Benfica won their 32nd title on Sunday. They needed only a point from their home game against Rio Ave but got all three, while closest rivals Sporting Braga could only draw 1-1 at Nacional.
In front of 64,103 at the Luz, Benfica charged out of the traps and grabbed Rio Ave by the throat from the off. On three minutes, top scorer Cardozo beat Gaspar to a loose ball to poke home; Benfica were on their way. Their task against mid-table Rio Ave was made all the easier on ten minutes when Wires was sent off for a senseless studs-up challenge on Ramires. Carlos kept out Saviola and Aimar with good saves, while Bruno Gama and Tarantini proved that Rio Ave could get near the Benfica goal.
Saviola headed in after Airton's shot had rebounded off the bar on 69 minutes, but the Argentinian's 'goal' was disallowed, rightly, for offside. Then two minutes later, a Silvino free-kick from deep was headed home by Ricardo Chaves to put the cat amongst the pigeons: Braga were drawing 1-1 at Nacional and would have clinched the title if they could pull ahead and Rio Ave could get one more. But benfiquistas' stress factors plummeted on 77 minutes and euphoria set in: an Aimar corner was headed goalwards by Airton, Gaspar half cleared and Cardozo was on hand to rifle the ball home. It was his 26th goal of the season, giving him the Silver Ball for the Liga's top scorer, ahead of FC Porto's Radomir Falcao on 25. It is the first time a Benfica player has been top scorer since 1991, when Rui Águas took the trophy.
Benfica: Quim, Ruben Amorim, Luisão, David Luiz, César Peixoto, Airton, Carlos Martins (Maxi Pereira 65), Aimar, Ramires (Éder Luís 46), Cardozo, Saviola (Nuno Gomes 83).
Rio Ave: Carlos, José Gomes, Gaspar, André Vilas Boas, Sílvio, Wires, Ricardo Chaves (Adriano 79), Tarantini, Bruno Gama, Bruno Moraes, Sidnei (Evandro 63)
There were scenes of jubilation in Lisbon but also in many parts of the country; Benfica fans took over the Rotunda de Boavista in Porto. In Lisbon, the focal points of Saldanha and Marquês de Pombal were awash with the red of shirts and scarves, with upwards of a hundred thousand fans congregating to await the team bus, which arrived at around midnight.
Sporting Braga were behind at Nacional to an Edgar Silva goal on 51 minutes. Renteria equalised three minutes later, but Braga were unable to go that extra yard, making the result in the Luz academic; even if Benfica had lost, they would have won the title.
Nacional: Bracali, Patacas, Halliche, Tomasevic, Nuno Pinto, Luís Alberto (Todorovic 10), Cléber, Amuneke (Juliano 34), Edgar Costa (Thiago Gentil 64), Diego Barcellos, Edgar Silva.
Sporting Braga: Eduardo, Filipe Oliveira, Moisés, Rodriguez, Evaldo, Alan, Madrid (Rafael Bastos 80), Luís Aguiar, Paulo César, Matheus (Renteria 54), Meyong (Hugo Viana 54).
Vitória de Guimarães needed only to draw at home to Marítimo to clinch fifth spot and a place in the Europa League next season. But Marítimo won 2-1 and took the place themselves, also pipping Madeiran rivals Nacional to qualification. Valdomiro put Guimarães in front on 14 minutes, but impressive Brazilian forward Kléber, on 45 and 81 minutes, turned the game around to lead Marítimo to the promised land.
Bruno Amaro returned after a long lay-off through injury to score ten minutes from time and give Académica a 1-0 victory over Naval. Acdémica climb to 11th, while Naval stay in 8th.
Paços de Ferreira and Olhanense drew 2-2. Romeu Torres put Paços in front, on five minutes, but Djalmir equalised on 42. The second half saw much the same, with Candeias putting Paços back in front before Djalmir equalised again four minutes from time.
FC Porto had nothing to play for except their pride and the will to help Colombian striker Falcao to win the Silver Ball as the Liga's top scorer. They exited the season with their pride intact and Falcao ahead of Benfica's Cardozo in the scoring rankings after an ultimately convincing 4-1 win at União de Leiria.
In front of just 2694 at the Leiria Municipal Stadium, it was União's Cássio who scored first on 23 minutes, and the home side managed to hold onto the lead until half tie. But in the second half, Porto slipped up a gear and Guarín equalised on the hour, with Falcao putting Porto in the lead three minutes later. Cristian Rodriguez, on as sub, extended the lead on 82 minutes, with Falcao getting his second from the spot three minutes from time.
União de Leiria: Djuricic, Vítor Moreno (Carlão 66), Diego Gaúcho, Zé António, Paulo Vinícius, Marco Soares, André Santos, Ruben Brígido (Hugo Gomes 53), Silas, Patrick (Rafael Bitencourt 85), Cássio.
FC Porto: Beto, Miguel Lopes, Rolando, Nuno André Coelho, Alvaro Pereira, Fernando, Belluschi (Tomás Costa 80), Guarín, Valeri (Cristian Rodríguez 46), Hulk, Falcao.
Sporting bowed out of a less than famous campaign with a 2-1 win at Leixões. On 16 minutes, Pedro Silva went past four players before feeding Miguel Veloso who scored. Ten minutes into the second half, it was Pedro Silva who made it two with a shot from outside the area. João Paulo reduced the deficit on 81 minutes, but Leixões were unable to turn it round.
Leixões: Berger, Jean Sony, Fernando Alexandre, Joel, Antunes (Zé Manuel 46), Cauê, Seabra (Gallo 63), Hugo Morais, Fábio Espinho, Pouga, Braga (João Paulo 46).
Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel, Polga, Tonel, Grimi, João Moutinho, Pedro Silva (Pereirinha 62), Miguel Veloso, Matías Fernandez (Renato Neto 90), Yannick Djaló, Hélder Postiga (Saleiro 81).
Belenenses won 2-1 at Vitória de Setúbal and managed to leapfrog over Leixões into penultimate position; both were already relegated. Vitória were in front on six minutes through Kazmierczak from the spot, but in the closing stages, Romário equalised on 78 minutes and André Almeida gave Belenenses the points on 83.
From the Liga de Honra (Liga Vitalis), Beira-Mar and Portimonense are promoted to the Liga. Beira-Mar beat bottom club Carregado 1-0, while the Algarve club return to the top flight after 20 years, winning 1-0 at promotion rivals Oliveirense. Taça de Portugal finalists Desportivo de Chaves are relegated to the third tier along with Carregado after losing 0-1 at home to Fátima.
Final day's results:
Trofense – Gil Vicente, 2-4
Freamunde – Penafiel, 1-3
Beira-Mar – Carregado, 1-0
Santa Clara – Desportivo das Aves, 2-0
Desportivo de Chaves – Fátima, 0-1
Varzim – Sporting de Covilhã, 1-0
Oliveirense – Portimonense, 0-1
Estoril – Feirense, 1-2
1. Beira-Mar, 54
2. Portimonense, 54
3. Feirense, 52
4. Santa Clara, 51
5. Oliveirense, 49
The decision on who wins the title will go to the wire after Benfica lost 3-1 to FC Porto at the Dragão on Sunday. Benfica needed just a point from the game, or for second-placed Sporting Braga to fail to win their home game against Paços de Ferreira; neither happened.
The clássico at the Dragão was a typically tense affair, with hearts mostly ruling heads. Di Maria hit the bar on three minutes, but the most significant events in the first half – and possibly the race for the title – were the fruit of refereeing decisions. On five minutes, Di Maria and Fucile saw yellow cards for a midfield tussle; Di Maria's means that he will miss Benfica's last game against Rio Ave. On 12 minutes, Fábio Coentrão also saw a yellow; he will be out of the next game, too. Javi Garcia got a yellow on 40 minutes; another important gap in Benfica's line-up next Sunday. The Spanish midfielder's yellow came two minutes before Porto went in front, Belluschi's corner from the right met forcefully by Bruno Alves's head to take Porto into the beak 1-0 up.
On 52 minutes, Fucile's early yellow came back to haunt him and his team as a second meant a red and Porto were down ten for the last 40 minutes. Porto were momentarily reeling on 56 as Luisão beat Rolando in the tackle in the area before poking the ball wide of Beto's left hand. But it was only a momentary stutter: on 58, Belluschi won the ball on the edge of the area from a throw-in, the ball fell to Farías and he managed to shield it from Luisão before clipping it past Quim. Porto had a great chance to extend their lead on 73 minutes, with Guarín floating a shot in from 25 metres that pinged off the bar. But then on 83 minutes, they did extend it, Belluschi nut-megging Aimar before cracking a dipping shot over Quim from the left of the area.
It was only Benfica's second defeat of the season, and their first in 19 games (since 31 October). Porto confirmed third place but are now unable to qualify for the Champions League.
FC Porto: Beto, Fucile, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Álvaro Pereira, Belluschi (Tomás Costa 93), Guarín, Fernando, Raul Meireles (Miguel Lopes 53), Hulk, Farías (Rodriguez 61)
Benfica: Quim, Maxi Pereira, Luisão, David Luiz, Fábio Coentrão, Ramires, Javi García (Aimar 63), Di María, Carlos Martins (Kardec 82), Saviola (Weldon 67), Cardozo
The result leaves the title depending on the last game of the season. Benfica will play Rio Ave at home while Braga will visit Nacional in Madeira. Benfica need only one point, while Braga need to win to have any chance of the title. Whatever happens, they have clinched second place and qualification for the third and final qualifying round of the Champions League after beating Paços de Ferreira 1-0 on Sunday.
Paços were a tough nut to crack, and Braga could only crack them with an illegal goal: on 55 minutes, Luís Aguiar crossed from the left with Meyong in an offside position. The high ball was fumbled by Coelho in the Paços goal, and the Cameroonian forward was lurking to head in from close range.
Sporting Braga: Eduardo, Miguel Garcia, Moisés, Rodriguez, Evaldo, Madrid, Luís Aguiar, Alan (Rafael Bastos 90), Paulo César, Meyong (Hugo Viana 59), Matheus (Rentería 77).
Paços de Ferreira: Coelho, Baiano, Ricardo, Danielson, Maykon, Filipe Anunciação, Leonel Olímpio, Bruno di Paula (Romeu Torres 74), Candeias (Carlitos 74), Pizzi, Manuel José (Livramento 64).
Sporting clinched fourth place despite losing 0-1 at home to Naval. The only goal was scored on the counter by Fábio Júnior on 63 minutes, heading in a Giuliano cross from the left. Sporting were booed off the park by a large number of the 16,000 diehards at Alvalade.
Sporting: Rui Patrício, João Pereira, Daniel Carriço, Tonel, Grimi (Pereirinha 68), Miguel Veloso, João Moutinho, Izmailov (Postiga 61), Matias Fernandez, Yannick, Liedson.
Naval: Peiser, Carlitos, Gómis, João Real, Diego, Camora, Lazaroni, Godeméche, Giuliano (Davide 79), Bolívia, Fábio Júnior (Michel 87).
Fifth spot, which gives the final Europa League place, is still open to three teams.
Vitória de Guimarães could only draw 0-0 at Rio Ave, but keep fifth for the time being.
Nacional are still in with a chance of Europe after drawing 3-3 at Académica. Nacional went in front in the first minutes through Diego Barcellos, but Hélder Cabral levelled six minutes later with a free-kick. Nacional were back in front on 41 through Edgar Silva, with Manuel Fidalgo, on loan from Nacional, equalising for Académica on 74. Éder made it 3-2 for Académica two minutes later, but João Aurélio took advantage of a terrible mistake from the Académica 'keeper to make it 3-3.
