Sporting could have made the win a little more comfortable, but their aim was generally off and they were up against Peiser, possibly the best 'keeper in the Liga at the moment: the Frenchaman made good saves from Postiga, Adrien and Izmailov near the end as Sporting put some consistent pressure on for a change. The match was watched by just 2,167 on a cold night in Figueira da Foz.

Naval: Peiser, Carlitos, Gómis, Diego Ângelo, Daniel Cruz (Davide 75), Alex Hauw, Lazaroni (Bolívia 64), Godemèche, Marinho, Kerrouche (Simplício 66), Camora.

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel, Carriço, Tonel, Grimi, Miguel Veloso, João Moutinho, Adrien, Izmailov (Matias 90), Saleiro (Postiga 75), Liedson (Pereirinha 90).

In front of 10,525,
Vitória de Guimarães beat Rio Ave at home by the same score and jumped from 9th to 5th in the table in the process. Andrézinho curled in a free kick from the edge of the box on 52 minutes to give the home side the points, although it was Rio Ave who actually had the best chances to score.

Vitória de Guimarães: Nilson, Andrezinho, Gustavo Lazzaretti, Moreno, Milhazes (Lionn 83), Custódio, João Alves, Desmarets (Douglas 69), Nuno Assis, Targino (Marquinho 92), Roberto.

Rio Ave: Carlos, José Gomes, Gaspar, Fábio Faria, Sílvio, André Vilas Boas (Adriano 76), Wires, Vítor Gomes (Tarantini 54), Bruno Gama, Chidi (Sidnei 64), João Tomás.

19/12/09

Sporting Braga confirmed that they will spend Christmas in top spot in the Liga with a 1-0 win at Paços de Ferreira. It was an even game, and either side could have come out as winner. But it was a single goal from Meyong in added time before the break that decided it, the Cameroonian international (he will be absent in January because of the African Nations Cup) heading in at the near post after a run down the left and cross from full back Evaldo. Braga were more interested in defendng their lead than increasing it in the second half, but Paços were generally unable to unlock the Braga defence, and when they did, Eduardo was in solid form to keep them out.

Paços de Ferreira: Cássio, Baiano, Ozeia, Danielson, Kelly, Pedrinha, Leonel Olímpio, Filipe Anunciação, Leandro (Diarra 78), William, Maykon

Sporting Baga: Eduardo, João Pereira, Moisés, Rodríguez, Evaldo, Madrid, Hugo Viana (Filipe Oliveira 86), Mossoró (Paulão 84), Alan, Meyong (Matheus 74), Paulo César.

15/12/09

Vitória de Guimarães beat Belenenses 1-0 in Lisbon on Monday to close the 13th jornada. It was a scrappy first half but the game improved in the second, with more open play and chances at either end. Roberto came on as sub on the hour and scored with his first touch, finishing off a Douglas lay-off. Celestino, also on as sub on 67 minutes, wasted Belenenses' best chance four minutes later, blasting the ball out of the ground from five metres. At the end of the game, there was some contestation of Belenenses coach João Carlos Pereira from the meagre crowd. Vitória climb to ninth while Belenenses are in 13th, just two points ahead of 'red lantern' Vitória de Setúbal.

Belenenses: Nélson, Mano, Beto, Rodrigo Arroz, Barge, Gabriel Gomez, André Almeida, Pelé (Celestino 67), Ivan (Fredy 63), Lima, Yontcha

Vitória de Guimarães: Nilson, Alex, Moreno, Gustavo Lazaretti, Andrezinho, Custódio, João Alves, Rui Miguel (Roberto 60), Desmarets, Targino, Douglas

14/12/09

Champions FC Porto comfortably beat bottom club Vitória de Setúbal 2-0 on Sunday, moving to within one point of the leaders Sporting Braga and Benfica in the process. Porto started strongly and rattled the woodwork on two occasions through Belluschi and Raúl Meireles before a long pass from Fucile on 23 minutes found Farías who got the better of the two central defenders before turning to clip the ball home. Three minutes later, the ball was cleared badly from a corner and Varela, on the edge of the box, had time to tee himself up before volleying in. Setúbal coach Manuel Fernandes admitted afterwards that from then on it became a question of limiting the damage, and with more committed defending and Porto taking their foot off, they did manage to keep the result down to 2-0. Porto take on Benfica at the Luz next weekend.

FC Porto: Helton, Sapunaru, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Fucile (Rodriguez 68), Belluschi, Fernando, Raul Meireles (Guarín 74), Varela, Farías, Hulk (Mariano 80)

Vitória de Setúbal: Mário Felgueiras, Collin, Zoro (Ivo Pinto 84), Zarabi, Alan (Regula 48), Djikiné, Sandro, Alvaro Fernandez, Ruben Lima, Luís Carlos (Rui Fonte 55), Keita

Top club
Sporting Braga could only draw 0-0 to a super-defensive Naval, the first points that Braga have dropped at home. Braga dominated play, while Naval relied exclusively on counter-attacks. Rodriguez and Meyong came close for Braga in the first half, while Naval's best chance fell for Marinho. In the second half, Peiser performed well to stop efforts from Vandinho and Matheus, and Rodriguez and Matheus both missed clear chances to score. Near the end, Simplício hit the bar for Naval, but if it had gone in, it would have been a great injustice.

Braga stay equal top with Benfica, while Naval move into 9th.

Sporting Braga: Eduardo, João Pereira, Moisés, Rodriguez, Evaldo, Vandinho, Hugo Viana, Mossoró (Osvaldo 82), Alan, Paulo César (Matheus 63), Meyong (Adriano 63).

Naval: Peiser, Carlitos, Real, Diego Ângelo, Camora, Godemèche, Lazaroni, Alex Hauw, Baradji (Davide 89), Kerrouche (Michel Simplício 71), Marinho.

The team that were fifth, Marítimo, were beaten 0-1 at home to Rio Ave, who join them on 19 points. Central defender Gaspar prodded in the only goal on 21 minutes after a goalmouth scramble following a corner. It was Marítimo's first defeat in seven games and coach Mitchell Van Der Gaag's first defeat with the Madeiran side, and it was Rio Ave's first win in four games.

Marítimo: Peçanha, Paulo Jorge, João Guilherme, Fernando (Robson 32), Briguel, Roberto Sousa, Bruno (Kléber 69), Marcinho, Manú (Taka 75), Baba, Djalma

Rio Ave: Carlos, Zé Gomes, Gaspar, Fábio Faria, Sílvio, André Vilas Boas, Wires, Vítor Gomes (Ricardo Chaves, 64), Bruno Gama (Evandro 87), Chidi (Sidnei 56), João Tomás

Académica beat luckless Leixões 2-0 in Coimbra, with goals from Emídio Rafael on nine minutes and Lito a quarter of an hour from time. Leixões were hobbled by Jean Sony being sent off for a second yellow after just 20 minutes.

Académica move to 11th, while Leixões remain in trouble in 14th.

Académica: Rui Nereu, Pedrinho, Amoreirinha, Berger, Emídio Rafael, Nuno Coelho (Lito 63), Tiero, Cris, João Ribeiro (Diogo Gomes 70), Sougou (Hélder Cabral 84), Éder.

Leixões: Diego, Gallo, Tucka, Joel, Laranjeiro, Fernando Alexandre, Hugo Morais (Fábio Espinho 64) Seabra, Wenio (Zé Manuel 46), Jean Sony, Faioli (Tiago Cintra 68).

13/12/09

Struggling Olhanense came within a whisker of beating an off-colour Benfica on Saturday and must ultimately have felt frustrated to concede a 2-2 draw. Carlos Fernandes put Olhanense in front, knocking the ball in at the back post from a free-kick by Rui Duarte. On the half hour, Saviola turned in a Di Maria corner, but three minutes later, former Benfica player Toy headed in another rui Duarte free kick to give Olhanenese the lead once again. Deep into added time at the end of the game, howevver, Weldon crossed, Luisão headed down and Nuno Gomes squeezed the ball past Ventura to give Benfica a point.

It was a bad tempered match on and off the pitch. There was trouble in the stands and in the town of alhão after the game, while three players saw red during the game: Djalmir (25 minutes) and Miguel Garcia (90) for Olhanense, Di Maria (42) for Benfica. Di Maria misses nect weekend's game against FC Porto, along with Fábio Coentrão, who saw a fifth yellow. Ramires will also miss the game after injuring a leg.

Olhanense: Ventura, Miguel Garcia, Sandro, Anselmo, Carlos Fernandes, Castro (Tengarrinha 88), Rui Baião, Rui Duarte, Toy (Zequinha 77), Djalmir, Ukra (Paulo Sérgio 75)

Benfica: Quim, Maxi Pereira, Luisão, David Luiz, César Peixoto (Weldon 59), Javi García, Ramires (Felipe Menezes 45) Fábio Coentrão (Nuno Gomes 80), Di Maria, Saviola, Cardozo

After striker Cássio had headed against the bar, central defender Paulo Vinicius headed in from a corner on 27 minutes, with Sporting 'keeper Rui Patrício all at sea, to give União de Leiria their first win at Alvalade. It was Sporting's first defeat under Carlos Carvalhal. Sporting had their chances to score, escpecially in the second half and especially through liedson, but Djuricic was always on hand to thwart.

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel, Carriço, Polga, Caneira (Adrien 46), Miguel Veloso, João Moutinho, Izmailov, Matías Fernandez (Pereirinha 46), Vukcevic (Hélder Postiga 72), Liedson

União de Leiria: Djuricic, Mamadou Tall, Bruno Miguel, Paulo Vinícius, Ronny, Marco Soares, André Santos, Silas (Hugo Gomes 88), Pateiro (Elias 95), Tiago Luís (Pedro Cervantes 61), Cássio

12/12/09

Paços de Ferreira beat high-flying Nacional 2-1 on Friday openeing the 13th jornada. Paços were in front on 41 minutes, Felipe Lopes failing to cut out a long ball that fell for William who ran on to drive the ball over Bracali. Ten minutes into the second half, Mateus appeared on the left and crossed low for Amuneke to tap in at the back post. But on 62 minutes, Paços were in front again, William getting his second on the counter attack. Nacional remain fourth while Paços are seven points behind in 10th.

Paços de Ferreira: Cássio, Baiano, Ozeia, Danielson, Jorginho (Leandrinho 45), Leonel Olímpico, Filipe Anunciação, Pedrinha, Roncatto (Ciel 59), William (Fábio Pacheco 90), Maycon

Nacional: Bracali, Patacas, Felipe Lopes, Halliche, Nuno Pinto, Cléber, Leandro Salino (Amuneke 54, João Aurélio 72), Pecknik, Ruben Micael, Edgar Silva (Anselmo 66), Mateus.

08/12/09

Liedson got two goals, one early, one late, as Sporting won 2-0 at Vitória de Setúbal on Monday. Sporting were lively in the first half, with Izmailov starting, but fizzled out as the game wore on. On four minutes, Matías Fernandes put a perfectly weighted through ball into the path of Liedson, who shot from the edge of the area. Then three minutes from time, Liedson was offside from a long ball, the referee did not give it, the ball crossesd the goal line, Setúbal 'keeper Nuno Santos tapped it back into midfield for the supposed free-kick, Liedson could not believe his luck and poked it back into the open net; a curious goal. Sporting go 5th, while Vitória stay rock bottom.

Vitória de Setúbal: Nuno Santos, Zarabi, Zoro, André Pinto, Rúben Lima, Sandro, Djikiné, Luís Carlos, Álvaro Fernandez, Alan, Keita.

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel, Daniel Carriço, Polga, Caneira, Adrien, João Moutinho, Izmailov, Matias Fernandes, Miguel Veloso, Liedson.

Nacional gave coach Manuel Machado, recovering in a Madeiran hospital from a post-surgery infection, an early Christmas present with a 2-1 victory in Leiria. They went in front on 17 minutes through Edgar Silva, Pateiro equalised early in the second half but Nacional stole the points with a goal from Felipe Lopes eight minutes from time.

União de Leiria: Djuricic, Hugo Gomes, Bruno Miguel, Mamadou Tall, Paulo Vinícius (Ronny 45), André Santos, Elias, Pateiro, Silas (Ouattara 77), Carlão (Tiago Luís 54), Cássio.

Nacional: Bracali, Patacas, Halliche, Filipe Lopes, Nuno Pinto, Cléber, Luís Alberto, Ruben Micael (Salino 79), Pecnik (João Aurélio 77), Mateus, Edgar Silva (Amuneke 84).

07/12/09

Benfica moved back equal top of the Liga on Sunday after disposing of Académica 4-0 in front of 41,206 at a very soggy Luz as the heavens opened over Lisbon. Benfica's spearhead of Cardozo and Saviola proved the key. On just six minutes, the Paraguayan combined with the Argentinian before slotting the ball past the stranded Nereu. It was always going to be an uphill struggle for Académica from then on, but they seemed to get their bearings and launched several dangerous attacks. Whether this was Benfica being permissive or not is another question, as they always seemed capable of switching up a gear to create danger around the Académica goal. On the half hour, it was Saviola who did the damage, finding space to chip Nereu from the edge of the box for the goal of the match and possibly of the season.

In increasingly difficult conditions, Académica's counter-attacks were proving damp squibs, and on 54 minutes, Cardozo got his second to make it 3-0, heading into an empty goal after Nereu could only parry a Di Maria shot from outside the box. The scoreline assumed goleada proportions on 68 minutes when the lanky Paraguayan international got his hat-trick, heading in a Di Maria free-kick. Benfica catch Braga, who could only draw 1-1 at Leixões on Saturday.

Benfica: Quim, Maxi Pereira, Luisão, David Luiz, César Peixoto, Ruben Amorim, Ramires, Di María, Pablo Aimar (Fábio Coentrão 77), Saviola (Weldon 68), Cardozo (Nuno Gomes 83).

Académica: Rui Nereu, Pedrinho, Berger, Orlando, Emídio Rafael, Nuno Coelho (Vouho 59), Cris, Tiero, Sougou (Miguel Pedro 59), João Ribeiro (Diogo Gomes 72), Éder.

Marítimo beat struggling Olhanense 5-2 in Funchal but did not have everythiung their own way. They were in front on 13 minutes through Djalma, but Djalmir equalised on the stroke of half time with a header. Early in the second half, Bruno scored with a free-kick, but once again Olhanense came back, Tengarrinha netting from long range. The game was decided in a fatal 12 minutes for Olhanense: Alonso put away a penalty on 68 minutes, and Baba added two on 76 and 80. Maritimo move porvisionally to fourth, while Olhanense remain second from bottom.

06/12/09

Sporting Braga held on to top spot in the Liga on Saturday after drawing 1-1 at struggling Leixões, in Matosinhos on the outskirts of Porto. It was a filthy night in the north of Portugal – high winds and torrential rain – which hampered Braga's normally neat build ups. And the sodden pitch gave Leixões the lead on 32 minutes as a long back pass from Moisés crept under Eduardo's right boot and skimmed into the corner of the goal. To Sporting Braga's credit, they continued to try to play football, against ten men from 50 minutes after Braga saw a second yellow, and their perseverance paid off two minutes from time when Alan cracked home a shot from an acute angle on the right of the goal.

Leixões: Diego, Laranjeiro, Joel, Tucker, Bruno Gallo, Wénio, Fernando Alexandre, Hugo Morais, Braga, Faioli (José Manuel 68), Seabra (Rúben 81).

Sporting Braga: Eduardo, João Pereira, Moisés, Rodriguez (Yazalde 62), Evaldo, Vandinho, Madrid (Hugo Viana 46), Alan, Mossoró, Paulo César, Meyong (Matheus 46).

Conditions were even worse a little further north in Vila do Conde, where
Rio Ave and Belenenses ground out a 0-0 draw on a pond of a pitch. The game should perhaps never have started, but it did and reached the end, Belenenses grabbing a valuable point in their bid to get away from the relegation zone.

Rio Ave: Carlos, José Gomes, Gaspar, Fábio Faria, Sílvio, Vilas Boas, Wires, Ricardo Chaves, Chidi, João Tomás, Bruno Gama.

Belenenses: Nelson, Mano, Beto, Diakité, Barge, Gabriel Gomez, Pele, André Almeida, Celestino, Fredy, Lima.

In the other Liga game on Saturday, Naval beat Paços de Ferreira at home 1-0 in front of just 654 spectators. The only goal came on 26 minutes, Diego Ângelo heading in a Camora free-kick.

Naval: Peiser, Carlitos, Gómis, Diego Ângelo, Daniel Cruz, Godemèche, Bolívia (Lazaroni 68), Baradji (Alex Hauw 65), Camora, Kerrouche (Tandia 87), Marinho.

Paços de Ferreira: Cássio, Baiano, Ricardo, Danielson, Maykon, Filipe Anunciação (José Coelho 77), Olímpio, Pedrinha (Carlitos 45), Jorginho (Leandrinho 58), Roncatto, William.

05/12/09

An in-form FC Porto inflicted a heavy 4-1 defeat on Vitória de Guimarães on Friday, but the result did not really reflect what happened on the pitch. Vitória did have a poor first half and were two down in half an hour. Nuno Assis lost the ball in midfield on 12 minutes and Varela strode on unchallenged before cracking a shot past Nilson from just inside the area, and Falcao tapped in from close range following a Raul Meireles free-kick on 32. Andrezinho curled in a free kick just before the break to put Vitória back in it, and in the second half they dominated early on and had several chances to turn the game around, notably through Nuno Assis on two occasions and Moreno. But it was Bruno Alves that killed the game on 66 minutes, popping up at the back post to rifle home a long ball, and Rodriguez was given time and room to pick his spot on 87 minutes to round it off for Porto, who go provisionally second.

Vitória de Guimarães: Nilson, Alex (Rui Miguel 77), Moreno, Gustavo Lazzaretti, Andrezinho, João Alves (Roberto 71), Nuno Assis, Flávio Meireles, Targino, Douglas, Desmarets

FC Porto: Helton, Fucile, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Álvaro Pereira, Belluschi (Hulk 57), Fernando, Raul Meireles, Varela, Falcao (Guarín 57), Rodriguez.

 

30/11/09

Sporting Braga went clear top of the Liga on Monday, beating União de Leiria 2-0 at home. Braga got off to the perfect start on five minutes when a cross from the left by Paulo César got enough of a touch by central defender Diego Gaúcho for the ball to sneak inside the far post, leaving 'keeper Djuricic wrong-footed. Going down so early against a team like Braga was more then União had planned for or could handle, and they were forced to take flak throughout the first half. On ten minutes, a Mossoró free-kick was headed towards goal by Alan at the back post, but Djuricic blocked. On 30 minutes, the same combination saw Mossoró making the line on the left to cut back, with Alan seeing his shot palmed over by Djuricic. It took União 33 minutes to get a decent shot on goal, Elías forcing Eduardo to a simple save. But then a minute later, Mossoró was through on goal and who else but Djuricic was out to block. Mossoró was proving a headache for the União defence, once again causing danger four minutes from half time as he cut in from the right and aimed his shot low into the bottom left–hand corner … at least that was where the ball was going before the excellent Djuricic went down to stop it.

The second half had fewer incidents but was more of the same, i.e. Braga in control and União only sporadically threatening. But as long as the lead was only one goal, Braga were uncertain of the points. It was substitute Matheus on the edge of the box that gave them some breathing space on 68 minutes, chesting down a ball from deep before turning and placing his shot past the exposed Djuricic.

Braga move two points ahead of Benfica, five ahead of FC Porto and ten ahead of fourth team Nacional.

Sporting Braga: Eduardo, João Pereira, Moisés, Rodriguez, Evaldo, Mossoró, Vandinho, Andrés Madrid, Alan, Meyong (Matheus 61), Paulo César (Adriano 77)

União de Leiria: Djuricic, Hugo Gomes, Bruno Miguel, Diego Gaúcho, Paulo Vinícius, André Santos, Vitor Moreno (Marco Soares 77), Elias, Silas (Cássio 83), Ouattara (Tiago Luís 45), Carlão

FC Porto made up two points on rivals Benfica on Sunday – they are now three points behind – after beating a difficult Rio Ave 2-1 at the Dragão in front of just 22,512, the lowest league gate of the season. Porto were ahead on 23 minutes, Hulk doing a 1-2 with Falcão and, helped by some lucky bounces, prodding the ball past Carlos. A minute later, Rio Ave were level, a cross by José Gomes on the right headed home by the top Portuguese scorer in the league, veteran João Tomás. Then just a minute later, Bruno Alves headed goalwards but was denied by José Gomes on the line.

Rio Ave came to the Dragão with their lesson well learned, and they kept Porto to the draw until half time. Ten minutes into the second half, Porto were awarded a penalty for a dubious foul on Fucile by Sidnei, but Falcão cracked the spot kick against the bar. On 65 minutes, Raul Meireles found himself in front of goal, but his shot was well saved by the excellent Carlos. The game was trundling towards a draw when on 81 minutes, a corner from the left by Raul Meireles was headed down by Falcão and Varela, on as sub, turned the ball in from close range. Tarantini had a chance to level for Rio Ave before the end, but the result remained.

FC Porto: Beto, Fucile, Maicon, Bruno Alves, Álvaro Pereira, Belluschi (Varela 64), Fernando, Raul Meireles (Guarín 84), Hulk, Falcao (Farias 67), Rodriguez.

Rio Ave: Carlos, José Gomes, Gaspar, Fábio Faria, Sílvio (Chidi 61), Wires (Wesllem 85), André Vilas Boas, Vítor Gomes (Tarantini 11), Bruno Gama, João Tomás, Sidnei.

Belenenses , who had not won since the second jornada, were 2-0 up at one point against a ten man Marítimo, but the Madeiran side are made of strong stuff these days and clawed their way back to 2-2. The first half was all Marítimo, Baba heading against the bar on 12 minutes and Bruno hitting the same bar from a free kick ten minutes later. Belenenses' first shot was a failed one by Lima on 41 minutes, but the Brazilian striker was eventually to prove instrumental in the final score.

On 52 minutes, Gomez put a brilliant through ball to Lima, who touched it past Peçanha and was brought down. The Marítimo 'keeper was sent off, and Lima knocked the spot kick past Marcelo, despite the substitute goalkeeper getting a hand to it. Fifteen minutes later, Alonso lost the ball to Lima five metres inside the Belenenses half, but Lima was strong enough to run on and clip the ball past Marcelo as he came out. It looked like Belenenses might be heading for an elusive victory, but sub Kléber headed a ball on for Manu on 76 minutes and the diminutive winger centred only for Beto to turn the ball past his own 'keeper. Then four minutes from time, Nélson saw a Bruno free kick late, could not hold on to it, and Manu was on the hand to tap in.

Belenenses: Nélson, Mano, Beto, Diakité, Barge, Gabriel Gomez, Pelé, André Almeida (Devic 84), Ivan (Adu 80), Lima, Fredy (Celestino 64).

Marítimo: Peçanha, Paulo Jorge, Fernando, João Guilherme, Alonso, Bruno, Olberdam (Kléber 67), Manú, Marcinho (Marcelo Boeck 54), Djalma (Robson 67), Baba.

Paços Ferreira and Leixões drew 1-1, a result that enables Leixões to escape, at least momentarily, the relegation zone. William put Paços in front on 51 minutes, finishing off a low cross from the left by Roncatto. On 72 minutes, Hugo Morais equalised from the spot after Danielson had handled. Leixões winger Jean Sony was harshly sent off on 68 minutes for a foul on Cristiano that looked worse than it was. Two minutes later, Leixões' assistant coach Jorge Mendonça was also sent off for words to the ref; he had been standing in for José Mota supended after being sent off in a previous match … for words to the ref. Paços are 10th, Leixões 13th.

Paços de Ferreira: Cássio, Baiano, Ricardo, Danielson, Maykon, Filipe Anunciação (Fábio Pacheco 80), Pedrinha (Roncatto 46), Leonel Olímpio, Manuel José (Carlitos 72), Cristiano, William.

Leixões: Diego, Nuno Silva, Joel, Tucker, Gallo, Fernando Alexandre, Wénio, Hugo Morais, Jean Sony, Leo (Pouga 56, Trombetta 90), Braga (Fábio Espinho 83).

Vitória de Setúbal are bottom after going down 3-0 at Académica. Sougou, fed by Tiero, cut in from the right on 22 minutes and sent the ball under Nuno Santos. Four minutes into the second half, Tiero got the second with a free kick from the edge of the box. Then on 68 minutes, Sougou tied it all up with a panlty after Collin had brought down João Ribeiro. Académica continue their climb out of trouble under new coach André Villas Boas.

Académica: Rui Nereu, Pedrinho, Orlando (Amoreirinha 46), Berger, Emídio Rafael, Nuno Coelho, Tiero, Cris, João Ribeiro (Miguel Pedro 73), Sougou, Éder (Vouho 79).