Nacional need to beat Sporting Braga next week and hope that Madeiran neighbours Marítimo beat Guimarães.
But Marítimo are also in with a shout of Europe. They beat Vitória de Setúbal 2-0 with goals from Tchô on 17 minutes and Kléber on 87. They need to beat Vitória de Guimarães away by two or more goals on the last day and hope that Nacional do not beat Sporting Braga at home.
Setúbal are safe, despite their defeat. Joining Belenenses on the downward trip to the Liga de Honra are Leixões, who lost 0-1 at Olhanense, also now safe. Veteran striker Djalmir was the Algarve side's hero with the only goal on 87 minutes.
Already relegated Belenenses went out with a bang, beating União de Leiria 5-2 and denying Lito Vidigal's side the possibility of still challenging for Europe. Cássio put Leiria in front on five minutes, with Lima equalising on eight. José Pedro made it 2-1 for Belenenses from the spot on 14, but Marco Soares made it 2-2 just before the break. Belenenses ran riot in the second half, adding three goals through Mustafa (52), Miguelito (68) and André Pires (78). It was only Belenenses' third win of the season.
After 11 straight years in the top flight, Belenenses, celebrating their 90th anniversary this year, have been relegated. It was practically a hopeless quest going into Monday's game at Vitória de Guimarães, but the 2-0 defeat clinched the drop. Vitória were in front on 27 minutes through Andrezinho from the spot after Celestino had pushed Valdomiro. They confirmed the points and consolidated their fifth place on 47 minutes, Rui Miguel's cross from the right headed in by Nuno Assis. Belenenses coach Toni will be leaving the club at the end of the season.
Vitória de Guimarães: Nilson, Andrezinho, Gustavo Lazzaretti, Valdomiro, Bruno Teles, Moreno, João Alves (Flávio Meireles 90), Desmarets, Rui Miguel (Jorge Gonçalves 73), Nuno Assis (Fábio Felício 85), Douglas.
Belenenses: Bruno Vale, Mano, Mustafa, Marcos António, Pires, Gabriel Gomez (Fajardo 61), Miguelito, Celestino, Cândido Costa (Yontcha 52), Barge (José Pedro 86), Lima.
All the Liga games on the penultimate jornada will be played on Sunday at 8.15 p.m.
Sporting Braga kept their faint hopes of the title alive on Sunday with an impressive 4-0 win at Naval. Man of the Match Luís Aguiar put them in front with a curling free kick after 25 minutes, and the midfielder sent over a corner for Alan to head on and Matheus to knock in at the back post on 39. Fifteen minutes from time, Aguiar sent over another corner for Paulão to head home his first goal of the season, and on 85 minutes, the Uruguayan international lobbed Peiser after a precision pass from Hugo Viana.
Braga remain six points behind Benfica, who need just one point from their remaining two games (away to FC Porto and at home to Rio Ave).
Naval: Peiser, Gómis, Real, Diego, Carlitos (Marinho 68), Godemèche (Alex Hauw 45), Lazaroni, Giuliano, Camora, Michel Simplício (Bolívia 45), Fábio Júnior.
Sporting Braga: Eduardo, Filipe Oliveira, Paulão, Rodriguez, Evaldo, Alan, Andrés Madrid, Luís Aguiar, Paulo César (Diogo Valente 71), Matheus (Hugo Viana 77), Renteria (Meyong 56).
Sporting guaranteed a Europa League place next season with a 1-1 draw at União de Leiria. They went in front after a quarter of an hour, Izmailov feeding Liedson who made space for himself before clipping the ball past Djuricic from around the penalty spot. But Sporting were being very profligate with their chances, especially through Moutinho, Yannick and Miguel Veloso. Early in the second half, Sporting's weakness at defending set pieces was once again on view as Cássio rose to head home from a corner.
União de Leiria: Djuricic, Hugo Gomes (Vítor Moreno 46), Zé António, Diego Gaúcho, Vinícius, André Santos, Marco Soares, Patrick (Ouattara 70), Silas (Rafael Bitencourt 89), Carlão, Cássio.
Sporting: Rui Patrício, João Pereira, Tonel, Daniel Carriço, Grimi, Pedro Mendes, Miguel Veloso (Hélder Postiga 70), João Moutinho, Izmailov (Matías Fernandez 81), Liedson, Yannick.
Académica secured safety for another season with a vital 3-1 win at relegation rivals Leixões. Sougou put Os Estudantes in front from the spot on 36 minutes, but Leixões were level on 73 through Hugo Morais, also with a penalty. Ten minutes from time, Diogo Gomes scored with a speculative free-kick, and Académica clinched the points on 85 through Éder, after Leixões' Nuno Silva had been sent off for a second yellow. Leixões are four points behind Olhanense and Vitória de Setúbal with two games to play.
Nacional could only draw 1-1 at home to Paços de Ferreira. Diego Barcelos put the Madeiran side in front on 28 minutes, and the lead lasted until a minute from time when Maykon unleashed a scorcher from 25 metres that Bracali got a hand to but could not stop. Nacional's Diego had 'scored' five minutes earlier, but the goal was mysteriously disallowed. Nacional are equal 5th with Guimarães, who play Belenenses on Monday; fifth spot earns a Europa League place.
Benfica are just a point away from the title after despatching struggling Olhanense 5-0 at the Luz. The Algarve team's game plan began to collapse on two minutes when Delson handled a Weldon cross in the area; Cardozo cracked home the penalty kick. On eight, the same Delson hacked at the excellent Di Maria and saw a second yellow, leaving Olhanense to try to limit damage for 80 minutes; they failed. On 18 minutes, Aimar sent Di Maria through on the left, the Argentinian international cut inside and placed his shot past Bruno Veríssimo. Within ten minutes of the second half, Benfica doubled their lead through Cardozo, fed both times by Di Maria. Ten minutes from time, Aimar made it five. There were over 62,000 to see the game, taking the total number of spectators at the Luz for official games this season past the one million mark.
Benfica: Quim, Ruben Amorim (Maxi Pereira 60), Luisão, David Luiz, Fábio Coentrão, Javi Garcia, Ramires, Di Maria, Aimar (Nuno Gomes 82), Weldon (Saviola 61), Cardozo.
Olhanense: Bruno Veríssimo, Lionn, Anselmo, Miguel Ângelo, Carlos Fernandes, Rui Baião, Delson, Nwokolo (Toy 65), Castro, Ukra (Rabiola 81), Djalmir (Yazalde 65).
FC Porto also got five at Vitória de Setúbal but allowed Vitória to reply twice. Falcao and Maicon both scored from corners to give Porto a two-goal lead going into the break. Henrique reduced the lead early in the second half, once again from a corner, but Porto were two ahead again on 56, driving home past Nuno Santos' right hand after an assist from Hulk. Belluschi made it four on 71 minutes, and in added time, Henrique got his second as did Falcao with a delicate chip over Nuno Santos. The Colombian striker will miss the next game, at home to Benfica, after seeing his fifth yellow of the season for reacting to a Bruno Ribeiro tackle; coach Jesualdo Ferreira will also miss the game after he was sent off for disputing the yellow.
Vitória de Setúbal: Nuno Santos, Collin, André Pinto, Ricardo Silva, Ruben Lima (Bruno Ribeiro 46), Sandro (Zoro 75), Kazmierczak (Rui Fonte 65), Ney, Neca, Henrique, Hélder Barbosa.
FC Porto: Beto, Fucile (Miguel Lopes 75), Rolando, Maicon, Álvaro Pereira, Fernando, Raul Meireles (Tomás Costa 75), Guarin, Belluschi (Valeri 92), Hulk, Falcao.
Rio Ave clinched Liga safety on Friday, drawing 0-0 at home to Marítimo. Rio Ave's Wires hit a post, while at the other end Djalma missed a sitter in a one-on-one with Carlos. In fact, with a series of excellent saves, Carlos and his opposite number, Marítimo's Peçanha, were the key players in an otherwise dull end-of-season meeting.
Rio Ave: Carlos, José Gomes, Gaspar, André Vilas Boas, Sílvio, Ricardo Chaves, Wires, Tarantini (Tiago Terroso 81), Bruno Gama (Bruno Moraes 78), Chidi (Nélson Oliveira 66), Sidnei.
Marítimo: Peçanha, Paulo Jorge, Diakité, João Guilherme, Taka, Rafael Miranda, Roberto Sousa, Djalma (Pitbull 91), Manú, Baba (Tchô 80), Kléber
Sporting remain in fourth spot after beating Vitória de Setúbal 2-1 at Alvalade on Monday. They were behind on 11 minutes, Collin heading in from a Neca corner, but on the hour, João Moutinho scored from the spot and on 70, Hélder Postiga got his first goal of the season to give Sporting the three points.
Sporting: Rui Patrício, João Pereira, Tonel, Carriço, Miguel Veloso, Pedro Mendes, João Moutinho, Izmailov (Grimi 89), Yannick Djaló (Matias Fernandez 46), Saleiro (Hélder Postiga 69), Liedson.
Vitória de Setúbal: Nuno Santos, Ney, Collin (Paulo Regula 82), Ricardo Silva, André Pinto, Ruben Silva (Rui Fonte 75), Sandro, Djikiné, Neca (Kazmierczak 84), Hélder Barbosa, Henrique
Benfica took another giant step towards their first title in five years on Sunday with a hard-fought 3-2 win at Académica. Their saviour on the night was little-used striker Weldon , in for the injured Saviola. He headed in on just three minutes from a Maxi throw-in to put the Encarnados in the lead, but Académica, needing the points to secure safety, equalised on 28 through Diogo Gomes with a shot from outside the area that was deflected past Quim by Sidnei. Weldon got his second five minutes from half time, poaching at the back post after a good run to the line on the left by Di Maria. On 79 minutes, the same Di Maria went on another of his runs and crossed for Ruben Amorim to volley in from 15 metres out. Académica's best player Tiero pulled one back with a swerving drive from 35metres two minutes from time to make the dying minutes a nervous affair. But the result keeps Benfica six points clear of Braga with only three games to play.
Académica: Rui Nereu, Pedrinho, Luíz Nunes (Miguel Fidalgo 81), Berger, Emídio Rafael, Nuno Coelho, Tiero, Diogo Gomes, Sougou, Éder, João Ribeiro (Vouho 46)
Benfica: Quim, Maxi Pereira, Sidnei, David Luiz, Fábio Coentrão, Rúben Amorim, Javi Garcia, Di Maria, Aimar (Ramires 78), Cardozo (Carlos Martins 56), Weldon (Kardec 68).
FC Porto kept up their hopes of securing second spot with a 3-0 win over Vitória de Guimarães at the Dragão. Hulk put Porto in front on 28 minutes with a volley after Valeri's shot had been blocked. The lead was extended ten minutes into the second half when Guarín drove home from 30 metres, although the shot deflected off Leandro to fool Nilson. The same Leandro fouled Falcao in the area ten minutes from time and the Colombian striker brushed himself off to send Nilson the wrong way from the spot for his 21st goal of the season, putting him level with Benfica's Cardozo. The result leaves Porto five points behind Sporting Braga. With only three games left, Porto can now no longer catch Benfica, 11 points ahead.
FC Porto: Beto, Fucile (Miguel Lopes 83), Rolando, Bruno Alves, Álvaro Pereira, Fernando, Guarín (Farías 83), Belluschi, Valeri (Raul Meireles 64), Hulk, Falcao
Vitória de Guimarães: Nilson, Alex, Gustavo, Leandro, Bruno Teles, Rui Miguel, Moreno (Fábio Felício 83), Nuno Assis (Custódio 83), Renan, Douglas, Desmarets (Jorge Gonçalves 70)
Nacional climbed to 6th with a 2-0 win at home to União de Leiria, who drop to 8th. Pedro Oldoni on 20 minutes and Diego on 57 got the goals. Ronny missed a penalty for União on the hour.