Vitória de Setúbal: Nuno Santos, Zarabi (Luís Carlos 56), André Pinto, Zoro, Collin, Alvaro Fernandez, Sandro, Kaz (Ruben Lima 70), Djikiné, Hélder Barbosa. Keita (Rui Fonte 68).

29/11/09

As so often happens, Saturday's Sporting v Benfica clássico was not exactly a classic game of football. Looking at the table, Benfica were favourites going into the match, watched by 45,880, but their form has been a little uneven of late, and Sporting had the springboard of a new coach, Carlos Carvalhal; in fact they did look sharper and more committed. So the game was well balanced, with both sides fighting tooth and nail for the midfield, both defences doing sterling cleaning up, and both attacks squandering chances.

As early as the second minute, Sporting showed their new energy, Liedson breaking on goal but stopped by the astute Sidnei. Benfica's first real chance came on 13 minutes, Aimar putting Cardozo through, but the lanky Paraguayan put his shot wide. On 23, Adrien crossed for Carriço to control at the back post, but he blasted his shot over. A minute later, Liedson this time got the better of Sidnei but he shot straight at Quim. Five minutes from the break, a Moutinho corner found Anderson Polga but the central defender headed over. And in added time, a Di Maria free kick sailed just over the heads of David Luíz and Javi Garcia in dangerous positions.

The near misses continued into the second half, with David Luiz going on a typically adventurous run five minutes into the half but sending his shot over from 25 metres. Five minutes later, Saviola rattled the bar … but was pulled back for offside. Then on 58 minutes came the moment of the match: the very useful Miguel Veloso cracked a spectacular drive goalwards from a full 35 metres, but Quim was quick across his goal to put it round the post for a corner. Quim saved again from Vukcevic on 62, Rui Patrício stopped Di Maria with his knees on 70 and then seven minutes from time, Benfica had possibly their best chance: a shot-cum-cross from Di Maria found Ramires at the back post, but the Brazilian saw it late and put it over.

It was Sporting's fifth consecutive draw. Benfica go provisionally top of the Liga, 11 points ahead of their Lisbon rivals, but Sporting could be 13 points off the pace if Sporting Braga beat União de Leiria on Monday.

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel (Pedro Silva 44), Carriço, Polga, Caneira, Miguel Veloso, Adrien, João Moutinho, Matias (Pereirinha 73), Vukcevic (Postiga 83), Liedson.

Benfica: Quim, Maxi, Sidnei (Miguel Vítor 77), David Luiz, César Peixoto, Javi Garcia, Ramires, Aimar (Rúben Amorim 67), Di Maria, Cardozo, Saviola (Fábio Coentrão 85).

Nacional's Angolan forward Mateus equalised on the stroke of time at home to Naval. Naval had gone in front with a goal from Camora just before the break.

Nacional: Bracalli, Patacas, Felipe Lopes, Nuno Pinto, Tomasevic, Cléber (Mateus 46), Luís Alberto, Rúben Micael, Leandro Salino, Pecnik (João Aurélio 62), Edgar Silva (Anselmo 69).

Naval: Peiser, Carlitos, Diego, Gomis, Daniel Cruz, Godemeche, Bolivia (Michel 89), Baradji, Camora (Zé Mário 86), Marinho, Kerrouche.

Nacional's coach Manuel Machado is in intensive care in a hospital in Madeira after undergoing an operation for a hernia on Tuesday; he subsequently contracted an infection. He was replaced on the bench on Saturday by assistant José Augusto.

28/11/09

Vitória de Guimarães were just too strong for a struggling Olhanense in the Algarve on Friday. Man of the match Targino crossed on 20 minutes for Nuno Assis, the shortest man on the pitch, to head in. Two minutes from half time, however, the same Nuno Assis allowed Ventura to save a penalty, with Douglas following up to shoot against the post. It was not until the 66-minute mark that Vitória could breathe a sigh of relief, Targino, in superb form, dummying two defenders before clipping in the second for Paulo Sérgio's re-vamped Vitória to secure all three points, 2-0. Olhanense have now gone seven games without a win and six games without scoring a goal, and could slip into the relegation places this weekend

Olhanense: Ventura, Tengarrinha, Sandro, Éder Baiano, Carlos Fernandes, Rui Baião, Castro (Djalmir 68), Rui Duarte, Zequinha (Toy 54), Rabiola (Greg 68), Ukra.

Vitória de Guimarães: Nilson, Alex, Leandro, Gustavo, Andrezinho, Flávio Meireles, Custódio, João Alves (Rui Miguel 76), Nuno Assis (Marquinho 92), Targino, Douglas (Roberto 82).

10/11/09

Benfica went equal top of the Liga on Monday, beating a resistant Naval 1-0 in a thrilling game in front of 41,000 at the Luz. Naval were extremely well organised and defended in depth, but Benfica managed many times to get to the goal to create danger, and the game could have turned into a rout but for the woodwork on two occasions, some last minute blocks by defenders and an excellent display from Naval's Peiser. The French 'keeper kept out everything until the 89th minute: Di Maria looked to have dive to get a free-kick near the sideline on the left, and his in-swinging free-kick was headed home by an unmarked Javi Garcia for Benfica's 18th goal (out of 31) from dead-ball situations.

Benfica: Quim, Maxi Pereira (Keirrison 77), Luisão, David Luiz, Fábio Coentrão, Ruben Amorim, Javi Garcia, Aimar, Dí Maria, Nuno Gomes (Weldon 58), Saviola

Naval: Peiser, Gomis, Diego Ângelo, Daniel Cruz, Baradji, Carlitos, Alex Hauw, Godemeche, Camora, Marinho, Kerrouche (Michel Simplício 67)

09/11/09

The reigning Champions FC Porto suffered their second defeat of the season on Sunday, going down 1-0 at Marítimo in what coach Jesualdo Ferreira considered was "the worst performance so far". Porto looked a ramshackle outfit, especially in the first half. They went behind to an own goal on the half hour, Rolando sticking a leg out to an Alonso cross and seeing it loop over Hélton. Porto managed to create more danger in the second half, but Peçanha was up to anything they were firing at him, the highlight a wonderful save from Falcão midway through the half. By the end, Porto were throwing everything forward, including Bruno Alves as an extra striker, but it all had a whiff of desperation about it, and it was Marítimo who got their first home win against Porto since 2003. They have now won three and drawn one under coach Mitchell Van der Gaag.

Marítimo: Peçanha, Paulo Jorge (Taka 82), João Guilherme, Fernando Silva, Alonso, Bruno, Roberto Sousa, Manu (Briguel 65), Marcinho (Cláudio Pitbull 86), Djalma, Babá.

FC Porto: Helton, Sapunaru (Tomás Costa 74), Rolando, Bruno Alves, Álvaro Pereira, Guarín, Fernando, Raul Meireles, Hulk, Falcao, Rodríguez (Farías 61).

It looked like Sporting might have reacted positively after the resignation of coach Paulo Bento as they went 2-0 up by half time at Rio Ave. Matías Fernandez got the first, winning the ball 20 metres out and going on a slalom run, including a delightful dummy on Fábio Faria, before firing under Carlos' body. Then just before the break, the referee saw a handball by Sílvio, and João Moutinho scored from the spot. But Sporting took their foot off the pedal in the second half and allowed Rio Ave back into the game. On 56 minutes, Bruno Gama found Sidnei on the left who made the line, and his low cross was turned in by João Tomás. Three minutes later, the same João Tomás beat Tonel to a cross from the right to put the ball past Rui Patrício at the near post. Sporting lost Daniel Carriço on 64 minutes after he saw a second yellow, and Rio Ave should blame themselves for not taking advantage of the numerical superiority and a clear collapse of Sporting's organisation. Fifteen minutes from time, Caicedo was guilty of an appalling miss in front of goal, with only Carlos to beat.

Rio Ave: Carlos, José Gomes (Adriano 80), Gaspar, Fábio Faria, Sílvio, Wires, Vítor Gomes, Ricardo Chaves (Tarantini 46), Bruno Gama, Sidnei (Chidi 74), João Tomás.

Sporting: Rui Patrício; Pedro Silva, Tonel, Daniel Carriço, André Marques (Caicedo 62), Miguel Veloso, João Motinho, Vukcevic (Angulo 46), Matías Fernandez, Hélder Postiga (Polga 67), Liedson.

Leixões lost 2-4 at home to Nacional, who are struggling in Europe but improving at home. Pouga put the home side in front within seconds, but within half an hour they were behind to two penalties by Edgar Silva and two men down: Zé Manuel got a direct red on 20 minutes, and they were down to nine on the half hour when Nuno Silva saw a second yellow. Edgar got his hat trick on 75 minutes, but Leixões thought they were up for it when Hugo Morais pulled one back five minutes from time. Anselmo, though, confirmed that the Maderian side would take home the points on the stroke of time.

Leixões: Diego, Sony, Nuno Silva, Tucker, Laranjeiro, Wênio, Ruben (Cauê 46), Hugo Morais, Zé Manuel, Pouga (Faioli 63), Tiago Cintra (Léo 46).

Nacional: Rafael Bracali, Felipe Lopes, Clebão, Tomasevic (Edgar Costa 26), Patacas, Cléber (Luís Alberto 49), Wellington, Leandro Salino, Ruben Micael, João Aurélio, Edgar Silva (Anselmo 76).

Académica drew 1-1 at União de Leiria, the goals happening in the dying minuttes. Cris put Académica in front with a back-heel on 89 minutes, but Diego Gaúcho managed an equaliser for Leiria in added time.

União de Leiria: Djuricic, Hugo Gomes, Bruno Miguel, Diego Gaúcho, Vítor Moreno (Paulo Vinícius 40), André Santos, Panandetiguiri, Pateiro, Silas (Marco Soares 87), Carlão e Cássio (Pedro Cervantes 72).

Académica: Rui Nereu, Pedrinho, Berger, Amoreirinha, Emídio Rafael, Nuno Coelho (Paulo Sérgio 67), Tiero, Cris, Sougou (Miguel Fidalgo 77), João Ribeiro, Ederzito (Lito 62).

08/11/09

Sporting Braga lost their unbeaten run to local rivals Vitória de Guimarães (1-0) in the Minho derby on Saturday. Braga, missing the dynamic João Pereira at right back, suspended, and pressured relentlessly by a Guimarães side reacting very positively to the gutless defeat at Académica last week, never really found their game all evening. The deciding goal was a cracker, Vitória's two best players on the night combining on 29 minutes: Nuno Assis crossed from the right for French left back Desmarets to volley home at the back post. Braga can now be caught at the top by Benfica, if they beat Naval on Sunday.

Vitória de Guimarães: Nilson, Andrezinho, Moreno, Gustavo Lazzaretti, Sereno, João Alves (Custódio 77), Flávio Meireles, Desmarets, Nuno Assis (Alex 81), Targino, Roberto (Rui Miguel 89).

Sporting Braga: Eduardo, Ney, Moisés, Rodríguez, Evaldo, Vandinho, Hugo Viana (Osvaldo 88), Alan, Mossoró (Adriano 77), Paulo César (Matheus 52), Meyong.

Olhanense put a brake on recent bad results with a fully deserved if dull 0-0 draw at Vitória de Setúbal, who came closest to scoring in the first half when Hélder Barbosa hit the post. In the second, Zequinha had a free header that he somehow managed to miss. Olhanense's Miguel Garcia was sent off near the end for a second yellow.

V. Setúbal: Nuno Santos, Zarabi, Zoro, André Pinto, Ruben Lima (Vasco Varão 70), Djikiné, Sandro, Kazmierczak, Luís Carlos (Rui Fonte 80), Hélder Barbosa (Lourenço 88), Keita.

Olhanense: Ventura, Miguel Garcia, Sandro, Eder Baiano, Carlos Fernandes, Castro, Rui Duarte, Paulo Sérgio (Rabiola 45), Zequinha, Ukra, Greg (Guga 76).

07/11/09

After a bright start, Belenenses collapsed 0-3 at home to Paços de Ferreira on Friday, Paços' first away win since April of last year. Their best player, nippy forward Cristiano , got two of the goals: his first was a free-kick on 26 minutes that deflected wildly off the defensive wall to fool Nélson, his second a shot on the counter attack, fed by Olímpio. William clinched the victory on 72 minutes after Barge had lost the ball close to the goal. There were white handcherchiefs at the end in the 1,500 crowd, signalling problems ahead for Belenenses coach João Carlos Pereira.

Belenenses: Nélson; Mano, Rodrigo Arroz, Diakité, Barge, Gabriel Gomez, Fellipe Bastos (Igor 81), Ivan, Celestino (Dani 68), Fredy (André Almeida 88), Lima.

Paços de Ferreira: Cássio, Baiano, Ricardo, Danielson, Maykon, Leonel Olímpio, Pedrinha, Filipe Anunciação, Mário Rondon (Ciel 60), William (Carlitos 86), Cristiano (Roncatto 77).

03/11/09

An improved Académica notched up their first win of the season on Monday, 2-0 at home to Vitória de Guimarães. Moreno handled on 36 minutes and Sougou scored from the spot. On 56 minutes, Éder headed home a free-kick from João Ribeiro to effectively put the game beyond a disappointing Guimarães.

Académica: Rui Nereu, Pedrinho, Orlando, Berger, Emídio Rafael, Nuno Coelho, Tiero, Cris (Paulo Sérgio 62), Sougou (Lito 71), Éder (Bru 80), João Ribeiro.

Vitória de Guimarães: Nilson, Andrezinho (Sereno 60), Lazzaretti, Moreno (Roberto 60), Alex, Flávio Meireles (Rui Miguel 45), João Alves, Targino, Nuno Assis, Desmarets, Douglas.

Académica remain at the bottom of the table on six points, one behind a group of four teams on seven: Paços de Ferreira, Vitória de Guimarães, Vitória de Setúbal and Olhanense.

02/11/09

Upsets suffered by the Três Grandes this weekends (Porto drew 1-1 at home to Belenenses, Benfica lost 0-2 in Braga) continued on Sunday as Sporting could only draw 1-1 at home to Marítimo. It was a blistering start, with both 'keepers called into action to keep out the danger, but after ten minutes or so, the game drifted into scruffiness, and it was only in the second half that there were changes to the scoreboard. On 53 minutes, the Marítimo centre-backs both went for the same ball 25 metres out, the ball fell for Matias Fernandez and the Chilean midfielder took it on a few paces and sent it past Peçanha's right hand from 20 metres out. On the hour, however, Fernandez's goal was overshadowed by a monumental effort from Manú, who picked the ball up out on the right and sent a swerving shot into the top left hand corner from a full 30 metres.

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel (Caicedo 64), Daniel Carriço, Tonel, André Marques (Saleiro 82), Miguel Veloso, Pereirinha (Pedro Silva 64), João Moutinho, Matias Fernandez, Hélder Postiga, Liedson.

Marítimo: Peçanha, Paulo Jorge, João Guilherme, Fernando, Alonso, Roberto Sousa, Bruno, Marcinho (Pitbull 90), Manú (Briguel 78), Djalma (Taka 72), Babá.

Sporting drop to 7th in the table. At the final whistle there were white handkerchiefs in the stands and several banners bearing the word 'Rua!' ('Out!'), aimed at the coach Paulo Bento. Outside the ground, some fans tried to gain access to the administrative building and the police (200 were on duty) fired into the air to disperse the frustrated sportinguistas.

Nacional are in 5th place after a 2-1 win at home to Vitória de Setúbal. Vitória were in front on ten minutes, Keita scoring from the spot after Clebão had brought down Hélder Barbosa. In added time in the first half, Ruben Micael crossed from deep for Slovenian midfielder Pecnik to head home. Nacional dominated the second half and justly won with a neat turn and clip in from Anselmo after a through pass from Pecnik on 85 minutes.

Nacional: Bracalli, Abdou (Edgar Costa 23), Felipe Lopes, Clebão (Halliche 45), Nuno Pinto, Luís Alberto, Rúben Micael, Leandro Salino, Pecnik, Mateus, Edgar Silva (Anselmo 81).

Vitória Setúbal: Nuno Santos, Collin (Alan 41), Zoro, André Pinto, Zarabi, Sandro, Kazmierczak, Djikiné, Luís Carlos (Vasco Varão 83), Hélder Barbosa, Keita (Álvaro 60).

União de Leiria brought back all three points from Paços de Ferreira, a headed goal from Cássio on 17 minutes enough to cinch a 1-0 win.

Paços de Ferreira: Cássio, Ozeia (Maykon 46), Ricardo, Danielson, Filipe Anunciação, Baiano, Fábio Pacheco (Carlitos 63), Leonel Olímpio, Mário Rondon, Cristiano (Romeu Torres 79), William.

União de Leiria: Djuric, Hugo Gomes, Bruno Miguel, Diego Gaúcho, Vinicius, André Santos, Panandetiguiri, Pateiro, Silas (Marco Soares 65), Carlão (Kone 90), Cássio (Tiago Luís 60).

Rio Ave also won 1-0 away, at Olhanense, João Tomás heading in the only goal on ten minutes.

Olhanense: Ventura, João Gonçalves (Greg 46), Sandro, Anselmo, Carlos Fernandes, Tengarrinha, Castro (Zequinha 71), Rui Duarte, Ukra, Rabiola (Guga 71), Paulo Sérgio.

Rio Ave: Carlos, Zé Gomes, Gaspar, Fábio Faria, Sílvio, André Vilas Boas, Wires (Adriano 67), Vítor Gomes (Tarantini 87), Bruno Gama (Chidi 69), João Tomás, Sidnei.

Rio Ave are in 4th , while Olhanense are stuck second from bottom.

01/11/09

Sporting Braga went clear top of the Liga on Saturday, beating rivals Benfica 2-0 at the AXA Stadium in Braga. In a tense, engrossing game, Braga always looked the sharper of the two teams and were first out of the blocks, apparently surprising Benfica with their aggressiveness and organisation. And they were 1-0 up after seven minutes, Hugo Viana cracking in a superb free kick from an angle out on the right that sailed into the opposite top corner, leaving Quim flat-footed and Cardozo frustrated in his attempted clearance. On 28 minutes, Benfica were 'level' … until they heard the referee's whistle penalising a supposed foul near goal before Luisão headed in.

It was a bad-tempered game, with João Pereira and Fábio Coentrão especially guilty. As the players entered the tunnel for half-time, there was some pushing and shoving, and when the teams returned for the second half, they were minus André Leone and Cardozo, who both saw a red card for an incident in the tunnel. Braga benefited from the expulsions: Rodriguez slotted smoothly into the back four, but Jorge Jesus's attempts to compensate for the loss of Cardozo, through Keirrison and later Weldon, failed. And then on 77 minutes, the game was done and dusted: Braga worked the ball down the right, Matheus made the line, crossed low and back and there was Paulo César to bury the ball. Moíses cleared off the line ten minutes from time, and Braga managed to control the game and the score until the end.

Sporting Braga: Eduardo, João Pereira, Moisés, André Leone, Evaldo, Vandinho, Hugo Viana (Madrid 85), Alan, Paulo César, Mossoró (Matheus 58), Meyong (Rodriguez 46).

Benfica: Quim, Maxi Pereira, Luisão, David Luiz, Fábio Coentrão, Javi Garcia (Keirrison 54), Ramires, Di María, Aimar (Ruben Amorim 81), Saviola (Weldon 81), Cardozo.

It was the first time Benfica had failed to score this season, and Braga are now the only unbeaten team in the Liga, having already faced the Três Grandes (Benfica, Porto and Sporting) and beaten all of them. They are top, three points ahead of Benfica and five ahead of Porto. No one at Braga is declaring openly that the team is a candidate for the title , but they must be beginning to dream.

Naval beat Leixões 1-0 at home, Kerrouche lashing in a shot from an acute angle for the only goal on 53 minutes.

Naval: Peiser, Carlitos, Gómis, Diego, Camora, Lazaroni, Alex Hauw (Baradji 83), Godemèche, Michel Simplício (Bolívia 63), Kerrouche (Tandia 74), Marinho

Leixões: Diego, Sony, Nuno Silva, Joel, Nelson (Braga 54), Wenio, Caué, Hugo Morais, José Manuel, Léo (Cong Vinh 64), Tiago Cintra (Pouga 61).

 

31/10/09

FC Porto put in another pale display on Friday and dropped two home points to lowly Belenenses, whose resolute defending was enough to restrict an uninspired Porto attack to a single goal. But it was Belenenses that scored first, the mobile Lima running through on goal practically from the kick-off for the second half and beating Hélton in the one-on-one. On 63 minutes, Fárias hit home a loose ball to spare Porto's blushes, but the whistles from the crowd were a clear message: portistas are not enjoying the current patch of form.

FC Porto: Helton, Sapunaru (Rodriguez 53), Bruno Alves, Rolando, Álvaro Pereira, Fernando, Belluschi (Falcao 45), Raul Meireles, Mariano (Guarín 79), Farías, Hulk.

Belenenses: Nélson, Mano, Rodrigo Arroz (Devic 44), Diakité, Barge, Gabriel Gomez, Celestino, Ivan, José Pedro (Fellipe Bastos 51), Lima, Fredy (Cândido Costa 77).

28/10/09

Sporting were asleep for the whole of the first 45 minutes at Guimarães on Tuesday, allowing Vitória to dominate the game. Even so, it was Sporting that had the ball in the net through Caicedo, but it was disallowed for a dubious offside. and it was Sporting that went in front on 82 minutes, Liedson feeding Matias Fernandez for a simple tap-in to an open goal. But Sporting could not keep it together long enough to secure the three points, and in added time, a poor headed clearance from Daniel Carriço fell to sub Rui Miguel who teed it up for himself and sent it bouncing in past Rui Patrício's left hand from 20 metres to make it 1-1.

Vitória de Guimarães: Nilson, Andrezinho (Jorge Gonçalves 87), Moreno, Lazzaretti, Alex, Flávio Meireles, João Alves (Rui Miguel 87), Desmarets, Nuno Assis, Targino (Roberto 70), Douglas.

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel, Tonel, Carriço, Grimi (Pereirinha 45), Miguel Veloso, João Moutinho, Vukcevic (Saleiro 78), Matias Fernandez, Caicedo (Postiga 59), Liedson.

27/10/09

Benfica applied yet another thrashing to opponents at the Luz on Monday, beating Nacional 6-1. It was a closely-fought contest in the first half, with Benfica going in 2-1 up. On 17 minutes, Aimar threaded a through ball on the left to Fábio Coentrão, starting after César Peixoto was injured in the warm-up, and his low cross was tapped in by Cardozo. Edgar Costa, in an offside position from a pass by Rúben Micael, equalised for Nacional on 27 minutes, but Coentrão was in evidence again five minutes from half time, curling in a cross from deep on the left for Saviola to beat his markers to the ball and nod in.

Four minutes into the second half, the game was practically over when Aimar faked a foul in the box and Cardozo scored from the spot. On 63 minutes, Coentrão once again centred, Cardozo fumbled, but Saviola picked up the loose ball and clipped it past Bracali's left hand. If things were bad for Nacional at 4-1, they got worse when captain Patacas was sent off for a second yellow five minutes from time. And then Benfica got their fifth, a free-kick from David Luíz that Braccali could only parry, with Benfica sub Nuno Gomes following up to tap in. In added time, Nacional were reduced to nine when João Aurélio was deemed to have fouled Ramires as he entered the area, and Cardozo got his hat-trick with a second penalty.

Benfica: Quim, Maxi Pereira, Luisão, David Luiz, Fábio Coentrão, Javi Garcia, Ramires, Aimar (Carlos Martins 72; Nuno Gomes 79), Di Maria, Saviola (Rúben Amorim 72), Cardozo.

Nacional: Bracali, Patacas, Halliche, Felipe Costa, Tomasevic (Pecnik 57), Cléber, Luís Alberto, Ruben Micael (Leandro Salino 72), Edgar Costa (Mateus 46), João Aurélio, Edgar Silva.

Benfica take over the top spot, which they last occupied just under 300 days ago, on equal points (22) with Sporting Braga. Next weekend will see a crunch Sporting Braga v Benfica at 'The Quarry'.

26/10/09

FC Porto kept in touch with the top on Sunday with a 3-2 win over Académica, but it was not an easy mission against a side that had a new coach (André Villas Boas) and were obviously up for it.

After a frustrating first half, in which the Porto players heard some uncommon whistling from the crowd, the breakthrough was made by the ugly duckling of the Porto side, Mariano González, with a header from the edge of the box on 64 minutes that fooled Rui Nereu. Mariano crossed for Farías to get the second three minutes later, and it looked plain sailing from there on in. But Académica refused to lie down, and Miguel Pedro scored with a swinging shot from outside the area fifteen minutes from time. But just when it looked like Os Estudantes might make a game of it, Farías got a second, although he looked to be in an offside position. A goal from close range by Sougou in added time, after he had controlled the ball with his hand, was too late to turn things around for the team from Coimbra.