Belenenses could only draw 0-0 at home to Rio Ave, leaving them rock bottom of the table on just 17 points. Rio Ave have slumped in recent weeks and are currently 11th.
Sporting Braga kept up the pressure on Benfica at the top with a 3-1 win over Leixões on Saturday. Alan chipped Berger on three minutes following a through ball from Madrid, and he got a second on 34, heading in a Filipe Oliveira cross from the right. Pouga gave Leixões some hope ten minutes into the second half, beating Eduardo to the ball from an Antunes corner. But five minutes fro time, it was all over when Moisés headed in from around the penalty spot following a Luís Aguiar corner. Leixões occupy the second relegation spot (above only Belenenses) and are four points behind Olhanense.
Sporting Braga: Eduardo, Filipe Oliveira, Rodriguez, Moisés, Evaldo, Alan, Madrid, Luís Aguiar, Paulo César, Rentería (Meyong 58), Matheus (Penã 88).
Leixões: Berger, Sony, Nuno Silva, Tucker (Joel 20), Fernando Cardozo, Antunes, Seabra, Fernando Alexandre, Hugo Morais (Tiago Cintra 66), José Manuel (João Paulo 46), Pouga.
Naval travelled north to beat Paços de Ferreira 3-1, going in at half time 2-0 up with goals from Fábio Júnior on 19 minutes and João Real on 37. The latter put through his own goal on 66 to give Paços a chance, but then Kelly did the same three minutes later to define the final score-line. The result leaves Naval 9th and Paços 10th, both on 33 points.
Benfica appear to have the title in the bag after beating Sporting 2-0 in front of 59,000 at the Luz on Tuesday. Sporting surprised Benfica with their pressure on the man with the ball the first half, and Benfica could not get into any rhythm. Then at half time Benfica coach Jorge Jesus brought on Pablo Aimar to replace the ineffectual Éder Luís and the second half was a different story. It was Sporting's turn to be pushed back, and the Benfica that has been terrorizing defences all season began to make itself shown. Even so, it took a moment of individual brilliance by Rúben Amorim to break the deadlock: he cut between two defenders on the right and his cross found its way to the back post, was returned by Fábio Coentrão, and Cardozo, hobbling with an injury, was still quicker than Miguel Veloso and steered the ball in from close range. By this time, Sporting were a spent force and had no answer for the now-flooded Benfica midfield. Ten minutes later it was all over: with the most delicate of touches, Ramires put Pablo Aimar clear through and the Argentinian raced on, rounded Patrício and touched the ball in.
Benfica: Quim, Ruben Amorim, Luisão, David Luiz, Fábio Coentrão, Javi Garcia, Ramires, Carlos Martins (Airton 85), Di Maria, Cardozo (Kardec 69), Éder Luís (Aimar 46).
Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel (Saleiro 71), Tonel, Daniel Carriço, Grimi (Matias 79), Pedro Mendes, Miguel Veloso, João Pereira, João Moutinho, Yannick, Liedson
Benfica retain top spot, six points ahead of Sporting Braga and a record 26 (!) ahead of Sporting. There are four games left; Benfica need just seven points to mathematically clinch the title.
27th Jornada (18 April):
Académica v Benfica
Sporting de Braga v Leixões
28th Jornada (25 April):
Naval v Sporting de Braga
Benfica v Olhanense
29th Jornada (2 May):
FC Porto v Benfica
Sporting de Braga v Paços de Ferreira
30th Jornada (9 May):
Nacional v Sporting de Braga
Benfica v Rio Ave
Marítimo visited the Algarve and beat Olhanense 2-1 in a game in which the home side were down to nine men after 24 minutes, with a straight red card for goalkeeper Ventura after he fouled Baba, and down to nine two minutes from time with a second yellow for Tengarrinha. In the first incident, Baba allowed substitute 'keeper Bruno Veríssimo to save the spot kick, but he made up for it by scoring on 34 minutes. Two minutes into the second half, Kléber headed in a Paulo Jorge cross to make it 0-2. The final minutes were tense as Djalmir knocked in a Ukra cross on 86, but Olhanense had no more to show. Marítimo are 7th, while Olhanense hover above the relegation places in 14th.
Olhanense: Ventura, Lionn, Tengarrinha, Miguel Ângelo (Rabiola 89), Stéphane, Delson, Rui Baião (Yazalde 55), Toy (Bruno Veríssimo 24), Ukra, Paulo Sérgio, Djalmir.
Marítimo: Peçanha, Paulo Jorge, João Guilherme, Diakité, Taka, Roberto Sousa (Bruno 46), Rafael Miranda, Manú (Briguel 84), Baba (Tchô 92), Djalma, Kléber.
Sporting Braga move provisionally to within three points of Benfica at the top of the table after beating local rivals Vitória de Guimarães 3-2 on Friday.
It was a highly controversial game: Braga's three goals were all penalties, and Vitória had four (!) players sent off. Vitória scored first through Rui Miguel on 18 minutes, but Braga turned the result around with two penalties on 41 minutes, scored by Alan, and on 79, through Meyong; the latter penalty was awarded for a foul on Renteria that happened well outside the area. Into added time, Andrezinho equalised with a penalty for a foul on Roberto, but then on 97 (!!), Renteria dived to win yet another penalty, converted by Meyong. The Guimarães players Valdomiro (77), João Alves (94), Andrezinho (94) and Desmarets (98) were shown red cards.
Sporting de Braga: Eduardo, Filipe Oliveira, Moisés, Rodriguez, Evaldo, Madrid, Luís Aguiar, Rafael Bastos (Renteria 55), Matheus (Hugo Viana 82), Alan, Paulo César (Meyong 71).
Vitória de Guimarães: Nilson, Alex, Valdomiro, Gustavo Lazzaretti, Andrezinho, Moreno (Flávio Meireles 46), João Alves, Desmarets, Nuno Assis, Rui Miguel (Jorge Gonçalves 84), Marquinho (Roberto 68).
Just 16,000 watched Sporting trounce Rio Ave 5-0. Yannick Djaló got a hat trick on 7, 56 and 75 minutes, the last one a superbly directed shot from 15 metres. Sporting's other goals were scored by Liedson with a text-book header on 40 minutes and Moutinho on 66. Izmailov was back for Sporting after a falling out over a trip he took to Russia that was not approved by the club. He came on as sub on 71 minutes and lasted just 12 before being sent off for a studs-up challenge; he will miss Sporting's next game at Benfica. Rio Ave have lost their last three games and have conceded ten goals in their last two.
Sporting: Rui Patrício, João Pereira, Daniel Carriço, Tonel, Grimi, Pedro Mendes (Adrien 83), Miguel Veloso (Matias Fernandez 71), João Moutinho, Yannick, Hélder Postiga (Izmailov 71), Liedson.
Rio Ave: Carlos, José Gomes, Gaspar, Fábio Faria, Sílvio, André Vilas Boas, Tarantini (Sidnei 91), Wires, Vítor Gomes, Nélson Oliveira (Bruno Gama 58), Bruno Moraes (Chidi 26).
Nacional beat Leixões 1-0 with a goal from Edgar Costa on 46 minutes, leaving second-from-bottom Leixões in a lot of trouble.
A more impressive FC Porto than of late visited and beat Belenenses 3-0 on Sunday to close the gap between themselves and Sporting Braga in second place. It was the return of Porto forward Hulk, and he proved to be the man of the match.
Near the end of the first half, Rolando headed in from a Hulk free-kick. In the second half, Hulk cut in from the right to blast home a shot from 25 metres, and the Brazilian international later fed Falcao to make it 3-0. Belenenses remain rock bottom of the Liga with just 14 points from their 34 games, nine points away from safety.
Belenenses: Bruno Vale, Mano, Mustafa, Marcos António, Tiago Gomes (Fajardo 46), Barge (André Almeida 62), Gabriel Gomez, Celestino, Miguelito, Lima, Yontcha (José Pedro 54).
FC Porto: Helton, Miguel Lopes, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Álvaro Pereira, Fernando, Guarín, Raul Meireles (Belluschi 65), Ruben Micael (Valeri 86), Hulk, Falcão.
In other games, Leixões got a rare win, 1-0 at home to Naval, Hugo Morais getting the only goal from the spot. But Leixões remain second from bottom, five points behind Vitória de Setúbal.
Vitória had a good win at home to Nacional, who went in front from Pecnik. But Neca and Keita gave Vitória all three points in a 2-1 win.
Perhaps the most surprising result of the weekend was Olhanense's 5-1 (!) demolition of normally tighter Rio Ave. Vítor Gomes got Rio Ave's goal, but the Algarve side were irrepressible and took home the spoils with goals from Tengarrinha, Djalmir (two, one of which a penalty), Yazalde and Rabiola (another penalty). Olhanense are on the same 23 points as Vitória de Setúbal.
União de Leiria kept up their challenge for Europe with a 2-1 win at home to other European hopefuls Paços de Ferreira. Cássio got both of Leiria's goals, while Kelly got on the score-sheet for Paços. The result leaves União in 6th, three points behind Vitória de Guimarães. Paços are a point behind Leiria.
Benfica took a giant step towards the title on Saturday, beating nearest rivals Sporting Braga 1-0 in a tense match before 63,000 at the Luz. The teams were separated by a Luisão goal just before the break: the captain lashed home a loose ball that fell in front of goal from a Carlos Martins penalty. Benfica had the majority of the chances on the night and were just about worth a victory that leaves them six points ahead of Braga at the top, with six games to play.
Benfica: Quim, Maxi Pereira, Luisão, David Luiz, Fábio Coentrão, Javi Garcia, Ramires (Ruben Amorim 76), Di Maria, Carlos Martins (Aimar 66), Saviola (Kardec 87), Cardozo.
Sporting de Braga: Eduardo, Filipe Oliveira, Moisés, Rodriguez, Evaldo, Andrés Madrid, Hugo Viana (Rafael Bastos 58), Mossoró (Luís Aguiar 52), Alan, Paulo César, Renteria (Matheus 58).
Vitória de Guimarães beat Académica 1-0 but left it until five minutes from time to make the difference, sub Rui Miguel firing in after a corner had been badly cleared. Vitória are fifth in the Liga.
Vitória de Guimarães: Nilson, Alex, Valdomiro, Gustavo Lazzaretti, Andrezinho, Moreno, João Alves (Rui Miguel 68), Desmarets, Nuno Assis, Marquinho (Jorge Gonçalves 68), Roberto (Flávio Meireles 89)
Académica: Rui Nereu, Pedrinho, Berger (Vouho 88), Orlando, Emídio Rafael, Paulo Sérgio, Tiero, Cris (Nuno Coelho 77), Sougou (Lito 55), João Ribeiro, Éder.
Sporting's recent good form and results came to a halt on Friday, the Lions losing 2-3 to Marítimo in Madeira.
Marítimo were in front on 16 minutes, Djalma feeding Tchô to tap in. Twenty minutes later, Yannick Djaló curled in a perfect cross from the right for João Pereira, returning to the starting line-up, to sweep the ball in from close range.
It remained all square until the last ten minutes. On 81, Pongolle, on as sub four minutes earlier, turned the ball into his own net from a João Guilherme header following a corner. Claudio Pitbull, also on as sub on 79, scored with a long range shot on 90 to make it 3-1 to Marítimo. Diakité fouled Pongolle on 93 minutes to allow the same Pongolle to reduce the deficit from the spot, but there was no time for Sporting to do any more.