F.C. Porto: Helton, Fucile (Sapunaru 4), Rolando, Bruno Alves, Álvaro Pereira, Raul Meireles (Guarin 68), Fernando, Rodríguez (Farias 57), Mariano, Falcao, Hulk.

Académica: Rui Nereu, Pedrinho, Berger, Orlando, Emídio Rafael, Nuno Coelho (Éder 70), Cris, Tiero (Diogo Gomes 83), Sougou, João Ribeiro, Lito (Miguel Pedro 66).

Manuel Fernandes' début as coach of
Vitória de Setúbal brought a good crowd to the Bonfim and took Vitória out of the relegation places after a 1-0 win over Leixões. It could have been a more comfortable score, with Vitória hitting the bar twice, the first a scandalous miss by Luís Carlos, but a Keita shot on 36 minutes was enough to separate the sides.

Vitória de Setúbal: Nuno Santos, Zarabi, Collin, André Pinto, Zoro, Vasco Varão (Álvaro Fernandez 64), Sandro, Kazmierczack, Hélder Barbosa, Luís Carlos (Alan 71), Keita (Rui Fonte 75).

Leixões: Diego, Laranjeiro (Jean Sony 62), Nuno Silva, Tucker, Nélson, Braga (Fábio Espinho 68), Wénio, Bruno Gallo (José Manuel 50), Hugo Morais, Tiago Cintra, Pouga.

Marítimo, with Mitchell Van Der Gaag making his league début as coach, saw off Paços de Ferreira, Ulisses Morais ditto, 3-1 in Madeira. Ozeia put through his own goal on 38 minutes, and Djalma added another to give Maritimo a 2-0 lead going into the break, with Paços losing Manuel José to a red card. The Angolan striker got another, two minutes into the second half, and Paços response from Leonel Olimpo on 71 minutes was just not enough.

Marítimo: Peçanha, Paulo Jorge, João Guilherme, Fernando, Alonso (Briguel 82), Bruno, Roberto Sousa, Marcinho, Manú, Baba (Kléber 77), Djalma (Claúdio Pitbull 64).

Paços de Ferreira: Cássio, Baiano, Ricardo, Ozeia, Jorginho, Manuel José, Leonel Olímpio, Pedrinha (Filipe Anunciação 46), Cristiano (Carlitos 77), William, Ciel (Mário Rondon 46).

25/10/09

Two records were broken at Rio Ave on Saturday: Rio Ave's of not conceding a goal at home (although they remain unbeaten), and visitors Sporting Braga's of straight wins. The game finished 1-1 and Braga can now be caught by Benfica if they beat Nacional on Monday.

Braga dominated the first half and could have gone in front after just five minutes, Meyong forcing Carlos into a fine save with a powerful drive from inside the box. But it was Rio Ave that took the lead, João Tomás, against his former club, clearly bringing down centre back Moíses in midfield before taking the ball on and chipping it over the oncoming Eduardo. On the half hour, Braga were level with a superb goal, a sweeping move taking the ball to the right wing where Paulo César crossed low for full back Evaldo to knock in at the near post.

The second half saw a much more aggressive Rio Ave side and a Braga who became increasingly desperate and ragged as the game wore on. The result was a fair one overall, but Braga coach Domingos Paciência was justified in complaining about the manner of Rio Ave's goal.

Rio Ave: Carlos, José Gomes, Gaspar, Fábio Faria, Sílvio, Vítor Gomes, André Vilas Boas (Adriano 57), Wires, Bruno Gama (Tarantini 85), João Tomás, Sidnei (Chidi 67).

Sporting Braga: Eduardo, João Pereira, Moisés, André Leone, Evaldo, Alan, Vandinho, Mossoró (Osvaldo 81), Hugo Viana, Paulo César (Adriano 76), Meyong (Matheus 61).

In Lito Vidigal's first game in charge at União de Leiria, his side beat Naval with two goals in a six-minute period in the first half.
Carlão got the first on 15 minutes, and strike partner Cássio the other on 21. There were just 946 spectators at the 25,000 capacity Municipal stadium.

União de Leiria: Djuricic, Hugo Gomes, Bruno Miguel, Diego Gaúcho, Paulo Vinicius, André Santos, Pedro Cervantes, Silas, Pateiro (Ouattara 80), Carlão (Tiago Luís 89), Cássio (Vítor Moreno 71).

Naval: Peiser, Carlitos (Michel Simplício 53), Gómis, Diego, Daniel Cruz, Bruno Lazaroni, Godemeche, Alex Hauw (Baradji 46), Camora (Ouattara 77), Kerrouche, Marinho.

24/10/09

The Liga was back in action on Friday for the 8th jornada, Belenenses and Olhanense both putting in scrappy performances that produced some chances but little coherent football. Belenenses tried their luck mainly from long range in the first half and Ventura was forced to make a couple of good saves, but it was Olhanense that got the ball in the net in the second half through Castro … only to have the goal disallowed for offside. The final result of 0-0 was a faithful reflection of the balance in the game … and the absence of anything approaching clinical finishing on either side.

Belenenses: Nélson, Barge (Fellipe Bastos 74), Rodrigo Arroz, Diakité, Tiago Gomes, Gomez (André Almeida 62), Mano, Celestino, Fredy (Igor 78), Ivan, Lima.

Olhanense: Ventura, Miguel Garcia, Anselmo, Sandro, Carlos Fernandes, Tengarrinha, Castro, Rui Duarte, Ukra (Nwokolo 78), Rabiola (Rui Baião 83), Paulo Sérgio (Rui Baião 83)

13/10/09

Nacional beat Belenenses 1-0 in Lisbon on Monday in a game that was delayed from the 6th jornada. It was an interesting, open affair, with Belenenses having most of the possession but banking mainly on deep crosses and dead-ball situations, while Nacional defended stoutly throughout and broke viciously. It was on one of these breaks that they got the only goal of the game, moving swiftly down the left-hand side before Salino broke into the area, shot past Nélson's right hand, the ball rebounded off the post and Anselmo was on hand to knock it in to the open goal. Nacional had various other occasions to score, but it was Belenenses who had more, invariably thwarted by a resolute Bracali in the Nacional goal.

The result takes Nacional up to 5th, on equal points with Sporting in 4th, while Belenenses remain in 14th.

Belenenses: Nélson, Cândido Costa (Igor 73), Arroz, Diakité, Tiago Gomes, Gomez (Ivan Santos 63), Barge, Celestino, José Pedro, Lima, Adu (André Almeida 45).

Nacional: Bracali, Patacas, Felipe Lopes, Clebão, Nuno Pinto (Wellington 66), Leandro Salino, Cléber, Rúben Micael, Abdou, Edgar Silva (Amuneke 56), Anselmo (Pacheco 72).

06/10/09

Benfica remained in touch with top team Braga on Monday, beating Paços de Ferreira 3-1 on their own turf. It was a devastating first half display from Benfica: David Luíz headed in at the near post from a Carlos Martins corner on three minutes, Carlos Martins himself scored with a swerving shot from 35 metres on 22, and Óscar Cardozo curled in a perfect free kick from 20 metres five minutes from half time. It could have been a rout had it not been for a couple of excellent saves from Cássio.

It was a different game in the second half, though, with Benfica sitting back on their lead and Paços finding a bit of fire. They pulled one back on 68 minutes, Cristiano feeding Maykon in front of goal, but Paços had left themselves too much to do, and Benfica hung on relatively comfortably for the win.

Benfica: Quim, Rúben Amorim (César Peixoto 68), Luisão, David Luiz, Shaffer, Javi Garcia, Ramires, Fábio Coentrão, Carlos Martins (Felipe Menezes 45), Saviola (Weldon 77), Cardozo.

Paços de Ferreira: Cássio, Baiano, Ozéia, Danielson (Cristiano 32), Jorginho, Ricardo, Manuel José, Leonel Olímpio, Maykon (Roncatto 78 [Carlitos 84]), Ciel, Leandrinho.

Nacional jumped eight places in the table after beating Vitória de Guimarães 2-0 in Madeira. Nacional were by far the better team overall, but needed two penalties to mark their superiority. On nine minutes, Ruben Micael was brought down by Alex, Edgar Silva netting from the spot. Then on 25 minutes, Custódio was adjudged to have handled, and Edgar got his second, also from the spot. Vitória coach Nelo Vingada will be under pressure now to keep his job.

Nacional: Bracalli, Patacas, Felipe Lopes, Clebão, João Aurélio, Cléber, Leandro Salino, Ruben Micael (Pedro Pacheco 88), Pecnik (Halliche 46), Mateus (Edgar Costa 71), Edgar Silva.

Vitória de Guimarães: Nilson, Alex (João Alves 61), Moreno, Lazaretti, Desmarets, Flávio Meireles (Douglas 37), Custódio, Marquinho (Jorge Gonçalves 46), Nuno Assis, Targino, Roberto.

05/10/09

FC Porto dominated Olhanense in the Algarve on Sunday to win 3-0. An unmarked Falcão headed in from close range on 14 minutes, and Bruno Alves headed in at the back post on 45 to give Porto a comfortable lead going into the break. Hulk hit the post twice in the second half, but he was more effective when he fed Falcão five minutes from time for his second, Porto's third. Argentinian midfielder Tomás Costa, on as sub for Belluschi, broke his nose in a challenge with Guga.

Olhanense: Bruno Veríssimo, Miguel Garcia, Sandro, Eder Baiano, Carlos Fernandes, Castro, Rui Duarte, Rui Baião (Guga 46), Ukra, Rabiola (Zequinha 81), Toy (Nwokolo 46).

FC Porto: Helton, Fucile, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Álvaro Pereira, Fernando, Belluschi (Tomás Costa 78), Raul Meireles (Valeri 88), Mariano (Guarin 57), Falcao, Hulk.

Porto are now five points behind Braga but five points clear of
Sporting, who could only draw 0-0 at home to Belenenses. José Pedro and Grimi both forced good saves from Rui Patrício and Nelson in the first half, but neither side got much nearer scoring. At the end, Sporting were met once again with whistles and white handkerchiefs from the crowd.

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel, Tonel, Daniel Carriço, Grimi, Adrien, Angulo (Yannick 57), Vukcevic (Pereirinha 57), João Moutinho, Liedson, Hélder Postiga (Caicedo 66)

Belenenses: Nelson, Mano, Diakité, Beto, Tiago Gomes (Gabriel Gomez 14), Celestino, Barge, José Pedro, Fredy (Fellipe Bastos 85), Yontcha (Freddy Adu 65), Lima

Leixões beat União de Leiria 3-2 after twice being behind in an exciting game at the Estádio do Mar. The inevitable Carlão put União in front on 19 minutes, placing his shot from just inside the area. Léo headed Leixões level from a corner ten minutes later, and that was the way the two teams went in at half-time. Benítez put through his own goal on 69 and perennial sub Zé Manuel made it 2-2 on 72. Then deep into added time, Mamadou handled in the area and Hugo Morais gave Leixões the points from the spot.

Leixões: Diego, Laranjeiro, Joel, Tucker, Benítez (Zé Manuel 71), Wênio (Sony 65), Cauê, Hugo Morais, Léo (Ruben 59), Tiago Cintra, Vinh.

União de Leiria: Djuricic, Bruno Miguel, Mamadou, Diego Gaúcho, Paulo Vinicius, André Santos, Panandetiguiri, Pateiro (Ronny 84), Silas (Kalaba 46), Cássio (Tiago Luís 65), Carlão.

04/10/09

Sporting Braga made it seven wins out of seven on Saturday, beating a combative Vitória de Setúbal 2-0 in Braga. After an early scare, with the powerful Keita through on goal but seeing his shot blocked by Eduardo, Braga had the majority of the play, illustrated by a flowing move on the half hour that saw Nuno Santos saving from Mossoró. Their cause was helped on 35 minutes when the busy Luís Carlos was sent off for a second yellow, but they were still chancing their arm, Hélder Barbosa forcing a save from Eduardo on 40 minutes.

Inevitably, Braga took the lead on the hour, Paulo César finishing off with a toe-poke a sweeping move down the right between João Pereira and Mossoró. Two minutes later, Kazmierczak saw his free kick from 25 metres crash against the bar. It was Vitória's last real chance, and the icing on Braga's cake came in added time, Hugo Viana finishing off after Nuno Santos had made a fine double-save from Adriano and Mateus.

Braga will remain top whatever happens in the other games this weekend.

Sporting Braga: Eduardo, João Pereira (Filipe Oliveira 63), Moisés, Leone, Evaldo, Vandinho, Hugo Viana, Alan, Mossoró, Paulo César (Matheus 88), Meyong (Adriano 76).

Vitória de Setúbal: Nuno Santos, Brigues (Zarabi 71), Zoro, André Pinto, Rúben Lima, Sandro, Djikinée, Kazmierczak, Luís Carlos, Hélder Barbosa (Regula 56), Keita (Diouf 80).

Naval won their second game in three under new coach Augusto Inácio, 3-2 at home to Rio Ave. Wires put Rio Ave in front from the spot on 36 minutes, but Naval drew level four minutes later in the same way through Diego. In-form Kerrouche gave Naval the lead ten minutes into the second half, but it was all square again on 63 through Sidnei. Then six minutes from time, Kerrouche got his second to give Naval the three points and inflict the first defeat of the season on Rio Ave.

Naval: Peiser, Zé Mário (Carlitos 46), Gómis, Diego, Daniel Cruz, Lazaroni, Godemèche (Michel Simplício 72), Alex Hauw (Baradji 66), Camora, Kerrouche, Marinho

Rio Ave: Carlos, José Gomes, Gaspar, Fábio Faria, Sílvio, André Vilas Boas, Wires (Adriano 59), Ricardo Chaves (Vítor Gomes 59), Bruno Gama, Sidney, João Tomás (Bruno Fogaça 69).

03/10/09

In his first game in charge, caretaker coach Mitchell Van der Gaag saw his Marítimo side win in style (4-2) at bottom club Académica. It was the Madeiran side's first win in four games, a run that saw previous coach Carlos Carvalhal sacked.

Things started badly for Marítimo, with 'keeper Peçanha stretchered off after a goalmouth collision. But with his first touch of the ball, his substitute Marcelo cleared the ball long and low, Djalma received it and was fouled, but Marcinho was following up to strike it crisply past Ricardo from the edge of the box. They were two up before half-time, Djalma involved once again, crossing from the left for Babá, unmarked, to head in.

Early in the second half, Académica were back in the game, Sougou hitting the post following a free-kick, Marcelo saving from the rebound and Miguel Fidalgo following up to tap in. But they were out of it again on 68 minutes when Babá beat everyone to the ball from a corner for his second, Marítimo's third. They made it four on 82 minutes when captain Bruno , returning after injury, shot from outside the area. Sougou gave Académica a hint of hope a minute later, nudging the ball past the oncoming Marcelo, but there was not time to do any more.

At the end of the game, Académica announced that coach Rogério Gonçalves had been dismissed. Assistant coach Zé Nando takes over.

Académica: Ricardo, Pedrinho, Amoreirinha, Orlando, Emídeo Rafael, Amaury Bischoff (Miguel Fidalgo 45), Nuno Coelho, Cris, Miguel Pedro, Vouho (Lito 45), Sougou

Marítimo: Peçanha (Marcelo 12), Paulo Jorge, João Guilherme, Fernando Cardoso, Alonso, Olberdam, Bruno, Marcinho (João Luis 93), Manú (Briguel 64), Babá, Djalma.

FC Porto will travel to the Algarve to face Olhanense on Sunday in a leased 48-seater executive Airbus A 319, costing the club 40,000 euros.

 

29/09/09

Vitória de Guimarães and União de Leiria drew 2-2 on Monday in a well-disputed, open game in the north of Portugal. Vitória dominated the first half but had just one goal to show for it: Targino was allowed to take the ball across the face of the penalty area on 33 minutes before laying it off for Nuno Assis to unleash a powerful drive from 25 metres that deflected off Diego Gaúcho and fooled Djuricic. União reacted quickly, though, and equalised against the run of play, Pateiro putting an inch-perfect through ball to Carlão who shot as soon as he saw the whites of the goalposts and sent the ball past Nilson's right hand from 20 metres.

Into the second half and União were much improved, taking the game to Vitória. On 52 minutes, they took the lead: in a goalmouth scramble, Carlão headed a cross against the bar, Nilson saved from Tall, but Paulo Vinícius was following up to head in. União could have pushed home their advantage but chose to sit back and rely on the counter; it was their undoing. Five minutes after coming on as sub on 73 minutes, Milhazes crossed from the left for Roberto to beat Djuricic to the ball and head in.

Overall, justice was done.

Vitória de Guimarães: Nilson, Alex, Moreno, Lazzaretti, Andrezinho (Milhazes 73), Desmarets (Santana Carlos 55), Flávio Meireles (Custódio 55), Jorge Gonçalves, Nuno Assis, Targino, Roberto

União de Leiria: Djuricic, Panandetiguiri (Ronny 36), Bruno Miguel, Mamadou Tall, Paulo Vinicius, André Santos, Silas, Pateiro, Diego Gaúcho, Carlão, Cássio (Tiago Luís 48)

27/09/09

The reigning champions FC Porto got the better of Sporting in the first clássico of the season on Saturday. The result was made as early as the third minute, Falcão beating Anderson Polga to the ball to head in from a Belluschi free-kick. Postiga headed against the bar, still in the first half, but the moment of the game came on 51 minutes: Hulk, who had been a headache for the Sporting defence throughout, broke into the area and was brought down by the hapless Polga. The former Brazilian international defender saw a second yellow and was sent off, but Falcão's spot kick was saved by Rui Patrício. Sporting put up a strong fight-back but were unable to breach the Porto defence, where Hélton especially was on form. In added time, Sporting's Miguel Veloso was also sent off for a second yellow, leaving his side down to nine men for the closing seconds of the game. Coach Paulo Bento was dismissed from the bench for protesting Veloso's red card.

FC Porto: Helton, Fucile, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Álvaro Pereira, Fernando, Raul Meireles (Valeri 81), Belluschi, Mariano (Tomás Costa 70), Hulk, Falcao (Farias 77)

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel, Daniel Carriço, Polga, Grimi (Pereirinha 45), Miguel Veloso, João Moutinho, Vukcevic, Matías Fernández (Tonel 54), Hélder Postiga (Caicedo 77), Liedson

The win leaves Porto still five points behind
Braga at the top, while Sporting are eight points off the pace. They are also now six points behind Lisbon rivals Benfica.

Benfica thrashed Leixões 5-0 at the Luz. Leixões kept the Eagles out with some resolute defending (and some wayward shooting from the hosts) but their job was made harder on 27 minutes when striker Pouga saw a second yellow. Benfica finally took the lead in added time of the first half, David Luíz heading home an Aimar free from the left.

On 56 minutes, Nuno Silva was adjudged to have brought down Pablo Aimar in the area and saw a red card, leaving Leixões down to nine men; Cardozo blasted in the penalty kick. In the last 15 minutes, Benfica got three more: César Peixoto crossed from the left for an unmarked Ramires to pick his spot at the back post, Maxi knocked in a loose ball from close range and César Peixoto crossed from the left again for Cardozo to head in his second. Benfica are two points behind the leader Braga.

Benfica: Quim, Maxi Pereira, Luisão, David Luiz, César Peixoto, Ramires, Javi García (Fábio Coentrão 62), Di María, Aimar (Rúben Amorim 73), Cardozo, Saviola (Nuno Gomes 71).

Leixões: Diego, Laranjeiro, Tucker, Nuno Silva, Benitez, Cauê (Trombetta 79), Wénio, Hugo Morais, Léo (Joel 56), Pouga, Tiago Cintra (José Manuel 61).

Rio Ave are on the same ten points as Sporting after drawing 0-0 at home to Académica, who have just three points from their six games.

A goal on the counter attack by Maikon on nine minutes gave Paços de Ferreira a 1-0 win at Vitória de Setúbal.

Kerrouche headed bottom club Naval in front on 40 minutes at Marítimo, who equalised on the hour through Babá. But Kerrouche gave Naval their first victory of the season on 83 minutes, finishing off an assist by Outarra. At the end of the game, there were protests from the Marítimo fans against the poor displays and results of their team, who have just five points from six games.

26/09/09

Sporting Braga made it six wins out of six on Friday, beating a young and promising Olhanense 1-0 in the Algarve.

Braga were at Olhanense's throats from the off, and the latter rarely left their own half early on. On 13 minutes, Paulo César launched a stupendous shot from a full 30 metres that crashed against the right-hand post, but Olhanense clawed their way into the game, a spell of Olhanense pressure culminating in a Sandro free kick from 25 metres that hit the bar. Then just before the break came the turning point: Alan was put through on goal and Ventura pulled him down; the 'keeper was sent off and Meyong prepared to take the spot kick against substitute Bruno Veríssimo. The Cameroonian sent the ball over the bar, and Olhanense breathed again. It was the last kick of the half.

Braga dominated the second half, with Olhanense organising their defence well. Braga did find their way through on various occasions, but Bruno Veríssimo was always there to stop them, notably from Alan and Adriano, making his début for Braga as sub. The game seemed to be heading for a draw until Bruno Veríssimo fumbled a ball deep into added time. From the resulting corner, the ball was crossed to the back post by Hugo Viana; it fell for Alan who this time made no mistake and clipped the ball past Veríssimo's right hand.

Olhanense: Ventura, Miguel Garcia, Sandro, Anselmo (Éder Baiano 55), Stephane, Tengarrinha, Castro, Rui Duarte, Ukra, Rabiola (Zequinha 80), Toy (Bruno Veríssimo 46)

Sporting Braga: Eduardo, João Pereira, Moisés, Leone, Evaldo, Vandinho, Alan, Mossoró (Diogo Valente 78), Hugo Viana, Meyong (Adriano 70), Paulo César (Matheus 62)

22/09/09

Sporting closed the 5th jornada with a rather fortunate 3-2 win at home to Olhanense. The Algarve team took the game to Sporting in the first half and were 2-0 up within 20 minutes. On nine, former Sporting right back Miguel Garcia crossed for Rabiola to sneak between two defenders and head home. Then on 19 and after a superb move from Olhanense that saw the ball switching flanks, Ukra cut the ball back for Castro to unleash a phenomenal drive from 25 metres that rose and thwumped into the top left-hand corner of the net. Olhanense were momentarily in the driving seat, but a Carriço header from a Miguel Veloso free-kick on 35 minutes reduced the lead. Then three minutes from half-time, Anselmo was adjudged to have handled in the area, although the ball clearly hit his chest and only his chest. João Moutinho converted and the second half started all square.

Rabiola hit the bar, while Liedson saw a header drift wide and another saved by Ventura. But then three minutes from time, the Olhanense defence lost concentration and Vukcevic swivelled to crash a loose ball into the roof of the net. The final result was made.

Sporting are now on ten points, the same number as FC Porto and five behind Sporting Braga at the top. Porto receive Sporting on Saturday.

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel, Daniel Carriço, Polga, Caneira (Matias Fernandez 62), Miguel Veloso, Ângulo (Yannick 27), João Moutinho, Vukcevic, Liedson, Hélder Postiga (Caicedo 71).

Olhanense: Ventura, Miguel Garcia, Sandro, Anselmo, Stephaner, Castro (Messi 81), Tengarinha, Rui Duarte, Ukra, Rabiola (Paulo Sérgio 74), Toy (Nwokolo 61).

21/09/09

Benfica made hard work of beating a well organised União de Leiria 2-1 on Sunday and may well have finished without any points at all after what was perhaps their worst display of the season so far. Coach Jorge Jesus rested Óscar Cardozo, but his replacement Keirrison is taking his time to make his mark in this side. Even so, the Lisbon giants took an early lead: an Aimar free-kick from the left was tapped in at the back post by Saviola, who had lost his marker Pateiro. But a team that had scored twelve goals in their last two league games quickly went off the boil and let Leiria grow in confidence until they equalised on 19 minutes, a free-kick by Silas, also from the left, turned into his own goal by David Luiz.

In the second half, it was Leiria who were looking the more dangerous, and Djujricic was stopping everything that was coming his way from the Benfica forwards. União had the best chance of the whole game when Pateiro went rampaging down the right and crossed for Kalaba who skewed his shot wide and high of the open goal. Then on 78 minutes, Mamadou Tall put in a reckless challenge on Aimar, the referee pointed to the spot, and Cardozo got the winner, putting the ball under the body of the excellent Djujricic, who had guessed which way to go.

After taking a record crowd to Belenenses last weekend, the Benfica bandwagon set a new record for a domestic game at the Estádio Municipal Dr. Magalhães Pessoa: 22,676. The previous record had also been on a visit by Benfica in 2004: 17,728. The stadium has attendances of one or two thousand for 'normal' opposition.

The Estádio Municipal Dr. Magalhães Pessoa, now with only three sides, has a capacity of 23,888. It was purpose built for Euro 2004, when with an extra movable stand the capacity was 30,000. The absolute record for the stadium is 29,160, for Croatia v France at Euro 2004

União de Leiria: Djuricic, Mamadou Tall, Bruno Miguel, Diego Gaúcho, Paulo Vinícius, André Santos, Pateiro, Panandetiguiri (Ronny 59), Silas (Tiago Luís 82), Carlão, Marco Soares (Kalaba 47).

Benfica: Quim, Maxi Pereira, Luisão, David Luiz, Shaffer, Javi Garcia, Ramires (Nuno Gomes 64), Di Maria, Aimar, Saviola (Ruben Amorim 80), Keirrison (Cardozo 64).

A ten-man
Nacional came out on top in the Madeiran derby, beating local rivals Marítimo 2-1. Nacional looked the more dangerous early on, Luíz Alberto driving wide on 32 minutes after an excellent through ball from Rúben Micael. Two minutes later, the same Rúben Micael fed Edgar who made no mistake in front of goal. Just before half-time, Luíz Alberto and Marítimo's Kanú challenged for the same ball and Kanú came out of the challenge with a broken leg; Luíz Alberto was sent off. Marítimo took advantage of the numerical superiority to lay siege to the Nacional goal, kept out by Braccali and some stout defending. But 15 minutes from time, Filipe Lopes sent a long ball upfield and Edgar was allowed to control it and place it past Peçanha for his second. Nacional dug in their heels from then on and survived.

Nacional: Bracalli, Patacas, Felipe Lopes, Clebão, Tomasevic (Pecnik 65), Cléber Oliveira, Luiz Alberto, Ruben Micael, Mateus (João Aurélio 51), Edgar, Amuneke

Marítimo: Peçanha, Briguel, Robson, Fernando Cardozo, Alonso (Kléber 78), Olberdam, Roberto Souza, Miguelito, Marcinho, Kanu (Djalma 45), Baba

Vitória de Setúbal got their first win of the season, beating fellow strugglers Naval 1-0 away. Polish midfielder Kazmierczak got the only goal from a free-kick on 27 minutes, leaving Naval bottom. Naval's Carlitos was sent off on 51 minutes.

Naval: Peiser, Carlitos, Gómis, Diego, Daniel Cruz, Lazaroni (Tandia 69), Davide (Kerrouche 45), Godemèche, Alex Hauw, Marinho e Bolívia (Camora 75)

Vitória de Setúbal: Nuno Santos, Alan (Rui Fonte 68), Zoro, André Pinto, Ruben Lima, Djikiné, Álvaro Fernandez (Joãozinho 58), Kazmierczak, Luís Carlos, Hélder Barbosa (Bruno Monteiro 80), Keita.

Académica have still to get a win, drawing this time 1-1 at home to Belenenses. Miguel Pedro put the home side in front early on, and Belenenses had to wait an hour to equalise, Diakité heading in from a José Pedro free-kick. Académica coach Rogério Gonçalves left the field to a barrage of whistling from the home crowd.

Académica: Ricardo, Amoreirinha, Orlando, Pedrinho, Rafael, Nuno Coelho, Cris, André Fontes (Lito 69), Sougou, Miguel Pedro (Miguel Fidalgo 81), Éder (Licá 64).

Belenenses: Nélson, Barge, Tiago Gomes, Gavilán (Celestino 75), Mano, Yontcha, Zé Pedro, Fredy, Beto (Arroz 70), Diakité, Lima (Ivan 63).

20/09/09

Sporting Braga confirmed the best start to the season in their history on Saturday (five wins from five), beating reigning champions FC Porto 1-0 at the Quarry. It was a very even game, and the teams could only be separated by a moment of fortune: on 69 minutes, Braga's winger Alan, formerly of Porto and celebrating his 30th birthday, crossed from the right, the ball taking a deflection off Varela and looping over Hélton and in. In added time, Eduardo made two outstanding saves to keep out Farías and guarantee that Braga will be top of the table for at least another week; they are now five points ahead of Porto and Benfica, but Benfica have a chance to close the gap when they play Leiria on Sunday.

Sporting Braga: Eduardo, João Pereira, Moisés, André Leone, Evaldo, Alan, Vandinho, Mossoró (Madrid 81), Hugo Viana, Meyong (Diogo Valente 84), Paulo César (Matheus 79).

FC Porto: Helton, Fucile, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Álvaro Pereira, Raul Meireles (Farias, 62), Fernando, Guarín, Varela, Falcao (Rodriguez 62), Hulk.

Paços de Ferreira and Rio Ave drew 1-1, the goals coming in the last ten minutes. The visitors scored first with a seemingly inoffensive free-kick from Adriano that found its way in. William scored from the spot five minutes later to equalise for Paços. Rio Ave's Zé Gomes was sent off for the hand-ball that resulted in the penalty. Both teams now have three draws to their 'credit'.

Paços de Ferreira: Cássio, Manuel José, Ozeia, Danielson, Maykon (Roncatto 74), Ricardo, Leonel Olímpio, Pedrinha (Leandrinho 87), Ciel (José Coelho 67), Cristiano, William

Rio Ave: Carlos, Zé Gomes, Gaspar, Fábio Faria, Sílvio, Ricardo Chaves, Wires, Vítor Gomes (Adriano 77), Chidi (Bruno Fogaça 82), Bruno Gama (Tarantini 88), João Tomás

19/09/09

Leixões and Vitória de Guimarães opened the 5th jornada of the Liga Sagres on Friday, and it was the team from Matosinhos that came out on top after an enthralling, hard-fought game; it was Leixões' first win of the season, but a deserved one. They took the lead when Alex brought down the promising Tiago Cintra on 18 minutes for Laranjeiro to convert the penalty. Vitória were back in it on the half hour, a well worked counter-attack ending with a Targino lay-off for Nuno Assis to place the ball low into the corner from the edge of the area.

Early in the second half, the Cameroonian striker Pouga beat the offside trap to head in a Caué cross from deep. Vitória's fightback was dampened on 70 minutes, Douglas sent off for lashing out at Nuno Silva. The topping on the cake for Leixões came deep into added time, sub José Manuel breaking and going solo to smack the ball past Nilson.

Leixões: Diego, Laranjeiro, Nuno Silva, Tucker, Benitez, Caué (Hugo Morais 87), Wénio, Fernando Alexandre, Leo, Pouga, Tiago Cintra (José Manuel 79)

Vitória de Guimarães: Nilson, Alex, Sereno, Lazzaretti, Andrezinho, Nuno Assis, Flávio Meireles (Rui Miguel 74), Desmarets (Roberto 57), Jorge Gonçalves, Douglas, Targino.

14/09/09

Sporting de Braga are sitting proudly at the top of the Liga after a difficult win at Marítimo, who went in front on six minutes through Miguel Ângelo after a corner by Marcinho. On 39, João Pereira's cross was deflected past his own 'keeper by Fernando Cardozo. Ten minutes from time, Braga were awarded a controversial penalty for a 'foul' on Meyong , who brushed himself off to tuck away the spot kick. The game had an unusual kick-off time: 11.15.

Marítimo: Peçanha, Briguel, Fernando Cardozo, Miguel Ângelo, Alonso, Olberdam, Roberto Sousa, Paulo Jorge, Marcinho (Pitbull 77), Djalma (Kanu 45, Miguelito 77), Baba.

Sporting Braga: Eduardo, João Pereira, Rodriguez (Leone 41), Moisés, Evaldo, Vandinho, Hugo Viana (Andrés Madrid 17), Mossoró (Matheus 85), Alan, Meyong, Paulo César.

After beating Vitória de Setúbal 8-1 last week,
Benfica notched up another four at Belenenses on Sunday. Javier Saviola started them off after just five minutes, running from his own half to slot the ball home at a second attempt after Nélson had saved the first. They had to wait until ten minutes into the second half to extend their lead, Cardozo finishing off a pass from Saviola, and they had to wait another 20 minutes to reach three, Javi Garcia scoring from an Aimar cross. Two minutes from time, Ramires rounded off the goleada on a counter attack, assisted by Coentrão.

Belenenses: Nélson, Mano, Beto, Diakité, André Pires (Lima 45), Gabriel Gomez (Pelé 59), Barge, José Pedro, Celestino (Fellipe Bastos 59), Yontcha, Fredy.

Benfica: Quim, Rúben Amorim, Luisão, David Luiz, César Peixoto, Javi García (Maxi Pereira 80), Ramires, Aimar, Di Maria (Coentrão 66), Saviola, Cardozo (Keirrison 62).

Liedson 'resolved' matters for Sporting once again, heading in a João Moutinho cross ten minutes from time to give his team a 1-0 win over super-defensive, resilient Paços de Ferreira. It was Liedson's 100th goal in his 250th game for the club. Paços had Fábio Pacheco and Baiano sent off in the last five minutes.

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel, Tonel, Daniel Carriço, André Marques (Hélder Postiga 46), Angulo (Matias Fernandez 46), Miguel Veloso, João Moutinho, Vukcevic, Yannick (Caneira 85), Liedson.

Paços de Ferreira: Cássio, Filipe Anunciação (Pedrinha 36), Danielson, Ozeia, Kelly (Carlitos 10, Fábio Pacheco 63), Leonel Olímpio, Ricardo, Baiano, Jorginho, Ciel, Cristiano.

Olhanense, down to ten men from 10 minutes on (red for Carlos Fernandes), and down to nine for the last half hour (Rui Baião) still had enough to beat visitors Académica 2-1 with first-half goals from Castro and Toy, sandwiching Lito's penalty.

Olhanense: Ventura, Miguel Garcia, Sandro, Anselmo, Carlos Fernandes, Rui Baião, Castro, Rui Duarte (Messi 90), Ukra (Éder Baiano 66), Rabiola (Tengarrinha 13), Toy

Académica: Ricardo, Pedrinho, Luiz Nunes, Orlando, Emídio Rafael, Nuno Coelho, Cris, André Fontes (Licá 43), Lito (Sougou 71), Eder, João Ribeiro (Miguel Fidalgo 61)

Vitória de Setúbal suffered another four goals (eight last week at Benfica), at home to União de Leiria. It was União's first win, with Carlão, Silas, Panandetiguiri (penalty) and Kalaba scoring. Kazmierczak missed a penalty for Vitória.

Vitória de Setúbal: Felgueiras, Alan (Vasco Varão 57), André Pinto, Zarabi, Rúben, Djikiné, Joãozinho, Luís Carlos (Guilherme de Paula 46), Kazmierczak, Hélder Barbosa, Keita (Diouf 62).

União de Leiria: Djuricic, Panandetiguiri, Bruno Miguel, Diego Gaúcho, Paulo Vinicíus, Pateiro, Pedro Cervantes (Ronny 57), André Santos, Silas, Cássio (Outtara 80), Carlão (Tiago Martins 63).

13/09/09

FC Porto beat Leixões 4-1 on Saturday, their four goals coming in an impressive first-half performance. Álvaro Pereira crossed on 19 minutes for Varela to hit home, and the same Pereira was fouled three minutes later for Hulk to score from the spot. Centre back Rolando knocked in a loose ball on 33, and three minutes from the break Hulk fed Falcão who rounded Diego to score. Porto dropped the pace in the second half and allowed Leixões a consolation a quarter of an hour from the end, Pouga heading in from a corner.

FC Porto: Helton, Fucile, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Álvaro Pereira (Tomás Costa 46), Fernando, Belluschi, Raul Meireles (Valeri 54), Varela (Farías 73), Falcao, Hulk.

Leixões: Diego, Laranjeito, Tucker, Nuno Silva, Benítez, Wénio, Fernando Alexandre, Hugo Morais (Léo 54), José Manuel (Cauê 46), Faioli (Pouga 63), Tiago Cintra.

Rio Ave chalked up their second victory of the season against a Nacional side who are yet to win. João Tomás got Rio Ave's first on 33 minutes, Vítor Gomes sealing the result on 63. Rio Ave's André Vilas Boas was sent off on 74 minutes but even that did not spark the Madeiran side, who have just two points from four games.

12/09/09

Vitória de Guimarães beat Naval 3-0 to open the fourth jornada of the Liga on Friday. Roberto put the home side in front on 25 minutes, with Lazzaretti (51) and Flávio Meireles (86) completing the score in the second half.

Vitória de Guimarães: Nilson, Alex, Sereno, Lazzaretti, Andrezinho, Flávio Meireles, Jorge Gonçalves (Carlitos 83), Desmarets, Targino, Roberto (Marquinho 78), Douglas (Rui Miguel 66).

Naval: Peiser, Tiago, Diego, Gomis, José Mário (Baradji 62), Lazaroni, Godemeche, Bolívia, Marinho, Michel Simplício (Alex 26), Kerrouche (Tandia 70).

 

25/08/09

Belenenses beat a disappointing Naval 2-0 at home on Monday, closing the second jornada. The first half was even but weak. In the second half, Belenenses broke the deadlock with a strange goal, Fredy breaking right on the hour and crossing for Yontcha, in an offside position, to chest home. They sealed the result in added time when Yontcha ran down the same right-hand side and put in a low cross that sub Ivan tapped in.

Belenenses: Nélson, Mano, Diakité, Rodrigo Arroz, André Pires, Gomez, Barge (Ivan 72), Celestino (Fellipe Bastos 59), José Pedro, Fredy (Pelé 80), Yontcha.

Naval: Peiser, Tiago (Marinho 65), Lupède, Diego, Camora, Lazaroni, Godeméche, Nkake (Alex 46), Davide, Tandia, Ouattara (Michel 56).

24/08/09

FC Porto beat Nacional 3-0 at home on Sunday, helped immensely by a collapse of Madeiran discipline around the hour mark. Until then, Porto had dominated and had had various chances to break the deadlock, prevented by stout defending from Nacional, especially goalkeeper Bracali. Then on 62 minutes, a smart move down the left involving Varela, Belluschi and a shot from Mariano saw Cléber handle with the ball on the way to goal. He got a straight red card, it is unclear whether for the infringement or for words, but teammate Clebão also saw a yellow for protests, his second. Nacional were reduced to nine men with half an hour to go, and Falcão put the spot kick past Bracali. It was plain sailing from then on for Porto, with Nacional reduced to some very speculative counter-attacks. On 72 minutes, a Belluschi corner was headed goalwards by Falcão, but it was going wide until Rolando got a touch for Porto's second. And then on 86 minutes, Porto's three subs were involved in a move down the left, with Valeri passing to Farias, who crossed for Rodrigues to tuck in at the near post.

FC Porto: Helton, Fucile, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Álvaro Pereira, Belluschi, Fernando (Farías 78), Raul Meireles (Valeri 75), Mariano, Falcao, Varela.

Nacional: Bracali, Patacas, Clebão, Fellipe Lopes, Tomasevic (Wellinghton 32), Leandro Salino, Cléber, Luís Alberto, João Aurélio (Halliche 66), Rúben Micael (Pecnik 59), Amuneke.

Benfica won 1-0 at Vitória de Guimarães under similar circumstances. The Lisbon giants' performance was a pale one compared to the midweek demolition of Vorskla Poltava, and it was Vitória that were looking the more organised and methodical side. But then on the hour, captain Flávio Meireles handled from a Di Maria corner and saw a second yellow card. Cardozo, however, allowed Nilson to save the penalty. The stalemate continued until the last minute of normal time: Fábio Coentrão won a (dubious) foul on the left and flighted over the free-kick himself for midfielder Ramires, unmarked, to rise and score with a powerful header. In added time, Nuno Assis and Coentrão got into a tussle in midfield and both received yellow cards; it was Assis' second, which meant that Guimarães were down to nine men for the final couple of minutes.

Vitória de Guimarães: Nilson, Andrezinho, Sereno, Gustavo Lazzaretti, Desmarets, Moreno, Flávio Meireles, Nuno Assis, Jorge Gonçalves (Alex 59), Targino, Douglas.

Benfica: Quim, Rúben Amorim, Luisão, David Luiz, Shaffer, Javi Garcia (Nuno Gomes 74), Ramires, Di Maria, Aimar (Fábio Coentrão 55), Saviola (Keirrison 46), Cardozo.

There was a police charge into the Benfica end after the goal, where a number of chairs were ripped out. Disturbances continued after the gme in the streets around the ground.

Marítimo and Leixões fought out a tight game in Madeira, but it was decided on 67 minutes, with Marítimo's Paulo Jorge knocking a corner over from the left and Hugo Morais heading into his own net at the near post.

Marítimo: Peçanha, Alonso, Fernando Cardozo, Miguelito, Kanu, Olberdam, Manu (Marcinho 46), João Luís, Briguel (Paulo Jorge 46), Baba (Djalma
89), João Guilherme.

Leixões: Diego, Ruben (Ze Manel 75), Benitez, Tucker, Gallo (Braga 60), Hugo Morais, Bruno China, Pouga (Faioli 54), Laranjeiro, Nuno Silva, Jean Sony.

Rio Ave won by the same scoreline at home to Vitória de Setúbal. The only goal came on 36 minutes, former Vitória player Bruno Gama sending in a free-kick from way out on the left that went through the crowded area and into the far corner of the goal.

Rio Ave: Carlos, Zé Gomes, Gaspar, Fábio Faria, Sílvio (Bruno Mendes 62), André Vilas Boas, Wires, Ricardo Chaves (Vítor Gomes 69), Bruno Gama, João Tomás (Chidi 76), Sidnei.

Vitória de Setúbal: Mário Felgueiras, Alan, Djikiné, Bruno Monteiro, Sandro, Ruben Lima, Vasco Varão (Joãozinho 46), Lourenço (Kazmierczak 74), Luís Carlos (Adul 63), Keita, Hélder Barbosa.

23/08/09

Sporting dropped three points at home on Saturday, outlcassed all the way by a Sporting Braga side that had disappointed in the pre-season, including the Europa Cup, but have now won both their games in the Liga – the only side to have done so. Sporting actually started brightly, threatening Eduardo's goal early on and claiming a penalty on three minutes when Moisés appeared to handle in the box. But on 11 minutes, Alan was allowed all the time in the world to control a loose ball and place a glorious shot into the top right-hand corner from 25 metres.

Not for the first time this season, Sporting were whistled off the pitch by their own fans at half time, and the team did little in the second half to silence them. They did improve with the entrance of Yannick Djaló on 68 minutes, and two minutes later, he took the ball on and unleashed a cracking shot that beat Eduardo's right hand. But Braga, with a very aggressive midfield and sharp attack, turned the game back their way ten minutes from time, Meyong heading in from point blank range. There were more whistles for the Sporting players at the end.

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Pedro Silva (Pereirinha 58), Daniel Carriço, Polga, André Marques, Miguel Veloso, João Moutinho, Vukcevic, Matias Fernandez (Yannick 68), Postiga (Caicedo 36), Liedson.

Sporting Braga: Eduardo, João Pereira, Moisés, Rodriguez (Paulão 64), Evaldo, Vandinho, Alan, Mossoró, Hugo Viana (Matheus 73), Paulo César (Fernando Alexandre 65), Meyong.

Earlier in the evening, there was yet another draw in the Liga (the ninth), with Paços de Ferreira stealing a point at Académica. Os Estudantes went in front on four minutes, through Miguel Fidalgo, while Paços equalised on 43 with a a terrific volley from captain Pedrinha.

22/08/09

Olhanense, playing in the Estádio do Algarve in front of 7,000, could do no more than draw 0-0 with fellow Liga newcomers União de Leiria to open the second jornada on Friday. Leiria's Mamadou Tall saw a red card in the closing minutes for an elbow.

18/08/09

Setúbal started better, Guimarães took more control and the second half was quite even as the two Vitórias shared the points on Monday.

Vitória de Setúbal: Felgueiras, Alan, Sandro, Djikiné, Rúben, Lourenço (Rui Fonte 90), Adul (Kazmierckzac 63), Luís Carlos (Joãozinho 74), Bruno Monteiro, Vasco Varão, Keita.

Vitória de Guimarães: Nilson, Andrézinho, Sereno, Gustavo, Milhazes, Flávio Meireles, João Alves, Desmarets (Targino 63), Nuno Assis, Rui Miguel (Jorge Gonçalves 46), Douglas (Roberto 71).

It was the seventh draw of the eight games of the first jornada; the only win came from Braga (1-0 over Académica), putting the northern club as early leaders.

FC Porto forward Hulk has seen his one-match supension for a red card against Paços de Ferreria extended to two matches because of his verbal abuse of referee Carlos Xistra. He will miss the home game against Nacional and the trip to Naval.

Next weekend's game between Académica and Paços de Ferreria has been brought forward to Saturday at 19.15.

17/08/09

The Três Grandes all had identical scores in the first jornada of the league season. After Sporting had only managed a 1-1 draw at Nacional on Saturday, FC Porto and Benfica followed suit on Sunday.

Porto were one down at Paços de Ferreira after 11 minutes, Ricardo heading a Cristiano corner against Fucile's back and in. A well organised Paços team, who put up a better show than in last week's SuperTaça defeat to Porto, looked like they might hold out, especially after the dismissal of Hulk for a second yellow, but they retreated perhaps too much trying to hold on to the lead and on 78 minutes, Fucile crossed for sub Falcão to head in from close range.

Paços de Ferreira: Cássio, Filipe Anunciação, Danielson, Kelly, Jorginho, Leonel Olímpio, Ricardo, Pedrinha (Ciel 81), Baiano (Romeu Torres 76), William (Carlitos 62), Cristiano.

FC Porto: Helton, Fucile, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Álvaro Pereira, Belluschi (Tomás Costa 76), Fernando, Raul Meireles (Falcao 46), Mariano, Farías (Varela 59), Hulk.

Benfica were also one down in front of 54,000 at home to a super-defensive Marítimo, Alonso scoring from the spot on 24 minutes after David Luíz had handled. Benfica piled on the pressure but failed to make it pay, thanks largely to a momentous display from 'keeper Peçanha and a missed (saved) penalty by Cardozo. Then five minutes from time, some justice was restored to the scoreline when a free kick from Fábio Coentrão on the right was headed home by sub Weldon.

Benfica: Quim, Ruben Amorim, Luisão, Sidnei (Weldon 67), David Luiz, Javi Garcia, Carlos Martins (Fábio Coentrão 17), Aimar, Di Maria, Cardozo, Saviola (Nuno Gomes 85).

Marítimo: Peçanha, Briguel, Fernando Cardozo, João Guilherme, Alonso, Manu (Djalma 70), Olberdam, João Luís, Kanu (Ytalo 62), Babá, Miguelito.

Rio Ave went in front at União de Leiria through Wires on 37, a penalty. But Carlão managed a point for União twenty minutes from time.

Olhanense, new to the top tier, got a commendable 0-0 draw at Naval, in form during the pre-season.

16/08/09

Sporting started the season on the wrong foot on Saturday, dropping two points in a 1-1 draw at Nacional. In fact the Lions were perhaps fortunate to get even a point: they were trailing to a João Aurélio goal on 26 minutes after the defence had failed to clear a corner, and were only able to draw level through an own goal, 'scored' by the same João Aurélio, who headed in at the near post from a Vukcevic corner on 75 minutes. Nacional had dominated the first half but had taken their foot off in the second and let Sporting back into the game.

Nacional: Rafael Bracalli, Patacas, Tomasevic, Clebão, Leandro Salino, Cléber, Luís Alberto, Nuno Pinto (Wellington 49), Ruben Micael (Pecnik 59), João Aurélio (Anselmo 81), Amuneke

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel (Pereirinha 45), Daniel Carriço, Polga, André Marques (Matías Fernandez 67), Miguel Veloso, Rochemback (Vukcevic 45), João Moutinho, Yannick, Hélder Postiga, Liedson.

The other Sporting, of Braga, got off to a better start, beating Académica 1-0 with a headed goal five minutes from time by Cameroonian striker Meyong. Académica's Paulo Sérgio was sent off in the last minute for a second yellow. It was coach Domingos Paciência's first league game in charge at Braga, against his old club.

Sporting Braga: Eduardo, João Pereira, Rodriguez, Moisés, Evaldo, Vandinho, Hugo Viana (Mossoró 58), Alan, Diogo Valente (Yazalde 80), Matheus (Paulo César 58), Meyong.

Académica: Ricardo, Pedrinho, Luiz Nunes, Orlando, Pedro Costa, Paulo Sérgio, Tiero, Cris (Bruno Amaro 80), Miguel Pedro (Miguel Fidalgo 62), Sougou, Lito (Licá 86).

15/08/09

The new Liga got off to a dull start on Friday, Leixões and Belenenses sharing the points in a 0-0 draw. There were 23 shots during the game, just seven of which on goal. There were 36 fouls. The nearest either side got to scoring was on 70 minutes, Pouga heading goalwards from five metres, the excellent Nélson saving with his feet.