They are in 4th place in the table, nine points behind Porto, who have a game in hand. The result provisionally takes Marítimo up to 7th.
Marítimo: Peçanha, Paulo Jorge, Robson, João Guilherme, Alonso, Rafael Miranda, Taka (Baba 46), Tchô (Pitbull 79), Manu, Djalma, Kléber.
Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel (Matias Fernandez 46), Tonel, Polga, Grimi, Pedro Mendes, João Pereira, Adrien (Pereirinha 60), Yannick, Saleiro (Pongolle 77), Liedson.
Paços de Ferreira beat Marítimo 1-0 to close the 23rd jornada on Monday. Bruno de Paula got the only goal on 51 minutes, but Paços can thank their goalkeeper Coelho, who made a series of excellent saves, for keeping them in the game against an adventurous Marítimo side that dominated for long stretches.
The result means that Paços climb to 6th, while Marítimo remain 11th, five points behind.
Paços de Ferreira: Coelho, Candeias (Jason 76), Danielson, Ricardo, Jorginho (Livramento 46), Filipe Anunciação, Leonel Olímpio, Bruno de Paula, Pizzi (Fábio Pacheco 71), William, Maykon.
Marítimo: Peçanha, Paulo Jorge, João Guilherme, Robson, Taka, Rafael Miranda (Babá 68), Bruno (Briguel 16), Roberto Sousa, Manu (Tchô 81), Kléber, Djalma.
Benfica drew three points clear of Sporting Braga at the top of the table on Sunday after they beat Nacional 1-0 in Madeira. The Lisbon giants had a tough time to break down the Nacional rearguard in the first half, but made clearer inroads in the second.
The pressure paid off on 62 minutes, Diego adjudged to have fouled David Luíz in the area. However, top scorer Óscar Cardozo flashed his spot kick well wide. Two minutes later, however, the Paraguayan international was on hand to tap in a low cross from the right by Rúben Amorim. Quim was later called into action to keep out a dangerous header from Felipe Lopes, but Benfica had done enough to take the three points.
Nacional: Bracali, Patacas, Halliche, Felipe Lopes, Nuno Pinto (Diego 58; Amuneke 76), João Aurélio, Cléber, Luís Alberto, Leandro Salino (Pecnik 68), Thiago Gentil, Edgar Silva.
Benfica: Quim, Ruben Amorim, Luisão, David Luiz, Fábio Coentrão, Javi García, Ramires, Aimar (Maxi 71), Di Maria (Alan Kardec 87), Saviola (César Peixoto 82), Cardozo.
Sporting were clearer winners (3-1) at home to Vitória de Guimarães. In a first half which they dominated, full back Grimi, in an off-side position, headed them in front from a Miguel Veloso free-kick on seven minutes. They were 2-0 up a minute later, Liedson pouncing on a Lazzaretti mistake to curl an exquisite shot past Nilson's left hand and into the top right-hand corner of the net. On 11 minutes, they thought they were three-up, Saleiro latching onto a through ball and beating Nilson … this time the goal disallowed for a non-existent offside. But the same Saleiro did get the third on 20 minutes, taking a Liedson through ball on the left and flicking it expertly over the oncoming Nilson.
Sporting set about protecting their lead from then on, but their lowered tempo let Vitória get the upper hand in the second half. Valdomiro headed in on 66 minutes, and five minutes from time a free-kick from Andrezinho was palmed onto the post by Rui Patricio. But Sporting rode out the storm and now sit comfortably in fourth, five points clear of Vitória.
Sporting: Rui Patrício, João Pereira (Pedro Silva 79), Tonel, Polga, Grimi, Pedro Mendes, Miguel Veloso (Matias Fernandez 61), Izmailov, João Moutinho, Saleiro, Liedson (Caneira 92).
Vitória de Guimarães: Nilson, Alex, Gustavo Lazzaretti, Valdomiro, Andrezinho, Moreno (Marquinho 73), João Alves (Douglas 31), Rui Miguel (Jorge Gonçalves 87), Desmarets, Nuno Assis, Roberto.
Leixões took the lead at home to Vitória de Setúbal through a João Paulo header from a Seabra cross on 25 minutes. But five minutes before half-time, Sandro capitalised on a mistake from Leixões 'keeper Diego to equalise. Vitória took all three points on 80 minutes, Keita finishing from a Hélder Barbosa corner to leave the score 1-2.
Leixões remain second from bottom. Bottom club Belenenses got only their second win of the season, at Olhanense. Miguelito passed to Lima on 21 minutes and the Brazilian striker beat Ventura one-on-one. Castro equalised for the Algarve side just before the break. But Belenenses were back in front on the hour, Lima heading in from a Celestino free-kick. And Barge made it 3-1 ten minutes from time.
Olhanense: Ventura, João Gonçalves (Greg Nwokolo 77), Tengarrinha, Miguel Ângelo, Carlos Fernandes, Rui Baião (Yazalde 66), Castro, Rui Duarte, Ukra, Djalmir, Paulo Sérgio (Toy 57).
Belenenses: Bruno Vale, Mano, Mustafá, Marcos António, Tiago Gomes (Fajardo 57), Celestino, Barge, André Almeida (José Pedro 66), Miguelito, Yontcha (Pelé 70), Lima.
Sporting Braga put pressure on Benfica at the top by beating Rio Ave 1-0 at home on Saturday. It was a hard-fought and even game; Tarantini hit the bar with a header before Renteria laid off a ball on 16 minutes for Andrés Madrid to score from outside the box, helped by a deflection off Sidnei. The result leaves Braga provisionally top, with Benfica playing against Nacional in Madeira on Sunday.
Sporting Braga: Eduardo; Filipe Oliveira, Moisés, Leone (Rodríguez 54), Evaldo, Andrés Madrid, Hugo Viana, Alan, Mossoró, Matheus (Meyong 83), Rentería (Luís Aguiar 66).
Rio Ave: Carlos; José Gomes (Nelson Oliveira 54), Gaspar, Fábio Faria, Sílvio, Vítor Gomes, Wíres, Tarantini, Bruno Gama, Sidnei (Chidi 54), Bruno Fogaça (Bruno Moraes 76).
FC Porto returned to their winning ways, beating Académica 0-1 in Coimbra. It was a dogged rather than accomplished performance by them, but their perseverance told in the end. Académica were in front on 33 minutes after Bruno Alves had fouled Éder in the box, Sougou netting from the spot. But Porto were back in the game just three minutes later: Orlando tried to clear from a free kick, the ball ballooned goalwards and Bruno Alves knocked it in on the line.
A scrappy second half culminated in Porto's winner three minutes from time, Cristian Rodriguez breaking down the left and beating substitute 'keeper Rui Nereu at the near post.
Académica: Ricardo (Rui Nereu 45), Pedrinho, Luiz Nunes, Orlando, Emídio Rafael, Tiero, Nuno Coelho, Cris (Paulo Sérgio 77), Sougou, Éder (Vouho 72), João Ribeiro.
FC Porto: Beto, Miguel Lopes, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Álvaro Pereira, Ruben Micael (Mariano 67; Tomas Costa 83), Belluschi, Raul Meireles, Varela, Falcao, Rodríguez.
União de Leiria missed a chance to keep in touch with fourth place when they went down 1-0 at Naval. It was an even and canny first half, but a scrappy second. The teams were separated by a 56th minute penalty that was not: José António's high challenge on Fábio Júnior was a foul, but it was made outside the box. Centre back Diego Ângelo stroked home the spot kick.
Naval: Peiser, Gómis, Real, Diego, Lazaroni, Carlitos, Godemèche, Alex Hauw (Davide 91), Camora, Fábio Júnior (Michel Simplício 84), Bolívia (Marinho 73).
União de Leiria: Djuricic, Paulo Vinícius, Diego Gaúcho, Zé António, Ronny, André Santos, Marco Soares (Vítor Moreno 62), Silas, Pateiro (Zahovaiko 87), Carlão (Ouattará 71), Cássio
Vitória de Guimarães confirmed fifth spot on Monday, beating Nacional 2-0 at home. The result was constructed in the first half. Nuno Assis sent a corner to the near post on six minutes for Roberto to beat Bracali to the ball and head in. And on 35 minutes, the same Nuno Assis did some great work on the left before slotting a ball through to Desmarets, who made no mistake from ten metres out. Vitória are just two points behind Sporting, the two teams meeting at the weekend. Nacional are ninth.
Vitória de Guimarães: Nilson, Alex, Valdomiro, Gustavo Lazaretti, Andrezinho, Moreno (Flávio Meireles 80), João Alves, Nuno Assis, Rui Miguel (Marquinho 68), Roberto, Desmarets (Renan 91).
Nacional: Bracali, Patacas (Anselmo 64), Felipe Lopes, Alex Bruno, Nuno Pinto, Cléber (Pecnik 32), Diego Barcellos (Salino 53), Luís Alberto, Thiago Gentil, João Aurélio, Pedro Oldoni.
Benfica are clear top, three points ahead of Braga and 11 ahead of Porto, after they beat Paços de Ferreria 3-1 in front of 43,000 at the Luz on Sunday. They were two-up within a quarter of an hour through Rúben Amorim and Saviola, and for a while it looked like Benfica's sharp attacking play would destroy Paços. But the northern club did not fold, and to their credit they came back to reduce the lead on 42 minutes through top scorer William. But the lively stuff Paços had produced before the break was not reproduced after it, and Benfica comfortably controlled the second half, with Cardozo getting a third on 57, the ball deflecting wildly off Jorginho to fool Coelho.
Benfica: Quim, Maxi Pereira, Luisão, David Luiz, Fábio Coentrão, Airton (Filipe Menezes 70), Ruben Amorim, Carlos Martins (Sidnei 78), Di María, Saviola (César Peixoto 81), Cardozo.
Paços de Ferreira: Coelho, Manuel José (Candeias 30), Danielson, Ricardo, Jorginho, Leonel Olímpio, Livramento (Fábio Pacheco 63), Bruno, Pizzi (Davidson 63), William, Maykon.
Sporting travelled across town to put four past bottom club Belenenses, all scored by Liedson in the second half (50, 60, 80 and 88 minutes). The result leaves Belenenses six points off the second from bottom club, Vitória de Setúbal. sporting hold on to fourth spot.
Belenenses: Bruno Vale, Mano, Marcos António, Beto, Miguelito, Pelé (Cândido Costa 69), Celestino, José Pedro (André Almeida 57), Fajardo (Fredy 57), Yontcha, Lima.
Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel, Tonel, Polga, Grimi, Pedro Mendes, João Moutinho, Miguel Veloso, Yannick Djaló (Saleiro 46), Liedson, Izmailov (Matías Fernandez 71).
Fans wearing yellow, green, red and blue got into the Marítimo versus Académica game for nothing (in a gesture solidarity for the Madeiran people affected by the recent floods), and saw a 0-0 draw that leaves Marítimo in 10th and Académica 12th, three points behind.
FC Porto took a giant step backwards in their quest for a fifth straight title on Saturday, managing only a 2-2 draw at home to Olhanense. The Algarve club, full of players on loan from Porto, were two up within a quarter of an hour, Brazilian striker Djalmir getting both. Porto left it until the last ten minutes to turn the score around: Falcao reduced the lead on 81 minutes, and sub Guarín saved Porto blushes with an equaliser deep into added time. It meant a point for Porto, but the draw leaves them eight points behind Benfica, which could rise to 11 if the Lisbon club win on Sunday.