Leixões: Diego, Sonny, Nuno Silva, Tucker, Laranjeiro, Bruno China, Hugo Morais, Trombetta (Ruben 52), Braga, Faioli (Pouga 58), Bruno Gallo (José Manuel 66)

Belenenses: Nélson, Mano, Rodrigo Arroz, Diakité, André Pires, Gomez (Ivan 79), Barge (Pelé 88), José Pedro, Celestino (Fellipe Bastos 64), Fredy, Yontcha

06/08/09

The Liga announced the schedule for the first jornada on Wednesday. The opening game will be Leixões v Belenenses at the Estádio do Mar in Matosinhos on Friday 14 August. The jornada closes on Monday 17 August with a game between the two Vitórias, Setúbal and Guimarães.

The full schedule (Portuguese times):

Friday (14)
Leixões - Belenenses, 20.15

Saturday (15)
Nacional – Sporting, 19.15
Sporting Braga – Académica, 21.15

Sunday (16)
Naval – Olhanense, 16.00
União de Leiria – Rio Ave, 17.00
Paços de Ferreira – FC Porto, 18.00
Benfica – Marítimo, 20.15

Monday (17)
Vitória de Setúbal – Vitória de Guimarães, 18.00

 

12/07/09

Saturday saw the draw for next season's Liga fixtures, made in Portimão, Algarve.

The first clássico of the season will be FC Porto v Sporting in the 6th jornada, while Sporting meet Benfica in the 11th and Benfica host FC Porto in the 14th. Benfica visit Porto in the penultimate game of the season. (Complete list of fixtures)

1st Jornada (16 August):

Sporting de Braga v Académica
Vitória de Setúbal v Vitória de Guimarães
Benfica v Marítimo
União de Leiria v Rio Ave
Leixões v Belenenses
Naval v Olhanense
Nacional v Sporting
Paços de Ferreira v FC Porto

04/07/02

The draw for the season's Liga fixtures will take place in Portimão, Algarve, on 11 July. This season, the draw will be restricted to avoid certain classes on a given weekend. For example, in the same jornada, Sporting and Benfica will not play in Lisbon and Vitória de Guimarães/Sporting Braga and Nacional/Marítimo will not play at home. It will also not be possible for derbies to be played in consecutive weeks.

 

26/05/09

The Liga and Liga de Honra (second tier) both wound up at the weekend, generating some tension but no real surprises.

On Saturday, Belenenses had a chance to claw their way to safety (if other results had gone their way), but they failed even to keep their side of the bargain, going down 1-3 at Benfica . Silas actually put Belenenses in front, but then goals from Cardozo, a header, a screamer from Fellipe Bastos from 30 metres and a clip in at the near post from Pedro Mantorras consigned Belenenses to the second tier next season. Belenenses' case was not helped by forward Saulo being sent off just before half-time for kicking out at Di Maria.

Joining them will be Trofense, who go straight back down after just one season in the top flight. They lost 0-1 at Taça finalists Paços de Ferreira, who had striker William returning after a long lay-off through injury … and scoring the only goal.

Vitória de Setúbal did themselves a favour with a 2-2 draw at Naval. Marcelinho put Naval in front from the spot, Bruno Gama and Carrijo put Vitória in the lead in the second half, and Marinho equalised for the home side in the dying minutes.

The other team in danger of the drop, Rio Ave, beat Estrela da Amadora 2-1 at home. Rio Ave were two-nil up through Edson (17 minutes) and Livramento (66), with Pedro Pereira getting a consolation for Estrela ten minutes from time.

Leixões secured sixth spot with a 1-0 win at home to Marítimo, the Madeiran side's fifth successive defeat. Diogo Valente got the only goal on 70 minutes.

Vitória de Guimarães ended a disappointing season with a win, 3-2 at Académica. Carlos Saleiro put the visitors in front on 2 minutes, but then goals from Orlando (an own goal) and two from Roberto put Guimarães in the driving seta, but Saleiro got his second fifteen minutes from time to put the result in doubt till the end.

A week ahead of their Taça de Portugal Final against Paços de Ferreira, a lacklustre FC Porto conceded a 1-1 draw at home to Sporting Braga. Farias before the break gave Porto the lead, with Edimar equalising ten minutes into the second half.

The main interest in the Sporting v Nacional game was whether Nacional could clinch the fourth spot (which they did, despite losing 1-3 on the night) and whether Liedson could catch Nacional's Nenê in the hunt for the Bola de Prata (Silver Ball), awarded by the sports daily A Bola. He couldn't; Nenê finished on 20 goals, Liedson on 17, the same as Benfica's Cadrozo. Derlei was the man of the match with two goals in what could be his last game for Sporting. Romagnoli added a penalty, but it was Nenê who scored the goal of the game with a swerving free-kick from 25 metres that hit the top right-hand corner of the net.

Up to the Liga come Algarve club Olhanense, coached by ex FC Porto captain Jorge Costa, who cinched promotion last weekend but fueled the party with a 1-0 win at home to Gil Vicente . They would be joined by either União de Leiria, after just one season away from the top division, or Santa Clara. The Azores team went down 1-0 at Feirense, while Leiria won 2-3 at Aveiro side Beira-Mar, thus securing promotion.

Relegated from the Liga de Honra are Gondomar, who could only draw 1-1 with relegation rivals Oliveirense, safe, and historic club Boavista, who went down 1-4 at home to Sporting de Covilhã. Just eight years ago, Boavista were winning the Liga title at about this time and would go on to strike fear into many a top side in Europe. Now they are consigned to the third tier and an uncertain future, strangled as they are already with debts.

18/05/09

Benfica ensured third place in the Liga, behind FC Porto and Sporting, by beating Sporting Braga 3-1 away on Sunday. All three Benfica goals came from mistakes by Braga: on seven minutes, Katsouranis floated a through ball towards Cardozo, Eduardo was slow in coming out and the lanky Paraguayan striker leapt to head into an empty goal; six minutes later, Eduardo miskicked a pass to João Pereira, it went straight to Di Maria and the Argentinian forward rounded Eduardo to knock the ball in at the near post; and two minutes into the second half, Urreta robbed the ball from André Leone before beating two defenders and then stroking the ball in. Braga got a consolation goal on the stroke of time, Luís Aguiar scoring from the spot after Miguel Vítor had brought down Alan. Eleven yellow cards were shown, two of them to Yebda who got his marching orders just 12 minutes after coming on as sub.

Sporting de Braga: Eduardo, João Pereira, Frechaut, André Leone, Evaldo, Filipe Oliveira (Rodriguez 46), César Peixoto (Matheus 61), Mossoró (Luís Aguiar 46), Alan, Paulo César, Renteria.

Benfica: Moreira, Miguel Vítor, Sidnei, David Luiz (Urreta 12), Jorge Ribeiro, Katsouranis (Yebda 56), Maxi Pereira, Ruben Amorim, Reyes, Di Maria (Carlos Martins 70), Cardozo.

Sporting Braga are in fifth in the table, behind Nacional who won 1-0 at home to Paços de Ferreira, Cléber tucking in a goal at the near post on 83 minutes.

The Algarve will have a club in the top division next season: Olhanense are promoted as champions of the Liga de Honra after winning 1-0 at Gondomar, the only goal scored by ex-Benfica striker Toy fifteen minutes from time. Who will join them in the Liga will only be known next week: it will be either Santa Clara or União de Leiria, who both won on Sunday (3-1 to oliveirense and 2-1 to Feirense, respectively). Santa Clara visit Feirense while União make the short trip to Beira-Mar on the last day.

17/05/09

Champions FC Porto brushed aside Trofense, who needed points in their fight aginst relegation, winning 4-1 in Trofa. Farias on the half-hour and Lisandro López just before the break gave Porto a 2-0 half-time lead, with Lisandro again, on 62 minutes, and Farias again, on 80, finishing the demolition. The goal of the game, however, was Trofense's consolation prize, a perfect drive from former Porto player Hugo Leal five minutes from time. The result sinks Trofense to the bottom of the table.

The teams lined up:

Trofense: Marco, Varela, Miguel Angelo, Valdomiro, Zamorano, Milton
do Ó, Mércio, Pinheiro (Charles Chad 46), Hugo Leal, Hélder Barbosa (Lipatin
62), Reguila (David Caiado 68).

FC Porto: Nuno (Ventura 69), Sapunaru, Stepanov, Bruno Alves, Bernitez,
Andrés Madrid (Guarin 77), Tomás Costa, Mariano, Lisandro, Fárias, Cristiano
Rodriguez (Hulk 60).

Sporting, with second place guaranteed, once again found themselves depending on Liedson to resolve matters on their trip to Marítimo. The Brazilian striker took his season's tally to 17 with goals on 25 and 73 minutes, while Marítimo left it until the 88th minute to respond through Olberdam. Sporting's Abel was sent off on 55 minutes.

The teams lined up:

Marítimo: Marcelo, João Guilherme, Fernando Cardozo, Luís Olim (Taka 76), Paulo Jorge, Miguelito, Bruno (Baba 45), Olberdam, João Luís, Djalma (Manú 60), Marcinho.

Sporting: Tiago, Abel, Tonel, Polga, Ronny, Yannick, Miguel Veloso (Carriço 90), João Moutinho, Derlei (Pereirinha 58), Hélder Postiga (Adrien 69), Liedson.

Relegation from the top flight will be down to the last jornada, with four teams in danger of 'claiming' the two relegation places: Belenenses, Trofense, Rio Ave or Vitória de Setúbal.

Belenenses, who this week said goodbye to coach Jaime Pacheco, won under caretaker Rui Jorge: a single goal in the closing minutes from Wender was enough to beat rivals Rio Ave.

Vitória de Setúbal went down at home to Leixões, also by a single goal from Bruno China. Vitória can avoid the drop if they beat Naval in their last game.

Naval are safe, despite losing at Académica. Paulão put the team from Figueira da Foz ahead on 26 minutes, but in a five minute spell midway through the second half, Académica turned the game around to win 3-1 with goals from Éder, Sougou and Carlos Saleiro.

A headed goal in added time from Anselmo gave Estrela da Amadora all three points at home to Vitória de Guimarães; both sides were already safe.

The final games of the season are:

Benfica v Belenenses
F.C. Porto
v Sporting Braga
Paços de Ferreira
v
Trofense
Sporting
v Nacional
Leixões
v Marítimo
Naval 1º Maio
v
Vitória de Setúbal
Vitória de Guimarães
v Académica
Rio Ave v Estrela da Amadora

12/05/09

Belenenses are in real trouble at the bottom of the table after an astonishing collapse at home to Sporting Braga on Monday. Belenenses limited the visitors to a single-goal lead in the first half, scored by Renteria on 14 minutes. But two goal in as many minutes on 52 and 53, from Paulo César and Renteria again, fatally shook Belenenses' resolve, and two more goals from Paulo César and Alan, on 60 and 66 minutes, left Belenenses wishing for the final whistle to be blown early so that the 0-5 scoreline could not get any mroe embarrassing.

The teams lined up:

Belenenses: Júlio César, Cândido Costa (Mano 69), Ávalos, Diakité, Tininho, Gabriel Goméz, Silas, José Pedro, Saulo, Wender (Vinicius Pacheco 59), Roncatto (Marcelo 57).

Sporting de Braga: Eduardo, João Pereira (Luís Aguiar 69), André Leone, Frechaut, Evaldo, Filipe Oliveira, Alan, Mossoro (Matheus 56), César Peixoto, Paulo César (Edimar 62), Renteria.

Belenenses coach Jaime Pacheco came to an agreement with the club over the rescission of his contract after the game. Former Porto, Sporting and Belenenses full back Rui Jorge takes over the reigns for the vital two games that remain, with the club rock bottom of the Liga..

11/05/09

FC Porto are Champions of Portugal. They beat Nacional 1-0 in front of a full house at the Dragão on Sunday – their fourth straight title. It was Porto's 24th title in their history, their 17th under charismatic president Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa. And it was the first time a Portuguese coach – Jesualdo Ferreira – has won three straight titles (the first of the chain of four was won under Dutchman Co Adriaanse). Six Porto players have been involved in all of those four titles: Helton, Bruno Alves, Pedro Emanuel, Raul Meireles, Lucho González and Lisandro López.

It was not a particularly impressive display by Porto, looking a little jaded after a long season, but they needed a win to be able to celebrate the title in front of their own fans, and they got it through a goal on 48 minutes from captain Bruno Alves. Raul Meireles floated a corner to the back post from the right, Lisandro headed the ball back across the goal and Bruno Alves crashed in a header. Nacional pushed forward well in response, but they were a little weak with their finishing and the score remained to give the 50,300 fans a reason to celebrate. And celebrate they did, in the ground (ticker tape, champagne and special commemorative T-shirts had been confidently prepared), around the ground, in Porto's city centre and even in Lisbon, where Porto fans based in the captal congregated around the Casa do FC Porto in the Avenida da Republica.

The teams lined up:

FC Porto: Helton, Fucile (Sapunaru 75), Bruno Alves, Rolando, Cissokho, Fernando, Raul Meireles (Andrés Madrid 82), Tomás Costa (Ernesto Farias 46), Mariano Gonzalez, Cristian Rodriguez, Lisandro Lopez.

Nacional: Bracalli, Patacas, Maicon, Felipe Lopes, Alonso, Cléber, Luís Alberto (Fabiano 59), Leandro Salino (Miguel Fidalgo 81), Ruben Micael (João Aurélio 55), Mateus, Nené.

Paços de Ferreira, Porto's opponents in the Taça de Portugal Final at the end of May, are now mathematically safe after beating Marítimo 2-1 at home. Marcinho had put the Madeiran side in the lead on 23 minutes, and Paços left it 55 minutes until they could equalise, through Danielson. On 83 minutes, Cristiano gave Paços all three points and a huge sense of relief.

Estrela da Amadora are also safe after drawing 0-0 at Naval, who are still at risk of relegation, albeit remotely.

Académica continued their good run of form with a 1-0 win at Leixões, Lito getting the only goal five minutes from half time.

Some of the main decisions, then, have been resolved: FC Porto are champions, while Sporting are second and go into the Champions League qualifying rounds. Benfica, Nacional and Sporting Braga will be in the new UEFA Europa League, along with Paços de Ferreira who will qualify as (at least) Taça de Portugal losers.

In the Liga de Honra (second tier), the promotion places will go to any two of Olhanense, Santa Clara or União de Leiria. Olhanense beat Santa Clara on Sunday, while União travelled to struggling Oliveirense and were beaten 2-1.

10/05/09

Sporting clinched second spot and a place in the Champions League next season with a 2-1 win over Vitória de Setúbal in the Liga on Saturday. Striker Liedson was once again the hero with two goals, on 27 and 90 minutes, bringing his tally for the season to 15, the same as rival Cardozo at Benfica. In between, Bruno Gama equalised for Vitória.

The teams lined up:

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel (Yannick Djaló 77), Tonel, Polga, Caneira (Ronny 55), Veloso, Pereirinha, João Moutinho, Romagnoli (Postiga 69), Derlei, Liedson.

Vitória de Setúbal: Kieszek, Janício, Robson, Zoro, Anderson, Regula (Laionel 81), Ricardo Chaves, Bruno Ribeiro, Bruno Gama Leandro Branco 72), Carrijo, Leandro Lima (André Marques 73).
Árbitro Duarte Gomes 5, de Lisboa. Amarelos Anderson (20'), Ricardo Chaves (50'), Zoro (54'), Derlei (54'), Bruno Ribeiro (56').
Golos 1-0, por Liedson, aos 27'; 1-1, por Bruno Gama, aos 39'; 2-1, por Liedson, aos 90'.

Benfica's season continues frustrating for benfiquistas until the very end, drawing 2-2 at home with lowly Trofense. Benfica were stronger from the off, with Luisão heading against the post on 14 minutes. But on the half hour it was Trofense that took the lead, Valdomiro heading in a Hugo Leal free-kick from deep on the left. The lead lasted for six minutes before Cardozo equalised, tapping in a low cross from Aimar. Two minutes later, Cardozo got his 15th of the season, heading in a Urreta cross from the right. But then on 58 minutes, another free-kick from Leal, this time from the right, was headed goalwards by Varela and finished off by Paulinho from close range. Benfica's play became more and more disjointed after that, and Mantorras was sent on – a sure sign of desperation. But the score remained, and at the end, the white handkershiefs were out again – something which is becoming a familiar sight at the Luz.

The teams lined up:

Benfica: Quim, Maxi Pereira, Sidnei, Luisão, David Luiz, Urreta (Balboa 66), Ruben Amorim, Carlos Martins (Yebda 75), Aimar, Di Maria (Mantorras 80), Cardozo.

Trofense: Marco, Paulinho (Moustapha 81), Valdomiro, Miguel Ângelo, Zamorano, Milton do Ó, Pinheiro (Delfim 68), Varela, Hugo Leal, Helder Barbosa, Charles Chad (Edu Souza 66).

After Saturday's games, Sporting confirm second spot and Benfica, still in third, could see their lead over Nacional cut to one point if the Madeiran side win at FC Porto on Sunday. If Porto win that game, they will also win the title with two games left to go. At the bottom, Trofense remain in the second relegation place but are now just two points behind Vitória de Setubal.

09/05/09

Rio Ave seem practically safe from relegation after a vital 1-0 win at Vitória de Guimarães on Friday. In a fiercely disputed match, Vitória showed first but Rio Ave, playing as if their lives depended on it, dragged themselves into the game, and on 40 minutes, the impressive Yazalde was stopped by two Vitória defenders on his way to goal; Fábio Coentrão stepped up to coolly stroke home the penalty. In the second half, Vitória applied increasingly desperate pressure, peaking ten minutes from time when a terrific shot from top scorer Nuno Assis was palmed onto the bar by Paiva. It was Vitória's last clear chance, and the closing minutes were taken up with time-wasting from Rio Ave, who saw Chidi sent off in added time with a second yellow for kicking the ball away after a foul. Rio Ave are five points clear of the drop zone with two games left, while those around them have three left.

The teams lined up:

Vitória de Guimarães: Nilson, Andrezinho, Moreno, Sereno, Milhazes, Flávio Meireles, Desmarets, Fajardo (Carlitos 62), Nuno Assis, Marquinho (Cícero 62), Roberto.

Rio Ave: Paiva, Miguel Lopes, Gaspar, Edson, Sílvio, André Vilas Boas, Vítor Gomes (Tarantini 93), Wires, Chidi, Fábio Coentrão (Livramento 87), Yazalde (Pedro Moutinho 90).

Normally announced officially on the Friday, ten days beforehand, the days and times of the fixtures corresponding to the 29th and penultimate jornada (w/e of 17 May) will only be announced after the 28th has finished, i.e. on Tuesday, 12 May, when it will be possible to have a clearer view of standings in the table. This is to safeguard against any clashes of interest as the competition goes to the wire.

05/05/09

Bottom club Trofense swapped places with second from bottom Belenenses in an exciting tussle in Trofa on Monday. Trofense were two up within 22 minutes, the first through Varela , who prodded home a loose ball following a Hugo Leal corner, the latter then scoring from the spot. Belenenses were back in it on 25, Wender sweeping the ball in after a good run by Roncatto. Trofense 'keeper Marco kept out a number of shots, Belenenses had a couple of valid penalty calls turned down, and Zamorano cleared a certain goal off the line right at the death to leave Trofense's dream of survival intact. For Belenenses, time is running out.

04/05/09

FC Porto need just one win to be crowned Tetracampeões (four straight titles) after beating Marítimo 3-0 in Madeira and benefiting from Sporting's draw and Benfica's defeat on Saturday.

Porto were in the lead as early as the second minute, Raul Meireles netting from inside the area on the left, but with Marcos somewhat to blame. Rolando glanced a Rodriguez free-kick past Marcos on 64 minutes to give Porto some breathing space. And it was all done and dusted on 83 minutes when Tomás Costa finished off a flowing move from Porto.

The teams lined up:

Marítimo: Marcos, Paulo Jorge, João Guilherme, Antoine van der Linden, Luís Olim (Taka 74), Olberdam, João Luiz, Bruno, Marcinho, Djalma (Manú 59), Victor Aquino (Baba 46).

FC Porto: Helton, Fucile, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Cissokho, Fernando, Tomás Costa, Raul Meireles (Guarin 22), Mariano, Rodriguez (Farias 84), Lisandro (Rabiola 87).

Leixões are in sixth, now seven points behind Sporting Braga, after going down 1-2 at Estrela da Amadora. Silvestre Varela knocked one in at the back post just before the break to put Estrela in front, and Leixões left it until ten minutes from time to equalise through Hugo Morais from the spot. But then two minutes from the end, Nuno André Coelho crashed a free-kick into the top right hand corner to give Estrela all three points and leave them virtually safe.

The teams lined up:

Estrela da Amadora: Nelson, Hugo Gomes, Vidigal, Nuno André Coelho, Ney, Marcelo Goianira, Fernando Alexandre, Jardel (Marco Paulo 69), Moreno (Celestino 83), Silvestre Varela, Anselmo (Mustafa 90).

Leixões: Beto, Vasco Fernandes (Chumbinho 90), Elvis, Angulo, Bruno China, Hugo Morais, Sandro, Roberto Sousa (Jean Sony 72), Zé Manuel (Ruben 58), Diogo Valente, Braga.

Vitória de Setúbal threw themselves a life-line with a 2-1 win at home to Paços de Ferreira. Ricardo put Paços ahead on five minutes, Carrijo put Vitória level two minutes later, and Auri gave Vitória the lead from the spot just befoe the break, a lead they would hold on to until the end.

Naval are not sunk but are sinking down the table; a Nuno Assis goal on 50 minutes gave Vitória de Guimarães a 1-0 win over the side from Figueira da Foz.

03/05/09

After several weeks of the top clubs in the Liga all winning and keeping in touch with each other, Saturday saw the trend broken, perhaps definitively for this season.

Second placed Sporting went to Coimbra to meet a well organised Académica and came away with just the one point from a 0-0 draw. It was the goalkeepers that kept their respective teams in it, Peskovic saving from Derlei on 72 minutes and Rui Patricio stopping Sougou in added time. Daniel Carriço saw a second yellow in added time and took an early shower.

The result leaves Sporting potentially six points behind FC Porto, with only three jornadas remaining; Porto play Marítimo in Madeira on Sunday.

The teams lined up:

Académica: Peskovic, Pedrinho, Amoreirinha, Luiz Nunes, Pedro Costa, Nuno Piloto, Cris, Tiero, Miguel Pedro (Éder 90), Sougou (Saleiro 92), Lito (Diogo 93).

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel, Tonel, Daniel Carriço, Marco Caneira (Ronny 75), Miguel Veloso, Bruno Pereirinha (Yanick Djaló 65), João Moutinho, Adrien (Izmailov 45), Liedson, Derlei.

Later on Saturday evening, Benfica had the chance to cut the gap between themselves in third and Sporting in second, but they failed to take it; the 1-3 defeat at Nacional in Madeira virtually removed any chance they had of the title, and they are now five points behind Sporting and only three points ahead of Nacional.

All of the goals occurred in the second half. An unmarked Nené got his 19th of the season on 56 minutes, heading in an Alonso cross from the left. Eight minutes later, Ruben Micael was given time and space to wind up for a dipping shot from 25 metres that beat Quim'a left hand. On 68 minutes, Reyes found himself clear on the right to beat the otherwise flawless Braccali. And in added time, Miguel Fidalgo, on as sub minutes before, was at the back post to tuck home a low cross from the right.

The teams lined up:

Nacional da Madeira: Rafael Braccali, Patacas, Felipe Lopes, Maicon, Alonso, Cléber, Leandro Salino, Luís Alberto, Ruben Micael (João Aurélio 77), Mateus (Fabiano 88), Nené (Miguel Fidalgo 90).

Benfica: Quim, Maxi Pereira, Sidnei, Miguel Vitor, David Luiz, Katsouranis (Di Maria 55), Carlos Martins (Yebda 80), Ruben Amorim, Reyes, Nuno Gomes (Urreta 83), Óscar Cardozo.

02/05/09

Rio Ave and Sporting Braga could not get beyond the 0-0 they started with in an even game in Vila do Conde on Friday. The nearest Rio Ave came to scoring was a first-half shot from Miguel Lopes that pinged off the bar, while in the final moments of the game, Braga's Alan headed against the post and Mossoró hit the loose ball goalwards, only to see it blocked by Paiva.

The result leaves Braga in fourth but gives Nacional a good chance to put some space between themselves and Braga if they can beat Benfica on Sunday. Rio Ave have put three points between themselves and the drop zone.

The teams lined up:

Rio Ave: Paiva, Miguel Lopes (Niquinha 75), Gaspar, Edson, Sílvio, Wires, André Vilas Boas, Vítor Gomes (Livramento 89), Fábio Coentrão, Pedro Moutinho (Chidi 67), Yazalde.

Sporting Braga: Eduardo, João Pereira, Paulo Jorge, André Leone, Evaldo, Vandinho (Stélvio 82), Alan, César Peixoto, Luís Aguiar (Paulo César 66), Matheus (Mossoró 86), Renteria.

 

28/04/09

Two draws completed the 26th jornada of the Liga on Monday.

Leixões received Vitória de Guimarães and shared the points in a 2-2 draw. Nuno Assis got the first goal for Guimarães after Diogo Valente was adjudged to have fouled Milhazes in the box. Braga beat 'keeper Nilson to the ball for the equaliser and then hit home a loose ball to give Leixões a 2-1 lead at half time. Marquinho gave Guimarães a point in the second half, but it was not enough to keep Guimarães in the running for a European place; it is now mathematically impossible for them to catch up with Sporting Braga (13 points), although Leixões (six points behind) can still make it with four games left.

Meanwhile, Paços de Ferreira drew 1-1 with Académica. Hero of Paços' Taça semi-final win over Nacional, Pedrinha, put his side in front on five minutes, with Orlando giving Os Estudantes a point on the hour.

The teams lined up:

P. Ferreira: Cássio, Ricardo, Ozéia, Danielson, Kelly, Pedrinha, Filipe Anunciação, Chico Silva (Filipe Gonçalves 81), Rui Miguel, Edson (Ferreira 46), Cristiano (Carlos Carneiro 18).

Académica: Peskovic, Berger (Saleiro 26), Luiz Nunes, Orlando, Hélder Cabral, Nuno Piloto, Tiero, Cris, Pedrinho, Lito (Miguel Pedro 46), Éder (Licá 73).

27/04/09

FC Porto, missing the injured Hulk and Lucho González, found it tough going against a determined and well-organised Vitória de Setúbal in front of 34,000 at the Dragão. It took inspired work from the Argentinian faction to break the deadlock: on 62 minutes, Farías passed short for Lisandro López to nick the ball deftly past the oncoming Kieszek, and four minutes later, a cross from the right by Mariano was clipped home by the same Lisandro. The 2-0 result leaves Porto still top, four points ahead of Sporting.

FC Porto: Helton, Tomás Costa, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Cissokho, Fernando, Mariano, Raul Meireles (Guarin 89), Rodriguez (Tarik Sektioui 85), Lisandro (Rabiola 88), Farias.

Vitória de Setúbal: Pawel Kieszek, Janício, Robson, Auri, Zoro, Hugo, Anderson, Ricardo Chaves (Regula 71), Bruno Gama (Michel 58), Leandro Lima (Bruno Ribeiro 58), Leandro Carrijo.

Benfica were 3-0 up against Marítimo after 40 minutes, David Luíz and Cardozo supplying the goals, but they conceded one just before the break, one of the shortest players on the pitch, Marcinho, beating David Luíz to a cross from the left to head in. Then in the second half, Bruno scored from the spot after Maxi Pereira had brought down Djalma, and the game was on a knife-edge from then on. But Benfica held out for all three points (3-2 ), keeping them four points behind Sporting and eight behind Porto.

Benfica: Quim, Maxi Pereira, Sidnei, Miguel Vítor, David Luiz, Ruben Amorim, Carlos Martins (Katsouranis 61), Reyes (Yebda 85), Aimar (Di Maria 46), Nuno Gomes, Cardozo.

Marítimo: Marcos, Briguel (João Luiz 75), Antoine, João Guilherme, Luís Olim (Taka 83), Olberdam, Bruno, Marcinho, Paulo Jorge, Manu (Djalma 46), Babá.

A goal on the hour from João Alberto gave Nacional all the points on their visit to Belenenses, who sank into the drop zone after the 1-2 home defeat. João Aurélio had put the Madeiran side in front on 36 minutes, while Saulo had headed in an equaliser for Belenenses two minutes later. The result puts Nacional into fourth pace, above Sporting Braga.

Rio Ave got their first away victory of the season (0-1), at Naval. A single goal on 26 minutes from Yazalde, swivelling to poke home at the near post following a throw-in, gave the team from Vila do Conde a lifeline out of trouble.

26/04/09

Sporting kept up the pressure on FC Porto at the top with a 2-1 win over Estrela da Amadora at Alvalade. Once again it was Liedson who 'resolved' matters, crossing from the right for Hélder Postiga to head in at the back post on 19 minutes, and heading in at the near post from a Pedro Silva cross from the right, ten minutes into the second half. Just before the break, Estrela had equalised with a magnificent strike by Marcelo Goianira from 30 metres which swung away from Rui Patrício and into the top right-hand corner of the net. It was Sporting's sixth consecutive win and takes them to within a point of top club FC Porto, who play Vitória de Setúbal on Sunday. Estrela remain in 12th, seven points clear of the relegation zone.

The teams lined up:

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Pedro Silva (Abel 78), Polga, Daniel Carriço, Caneira, Adrien, Miguel Veloso, Bruno Pereirinha, Romagnoli (Yannick 76), Hélder Postiga, Liedson.

Estrela da Amadora: Filipe Mendes, Hugo Gomes, Nuno André Coelho, Tengarrinha, Ney Santos, Vidigal, Fernando, Marcelo Goianira, Pedro Pereira (Celestino 46), Silvestre Varela, Rui Varela (Moreno 16).

25/04/09

Sporting Braga left it until two minutes from time to make their pressure tell against bottom club Trofense. They had spent the game pushing forward and pinning Trofense back into their own half (70/30 in terms of possession), and then on 88 minutes, Alan was left unmarked at the back post to head in a cross from the left. Trofense's Paulinho was sent off in added time with a direct red. The result leaves Braga fourth, two points ahead of Nacional, while Trofense will remain bottom and, with only four games left, including FC Porto and Benfica, look to be favourites for one of the relegation places at the end of their first and only season in the top flight.

The teams lined up:

Sporting de Braga: Eduardo, João Pereira, Rodriguez, André Leone, Evaldo (Stélvio 85), Vandinho, César Peixoto, Mossoró (Paulo César 46), Alan, Matheus (Luís Aguiar 65), Renteria.

Trofense: Marco, Paulinho, Miguel Ângelo, Varela, Zamorano, Milton do Ó, Pinheiro, Mércio (Edu 87), Hugo Leal, Hélder Barbosa (David Caiado 65), Reguila (Charles Chad 78).

21/04/09

Naval beat Leixões 1-0 on Monday to close the 25th jornada. A header from central defender Paulão on 17 minutes was enough to put seven points between Naval and Rio Ave, who are in the second relegation spot. Meanwhile, Leixões in sixth are now four points behind Braga in fourth.

20/04/09

FC Porto had what was ultimately an easy time of it at Académica with a 3-0 win, but it could all have been different if the referee Olegário Benquerença had given a clear penalty against Porto just before the break when Raul Meireles cut out a Tiero free kick with his arm. Académica were incensed and it proved to be an important moment; Porto more or less put the result beyond doubt in a two-minute spell in the second half. On 57 minutes, an unmarked Rolando headed in a Raul Meireles from deep on the left, and then Lisandro López scored from the spot after being pulled down by Amoreirinha. Mariano prodded in from close range after a low Hulk cross just before time to make it 3-0. Porto remain four points clear of Sporting and eight ahead of Benfica.

The teams lined up:

Académica: Peskovic, Pedrinho, Orlando, Amoreirinha, Pedro Costa, Nuno Piloto, Cris, Tiero (Licá 63), Miguel Pedro, Saleiro (Éder 63), Lito (Madej 73).

FC Porto: Helton, Sapunaru, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Cissokho, Fernando, Raúl Meireles (Guarin 82), Mariano, Lisandro (Farías 82), Hulk, Rodríguez (Tomás Costa 73).

Benfica strolled to perhaps their easiest win of the season (4-0) against a dispirited Vitória de Setúbal at the Bonfim. Quique Flores played with two strikers and it paid off, both getting a couple each. Sidnei broke down the right and crossed for Nuno Gomes to head in on 25 minutes, and Cardozo made it two on 27, finding himself with time and space to turn and blast a loose ball in after a Carlos Martins free-kick had been blocked. The double-whammy knocked the wind out of Vitória and they never recovered, any hope of a comeback virtually killed on the stroke of half time when Cardozo got his second after good play between Reyes and Nuno Gomes. It was the captain who put the topping on the cake 20 minutes from time, controlling a Di Maria cross from the left before rifling in. The result keeps the top three positions the same, but Benfica pull away from Nacional and Sporting Braga, who drew.

The teams lined up:

Vitória de Setúbal: Pawel Kieszek, Janício, Auri, Robson, Michel, Hugo (Brigues, 46), Ricardo Chaves, Elias (Moisés 37), Paulo Regula (Laionel 76), Bruno Gama, Leandro Lima.

Benfica: Quim, Maxi Pereira, Sidney, Miguel Vítor, David Luiz, Ruben Amorim, Carlos Martins (Katsouranis 72), Pablo Aimar (Urreta 76), Reyes (Di Maria 58), Nuno Gomes, Cardozo.

Bottom club Rio Ave swapped places with Trofense after a 2-1 win over their relegation rivals. Yazalde and Fábio Coentrão gave Rio ave a 2-0 lead at half time, with Tiago Pinto pulling one back 20 minutes from time.

Belenenses, also in trouble at the bottom, got a valuable point from their trip to Madeira. Marcelo put them in front on 49 minutes with a header but the lead was short-lived; Marítimo 's Vítor Júnior equalised six minutes later.

There are just three points separating the bottom four clubs: Vitória de Setúbal have 22, Belenenses 21, Rio Ave 20 and Trofense 19.

19/04/09

Sporting kept in touch with Porto at the top of the table on Saturday with a hard-fought 2-1 win at Vitória de Guimarães. Sporting hit the bar through Derlei and the post through Miguel Veloso before having what looked like a good goal from Daniel Carriço disallowed just before the break for foot-up as the defender won the ball in the area. They were trailing ten minutes into the second half when Marquinho crossed from deep on the right for Roberto to beat his markers for a simple header. Sporting were struggling, and on 65 minutes they lost their coach Paulo Bento, sent off for words to the ref. Ronny came on for Marco Caneira on 75 minutes, and the left back seemed to dynamise the team. His free-kick from the left was met by Derlei to head home on 81 minutes, and just before time, the same Derlei threaded a ball through to Liedson in front of goal, and O Levezinho made no mistake. The result leaves Sporting one point behind Porto, who play Académica on Sunday.

The teams lined up:

Vitória de Guimarães: Nilson, Andrezinho, Moreno, Gregory, Milhazes, Flávio Meireles, João Alves (Custódio 84), Desmarets, Nuno Assis, Marquinho (Luís Filipe 67), Roberto (Santana 84).

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Pedro Silva, Daniel Carriço, Polga, Caneira (Ronny 75), Adrien (Hélder Postiga 63), Miguel Veloso, Pereirinha, João Moutinho, Derlei (Tonel 91), Liedson.

In the battle for fourth spot, Nacional and Sporting Braga fought out a 1-1 draw in Madeira. Braga went in front on 34 minutes when Alonso brought down Alan, Luís Aguiar scoring from the spot. Alonso was to be sent off on 70 minutes for a second yellow, but not before Nacional's Nenê had added to his season's tally with a direct free-kick on the hour. Braga were unable to capitalise on their numerical superiority and had to share the points, and they remain one point behind Nacional in the table.

The teams lined up:

Nacional: Rafael Bracalli, Maicon, Felipe Lopes. Halliche (Mateus 46), Alonso, Cléber, João Aurélio, Leandro Salino (Juliano 60), Luís Alberto, Ruben Micael (Nuno Pinto 74), Nenê.

Sporting de Braga: Eduardo, João Pereira, Rodriguez, Leone, Evaldo, Vandinho, Luís Aguiar (Matheus 79), César Peixoto, Alan, Paulo César (Mossoró 57), Renteria.

18/04/09

Estrela da Amadora's Fernando Alexandre had a nightmare of a game on Friday, helping Paços de Ferreira to leapfrog over the Lisbon club in the table with a 2-0 win. He scored an own goal on 35 minutes, heading in from a Filipe Anunciação free-kick, and two minutes later, he failed to cut out a Cristiano cross from the right that sailed on to Rui Miguel to control and poke past Filipe Mendes in the Estrela goal. There were no more than 200 spectators at the Estrela ground to see the game.

The teams lined up:

Estrela da Amadora: Filipe Mendes, Hugo Gomes, Mustafá, Nuno André Coelho, Ney, Marcelo Goianira (Jardel 43), Fernando Alexandre, Celestino, Moreno (Pedro Pereira 45), Silvestre Varela, Rui Varela (Anselmo 45).

Paços de Ferreira: Cássio, Jorginho, Kelly, Danielson, Ricardo, Dedé, Filipe Anunciação, Pedrinha, Edson (Carlos Carneiro 77), Rui Miguel (Ferreira 91), Cristiano (Chico Silva 85).

14/09/04

Nacional reiterated their claim for European football next season with a 2-1 win at struggling Trofense on Monday. The Madeiran club's hero was again the Brazilian striker Nenê with two goals, taking his season's tally to 17; the first, on 13 minutes, was on the counter attack from a pass by Leandro Salino; the second, on 34, finished off a good cross by captain Patacas. Trofense managed to pull one back on 78 minutes through Hugo Leal, heading in a Charles Chad cross. Chad had a goal disallowed for offside two minutes from time, and the rest of the game was played out under extreme tension; Trofense coach Tulipa was sent off for words to the ref in added time.

Nacional climb into fourth, a point ahead of Braga and just four behind Benfica. Trofense are second from bottom, a point behind Belenenses.

The teams lined up:

Trofense: Marco, Varela, Valdomiro (Mércio 46), Miguel Ângelo, Areias, Milton do Ó, Hugo Leal, Tiago Pinto (Charles Chad 29), Zamorano, Reguila, Hélder Barbosa (David Caiado 71).

Nacional: Rafael Bracali, Patacas, Halliche, Filipe Lopes, Alonso, Cléber, Luís Alberto, Leandro Salino (Maicon 61), Ruben Micael (João Aurélio 85), Mateus (Miguel Fidalgo 66), Nenê.

12/04/09

There were white handkerchiefs out in the stands at the Luz after Benfica went down 0-1 to Académica on Saturday; the result makes it very difficult, if not impossible, for Benfica to now make up the eight points that separate them from FC Porto at the top. Tiero crashed in a header from a Miguel Pedro corner on the right to give Académica the points, but Benfica can point to some bad luck (Aimar and Cardoso hit the woodwork), bad refereeing (Aimar had a good goal diallowed for a 'foul' on the 'keeper by Nuno Gomes), and an excellent perfomance from Peskovic in the Académica goal. Benfica enjoyed numerical superiority for the last quarter of an hour when Hélder Cabral was sent off for a second yellow, but Benfica could still not make their pressure tell.

The teams lined up:

Benfica: Quim, Maxi Pereira, Sidnei (Balboa 85), Miguel Vítor, David Luiz, Reyes, Ruben Amorim, Carlos Martins (Mantorras 76), Aimar, Nuno Gomes (Di Maria 67), Cardozo.

Académica: Peskovic, Pedrinho, Luiz Nunes, Orlando, Hélder Cabral, Nuno Piloto, Tiero, Cris (Berger 62), Miguel Pedro, Saleiro (Éder 59), Lito (Amoreirinha 74).

FC Porto won comfortably (3-0) at home to Estrela da Amadora. Porto made only three changes from the 11 that started against Manchester United in the week, risking injury to key players but ensuring continuity of the form that sees them riding high at the top of the table and one step away from the Champions League semi-finals; Andrés Madrid, Mariano and Farias came in for Fernando, Hulk and Lisandro López, although Hulk came on in the second half for Rodriquez. Estrela had the early chances, but Porto made theirs count: Bruno Alves drove home a free-kick from 25 metres on the half-hour, Farias swept the ball in from a Hulk pass on the hour, and the same Farias headed in five minutes later to make it three.

The teams lined up:

FC Porto: Helton, Sapunaru, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Cissokho, Andrés Madrid, Raul Meireles (Guarín 46), Lucho (Tarik 60), Mariano, Rodriguez (Hulk 46), Farias.

Estrela da Amadora: Nelson (Filipe Mendes 46), Hugo Gomes, Nuno André Coelho, Mustafá, Ney, Fernando Alexandre, Goianira, Moreno (Anselmo 76), Jardel (Celestino 60), Silvestre Varela, Rui Varela.

Porto are four points ahead of Sporting in second place. The Lions had a reasonably comfortable evening at Alvalade, ending 3-1 winners over Naval. Pereirinha finished off a Liedson cut-back on 15 minutes, but Naval drew level two minutes later after Miguel Veloso misplaced a pass in midfield: Marinho took it on and crossed for Marcelinho to hit it first-time past Rui Patrício. Sporting were back in front befoe half-time, Liedson heading in from a Moutinho free-kick. It was Liedson again that made the score safe on the stroke of time after Peiser had recklessly parried an Izmailov shot with his fists.

The teams lined up:

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Pedro Silva, Daniel Carriço, Polga, Marco Caneira, Miguel Veloso, Pereirinha (Adrien Silva 85), João Moutinho, Romagnoli (Izmailov 62), Derlei, Liedson.

Naval: Peiser, Carlitos, Paulão, Diego, Daniel Cruz, Baradji (Gilmar 65), Lazaroni, Godemèche (Hauw 65), Davide, Marinho (Camorra 79), Marcelinho.

Leixões kick-started their European ambitions with a 1-0 home win over bottom club Rio Ave, Diogo Valente netting early in the second half.

Rio Ave are looking favourites for the drop, especially as rivals Belenenses won for the first time in ten games, 2-1 at home to Vitória de Setúbal. Saulo got two goals in the first twelve minutes, while Vitória left it until four minutes from time to cut the lead through Michel, but by that time it was too late to come back. Belenenses climb out of the drop zone, at least until Monday night when Trofense, second from bottom, receive Nacional.

11/04/09

Both the games that opened the 24th jornada of the Liga on Friday ended in 1-1 draws.

Sporting Braga and Marítimo both benefited from penalties: Luís Aguiar put Braga ahead on 34 minutes, and Marítimo captain Bruno put his spot-kick away on 42.

The teams lined up:

Sporting Braga Eduardo, João Pereira, Rodriguez, André Leone, Evaldo, Vandinho, César Peixoto (Matheus 71), Luís Aguiar (Mossoró 76), Alan, Paulo César (Orlando Sá 61), Rentería.

Marítimo Marcos, Paulo Jorge, João Guilherme, Van der Linden, Luís Olim, Olberdam (Fernando 91), Briguel (Manu 46), Bruno, Djalma (Miguelito 69), Marcinho, Baba.

The result leaves Braga in fourth place, five points ahead of Marítimo in sixth.

Later it was the turn of Paços de Ferreira and Vitória de Guimarães to share the points. Vitória went ahead on 49 minutes through Roberto, and Cristiano equalised fifteen minutes from time with a shot that was deflected past Nilson by Nuno Assis.

The teams lined up:

Paços de Ferreira: Cássio, Ricardo, Danielson, Kelly, Jorginho (Chico Silva 78), Paulo Sousa, Dedé, Ferreira, Rui Miguel (Filipe Anunciação 92), Cristiano, Leandro Tatu (Carlos Carneiro 68).

Vitória de Guimarães: Nilson, Andrezinho, Gregory, Moreno, Milhazes, Flávio Meireles, Fajardo (Luís Filipe 80), Desmarets, Nuno Assis (Wénio 92), Marquinho (Santana 84), Roberto.

Vitória are eighth on 31 points, five points behind Marítimo and seven points ahead of Paços, who are 11th.

07/04/09

Nacional are in fifth after beating bottom club Rio Ave 3-0 away on Monday to close the 23rd jornada. The Madeiran side's hero was midfielder Cléber with two goals on 25 and 73 minutes, while the score was settled in added time through Duje Cop, on as sub just seconds before.

The teams lined up:

Rio Ave: Paiva, Miguel Lopes (Evandro 46), Gaspar, Edson, Sílvio, André Vilas Boas (Tarantini 67), Niquinha, Delson, Pedro Moutinho, Fábio Coentrão (Chidi 70), Yazalde.

Nacional: Rafael Bracali, Patacas, Maicon (Halliche 49), Felipe Lopes, Alonso, Cléber, Bruno Amaro (Juliano 59), Leandro Salino, Ruben Micael, Nenê, Mateus (Duje Cop 92).

06/04/09

A single goal on 13 minutes through Derlei, fed by Liedson, gave Sporting a 1-0 win at Leixões and kept them four points behind FC Porto at the top. Leixões had a reasonable claim for a penalty ignored in the second half when Abel handled a goalward shot/cross from Diogo Valente.

The teams lined up:

Leixões: Beto, Laranjeiro (Ruben 72), Nuno Silva, Elvis, Angulo, Bruno China, Roberto Sousa, Hugo Morais, Chumbinho (Zé Manuel 58), Jean Sony (Rodrigo Silva 58), Diogo Valente.

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel, Daniel Carriço, Polga, Caneira, Rochemback (Adrien Silva 46), Pereirinha, João Moutinho, Romagnoli (Miguel Veloso 35), Liedson, Derlei (Yannick 92).

Benfica needed two penalties to beat Estrela da Amadora, the first of which was awarded erroneously: Ney brought down Nuno Gomes, but the foul was committed outside the area. Benfica's second was rightly given against Vidigal for hand-ball. Both spot kicks were converted by Óscar Cardozo. Estrela pulled one back after Yebda had fouled Nuno André Coelho; Varela netted the penalty kick. The score was settled within the first half hour, but Estrela dominated the rest of the game, even though they had not trained all week in protest at not being paid. They could not, however, break Benfica's defence, with Qum in good form.

The teams lined up:

Estrela da Amadora: Nelson, Hugo Gomes, Vidigal, Nuno André Coelho, Ney (Pedro Pereira 67), Marcelo Goianira, Fernando Alexandre, Jardel (Celestino 60), Moreno, Silvestre Varela, Anselmo (Rui Varela 73).

Benfica: Quim, Maxi Pereira, David Luiz, Miguel Vítor, Jorge Ribeiro (Sidnei 80), Yebda (Di Maria 57), Katsouranis, Ruben Amorim (Carlos Martins 79), Aimar, Nuno Gomes, Cardozo.

Three goals in a ten minute period early in the second half gave Sporting Braga a 3-0 win at Vitória de Setúbal, Orlando Sá, César Peixoto and Rodriquez the scorers.

Bruno put away a penalty on 28 minutes to give Marítimo the lead against Trofense in Madeira, with Reguila equalising on 40 minutes from a Hugo Leal free-kick, leaving the score at 1-1.

Naval and Paços de Ferreira drew 0-0; Naval had the ball in the net on 73 minutes, but Diego´s 'goal' was disallowed.

05/04/09

Liga Leaders FC Porto were trailing at half time to a Roberto goal at Vitória de Guimarães, but an impressive second-half display gave them a 3-1 win, with goals from Farías, Mariano and Rolando.

The teams lined up:

Vitória de Guimarães: Nilson, Lionn (Andrezinho 08), Moreno, Gregory, Milhazes, Custódio (Fajardo 64), João Alves (Santana 77), Desmarets, Nuno Assis, Marquinho, Roberto.

FC Porto: Helton, Sapunaru, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Cissokho, Fernando, Raul Meireles (Madrid 86), Tomás Costa (Lucho 66), Mariano, Hulk (Rodriguez 83), Farias.

04/04/09

Académica opened the 23rd jornada of the Liga with a 1-0 win over struggling Belenenses. Nuno Piloto made the difference in an even game, swivelling to score from the edge of the box on 74 minutes.

 

17/03/09

Marítimo had the better of the early exchanges in Monday's Madeira derby at Nacional, but it was the home side that went in front on 20 minutes: Djalma lost the ball in midfield, Alonso broke down the left and his cross was turned in by Juliano from the edge of the box. In the second half, both sides had chances to score before Senegalese striker Babá finished off a Paulo Jorge cross on 67 minutes to put Marítimo level; it was Babá's tenth goal of the season. In the next five minutes, Marcinho saw two yellow cards and was sent off, leaving Marítimo to sweat out the last twenty minutes, but they held on for 1-1.

The teams lined up:

Nacional: Bracalli, Maicon, Felipe Lopes, Cléber, Patacas, Juliano (Leandro Salino 57), Ruben Micael, Luís Alberto (Cop 73), Alonso, Fabiano (Mateus 60), Nenê.

Marítimo: Marcos, Paulo Jorge, João Guilherme, Fernando Cardozo (Manú 46), Van der Linden, Bruno, Olberdam, Miguelito (Takahito 52), Djalma (Fernando 76), Babá, Marcinho.

16/03/09

FC Porto confirmed a four-point lead over Sporting with a 2-0 win at home against Naval, who had beaten the reigning champions in the first half of the season. On the half hour, Mariano made space for himself near the box to send a low shot into the corner. And on the hour, Lucho González applied a subtle touch to a through ball to divert it past Peiser.

The teams lined up:

FC Porto: Helton, Sapunaru, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Cissokho, Andrés Madrid (Tomás Costa 60), Raul Meireles, Lucho, Mariano, Lisandro (Farias 78), Rodriguez (Tarik Sektioui 78).