F.C. Porto: Helton; Miguel Lopes (Valeri 63), Maicon, Bruno Alves, Alvaro Pereira, Belluschi, Tomás Costa (Varela 39), Ruben Micael (Guarín 77), Mariano, Falcao, Rodriguéz.
Olhanense: Ventura, João Gonçalves, Miguel Ângelo, Tengarrinha, Carlos Fernandes, Rui Duarte, Castro, Rui Baião (Lionn 51), Paulo Sérgio (Rabiola 87), Djalmir (Yazalde 78), Ukra.
In an even game, Vitória de Setúbal held high-flying Sporting Braga to a 0-0 draw, denting Braga's title aspirations; they are on equal points with Benfica, but the Lisbon club play on Sunday at home to Paços de Ferreira.
Vitória de Setúbal: Nuno Santos, Collin, André Pinto (Zoro 82), Ricardo Silva, Ruben Lima, Sandro, Djikiné (Zarabi 85), Ney, Hélder Barbosa, Kazmierczack, Keita (Henrique 90).
Sporting Braga: Eduardo, Filipe Oliveira, Moisés, Leone, Evaldo, Madrid, Hugo Viana, Mossoró (Rafael Bastos 73), Luís Aguiar (Matheus 70), Alan, Meyong (Rentería 75).
The game between Rio Ave and Naval ended in the same result, leaving Rio Ave 9th and Naval 11th, two points behind.
Rio Ave: Carlos, José Gomes (Tarantini 58), Gaspar, Fábio Faria, Sílvio, André Vilas Boas, Wires, Vítor Gomes, Bruno Gama, Bruno Fogaça (Nélson Oliveira 76), Chidi (Felipe Alberto 67).
Naval: Peiser, Carlitos, Gomis, Diego Ângelo, Daniel Cruz, Bruno Lazaroni, Alex Hauw, Bolívia (Davide 83), Marinho (Kerrouche 90), Fábio Júnior (Michel Simplício 78), Camora.
União de Leiria kept alive their hopes of European football next season with a 2-1 win, their first in five games, over struggling Leixões. União went in front with a penalty on 35 minutes from Marco Soares after Seabra had brought down Pateiro. They kept the lead until 70 minutes, João Paulo crossing for José Manuel to shoot home. But ten minutes from time, Carlão, who has been going through a dry spell of late, finished off a Silas cross from the right to give União the points. Leixões defender Joel was sent off in added time.
União move to within two points of fourth placed Sporting, while Leixões remain second from bottom.
União de Leiria: Djuricic, Paulo Vinicious, Diego Gaúcho, José António, Ronny (Ouattara 80), Marco Soares (Vítor Moreno 70), André Santos, Pateiro, Carlão (Elias 87), Silas, Cássio.
Leixões: Diego, Joel, Tucker, Fernando Cardozo, Antunes, Fábio Espinho (José Manuel 57), Seabra, Fernando Alexandre, Hugo Morais, Didi (Pouga 46), João Paulo (Sony 84).
Women will get in free to see FC Porto v Olhanense on Saturday in a gesture supporting International Women's Day. Rio Ave are offering the same thing in their home game against Naval on Monday.
Nacional beat Belenenses 1-0 in the last game of the 21st jornada on Tuesday, postponed from Monday because of fog. The single goal was scored by João Aurélio on 25 minutes, given all the time in the world on the right of the Belenenses goal to pick his spot. The result leaves Belenenses ever deeper in the mire at the bottom of the table.
Nacional: Bracali, Patacas, Felipe Lopes, Alex Bruno, Nuno Pinto, Cléber, Leandro Salino (Amuneke 46), Luis Alberto, Thiago Gentil, João Aurélio, Oldoni (Edgar Silva 63)
Belenenses: Bruno Vale, Mano, Beto, Mustafá (Fajardo 37), Marcos António, Miguelito, Cândido Costa (André Almeida 46), Gomez (Fredy 77), José Pedro, Barge, Lima
The game that was meant to close the 21st jornada of the Liga, between Nacional and Belenenses in Madeira, was postponed on Monday evening because of fog. It will be played on Tuesday at 15.00.
Sporting took up where they left off midweek when they destroyed Everton 3-0 in the Europa League to do the same to title contenders FC Porto on Sunday. From the outset, Sporting were the more aggressive of the two sides, and Porto just never found their game for a moment.
Sporting were in front from the 6th minute after an insistent run down the left by Moutinho and a cross that was only half cleared by the Porto defence; Yannick was on the edge of the box to crack the ball home. If that sent Porto into a bit of a spin, the goal just before the break by Izmailov, pouncing on another poor clearance from the Porto defence and driving the ball in from 20 metres, sent the current champions into the break with a large hill to climb.
The hill became a mountain two minutes into the second half when a cross shot from Liedson on the right bounced back off the far post and fell for Miguel Veloso, who curled the ball in from 15 metres out. Porto huffed and puffed to get back into the game, but they had neither the gumption nor the talent on the night to overcome a rampant Sporting.
It was a convincing win from a rejuvenated Sporting side that put a firm claim on the fourth spot in the Liga. Porto are now eight points behind Braga and nine behind eternal rivals Benfica . The title is not mathematically lost, but only a fool would put money on Porto now.
Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel, Tonel, Daniel Carriço (Polga 74), Grimi, Izmailov (João Pereira 90), Pedro Mendes, Miguel Veloso (Adrien 76), João Moutinho, Liedson, Yannick
FC Porto: Helton, Fucile, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Álvaro Pereira, Ruben Micael (Guarín 56), Tomás Costa, Raul Meireles (Belluschi 46), Mariano (Rodriguez 56), Falcao, Varela.
Paços de Ferreira beat Vitória de Setúbal in a 5-3 thriller at home. The visitors went ahead as early as two minutes through Keita, Pizzi equalising on 26. William scored from the spot on 32, and Maykon made it 3-1 just before the break. Hélder Barbosa reduced the lead six minutes into the second half, but Danielson made it 4-2 four minutes later. Paulo Regula gave Vitória some hope on 84 minutes, but a minute from time, William got his second (his ninth of the season) to make it 5-3 at the final whistle. The score lifts Paços to 6th.
Paços de Ferreira: Coelho, Baiano (Candeias 21), Danielson, Ricardo, Jorginho (Kelly 76), Filipe Anunciação, Leonel Olímpio, Bruno Di Paula, Pizzi (Livramento 65), William, Maykon.
Vitória de Setúbal: Mário Felgueiras, Collin (Paulo Regula 77), Ricardo Silva, André Pinto, Ney, Sandro, Djikiné, Bruno Ribeiro (Kazmierczak 46), Hélder Barbosa, Keita (Rui Fonte 94), Henrique.
Naval beat Maritimo 2-1 at home. Kléber put the Madeiran side in front on 12 minutes, with Alex Hauw equalising for Naval four minutes from half time. Eight minutes from time, sub Marinho finished off a Fábio Júnior pass to give Naval all three points. Their midfielder Godemeche was sent off on the stroke of time for a second yellow.
Naval: Peiser, Carlitos, Gómis, Diego, Daniel Cruz, Lazaroni, Godemèche, Alex Hauw, Camora (Marinho 27), Bolívia (Michel Simplício 77), Fábio Júnior (Kerrouche 89).
Marítimo: Peçanha, Briguel, Robson, Diakité, Alonso, Bruno (Fidelis 85), Roberto Sousa, Manu, Pitbull (Tchó 77), Djalma, Kléber (Babá 45).
A goal by Brazilian midfielder Wires on 39 minutes gave Rio Ave a precious three points at Académica.
Académica: Ricardo, Pedro Costa (Pedrinho 79), Berger (Paulo Sérgio 80), Orlando, Emídio Rafael, Nuno Coelho (Bibishkov 46), Cris, Diogo Gomes, Sougou, Vouho, João Ribeiro.
Rio Ave: Carlos, Zé Gomes, Gaspar, Fábio Faria, Sílvio, André Villas Boas, Vítor Gomes (Tarantini 81), Wires, Nélson Oliveira (Bruno Fogaça 68), Chidi (Filipe Alberto 84), Bruno Gama.
A super show and hat-trick from Argentinian forward Angel di Maria helped Benfica to a 4-0 win at struggling Leixões on Saturday.
Di Maria had the ball in the net on 20 minutes but the goal was ruled out for (a non-existent) offside. it was his Brazilian teammate Éder Luís who opened the scoring with a drive from 35 metres that deflected wildly off a defender, completely wrong-footing Diego in the Leixões goal. Benfica only began to give substance to their dominance on 58 minutes, di Maria getting his first with a shot from the edge of the box that Diego got to but could not stop. A quarter of an hour from time he got his second, a neat lob over Diego after being fed by Carlos Martins. Then four minutes from time, he shot from 25 metres into the top right-and corner of the net. The result leaves Benfica at the top of the table for another week.
Leixões: Diego, Nuno Silva, Joel, Fernando Cardozo, Bruno Gallo (Nelson 6), Fernando Alexandre, Seabra, Paulo Tavares (Didi 68), Jean Sony, Antunes (João Paulo 45), Pouga.
Benfica: Quim, Maxi Pereira, Luisão, David Luiz, Fábio Coentrão, Airton (Ruben Amorim 69), Ramires, Di Maria, Éder Luís (Carlos Martins 58), Saviola (César Peixoto 65), Cardozo.
They are one point ahead of Sporting Braga, who beat plucky Olhanense 3-1. Olhanense went in front on 15 minutes through Djalmir, who had hit the post minutes earlier: Castro crossed for the Brazilian striker to beat his marker to the ball and head in. Matheus equalised six minutes later after Tengarrinha had failed to cut out a cross. Braga were ahead on 37 minutes, left back Evaldo popping up in the centre forward position to head home. Ten minutes into the second half, the game was virtually done and dusted, Meyong knocking the ball in after a good run and cut-back on the left from Paulo César.
Sporting Braga: Eduardo, Miguel Garcia (Olberdam 73), Leone, Moisés, Evaldo, Filipe Oliveira, Hugo Viana; Alan, Paulo César (Renteria 88), Matheus, Meyong (Luís Aguiar 62).
Olhanense: Ventura, João Gonçalves, Tengarrinha, Miguel Ângelo, Carlos Fernandes (Lionn 60), Rui Duarte, Delson, Castro, Paulo Sérgio (Toy 60), Djalmir (Yazalde 70), Ukra.
Vitória de Guimarães climbed (provisionally) to fourth in the Liga after a 1-0 win at European-spot rivals União de Leiria on Friday. After the game, Leiria coach Lito Vidigal thanked the people of the town for their support, but in fact there were only 1,373 present in the Municipal Stadium to witness a dull first half. The second half was marked by the foul by Hélder Godinho on Nuno Assis on 64 minutes that meant a red card for the 'keeper and a penalty. Andrezinho converted it against União's third-choice 'keeper Mika, who went on to keep Vitória out on various occasions.
União de Leiria: Hélder Godinho, Paulo Vinícius, Diego Gaúcho, José António, Ronny, André Santos, Marco Soares (Zahovaiko 81), Silas, Pateiro (Tiago Luís 80), Carlão (Mika 65), Cássio.
Vitória de Guimarães: Nilson, Alex, Gustavo Lazzaretti, Valdomiro, Andrezinho, João Alves, Moreno, Rui Miguel (Fábio Felício 76), Nuno Assis, Desmarets (Marquinho 55; Flávio Meireles 93), Roberto.
Bottom club Belenenses are looking increasingly doomed. They failed once again to win any points on Monday, going down 1-2 at home to Académica. Vouho put the visitors in front on17 minutes from a cross by Cris, with the Belenenses defence static. Berger headed in a Diogo Gomes corner four minutes later. On the hour, Belenenses pulled one back, Yontcha swivelling in front of goal to tuck the ball into the bottom left hand corner. Belenenses put in all the effort they cold to turn the game around – they were applauded off the pitch by their fans – but their shooting was terribly off, and it was Académica who took the points.
Belenenses: Assis, Mano, Devic, Marcos António, Tiago Gomes (Fredy 46), Celestino, André Almeida (Yontcha 25), José Pedro, Fajardo (Cândido Costa 72), Barge, Lima.
Académica: Ricardo, Pedro Costa, Orlando, Berger, Emídio Rafael (Hélder Cabral 38), Cris (Paulo Sérgio 65), Nuno Coelho, Diogo Gomes, Vouhou (Lito 75), Sougou, João Ribeiro
FC Porto answered those that suggested they had lost the chance of winning their fifth straight title by thrashing second-in-the-league Sporting Braga 5-1 on Sunday. It was a display of great power and objectivity against a Braga side that had conceded just eight goals all season before this game. On the night, the Braga defence looked very shaky, but the Porto attack was also very ruthless and took advantage of all the offers they were given.
The first minutes were even, and it was Braga who came closest to scoring through a Paulo César header on 13 minutes, saved by Hélton, and a shot shortly afterwards from former Porto winger Alan that hit the side netting. But on 15 minutes, Varela was given acres of space down the left, and his low cross was side-footed in by Raul Meireles on the six-yard box. Around the 30-minute mark, Eduardo was called upon to make two saves from Rúben Micael and Mariano, both of them deflected by defenders. On 34 minutes, it was third time unlucky for the Braga 'keeper as Álvaro Pereira drove the ball in from 30 metres, via the head of Paulão. The same Pereira, who had an excellent first half, dinked a through ball to Varela on 36 minutes, and the winger proceeded to cross for a carbon-copy of the first goal, this time with Falcao getting on the end of it.
Early in the second half, Braga had a legitimate appeal for a penalty rejected when Mossoró was brought down by Raul Meireles, but the referee Olegário Benquerença gave nothing. Braga were struggling to make inroads against a Porto on the top of their game, and when they got their fourth on 72 minutes, Falcao heading in a Raul Meireles corner, it was all over bar the shouting. On 83 minutes, Mariano insisted on the right as the Braga defence failed to clear, and his cut-back fell for Belluschi who drove the ball home. Braga did get a consolation, Alan glancing in a header from a Luís Aguiar free, but they will need to dust themselves off, put this humiliation behind themselves and summon back their normal form for the remaining games. The result leaves Benfica clear top, one point ahead of Braga and six ahead of Porto.
FC Porto: Helton, Fucile, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Álvaro Pereira, Rúben Micael (Tomás Costa 68), Fernando (Valeri 78), Raul Meireles, Varela (Belluschi 75), Falcao, Mariano.
Sporting Braga: Eduardo, Filipe Oliveira, Moisés, Paulão, Evaldo, Olberdam (Rafael Bastos 66), Hugo Viana (Meyong 46), Mossoró (Matheus 78), Luís Aguiar, Alan, Paulo César.
Paços de Ferreira leap-frogged over Rio Ave into ninth place, beating them 2-1 in Vila do Conde. William scored from the spot on the stroke of half time, Fábio Faria equalised seven minutes into the second half and Ricardo won the match for Paços seven minutes after that.
Rio Ave: Carlos, José Gomes, Gaspar, Fábio Faria, Sílvio, André Vilas Boas, Wires (Bruno Gama 46), Vítor Gomes, Bruno Gama, Nelson Oliveira (Tarantini 71), Chidi (Sidnei 64).
Paços de Ferreira: Coelho, Baiano, Ozeia, Ricardo, Danielson, Filipe Anunciação, Leonel Olímpio, Bruno (Livramento 52), Pizzi (Candeias 70), William, Maykon (Kelly 89).
Naval beat Vitória de Setúbal 1-0 away. Vitória were without Ney, Neca, Hélder Barbosa and Keita, all suspended, and were behind within ten minutes, Bolívia finishing off a Fábio Júnior cross. And that was the way it stayed.
Vitória de Setúbal: Mário Felgueiras, Collin (Lourenço 73), Zoro (Bruno Ribeiro 46), Ricardo Silva, Zarabi, Djikiné, Sandro, Paulo Regula (Luís Carlos 46), Kazmierczak, Rui Fonte, Henrique.
Naval: Jorge Baptista, Gómis, Diego, Daniel Cruz, Carlitos, Godemche, Lazaroni, Alex Hauw (Giuliano 88), Camora (Marinho 67), Fábio Júnior (Michel Simplício 82), Bolívia.
Sporting failed to win for the fourth straight league game (seven in all competitions) on Saturday, drawing 0-0 at lowly Olhanense. In atrocious conditions of wind and rain, Sporting had the better of the first half and might have taken the lead if Yannick, Matias and Tonel had been more clinical in their finishing. Olhanense had a superb chance to score also, Djalmir blasting wide. In the second half, it was Olhanense who came closest to securing all three points, but Rui Duarte fluffed his shot at the back post with ten minutes to go.
Olhanense: Ventura, João Gonçalves, Tengarrinha, Miguel Ângelo, Carlos Fernandes, Delson, Castro, Rui Duarte, Paulo Sérgio (Toy 62), Djalmir (Yazalde 69), Ukra (Rabiola 88).
Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel, Tonel, Carriço, Grimi, Pedro Mendes, Matías (Pereirinha 65), Miguel Veloso, Yannick, Saleiro (Postiga 65), Liedson
Leixões remain second from bottom after going down 0-2 at Vitória de Guimarães, who jump to 6th. Vitória went in front on 36 minutes, a Desmarets free kick headed in by Valdomiro. Andrezinho hit the post shortly afterwards and shot wide from a good position early in the second half. The result was open until three minutes from time when Rui Miguel tapped in after a fine run and cross from Nuno Assis on the left. It was Vitória's first win in five games.
Vitória de Guimarães: Nilson, Alex, Valdomiro, Gustavo Lazzaretti, Andrezinho, Moreno (Flávio Meireles 62), Custódio (Rui Miguel 45), Desmarets, Nuno Assis, Marquinho (João Alves 79), Roberto.
Leixões: Diego, Nuno Silva, Fernando Cardozo, Joel, Nelson, Paulo Tavares (Jean Sony 46), Fernando Alexandre, Hugo Morais, Zé Manel (João Paulo 78), Seabra (Braga 73), Pouga
Marítimo and Nacional drew 1-1 in the Madeira derby on Friday. On 33 minutes, Bracalli saved a Pitbull header, but Kléber was on hand to finish off. Nacional left it until 15 minutes from time to equalise, Felipe Lopes heading in a Pecnik corner. It was Marítimo's first home draw of the season, and Nacional's first away draw.
Marítimo: Peçanha, Paulo Jorge, Robson, João Guilherme, Alonso, Roberto Sousa (Tchô 80), Bruno (Fernando 70), Cláudio Pitbull, Manú, Djalma, Kléber (Babá 70).
Nacional: Rafael Bracalli, Patacas (Edgar Silva 73), Alex Bruno, Felipe Lopes, Nuno Pinto, Cléber (Edgar Costa 46), Leandro Salino (Pecnik 70), Luís Alberto, Thiago Gentil, João Aurélio, Pedro Oldoni.
Naval and Vitória de Guimarães closed the 19th jornada on Monday with a dull 0-0 draw in front of 451 unlucky people in chilly Figueira da Foz. Illustrative of the quality of play was that the best chance for either team fell to Naval's Gómis … two minutes from time. It was Vitória's fourth straight game without a win.
Naval: Peiser, Gómis, Diego, Daniel Cruz, Carlitos, Godemèche, Lazaroni, Alex Hauw, Camora (Marinho 64), Tandia (Fábio Júnior 61), Bolívia (Michel Simplício 82)
Vitória de Guimarães: Nilson, Alex, Gustavo, Valdomiro, Andrézinho, Moreno (João Alves 75), Custódio, Marquinho (Fábio Felício 75), Nuno Assis, Desmarets (Jorge Gonçalves 65), Roberto.
Sporting Braga moved to within one point of Benfica at the top of the table on Sunday, with a game in hand, after beating Marítimo 2-1 in front of over 30,000 at the Braga Municipal Stadium (entry was free on the night).
The Madeiran side proved a very hard nut to crack for a Braga side lacking spark. The best chance for both teams in the first half came from corners, Paulão heading over for Braga and Marítimo's Robson forcing a fine save from Eduardo.
Six minutes into the second half, Braga were ahead after Hugo Viana sent a cross to the back post that was returned by Alan for Meyong, lurking at the opposite post, to head calmly in. Ten minutes later, Marítimo were level when Djalma let fly from 25 metres; the shot was swinging, but Eduardo, planted to the spot, could have done more than watch it sail in. Then ten minutes from time, a moment of controversy: Filipe Oliveira took the ball down the line on the right towards the corner flag but it went out. The linesman was standing almost on top of the situation but did not flag, and Oliveira took it on, crossed, Matheus won the ball in a ruck, it fell for Oliveira again, he squared it and Luís Aguiar clipped it into the bottom left hand corner. It was a goal that prejudiced Marítimo's efforts but gave Braga three points to keep their title challenge alive.
Sporting de Braga: Eduardo, Filipe Oliveira, Paulão, Rodriguez (André Leone 90), Evaldo, Olberdam, Hugo Viana, Luís Aguiar, Alan, Diogo Valente (Adriano 66), Meyong (Matheus 58).
Marítimo: Peçanha, Paulo Jorge, João Guilherme, Robson, Briguel (Taka 85), Roberto Sousa, Bruno (Baba 85), Pitbull, Manu, Djalma, Kléber (Diakité 90).
Coming from four straight defeats, Nacional managed to stop the rot with a 1-1 draw at home to Rio Ave. In a scrappy game, it was Nacional who took the lead ten minutes into the second half through Pedro Oldoni after Rio Ave had failed to clear a corner. It took Rio Ave just five minutes to respond, the impressive midfielder Wires shooting home. 1,393 spectators were there to witness it all.
Nacional: Bracalli, Patacas, Halliche (Tomasevic 25), Alex Bruno, João Aurélio, Cléber, Luís Alberto, Leandro Salino, Pecnik, Anselmo (Juliano 46), Pedro Oldoni (Rodrigo 62).
Rio Ave: Carlos, Zé Gomes, Gaspar, Fábio Faria, Sílvio, Vítor Gomes, Wires (Adriano 87), Tarantini, Bruno Gama, Nélson (Bruno Moraes 76), Chidi (Sidnei 65).
There were just 1,568 to see União de Leiria and Vitória de Setúbal draw 3-3. Vitória were ahead twice, going in front on nine minutes through Collin from a Hélder Barbosa corner. They were further ahead on the half hour, Kazmierczak converting a cross from Bruno Ribeiro. Cássio headed União's first on 36 minutes, but there was still time before the break for Henrique to make it 1-3 and for Cássio to reduce the lead again.
Vitória were dealt a blow on 64 minutes when the dangerous Hélder Barbosa was sent off for a second yellow for shooting after the referee had blown. and on 68 minutes, União secured a point with a free-kick form their resident expert Ronny, although Vitória 'keeper Mário Felgueiras must take most of the blame for the shot going in. It was the least that União deserved for a second half of dominance.