Naval: Peiser, Carlitos, Paulão, Diego Ângelo, Daniel Cruz (Baradji 46), Bruno Lazarani, Godemeche, Alexandre Hauw (Dudu 46), Davide (Bolívia 72), Marcelinho, Marinho.

Sporting Braga drew their third match in a row but remain fourth for the moment (waiting on Nacional's game on Monday against Marítimo). Against Académica they went behind on 34 minutes to a goal from Saleiro, finishing off a run down the left and low cross from Sougou. On 64 minutes, Paulo César did a neat one-two with Renteria on the edge of the box before placing the ball past Peskovic to give Braga a point.

The teams lined up:

Sporting de Braga: Eduardo, João Pereira, Rodriguez, Frechaut, Edimar, Stélvio, César Peixoto (Renteria 62), Mossoró, Alan (Luís Aguiar 62), Paulo César (Matheus 81), Orlando Sá.

Académica: Peskovic, Pedrinho, Luiz Nunes, Orlando, Pedro Costa, Nuno Piloto, Tiero, Cris (Hélder Cabral 68), Sougou, Lito (Éder 91), Saleiro (Miguel Pedro 56).

Belenenses were two down at home to Estrela da Amadora through an Anselmo header on 12 minutes and a Celestino free kick on 27. They pulled one back just before the break with a José Pedro free kick, and snatched a point on 63 minutes when Saulo rose to head in a Silas cross. The draw takes Belenenses off the bottom of the table, but they are still in the drop zone.

Another team staring relegation in the face is Trofense, who went down 0-1 at home to Vitória de Setúbal. André Marques got the all-important goal directly from a corner on 28 minutes. On 37, Leo Lima was sent off when he responded to a tackle by Mércio, and Trofense missed a chance to go level on 65 when Pinheiro allowed Kieszek to save his spot kick. The teams were level numerically on 72 minutes when Moustapha was sent off for a bad foul on Ricardo Chaves. It was Vitória's second successive win, which alleviates some of the pressure on them. Trofense are just one point above the relegation places.

15/03/09

Benfica lost ground to their Lisbon rivals Sporting, and possibly to top club FC Porto (who play Naval on Sunday), when they went down 0-1 at home to Vitória de Guimarães in front of 47,000 at the Luz on Saturday. It was Benfica's first league defeat at home this season and only Vitória's second win at the Luz in their history. Vitória seemed the more organised team throughout, although Benfica had their chances to score … but they were thwarted by poor marksmanship and a solid display from Vitória 'keeper Nilson. Vitória's goal was a neatly placed shot by Roberto who looked to be in an offside position after a scything run through midfield and lay-off by Marquinho.

The teams lined up:

Benfica: Moreira, Maxi Pereira, Luisão, Miguel Vítor, David Luiz, Katsouranis, Yebda (Balboa 82), Reyes, Di Maria (Urreta 71), Aimar, Cardozo (Nuno Gomes 60).

Vitória de Guimarães: Nilson, Lion, Moreno, Gregory, Milhazes, Flávio Meireles, João Alves (Wénio 90), Desmarets, Nuno Assis, Marquinho (Cícero 85), Roberto (Fajardo 79).

Sporting played later and managed a 2-0 win over struggling Rio Ave, who on their travels have not yet won and have scored only two goals all season. Sporting were ahead on 20 minutes with a shot from the edge of the area by captain João Moutinho. Just before the break, Sporting had a double stroke of luck: Rio Ave's Bruno Mendes saw a second yellow and was sent off, and Rochemback scored from the resulting free-kick.

The result proved to be something of a re-conciliation between the team and its fans after the 1-7 debacle at Bayern Munich in mid week, helped by the defeat of Lisbon rivals Benfica, which leaves Sporting in second place in the Liga.

The teams lined up:

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Pedro Silva, Daniel Carriço, Anderson Polga, Caneira, Rochemback, Izmailov (Pereirinha 56), Vukcevic (Yannick 73), João Moutinho, Derlei (Yannick 90), Liedson.

Rio Ave: Paiva, Sílvio, Gaspar, Bruno Mendes, Edson, Niquinha, Delson, Livramento (Evandro 77), Fábio Coentrão, Chidi (Wires 46), Yazalde (Vítor Gomes 61).

13/03/09

Wobbling Leixões shipped four goals for the second week running and lost their third in a row, going down 0-4 at Paços de Ferreira on Friday. André Pinto broke the deadlock on 45 minutes with a perfectly executed overhead kick, defender Ricardo making it two on the hour with a back-heel near goal. Pedrinha scored from the spot a quarter of an hour from the end, and sub Carlos Carneiro wrapped things up from a corner in the dying minutes.

The teams lined up:

Paços de Ferreira: Cássio, Ricardo, Danielson, Kelly, Jorginho, Paulo Sousa, Dedé, Pedrinha, Ferreira (Edson 89), Cristiano (Carlos Carneiro 80), André Pinto (Leandro Tatu 74).

Leixões: Beto, Laranjeiro (Rúben 70), Joel, Nuno Silva, Ângulo, Bruno China, Roberto Sousa, Castanheira (Rodrigo Silva 52), Chumbinho (Zé Manel 52), Braga, Diogo Valente.

10/03/09

Vitória de Setúbal threw themselves a relegation lifeline on Monday, beating high-flying Nacional 2-0 at home. On 38 minutes Halliche fouled Auri who got up and put the spot kick away. On 76 minutes, Mateus took the ball forward almost unchallenged from midfield and let fly from outside the box to snatch the points for Vitória.

The teams lined up:

Vitória de Setúbal: Pawel Kieszek, Janício, Robson, Auri, André Marques, Hugo, Ricardo Chaves, Bruno Ribeiro (Elias 32), Leandro Lima (Zoro 60), Mateus, Bruno Gama (Laionel 70).

Nacional: Rafael Bracalli, Patacas, Felipe Lopes, Halliche, Nuno Pinto (Fabiano 46), Cléber, Leandro Salino (Miguel Fidalgo 46), Alonso, Ruben, Mateus (Bruno Amaro 60), Nenê.

09/03/09

Benfica kept pace with their closest rivals on Sunday with a 2-1 win at Naval. They were in front as early as the third minute, Aimar, with his first league goal of the season, half-volleying in from just outside the box after the Naval defence had failed to clear a free-kick from Reyes. On 53 minutes, sub Marcelinho took advantage of some sloppy defending from a corner to equalise for the home side. But then on 73, Katsouranis was umarked at the back post to nod in after another free kick from Reyes had been headed back across the goal.

The teams lined up:

Naval: Peiser, Carlitos, Paulão, Diego, Daniel Cruz, Lazaroni, Godeméche, Baradji (Dudu 80), Davide, Simplício (Marcelinho 46), Márinho (Bolívia 70).

Benfica: Moreira, Maxi Pereira, Luisão, Miguel Vítor, David Luiz, Katsouranis, Yebda, Di Maria (Jorge Ribeiro 88), Pablo Aimar, Reyes (Urreta 92), Óscar Cardozo (Nuno Gomes 79).

Académica pulled away from relegation trouble with a 1-0 win at home to Trofense, who are looking over the precipice. Senegalese forward Sougou struck a magnificent shot from outside the area on the right and into the top left hand corner on 66 minutes to give Os Estudantes the points.

Belenenses look to be in big trouble after another defeat, this time at Vitória de Guimarães. Vitória went into the break one up, central defender Gregory flicking in from close range on 39 minutes. Zé Pedro pulled one back just after the break, but Vitória made it 3-1 through Joaõ Alves and Desmarets in a ten minute spell halfway through the second half.

Estrela da Amadora's players continued to maintain their dignity despite various months' salary owed to them, drawing 2-2 at home to Sporting Braga. Jardel twice put Estrela in front, on 31 and 57 minutes, but Paulo César on 54 and Orlando Sá on 85, his first league goal, meant that Braga crept into fourth place in the Liga.

08/03/09

Leixões rolled over for FC Porto on Saturday, conceding their worst defeat of the season, 1-4. Hugo Morais handled needlessly on 23 minutes for Lucho Gonzalez to stroke in a penalty, giving Porto the lead. On 50, Laranjeiro put a weak header into the path of Hulk who strode forward and lashed the ball past a badly-positioned Beto. Raul Mereiles on 66 and Farías on 76 put the game beyond Lexões, who got a consolation after Hélton dropped a cross for Diogo Valente to tap in.

The teams lined up:

Leixões: Beto, Laranjeiro, Nuno Silva, Elvis (Joel 46), Angulo, Bruno China, Roberto Sousa, Ruben (Chumbinho 37), Hugo Morais (Zé Manuel 58), Rodrigo Silva, Diogo Valente.

FC Porto: Helton, Tomás Costa, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Cissokho, Fernando, Raul Meireles (Andrés Madrid 69), Lucho González (Lisandro 79), Mariano Gonzalez, Ernesto Farías, Hulk (Tarik Sektioui 75).

Sporting did the necessary in the first half against Paços de Ferreira to win 2-0 at Alvalade. Liedson struck on six minutes with a shot that Coelho could and should have stopped. Derlei was the strongest in the box to head in from a João Moutinho corner on 35 minutes, sealing the win.

The teams lined up:

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Pedro Silva, Daniel Carriço, Anderson Polga, Caneira, Adrien, Izmailov (Vukcevic 68), Bruno Pereirinha, João Moutinho, Derlei (Yannick 82), Liedson (Tiuí 91).

Paços de Ferreira: Coelho, Ricardo, Danielson, Ozeia (Cristiano 46), Kelly, Jorginho, Dedé (Paulo Sousa 80), Pedrinha, Ferreira, Edson, Leandro Tatu (Carlos Carneiro 70).

07/03/09

Rio Ave earned a valuable point in their fight to avoid relegation and Marítimo disappointed their fans after a 5-1 thrashing of Setúbal last week when the two sides drew 1-1 on Friday. Edson fired in from close range after a corner on 69 minutes to give the lead to Rio Ave, who were in charge of the match, but the Madeiran side snatched their point with an equaliser on the stroke of time from sub Djalma with a shot from outside the area.

The teams lined up:

Rio Ave: Paiva, Miguel Lopes, Gaspar, Edson, Sílvio, Niquinha, Delson, Livramento (Tarantini 75), Fábio Coentrão (Evandro 86), Pedro Moutinho (Candeias 46), Yazalde.

Marítimo: Marcos, Paulo Jorge, João Guilherme, Fernando Cardozo, Van der Linden (Ytalo 75), Fernando, Bruno, Miguelito, Marcinho, Manú (Djalma 46), Baba.

03/03/09

Sporting Braga beat regional rivals Vitória de Guimarães 1-0 on Monday to close the 20th jornada. A single headed goal from Paulo César on eight minutes was enough to see the Arsenalistas through and to put them in 6th place in the table, on equal points with Nacional and Leixões (35), seven points off the pace (FC Porto on 42).

The teams lined up:

Sporting Braga: Eduardo, João Pereira, Stélvio, André Leone, Evaldo, Vandinho, Alan, Luís Aguiar (Matheus 26), César Peixoto, Paulo César (Mossoró 73), Renteria (Orlando Sá 57).

Vitória de Guimarães: Nilsson, Gregory, Moreno, Danilo (Roberto 30), Custódio, Luís Filipe, João Alves, Desmarets, Luciano Amaral (Cícero 68), Marquinho (Fajardo 78), Nuno Assis.

02/03/09

On Sunday, Marítimo, now led by Carlos Carvalhal after the sacking of Lori Sandri, put five past Vitória de Setúbal, Carlos Carvalhal's team last season, the last time he coached in Portugal. The star of the show was the Senegalese striker Baba with a hat-trick, two in the first half, and one in the second. Robson had put one through his own goal on 16 minutes to give Marítimo the lead, and Marcinho chalked up the fifth on 67. Jean Michel got a consolation for Vitória in added time at the end of the game.

The teams lined up:

Marítimo: Marcos, Paulo Jorge, João Guilherme, Cardozo, Miguelito, Marcinho (Djalma 69), Fernando, Bruno, Luis Olim; Manu (Ytalo 68), Babá (Aquino 74).

Vitória de Setúbal: Milojevic, Janício, Robson, Auri, André Marques, Hugo, Zoro (Moisés 59), Elias (Jean Michel 80), Zoro, Elias, Leandro Lima, Mateus, Laionel (Bruno Gama 18).

Bottom club Belenenses failed to raise their fans' spirits, going down 1-2 at home to Naval. Godemeche put the visitors ahead on 21 minutes, Wender equalised for the Blues just before the break but then Gilmar gave Naval all the points with the winner in added time.

Estrela da Amadora snatched a draw at Trofense, Jardel putting them in front on ten minutes. On 69 minutes Brazilian striker Charles Chad got his second vital goal in two games to give Trofense a point.

01/03/09

FC Porto and Sporting drew the last clássico of the season 0-0 at the Dragão. The game was tense and often bad-tempered but was fought out mainly in midfield, neither goalkeeper having to make a real save throughout the 90 minutes. Sporting will be happier with the draw, especially after the 0-5 drubbing they took in midweek against Bayern Munich. The result means that both sides drop two points in relation to rivals Benfica, who won on Friday, but FC Porto remain top.

The teams lined up:

FC Porto: Helton, Pedro Emanuel, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Cissokho (Tomás Costa 72), Fernando, Raul Meireles, Lucho (Farias 83), Rodriguez, Hulk, Lisandro (Tarik 89).

Sporting: Tiago, Pedro Silva, Daniel Carriço, Polga, Grimi (Caneira 29), Rochemback (Adrien Silva 83), Pereirinha, Izmailov (Djaló 68), João Moutinho, Derlei, Liedson.

Académica dominated the first half of their game at Nacional and went in front on 20 minutes through Lito, but Nacional equalised on the half hour through the Liga's top scorer Nené, now with 15. In an even second half, the teams were separated by two goals from Mateus, making it 3-1 to Nacional.

In an important bottom-of-the-table 6-pointer, Paços de Ferreira beat Rio Ave 2-0. Tatu glanced in a corner from the right on 54 minutes, and on 67 Rui Miguel chipped over the oncoming Paiva to seal the win.

 

28/02/09

Not for the first time this season, on Friday Benfica were outclassed by their visitors, this time Leixões in front of 31,400 at the Luz. The northern team looked the more organised throughout but lacked teeth up front. They scored first but unfortunately for them it was in their own net, central defender Élvis trying to put a low Reyes cross round the post but scoring instead. Benfica looked to be coasting on 67 minutes when Cardozo crossed from the right for Nuno Gomes, on as sub, to head home from close range. They were made to sweat for the last 15 minutes when Rodrigo Silva netted, but Benfica hung on to the three points with a 2-1 win.

The teams lined up:

Benfica: Moreira, Maxi Pereira, Luisão, Miguel Vítor, David Luiz, Di Maria (Balboa 71), Ruben Amorim (Carlos Martins 37), Katsouranis, Reyes (Nuno Gomes 60), Aimar, Cardozo.

Leixões: Beto, Laranjeiro, Nuno Silva, Elvis, Angulo, Bruno China (Chumbinho 78), Hugo Morais, Roberto Sousa, Zé Manel (Sony 61), Braga (Rodrigo 39), Diogo Valente.

24/02/09

Leixões missed the chance to go equal second with Benfica and Sporting in the Liga when they dropped two points at home to Belenenses on Monday (2-2). José Pedro put the visitors in front from the spot on 26 minutes, with Rodrigo Silva equalising four minutes later. Gabriel Gómez gave Belenenses the lead again just before the break, but Zé Manel at least salvaged a point for Leixões with a header a quarter of an hour from the end.

The teams lined up:

Leixões: Beto, Laranjeiro, Nuno Silva, Élvis, Angulo (Roberto 65), Bruno China, Hugo Morais, Chumbinho (Ruben 46), Braga (Zé Manuel 46), Rodrigo Silva, Diogo Valente.

Belenenses: Júlio César, Mano, Zarabi, Ávalos, Tininho, Diakité, Gabriel Gomez (Pelé 82), José Pedro (Carciano 65), Silas, Vinicius, Wender (Marcelo 72).

23/02/09

Sporting Braga climbed to 5th in the Liga with a 2-1 win at Naval on Sunday. Eduardo saved a Bolívia penalty in the first half that would have given Naval the lead, but it was Renteria who opened the scoring early in the second half, heading in after a long throw from the right by João Pereira. Marinho put Naval level seven minutes from time, knocking the ball in at the back post after a cross from the right by Dudu. But it was João Pereira who gave Braga the points in added time, starting and finishing off a passing move through the heart of the Naval defence.

Naval: Peiser, Carlitos (Dudu 55), Paulão, Diego, Daniel Cruz, Godeméche (Baradji 72), Davide (Marcelinho 55), Alex Hauw, Bolívia, Marinho, Simplício.

Sporting de Braga: Eduardo, João Pereira, Frechaut, André Leone, Evaldo, Vandinho, Alan (Matheus 45), Luís Aguiar, Mossoró (Stélvio 82), Orlando Sá (Paulo César 68), Renteria.

Braga leapfrogged over Nacional after the Madeiran side went own to surprising Estrela da Amadora, a second-half goal by Jardel giving Estrela a win that takes them to 9th.

Nacional's Madeiran neighbours Marítimo also found themselves treading water after going down 1-3 at Académica. Luís Nunes put Académica in front on five minutes, Baba equalised on 33 and Lito restored Académica's lead just before half-time. Licá wrapped it up for Os Estudantes two minutes from time. The result puts Marítimo 7th and Académica 10th.

There were white hankerchiefs out at the end of the evening game, where Vitória de Guimarães continued with their poor form and lost all three points to bottom club Trofense. The impressive Charles Chad scored his first goal of the season and the only goal of the game fifteen minutes from time, allowing his club to climb to 12th, while Guimarães are a disappointing 8th, five points behind Marítimo.

22/02/09

Sporting won an intense Lisbon derby, the 278th, on Saturday, beating Benfica 3-2. It was an even first half, the teams going in at 1-1: on ten minutes, Liedson found himself free at the back of the penalty area after a corner and faulty clearance, and his half-volley span into the top left-hand corner of the goal; on 36 minutes, Reyes scored from the spot after Anderson Polga had brought down Suazo. Both sides could have scored more: Yebda's header scraped a post on 24 minutes, and an Izmailov shot was blocked by Maxi Pereira using his arm on 40.

An even second half was in prospect, but it did not turn out that way; Sporting dominated the half with organised team football, while Benfica were relying (misguidedly, as it happened) on sparks of genius from players like Suazo, Aimar and Reyes, and later Di Maria and Cardozo. Derlei coolly finished off an Izmailov long ball on 47 minutes, and ten minutes from time, Liedson headed home after great work and a cross for Pereirinha on the right. It looked all over, but Cardozo gave Benfica a last bit of hope a minute from time with a header from a Maxi cross. it was too late, however, and if the truth be told, Benfica did not deserve any more.

Both sides are now four points behind leaders FC Porto, who Sporting visit next weekend.

Sporting: Tiago, Pedro Silva, Daniel Carriço, Polga, Grimi, Rochemback, Izmailov (Tonel 92), Vukcevic (Bruno Pereirinha 73), João Moutinho, Hélder Postiga (Derlei 27), Liedson.

Benfica: Moreira, Maxi Pereira, Sidnei, Luisão, David Luiz, Katsouranis, Yebda (Di Maria 58), Ruben Amorim (Nuno Gomes 79), Reyes, Aimar, Suazo (Cardozo 66).

A goal on the hour from Yazalde gave Rio Ave a rare win, 1-0, against Vitória de Setúbal. Rio Ave jump out of the relegation zone into 12th, while Vitória totter precariously three places from bottom.

21/02/09

FC Porto guaranteed their top spot in the Liga on Friday, winning 2-0 at Paços de Ferreira. Porto dominated for the first half hour and were in front on 16 minutes, Cissokho feeding Hulk, whose powerful shot from just outside the box was deflected over Coelho and in. In the second half, Paços managed to fight toe to toe with Porto, but the game was up on 65 minutes when the referee gave a penalty against Paços, deeming that Ricardo had brought Hulk down; the television pictures showed that Ricardo had first cleared the ball before touching the Porto forward. Bruno Alves scored from the spot. To add to Paços' woes, Carlos Carneiro was adjudged to have handled when an André Pinto header found the net; it could have meant a comeback for Paços, but they did not score, and they could not find a way back into the game.

The teams lines up:

Paços de Ferreira: Coelho, Danielson (Leandro Tatu, 80), Ricardo, Kelly, Jorginho, Dedé, Ferreira, Pedrinha, Rui Miguel, Edson (Carlos Carneiro, 71), André Pinto.

FC Porto: Helton, Sapunaru, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Cissokho, Fernando (Mariano 82), Tomás Costa, Raul Meireles (Lucho 69), Lisandro, Hulk, Farías (Rodriguéz 62).

17/02/09

Vitória de Setúbal returned to wins at home on Monday, beating Académica 2-1. Central defender Robson put them in front early in the second half, Lito equalised for Académica on 83 minutes but there was still time for Laionel to get a winner five minutes from time.

16/02/09

FC Porto kept top spot in the Liga with a 3-1 win at home to bottom club Rio Ave. The result was a little misleading, however, as the visitors kept Porto at bay for forty minutes, went behind to a dubious penalty (a 'foul' on Farias by Gaspar, converted by Lucho González), drew level with a brilliant curved shot from Fábio Coentrão on 72 minutes and only succumbed in the last five to two goals from Ernesto Farías.

The teams lined up:

FC Porto: Helton, Fucile (Tomás Costa 46), Rolando, Bruno Alves, Cissokho (Lisandro Lopez 74), Fernando, Raul Meireles, Lucho Gonzalez, Mariano Gonzalez (Cristian Rodriguez 59), Hulk, Ernesto Farias.

Rio Ave: Paiva, Miguel Lopes, Gaspar, Bruno Mendes, Rogério Matias, Delson, Niquinha, Livramento (Tarantini 70), Evandro (Candeias 46), Fábio Coentrão (Edson 77), Yazalde.

Benfica kept in touch with their northern rivals but had a similarly hard job to beat Paços de Ferreira at the Luz. Cardozo tapped Benfica into the lead on 69 minutes after Cassio had dropped the ball into his path. Just four minutes later, Ruben Amorim curled a shot into the top right hand corner from outside the area, and the game looked over. But it needed just three more minutes for Ferreira to beat Moreira, and there was a game on again. In a thrilling finale, Di Maria scored with a looping shot from the right, but then Chico Silva made it 3-2 in added time. Benfica might have dropped points if a shot by Kelly had not hit the post in the dying seconds.

The teams lined up:

Benfica: Moreira, David Luiz, Luisão, Sidnei, Jorge Ribeiro, Katsouranis, Ruben Amorim, Carlos Martins (Di Maria 56), Reyes, Aimar (Mantorras 90), Óscar Cardozo (Nuno Gomes 79).

Paços de Ferreira: Cássio, Danielson, Ricardo, Kelly, Jorginho (Chico Silva 83), Dedé, Pedrinha, Ferreira, Rui Miguel, Cristiano (Leandro Tatu 26), Edson (André Pinto 76).

Naval were two-nil up after half an hour at Trofense through Diego Ângelo and Marinho, but Valdemiro pulled one back shortly afterwards and diminutive sub Rui Borges gave Trofense a point on the hour.

15/02/09

Sporting managed a 2-1 win at Belenenses on Saturday, keeping their titles hopes flickering. Belenenses were actually in front on 52 minutes, Marcelo heading in from an offside position, but the entry of Hélder Postiga as sub turned it around for Sporting. The striker fed Vukcevic for a simple tap-in on 75 minutes, and four minutes later Postiga scored himself with a delicate chip over Júlio César, who had gone down for the block.

The teams lined up:

Belenenses: Júlio César, Cândido Costa, Ávalos, Rodrigo Arroz (Marcelo 46), Carciano, Tininho (Roncatto 85), Diakité, Mano, Silas, José Pedro, Saulo (Vinicius Pacheco 82).

Sporting: Tiago, Pedro Silva (Marco Caneira 85), Daniel Carriço, Polga, Miguel Veloso, Rochemback (Yannick Djaló 63), Adrien, Izmailov, Derlei (Hélder Postiga 72), Vuckcevic, Liedson.

Leixões went third with an excellent win at Sporting Braga, helped by an unfortunate own goal from Braga captain Fréchaut, who headed in spectacularly on 79 minutes.

Marítimo beat Estrela da Amadora in Madeira with a single goal from Ytalo three minutes into the second half.

14/02/09

Nacional climbed provisionally to third in the Liga on Friday with an impressive 3-0 win over Vitória de Guimarães. That man again Nené got the first two goals around the hour mark (taking his tally to 14 for the season) and Ruben Micael sealed the win on 75 minutes.

The teams lined up:

Nacional: Rafael Bracalli, Patacas, Felipe Lopes, Maicon, Alonso, Cléber, Bruno Amaro (Leandro Salino 72), Ruben Micael, Luís Alberto, Fabiano (Mateus 61), Nené (Miguel Fidalgo 79).