União de Leiria: Hélder Godinho, Paulo Vinícius, Bruno Miguel, Diego Gaúcho, Ronny, André Santos, Vítor Moreno (Tiago Luís 75), Silas, Pateiro (Ouattara 83), Carlão (Zahovaiko 63), Cássio.
Vitória de Setúbal: Mário Felgueiras, Collin, Zoro, Ricardo Silva, Zarabi (Sandro 69), Bruno Ribeiro (André Pinto 73), Djikiné, Kazmierczak, Hélder Barbosa, Keita e Henrique (Luís Carlos 92).
Olhanense got an important point at Académic in a 1-1 draw. The goals came in a first half that was more lively and interesting than the second. Djalmir put the visitors in front on 22 minutes, with Tiero scoring from the spot on the half hour after Vouhou had been brought down. Tiero blotted his copy book on 66 minutes when he saw a direct red for a foul on Crlos Fernandes.
Académica: Ricardo, Pedrinho (Paulo Sérgio 84), Orlando, Markus Berger, Emídio Rafael, Nuno Coelho, Diogo Gomes, Tiero, João Ribeiro (Amoreirinha 74), Lito (Cris 70), Vouhou.
Olhanense: Ventura, João Gonçalves, Sandro, Miguel Ângelo, Carlos Fernandes (Toy 74), Rui Baião, Castro, Delson (Yazalde 80), Paulo Sérgio, Ukra, Djalmir (Rabiola 70).
Benfica beat a plucky Belenenses 1-0 on Saturday, taking their lead at the top to four points over Braga, although the northern club have two games in hand. Cardozo nodded in on ten minutes for the only goal of the game after good work down the right and a cross from Ramires. Fajardo had the equaliser at his feet on 27 minutes, but shot wide from five metres out with only Quim to beat. On 78 minutes, Bruno Vale handled outside his area to stop a shot from Cardozo on the break and was sent off. Even so, it was Belenenses, their coherent play belying their bottom position, who came closest to scoring near the end, the excellent Mano driving just wide from 25 metres.
Benfica: Quim, Maxi Pereira, Luisão, David Luiz, César Peixoto (Weldon 46), Javi Garcia, Ramires, Fábio Coentrão, Aimar (Carlos Martins 62), Saviola (Ruben Amorim 70), Cardozo.
Belenenses: Bruno Vale, Mano, Devic, Marcos António, Tiago Gomes, Gomez, Celestino (Assis 80), Barge (José Pedro 67), André Almeida, Fajardo (Yontcha 58), Lima.
FC Porto lost ground on the top two, managing only a 0-0 draw at neighbours Leixões. An under-par Porto had many chances to win the game against a team buoyed by the arrival of new coach Fernando Castro Santos, but their shooting was poor, Varela and Belluschi especially guilty. Porto were incensed on 57 minutes when Joel clearly brought down Rúben Micael in the area, but referee Bruno Paixão, just a few metres away, gave nothing. Porto were also unhappy with a second half broken up by time-wasting from the Leixões players, which went unpunished.
Leixões: Diego, Nuno Silva (Cauê 62), Joel, Fernando Cardozo, Nélson, Fernando Alexandre, Seabra, Paulo Tavares (Fábio Espinho 89), Hugo Morais, Zé Manuel (Tucker 78), Pouga.
FC Porto: Helton, Miguel Lopes, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Fucile, Fernando (Orlando Sá 81), Belluschi (Tomás Costa 64), Rúben Micael, Varela, Mariano, Falcão.
Sporting managed to put a brake on a series of defeats with a 0-0 draw at Paços de Ferreira. It was a game of little interest, with Sporting showing why they have been struggling all season. Liedson and Carriçoa came close for them, Bruno for Paços, but the result reflected well what went on on the pitch.
Paços de Ferreira: Coelho, Baiano, Ozeia, Ricardo, Danielson, Filipe Anunciação, Leonel Olímpio, Manuel José (Candeias, 58), Maykon (Pizzi 80), Bruno (André Leão 74), William.
Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel, Daniel Carriço, Tonel, Grimi, Adrien Silva (Yannick Djaló 69), Pedro Mendes, João Moutinho, Pongolle (Matías Fernandez 54), Carlos Saleiro, Liedson.
Sporting Braga showed the stuff and luck of champions on Monday, winning 3-1 at bottom club Belenenses. It looked like they were in trouble early on: Belenenses were the more aggressive team in midfield, and Braga, missing Vandinho and Mossóró, both suspended, were struggling to produce their neat, trademark football on a sticky Restelo pitch. Then on 15 minutes, they had real problems: captain Moíses saw two yellow cards for two fouls in the same Belenenses move, the first waved on by the referee, the second a tackle on Lima in the area that gave Belenenses a dubious penalty. Fortunately for Braga, goalkeeper Eduardo was in brilliant form on the night and parried Lima's spot kick. In numerical superiority, Belenenses were making all the running, but it was Braga who took the lead in added time at the end of the first half: Luís Aguiar curled a free-kick into the heart of the penalty area from deep on the right, and Paulo César got the finest of touches to head past Bruno Vale.
It was much of the same in the second half. Early on, Fajardo crashed a drive against the bar from 25 metres, via Eduardo's fingertips, and Mustafa had a header blocked from point blank range by the inevitable Eduardo. In the blink of an eye, Braga had the ball up the other end, Mustafa let Matheus slip past him and the Brazilian forward tucked the ball past Bruno Vale's right hand. Belenenses continued to exert pressure, which the superb Braga defence (six goals conceded all season going into tonight's game) soaked up. On another break on 73 minutes, Renteria skipped past Marcos António out on the left, possibly with the help of a foul, carried the ball goal-wards and chipped the 'keeper from 20 metres. It looked all over for Belenenses, but to their credit, they came back with belief and ten minutes from time pulled one back. André Almeida shot from outside the box, Eduardo went down to his left to stop the ball but could not hold onto it, and Yontcha was following up to tap in. Belenenses kept up the charge, but it was hearts ruling heads by this point, with Braga hiding the ball as much as possible. The seconds ticked away and Braga had secured all three points in a famous victory. They are now just a point behind Benfica with a game in hand.
Belenenses: Bruno Vale, Mano, Mustafa (André Almeida 56), Marcos António, Miguelito, Pelé (Fredy 34), Celestino, José Pedro, Fajardo (Barge 67), Yontcha, Lima
Sporting Braga: Eduardo, Miguel Garcia, Moisés, Rodriguez, Evaldo, Filipe Oliveira, Luís Aguiar, Hugo Viana (Matheus 40), Alan, Paulo César (Renteria 62), Meyong (Paulão 19)
FC Porto put pressure on the top two in the Liga (Benfica and Sporting Braga) by beating Naval 3-0 on Sunday. It was not Porto's most convincing performance of the season, and for some time in the second half, with Porto just 1-0 up, Naval were causing them problems. But as the cream rises to the top, so Porto's class in the last third told to produce what was ultimately a rather flattering scoreline.
Argentinian midfielder Tomás Costa, staking a claim for a permanent place in the absence of Fernando and Raul Meireles, got the first on 37 minutes, shooting from an indirect free-kick and seeing his effort deflected past Peiser by Lazaroni. Simplício came close to equalising on 75 minutes, his shot saved by Hélton. Porto virtually clinched the result four minutes later, with Falcao diving to head in a Bruno Alves assist from a Tomás Costa free-kick. Three minutes from time, Varela was fed by Falcao on the edge of the box and cracked a low shot just inside the right hand post to give a more robust result than Porto really deserved.
FC Porto: Helton, Fucile (Miguel Lopes 82), Rolando, Bruno Alves, Álvaro Pereira, Tomás Costa, Belluschi (Guarin 64), Rúben Micael (Valeri 82), Mariano, Falcao, Varela.
Naval: Peiser, Carlitos, Gomis, Diego Ângelo, Daniel Cruz, Lazaroni, Godemèche, Alex Hauw, Davide (Fábio Júnior 46), Bolívia (Simplício 74), Camora
Paços de Ferreira were 0-1 down at Vitória de Guimarães through a Valdomiro header from a corner on 17 minutes, but came back through Ozéia with a long shot on 25, and they took all three points on the hour through Maykon. The result leaves Paços 10th on 22 points, one behind Guimarães and Rio Ave.
Marítimo beat União de Leiria 1-0 after the game was delayed for 40 minutes due to torrential rain obliterating the pitch markings. Kléber got the only goal of the game on 19 minutes from a Bruno free-kick. União are 5th on 26 points, Marítimo one place behind on 25.
Two goals from Bruno Gama on 71 and 81 minutes gave Rio Ave a 2-0 win over Leixões, who are stuck second from bottom. Rio Ave are 9th.
A headed Toy goal on 90 minutes gave Olhanense a precious three points at home to Nacional, allowing them to put space between themselves and the relegation places. It was Nacional's fourth straight defeat.
Benfica dropped two valuable points at Vitória de Setúbal on Saturday. The 1-1 result was made from two own goals: on 14 minutes, Ricardo Silva deflected a Davíd Luíz header past his 'keeper from a corner. Then on 37 minutes, it was David Luiz's turn to put the ball past Quim as he tried to clear. In added time, Cardozo crashed a penalty against the bar. Braga could now theoretically overtake Benfica if they won their two games in hand.
Vitória de Setúbal: Mário Felgueiras, Collin, Zarabi, Ricardo Silva, Bruno Ribeiro (Rúben Lima 64), Zoro, Djikiné, Kazmierczak, Hélder Barbosa, Keita, Neca (Regula 84).
Benfica: Quim, Maxi (Nuno Gomes 82), Luisão, David Luiz, Fábio Coentrão, Javi Garcia, Carlos Martins (Ramires 56), Pablo Aimar (Kardec 72), Di María, Saviola, Cardozo.
Sporting's headaches continue; they lost 1-2 at home to Académica, and while they could not be faulted for effort this time, they often looked a ragged outfit against the well organised Estudantes. Orlando put Académica in front on just three minutes with a long-range free-kick that Rui Patrício should have fielded, but it skimmed off the pitch and over the Sporting 'keeper. João Moutinho equalised on 24 minutes, following through on a good move down the right and prodding in a João Pereira cross in the face of the goal. But on the hour, João Ribeiro finished off a neat counter attack by Académica to have the Alvalade crowd whistling once again.
Sporting: Rui Patrício, João Pereira, Polga, Tonel, Grimi, Pedro Mendes (Hélder Postiga 82), João Moutinho, Matías Fernandez, Vukcevic (Saleiro 61), Liedson, Pongolle (Pereirinha 72)
Académica: Ricardo, Pedro Costa, Berger, Orlando, Emídio Rafael, Nuno Coelho, Tiero, Cris (Amoreirinha 82), Diogo Gomes (Vouho 46), Sougou, João Ribeiro (Lito 70)
Benfica were just too strong for high-flying União de Leiria on Wednesday, winning their 20th jornada Liga clash 3-0. The Eagles were in front as early as the 10th minute, Saviola working a neat one/two with Aimar before serving Cardozo for an easy header, and did not look back from then on. However, it was not until the hour mark that they extended their lead, effectively making the game safe: Saviola was justifiably greedy this time, breaking down the left before squeezing a shot in at the near post. If things were difficult for União at that point, they became impossible on 75 minutes when Elias was sent off for a second yellow card. In the dying minutes, and with União having used all their substitutions, their goalkeeper Djuricic was virtually a passenger, and on 89 minutes he could not get across in time to stop a shot from 20 metres out by sub Rúben Amorim curling inside the post. The game was brought forward from the weekend of 21 February due to Benfica's commitments in the Europa League. The result means that Benfica go clear top, three points ahead of Sporting Braga, who have a game in hand. União stay fifth.