Vitória de Guimarães: Serginho, Lionn, Gregory, Moreno, Andrezinho, Flávio Meireles (João Alves 66), Custódio, Fajardo (Santana 66), Nuno Assis, Luís Filipe, Marquinho.

10/02/09

Lowly teams Paços de Ferreira and Belenenses drew 1-1 on Monday in the game that wrapped up the 17th jornada. Saulo put Belenenses in front from a José Pedro cross, while Cristiano equalised with a cross shot on 22 minutes. The teams are respectively 12th and 13th in the table, separated by one point.

The teams lined up:

Paços de Ferreira: Cássio, Filipe Anunciação (André Pinto 80), Kiko, Kelly, Jorginho, Ricardo, Ferreira, Pedrinha, Rui Miguel, Edson (Carlos Carneiro 62), Cristiano (Filipe Gonçalves 86).

Belenenses: Júlio César, Cândido Costa, Ávalos, Carciano, Tininho, Mano, Diakité, José Pedro (Gabriel Gomez 86), Silas, Saulo (Roncatto 88), Marcelo (Vinícius 60).

09/02/09

Benfica snatched a point at FC Porto on Sunday with a 1-1 draw, but they might well have come away with all three. Looking a much more together outfit than in recent games, Benfica were more than a match for lacklustre Porto, although the home side could have gone in front on several occasions, notably through Lucho González and Lisandro López. But Benfica it was that went in front, Yebda heading in from a corner by Reyes in added time in the first half. But twenty minutes from time, Lisandro López feigned a foul by Yebda (directly in front of referee Pedro Proença) and a penalty was given; Lucho Gonzalez drove it straight down the middle to leave Porto at the top, one point ahead of Benfica and four ahead of Sporting and Leixões.

The teams lined up:

FC Porto: Helton, Fucile, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Cissokho, Fernando, Raul Meireles (Mariano 65), Lucho, Rodriguez, Hulk, Lisandro (Farias 89).

Benfica: Moreira, Maxi Pereira, Luisão, Sidnei, David Luiz, Yebda, Katsouranis, Ruben Amorim, Aimar (Carlos Martins 93), Reyes (Nuno Gomes 86), Suazo (Di Maria 62).

Sporting lost 2-3 at home to Sporting Braga, who climb into fifth place. The two teams were keeping faithful to their records as best defences in the Liga until the hour mark when Meyong netted after the ball had come back off the post. Ten minutes later, Moutinho and Veloso, returning after his failed attempt to be transferred to Bolton, made a chance for Derlei that he snapped up to equalise. Another ten minutes went by and Renteria put Braga back in front, fed by Luís Aguiar. Shortly afterwards, Braga extended the lead through Mossoró with a lob that appeared to be cleared off the line, but the linesman was well placed and adjudged it to have entered. Izmailov cracked home a shot from the edge of the box in added time, but it was too late for Sporting to turn the game round. It was their third consecutive league game without a win.

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel (Pedro Silva 81), Daniel Carriço, Polga, Caneira (Miguel Veloso 45), Rochemback, Pereirinha (Tiuí 61), Izmailov, João Moutinho, Vukcevic, Derlei.

Sporting de Braga: Eduardo, João Pereira, Moisés (Frechaut 91), Leone, Evaldo, Alan, Luis Aguiar, Vandinho, César Peixoto (Matheus 77), Meyong (Mossoró 66), Renteria.

Braga share fifth spot with Nacional, who destroyed Naval 4-0 away. The Liga's top scorer Nené snatched two more in the first half hour to set the Madeiran side on their way, while Ruben Micael and Mateus added to Naval's woes in the second half. Naval are tenth.

Vitória de Guimarães climbed to eighth with a 2-1 victory over Marítimo, their first league home win for two months. Fajardo and Nuno Assis gave Vitória a cushion, with Baba reducing the lead five minutes from time. Marítimo are in seventh, three points behind Madeiran neighbours Nacional.

Bottom club Rio Ave kept their survival hopes alive with a 1-0 win over Académica, Yazalde, on loan from Braga, getting the only goal on 17 minutes. Académica are 11th, while just two points separate the bottom five: Paços de Ferreira, Belenenses, Trofense, Vitória de Setúbal and Rio Ave. Paços and Belenenses play on Monday.

08/02/09

Two crisis-torn clubs, Estrela da Amadora and Vitória de Setúbal, played out what was reportedly one of the worst games of the season so far, each coming away with a point from Saturday's 0-0 draw. Estrela remain in mid table, with Vitória stuck in the second relegation slot, just above Rio Ave.

07/02/09

Leixões broke a seven game run without a win on Friday, beating Trofense 2-0 at home. Chumbinho got both the goals: the first on 37 minutes was a free-kick from out wide that beat Paulo Lopes at the near post; on 75 minutes, he took advantage of a mistake by Valdomiro to hit home. The result consolidates Leixões' fourth place, while Trofense hover just above the drop zone.

The teams lined up:

Leixões: Beto, Laranjeiro, Nuno Silva, Élvis, Angulo, Bruno China, Hugo Morais, Chumbinho (Sandro 89), Braga (Ruben 63), Rodrigo Silva, Diogo Valente (Zé Manuel 74).

Trofense: Paulo Lopes, Varela, Miguel Ângelo, Valdomiro, Tiago Pinto, Milton do Ó, Delfim (Charles 58), Mércio, Hugo Leal (Pinheiro 72), Hélder Barbosa, Reguila (Dagil 72).

02/02/09

FC Porto are top of the Liga again after winning 3-1 at Belenenses on Sunday. On a difficult pitch, it was Porto who managed to control the game in the first half and went ahead on 21 minutes through Hulk, after a cross by Mariano. Just two minutes later, it looked over when Cristian Rodriguez headed in a Lucho González cross, but Porto let Belenenses back in the game and saw their lead cut on 35 minutes, José Pedro cutting a ball back for Saulo to score. Belenenses put Porto under some pressure in the second half, but to no avail, and it was Porto who extended their lead, Lucho stroking in a goal after a through pass from compatriot Lisandro López.

Fucile forced a second yellow and a red near the end so that he could sit out a suspension in the Taça da Liga game at Sporting midweek and be able to play against Benfica in the league next weekend.

The teams lined up:

Belenenses: Júlio César, Cândido Costa (Ávalos 30), Rodrigo Arroz, Carciano, Tininho, Diakité, Mano, Silas, José Pedro, Wender (Saulo 30), Marcelo (Roncatto 65).

FC Porto: Helton, Fucile, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Cissokho, Fernando, Mariano (Farías 64), Raúl Meireles (Guarin 80), Lucho Gonzalez, Hulk (Lisandro 86), Rodriguez.

Sporting Braga climbed to sixth in the Liga with a 2-0 home win against Paços de Ferreira, Rentaria and Meyong on the scoresheet. Pedrinha missed a penalty for Paços on 53 minutes.

The teams lined up:

Sporting de Braga: Eduardo, João Pereira, André Leone, Frechaut, Evaldo, Vandinho, César Peixoto (Luís Aguiar 55), Mossoró (Stélvio 86), Alan, Renteria, Meyong (Orlando Sá 73).

Paços de Ferreira: Cássio, Filipe Anunciação (Carlos Carneiro 66), Tiago Valente, Ricardo, Kelly, Chico Silva (André Pinto 30), Pedrinha, Rui Miguel, Dedé, Cristiano, Edson (Ferreira 66).

Anselmo put Estrela da Amadora in front on ten minutes at Académica, with Sougou equalising just after the break. On the hour, a shot from outside the area by Lito was deflected past Nélson to give Académica the lead, but Varela lobbed Peskovic on 71 minutes to give Estrela a point, 2-2.

Leixões drew once again, this time 0-0 at Nacional. Liga top scorer Nené came closest with a shot that pinged off the bar, but neither team could break the deadlock.

Down the hill at Marítimo, Nacional's Madeiran neighbours took all three points from Naval with a second-half goal from Paraguayan Victor Aquino, making his début. Marítimo captain Bruno was sent off in the closing stages for a second yellow.

01/02/09

Benfica's Angolan talisman Pedro Mantorras came off the bench for his first game of the season on Saturday and shortly afterwards scored the goal that broke the deadlock between Benfica and bottom club Rio Ave. On a pitch that resembled a marsh, and which with the torrential rain falling on Lisbon got mushier as the game went on, it was Rio Ave that seemed to adapt best to the conditions. However, it was Benfica that came closest to scoring, Óscar Cardozo hitting the post twice. Then finally, from a Carlos Martins cross and an assist from Cardozo, Mantorras made room for himself at close range to clip the ball in on 70 minutes.

The teams lined up:

Benfica: Moreira, Maxi Pereira, Luisão, Sidnei, David Luiz, Yebda, Ruben Amorim, Carlos Martins (Binya 80), Di Maria (Reyes 61), Nuno Gomes (Mantorras 66), Cardozo.

Rio Ave: Paiva, Miguel Lopes, Gaspar, Bruno Mendes, Rogério Matias (Pedro Moutinho 80), Niquinha, Delson, Tarantini, Evandro, Fábio Coentrão (Chidi 80), Yazalde.

Sporting could only draw 0-0 at Trofense, who put a bus in front of the goal against a Sporting attack that had enough chances to win but did not take them. Liedson headed against the bar and would have scored on another occasion if Ismailov, in an offside position, had not got a touch to the ball just before it crossed the line. The result would later give Benfica the chance to overtake the 'Lions'. Trofense have now managed to beat Benfica and draw with FC Porto and Sporting.

The teams lined up:

Trofense: Paulo Lopes, Varela, Miguel Ângelo, Valdomiro, Areias, Milton do Ó, Hugo Leal, Delfim (Pinheiro 71), Tiago Pinto, Hélder Barbosa (Charles Chad 84), Reguila (Dagil 90).

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel, Daniel Carriço (Romagnoli 82), Anderson Polga, Marco Caneira, Rochemback, Izmailov, João Moutinho, Vukcevic, Liedson (Hélder Postiga 74), Derlei.

 

31/01/09

In a clash of the Vitórias, Setúbal went down 2-4 at home to Guimarães. Setúbal were in front on 11 minutes, André Marques scoring the team's first league goal since 1 December. The lead lasted for just four minutes, Marquinho heading the visitors level. The scoreline suffered two more changes before the break, Nuno Assis giving Guimarães the lead on 34 and Ricardo Chaves restoring the balance three minutes later. Guimarães were on top in the second half and their dominance told in the last ten minutes with two goals from Nuno Assis, his first hat-trick of his professional career and the first by any player this season. The result pushes Setúbal down to second from bottom, with only Rio Ave below them.

The teams lined up:

Vitória de Setúbal: Milojevic, Janício, Anderson, Robson, André Marques, Hugo (Joeano 81), Ricardo Chaves, Bruno Ribeiro (Bruno Gama 55), Mateus (Laionel 55), Regula, Carrijo.

Vitória de Guimarães: Serginho, Lionn, Gregory, Moreno, Andrezinho, Flávio Meireles, João Alves, Fajardo (Carlitos 64), Desmarets (Luciano 90), Nuno Assis, Marquinho (Custódio 88).

26/01/09

Académica beat Vitória de Guimarães 2-1 at home on Sunday, the Senegalese forward Sougou the man of the match. He broke and squared a ball for Lito to put Académica in front just before half-time, then supplied the second goal with a cross for Diogo Gomes to head home four minutes into the second half. Nuno Assis tapped in to give Guimarães a chance, but Académica proved too solid to crumble.

25/01/09

FC Porto took over top spot from Benfica on Saturday, winning 2-0 at Sporting Braga. Braga dominated the first fifteen minutes, pushing Porto back, but could not turn their domination into goals. Then on 20 minutes, Hulk broke down the left and crossed deep for Fucile to cross back to him (now in an offside position), and the Brazilian nodded down for Cristian Rodriguez to swivel and turn the ball in. On 32, Porto were two up, Lisandro López taking advantage of a through ball by Raul Meireles and hesitation by Moíses to slot the ball past Eduardo. Braga had reason to complain about four key incidents: Hulk's offside position for the first goal and three penalty shouts, none of them given; for a foul on Alan by Cissokho, a foul on Meyong by Hélton, and a handball by Guarín from a cross by Alan.

The teams lined up:

Sporting de Braga: Eduardo, João Pereira, Moisés, Frechaut, Evaldo, Vandinho, César Peixoto (Meyong 46), Mossoró (Matheus 46), Luís Aguiar, Alan, Renteria (Orlando Sá 75).

FC Porto: Helton, Fucile, Bruno Alves, Rolando, Cissokho, Fernando, Raul Meireles (Guarín 78), Lucho, Cristian Rodriguez (Tomás Costa 39), Hulk (Mariano 85), Lisandro.

Sporting kept level with Benfica in second place after drawing 1-1 at traditionally difficult Nacional. Liga top scorer Nenê put the Madeiran side in front on eight minutes with a monumental shot from thirty metres that dipped over Rui Patrício, off his line. On 33 minutes, the same goalkeeper redeemed himself in front of the same striker, saving a penalty. And then just before the break, Izmailov, put through on the right with a fine ball from Liedson, crossed for Vukcevic to tap in.

Nacional: Rafael Bracalli, Patacas, Felipe Lopes, Maicon, Alonso, Cléber, Edson Sitta (Miguel Fidalgo 60), Luís Alberto (Nuno Pinto 90), Rúben Micael, Duje Cop (Mateus 57), Nenê.

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel, Daniel Carriço, Polga, Grimi, Rochemback, Izmailov, João Moutinho, Vukcevic (Pereirinha 48), Liedson, Hélder Postiga (Derlei 68).

A goal by Silvestre Varela on 4 minutes and another by Rui Varela on 85 gave Estrela da Amadora all three precious points at home to Rio Ave, who stay rock bottom of the Liga. Estrela are ninth on 19.

A goal from Naval's Marinho on 19 minutes was enough to take the points at Vitória de Setúbal, who have recently sacked their coach. Vitória drop into the relegation zone while Naval are 8th.

Trofense were 1-0 up against Paços de Ferreira on six minutes through Reguila but the rot set in on 21 when Dedé equalised. Ferreira on 69 and Cristiano, with a cross-cum-shot on 83, gave Paços the points.

24/01/09

Top club Benfica may be overtaken this weekend after they could only draw 0-0 at Belenenses. Despite having the best of the chances throughout, they could not find a way past Júlio César. Their young central defender Miguel Vítor was sent off ten minutes from the end for a second yellow.

The teams lined up

Belenenses: Júlio César, Baiano (Cândido Costa 56), Rodrigo Arroz, Carciano, Tininho, Diakité, Mano, Silas, José Pedro, Wender (Maykon 72), Marcelo (Porta 83).

Benfica: Moreira, Maxi Pereira, Luisão, Miguel Vítor, David Luiz, Yebda, Ruben Amorim (Reyes 57), Katsouranis, Di Maria (Carlos Martins 73), Pablo Aimar (Nuno Gomes 67), Suazo.

The other Saturday game between Marítimo and Leixões also finished 0-0: Leixões, now without their star player Wesley, have not won in the last five games but remain fourth in the table.

The teams lined up

Marítimo: Marcos, Briguel, Fernando Cardozo, João Guilherme, Miguelito, Fernando, João Luiz (Victor Júnior 41), Bruno, Marcinho (Manú 80), Djalma (Lelo 67), Baba.

Leixões: Beto, Laranjeiro, Elvis, Nuno Silva, Angulo, Bruno China, Hugo Morais, Braga (Nwoko 76), Diogo Valente (Castanheira 87), Roberto Sousa, Chumbinho (Zé Manel 59).

12/01/09

Benfica returned to the top of the Liga on Sunday, controversially beating Sporting Braga 1-0 in front of 32,000 at the Luz. Braga looked the better side throughout, but Benfica were aided by a couple of dubious decisions from the match officials. On the stroke of half-time, Aimar's free-kick was met by David Luíz who headed home, but the Brazilian defender was a metre offside when the ball was kicked. It was the first league goal conceded by Braga in seven games. On 57 minutes, di Maria was fouled by Massoró, but Suazo aimed the spot kick straight at Eduardo and the ball was cleared. Then Luisão clattered Mossoró to the ground at the other end, but the referee Paulo Baptista ignored Braga's appeals for a penalty.

The teams lined up:

Benfica: Moreira, Maxi Pereira, Luisão, Miguel Vítor, David Luiz, Katsouranis, Yebda, Ruben Amorim, Di Maria (Reyes 66), Aimar (Carlos Martins 73), Suazo (Nuno Gomes 83).

Sporting de Braga: Eduardo, João Pereira, Moisés, Frechaut, Evaldo, Vandinho, César Peixoto (Meyong 63), Luís Aguiar (Matheus 66), Mossoró (Paulo César 83), Alan, Renteria.

Later on Sunday, FC Porto had the chance to hang on to first place but blew it, held to a 0-0 draw at home to lowly but improving Trofense at the Dragão. The visitors rarely ventured into Porto's half, but Porto were guilty of some very poor finishing, and near the end, it was Guarín who got in the way of teammate Cristian Rodriguez's goalwards shot. Trofense's captain Milton do Ó was sent off for a second yellow on the stroke of time.

The teams lined up:

FC Porto: Helton, Fucile, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Benitez (Mariano 60), Fernando (Guarin 69), Lucho Gonzalez, Raul Meireles (Farias 80), Lisandro Lopez, Rodriguez, Hulk.

Trofense: Paulo Lopes, Paulinho, Valdomiro, Milton do Ó, Areias, Delfim, Mércio, Hugo Leal (Pinheiro 82), Tiago Pinto, Hélder Barbosa (David Caiado 66), Reguila (Rui Borges 90).

Leixões' bid for glory has stalled in recent weeks; they drew 0-0 at home to Vitória de Setúbal, both sides' fifth game in a row without a win.

Nacional were 3-0 up at half time at Paços de Ferreira through Ruben Micael and two from the Liga's top scorer Nené (nine goals). Paços came back in the second half with two goals from André Pinto and Carlos Carneiro, but it was not enough and Nacional ran out 3-2 winners.

Naval beat Académica 2-1 at home, going in front on 50 minutes through Marcelo and making it two on 77 through Bolivia after Peskovic had fumbled. Sougou got a consolation for Académica in added time.

Belenenses won their first match away, 1-0 at Rio Ave, under new coach Carlos Brito. Defender Diakité headed the winner on his début after a cross from Silas. The win takes Belenenses off the bottom, replaced by Rio Ave.

11/01/09

Sporting climbed to the top of the Liga, at least provisionally, with a comfortable 2-0 win over an uninspired Marítimo at Alvalade. Vukcevic tapped in a killer cross from Liedson in the first half, while Liedson himself prodded in to make it 2-0 in the second. Marítimo's Olberdam was sent off for a second yellow on 66 minutes.

The teams lined up:

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel (Pedro Silva 49), Anderson Polga, Marco Caneira, Grimi, Miguel Veloso (Rochemback 29), Izmailov, Vukcevic (Bruno Pereirinha 76), João Moutinho, Hélder Postiga, Liedson.

Marítimo: Marcos, Antoine van der Linden, João Guilherme, Fernando, Bruno, Olberdam, Paulo Jorge (Bruno Fogaça 76), Miguelito, Marcinho, Djalma (João Luiz 71), Baba (Manú 21).

Vitória de Guimarães could only draw 0-0 at home to a well-organised Estrela da Amadora.

06/01/09

Sporting Braga moved up to 5th and into the play-off places on Monday, beating bottom club Belenenses 2-0 with goals from César Peixoto on 47 minutes and Meyong , his sixth of the season, from the spot on 75. Belenenses stay rock bottom.

05/01/09

Benfica put in a pale performance at bottom club Trofense on Sunday, going down 0-2 and losing top spot to arch rivals FC Porto. Benfica were one down on the stroke of half time, Helder Barbosa feeding the unmarked Reguila on the right who strode on and blasted a shot straight at Moreira; the Bennfica goalkeeper could have done more to stop it. Benfica's case was not helped by the sending-off on 64 minutes of usual suspect Binya for a second yellow. Then on 82 minutes, Trofense made the result safe when Pinheiro cut the ball back for Helder Barbosa to score.

The teams lined up:

Trofense: Paulo Lopes, Paulinho, Valdomiro, Miguel Ângelo, Tiago Pinto, Milton do Ó, Mércio, Delfim (Areias 70), Hugo Leal (Pinheiro 80), Hélder Barbosa (David Caiado 84), Reguila.

Benfica: Moreira, Maxi Pereira, Luisão, Sidnei, Jorge Ribeiro, Binya, Carlos Martins (Yebda 68), Ruben Amorim (Balboa 71), Di Maria (Cardozo 46), Pablo Aimar, Suazo.

FC Porto beat Nacional 4-2 in Madeira, but it was harder than it may appear for the champions. Nacional were ahead through Edson on 14 minutes, with Hulk equalising on 51. Then on 72 minutes, the moment of the game, Cristiano Rodriguez netting with a spectacular overhead kick from around the penalty spot. On 79 minutes, Miguel Fidalgo headed Nacional level. But at the death, Lucho González scored from the spot (Felipe Lopes sent off for hand ball) and Hulk added another to flatter Porto

The teams lined up:

Nacional: Rafael Bracalli, Patacas, Felipe Lopes, Maicon, Cléber (Bruno Amaro 76), Nuno Pinto (Miguel Fidalgo 73), Edson Sitta (Halliche 57), Luís Alberto, Ruben Micael, Mateus, Fabiano Oliveira.

FC Porto: Helton, Fucile, Bruno Alves, Rolando, Pedro Emanuel (Mariano Gonzalez 46), Raul Meireles (Guarin 71), Fernando, Lucho Gonzalez, Hulk (Benitez 94), Cristian Rodriguez, Lisandro Lopez.

Nacional's neighbours Marítimo overtook them in the table with a 4-1 win over Paços de Ferreira. Baba put the Madeiran side in front, but Cristiano equalised for Paços on 33 minutes. In the second half, Marítimo made their superiority count with goals from Djalma on 57, Paulo Jorge (a brilliant lob) on 88 and Vítor Júnior on 91 putting them fifth in the table.

In the other Liga game on Sunday, Estrela da Amadora beat Naval 1-0 with a goal from Anselmo just before half time. It was their first league win in five games.

04/01/09

Sporting went provisionally top of the Liga on Saturday, sharing the spot with Benfica, after they won 2-0 at struggling Vitória de Setúbal, their fourth win in five. The game was wrapped up in the first half, Liedson getting his fifth goal of the season on 17 minutes and captain Moutinho adding one on 31. Sporting's Daniel Carriço was sent off for a second yellow ten minutes from time.

The teams lined up:

Vitória de Setúbal: Bruno Vale, Janício, Robson, Anderson, Cissokho, Sandro (Leandro Branco 76), Ricardo Chaves, Elias, Mateus (Leandro Lima 70), Bruno Gama, Laionel (Leandro Carrijo 46).

Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel, Polga, Daniel Carriço, Caneira, Miguel Veloso, João Moutinho, Izmailov (Pedro Silva 82), Vukcevic (Pereirinha 62), Liedson, Hélder Postiga (Derlei 73).

Earlier in the evening, improving Vitória de Guimarães, who had only scored eight goals up to this point, got four at Rio Ave (2-4). Gregory, Desmarets, Luís Filipe and Roberto got the visitor's goals, while Gaspar (who put his team ahead) and Bruno Mendes kept the score relatively decent for Rio Ave. Vitória will stay in eighth place, while Rio Ave are dangerously close to the relegation zone.

The teams lined up:

Rio Ave: Paiva, Rogério Matias (Ronaldo 75), Gaspar, Bruno Mendes, Miguel Lopes, Delson (Evandro 68), Niquinha, André Vilas Boas (Tarantini 68), Livramento, Chidi, Semedo

Vitória de Guimarães: Nilson, Lionn, Moreno, Gregory, Momha, Wênio, João Alves (Paulo Henrique 92), Desmarets, Fajardo (Marquinho 78), Luis Filipe, Roberto (Luciano Amaral 90)

03/01/09

Leixões missed a chance to push for top spot on Friday, drawing 0-0 at Académica. In fact, they can thank Académica's lack of marksmanship for getting at least a point.

On a rainy night in central Portugal, just 3,592 turned up at the 30,000-capacity Estádio Cidade de Coimbra, constructed especially for Euro 2004.

The teams lined up:

Académica: Peskovic, Pedrinho, Luiz Nunes, Orlando, Pedro Costa, Pavlovic, Diogo Gomes (Sougou 63), Cris, Miguel Pedro (Tiero 77), Lito, Éder (Nuno Piloto 62).

Leixões: Beto, Vasco Fernandes, Nuno Silva, Laranjeiro, Sandro, Roberto Sousa, Bruno China, Hugo Morais, Braga (Marques 87), Wesley (Chumbinho 74), Diogo Valente (Zé Manel 63).

 

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