Benfica: Quim, Maxi Pereira, Luisão, David Luiz, Fábio Coentrão, Ramires (Rúben Amorim 81), Javi Garcia, Pablo Aimar (Éder Luís 72), Di Maria, Saviola (Alan Kardec 84), Óscar Cardozo.
União de Leiria: Djuricic, Hugo Gomes (Cássio 65), Diego Gaúcho, José António, Paulo Vinícius, Pateiro, André Santos, Elias, Vítor Moreno, Carlão (Pedro Cervantes 76), Silas (Tiago Luís 81).
Marítimo won ther first league game after four straight defeats on Monday, beating Leixões 2-1 in Matosinhos in the north of Portugal. All three goals came within the first 20 minutes. On four, Didi broke and squared the ball for Hugo Morais to sweep the ball in for a simple goal. Marítimo equalised through new signing from Belenenses Diakité on 11 minutes, the Mali defender knocking the ball in from a corner; he would be sent off on the hour for a second yellow. On 19 minutes, another debutant, Kléber breaking down the right, had one shot blocked but buried the second. It proved to be the winner, but Marítimo were helped by Leixões defender Cauê being sent off on 13 minutes after bringing down Djalma, through on goal. Marítimo jump to 8th while Leixões remain second from bottom.
Leixões: Diego, Cauê, Tucker, Fernando Cardozo, Nélson (Tiago Cintra 77), Seabra (José Manuel 67), Fernando Alexandre, Fábio Espinho, Hugo Morais, Pouga, Didi (Sony 33).
Marítimo: Peçanha, Briguel, João Guilherme, Diakité, Alonso, Bruno, Roberto Sousa, Paulo Jorge, Manú (Taka 90), Djalma (Fernando 65), Kléber (Babá 74).
In the first minute of Vitória de Setúbal's 2-2 draw with Rio Ave, the Rio Ave 'keeper Carlos was sent off for bringing down Keita in the area; Kazmierczak hit home the penalty. Just before the break, Rio Ave were level, Chidi getting to the ball first after goalkeeper Mário Felgueiras had put a Fábio Faria free kick against the post. On 73 minutes, André Pinto handled in the area and was sent off, Chidi getting his second after Wires' penalty had been saved by Mário Felgueiras. But Neca fixed the final score on 81 minutes with a direct free kick. Vitória's Ney Santos was the third player to be sent off two minutes from time for a foul on Bruno Gama.
Vitória de Setúbal: Mário Felgueiras, Ney, Zarabi, André Pinto, Ruben Lima, Djikiné, Kazmierczak, Sandro (Luís Carlos 46), Neca, Hélder Barbosa (Henrique 65), Keita (Zoro 91).
Rio Ave: Carlos, José Gomes, Gaspar, Fábio Faria, Sílvio, André Villas Boas, Ricardo Chaves (Adriano 78), Tarantini (Wires 46), Bruno Gama, Wesllem (Mora 4), Chidi
Paços de Ferreira beat Académica with the last kick, or rather header, of the match. Berger had put Académica in front on 47 minutes, but five minutes from time, Ricardo headed in from a cross from the right, and deep into added time, Romeu Torres dived to head in another cross from deep on the right.
Paços de Ferreira: Cássio, Baiano, Ozeia, Ricardo, Jorginho (Carlitos 56), Filipe Anunciação, Leonel Olímpio (Romeu Torres 70), Manuel José (Pizzi 46), Livramento, Maykon, William.
Académica: Rui Nereu, Pedrinho, Berger, Orlando, Emídio Rafael, Paulo Sérgio (André Fontes 83), Tiero, Cris (Nuno Coelho 78), Sougou (Lito 67), João Ribeiro, Vouho.
Benfica kept neck and neck with Braga at the top of the table by beating a resilient Vitória de Guimarães 3-1 in Lisbon on Saturday.
It was Benfica who showed first, Cardozo and Luisão, with an overhead kick, coming close. Then on 17 minutes, Benfica took the lead, the Vitória defence gifting Aimar with a ball that he took on and stroked past the helpless Nilson. Vitória were banking on the counter attack, and it was with one of those that they equalised on 32 minutes, Desmarets feeding Nuno Assis, who did a one-two with Douglas before planting the ball past Quim. It was all Benfica from then until the break, with Cardozo dwelling too long on a ball and being dispossessed, Valdomiro almost putting through his own goal, and David Luíz and Cardozo forcing good saves from Nilson.
With the game tied, Benfica were always exposed to moments of inspiration, and three minutes into the second half, Marquinho produced one, forcing a good save from Quim with a shot from an angle. But on 50 minutes, it was Benfica who regained the lead, Aimar breaking down the right before cutting the ball back for Carlos Martins to place his shot inside the near post from the edge of the box. Ten minutes later, it was the same Carlos Martins who received a touch from Cardozo before unleashing a perfect drive into the top right-hand corner of the net from a full 25 metres. There followed some scares for Benfica, notably a near-own goal by Luisão, and then they were shaken on 72 minutes when Carlos Martins saw a second yellow for hand-ball and was sent off. Up against ten men, Vitória managed to apply some pressure on the Benfica goal, but it was generally heart ruling head, and it was Benfica who had the best chance in the closing stages, Cardozo, clearly in an offside position, taking the ball on from the halfway line but allowing a save from Nilson.
Benfica: Quim, Maxi Pereira, Luisão, David Luiz, Fábio Coentrão, Javi García, Carlos Martins, Di María, Pablo Aimar (Rúben Amorim 74), Saviola (Éder Luís 76), Óscar Cardozo (Alan Kardec 88).
Vitória de Guimarães: Nilson, Alex (Roberto 68), Moreno, Valdomiro, Leandro (Fábio Felício 65), João Alves, Custódio, Targino (Marquinho 34), Nuno Assis, Desmarets, Douglas.
FC Porto kept in touch with the top two by beating Nacional 4-0 in Madeira. They benefitted from a double blow for Nacional on the half hour: Alex Bruno was adjudged to have fouled Álvaro Pereira in the box, he saw a second yellow card and Varela scored from the spot. Falcao extended the lead just before the break, assisted by Álvaro Pereira, and the same Álvaro Pereira set him up for his second goal, Porto's third, on the hour. Varela put a cherry on the cake five minutes from time.
Nacional: Bracali, Patacas, Felipe Lopes, Alex Bruno, Nuno Pinto, Luís Alberto, Cléber, Pecnik (Edgar Costa 41), Leandro Salino, João Aurélio (Anselmo 55), Edgar Silva (Diego Barcelos 51).
FC Porto: Helton, Fucile, Rolando, Maicon, Álvaro Pereira, Belluschi, Fernando (Tomas Costa 71), Ruben Micael, Varela, Falcao (Orlando Sá 77), Rodriguez (Mariano 19).
União de Leiria moved into fifth place, one point behind Sporting, after a 2-0 home win over Olhanense. They left it until the hour mark to go in front, Silas hammering home from a Cássio feed. Then just before the end, Vítor Moreno confirmed the three points, following up after Carlão had hit the post. There were just 990 spectators at the Leiria Municipal Stadium to see it.
União de Leiria: Djuricic, Paulo Vinícius, Diego Gaúcho, Zé António, Ronny, André Santos, Elias, Pateiro, Silas (Vítor Moreno 82), Carlão (Zahovaiko 91), Cássio (Tiago Luís 76).
Olhanense: Ventura, João Gonçalves (Delson 70), Tengarrinha, Anselmo, Carlos Fernandes, Rui Baião, Rui Duarte (Yazalde 78), Castro, Ukra, Paulo Sérgio, Rabiola (Djalmir 66)
Bottom club Belenenses are even more bottom after going down 0-1 in front of 1,014 spectators at Naval, who managed three points after three straight defeats. Camora assisted Godemèche on 17 minutes for the only goal of the game.
Naval: Peiser, Carlitos, Gómis, Diego, Daniel Cruz, Lazaroni, Godemèche, Bolívia (Baradji 85), Alex Hauw, Tandia (Michel Simplício 59), Camora (Marinho, 73).
Belenenses: Bruno Vale, Mano, Marcos António, Mustafá, Miguelito, Cândido Costa (André Almeida 75), Gabriel Gomez (Celestino 45), José Pedro, Fredy, Yontcha (Fajardo 45), Lima.
Braga confirmed top spot in the Liga for yet another week on Friday, beating Sporting 1-0 at home, getting the double over the Lisbon 'giants'. The result leaves Sporting 15 points off the pace.
Sporting started stronger and for 15 minutes had Braga pinned back in their own half. But gradually, it was Braga that proved why they have been sitting at the top of the league for the whole season, with their solid defence and midfield, and their well designed attacks coming into play.
It was tight until the 31st minute when Paulo César skinned Miguel Veloso on the left and cut inside to send a shot goalwards that deflected off Tonel, fooling Rui Patricio. The goal seemed to open the game up a little and on 35 minutes, Saleiro forced Eduardo to tip his drive over. Two minutes later, Hugo Viana sent a free kick just wide. And on 40 minutes, Eduardo dropped a Grimi cross, Liedson pouncing on the loose ball but unable to find the target on the turn.
If anything, the second half was tighter than the first, the best chance reserved for the last minute with Matias Fernandez heading for goal and extracting an exceptional save from Eduardo.
Sporting Braga: Eduardo, Filipe Oliveira, Moisés, Rodriguez, Evaldo, Vandinho, Hugo Viana, Mossoró (Renteria 76), Alan, Meyong (Luís Aguiar 62), Paulo César (Matheus 62)
Sporting: Rui Patrício, João Pereira, Tonel, Daniel Carriço, Grimi, Adrien (Matias 60), Izmailov (Yannick 54), Miguel Veloso, João Moutinho, Carlos Saleiro (Pongolle 70), Liedson.
Sporting Braga remain top of the league after beating Académica 2-0 in Coimbra on Sunday. Matheus was brought down on 42 minutes, with Meyong coolly slotting home the penalty. But the game was open until the 90th minute. The Académica 'keeper Rui Nereu was sent off for handling outside the box and was replaced by outfield player Licá, but he could do nothing to stop the treacherous free-kick from Matheus that settled the score.
Académica: Rui Nereu, Pedrinho, Orlando, Markus Berger, Emídio Rafael (João Ribeiro 77), Nuno Coelho, Tiero, Cris (Miguel Fidalgo 60), Lito (Hélder Cabral 63), Sougou, Licá.
Sporting de Braga: Eduardo, Filipe Oliveira, Leone, Moisés, Evaldo, Hugo Viana (Rafael Bastos 86), Vandinho, Paulo César, Mossoró (Miguel Garcia 80), Alan, Meyong (Matheus 61).
Benfica thrashed Marítimo 5-0 in Madeira, helped by circumstances that reduced Marítimo to nine men by half time. Marítimo's best player, paradoxically, was goalkeeper Peçanha, who made a triple-save on the half hour before Cardozo chipped the ball to the back post for Saviola, unmarked, to head in. Two minutes later, Olberdam saw a direct red, apparently for words to the referee. Four minutes after that, Benfica were 2-0 up through Maxi Pereira with a neat close-range flick from a low Di Maria cross. Then in added time, Di Maria, very close to play, was allowed to come on after treatment, stole the ball from Briguel and passed to Cardozo, who shot … but Robson stopped the ball with his hand on its way goalwards. Robson was sent off, leaving Marítimo with nine on the pitch, and Cardozo hit home the spot kick.
The second half resembled a practice game for Benfica, such was the space and time they had against Marítimo's nine. But they got just two more: Roberto Sousa put through his own goal from a Maxi cross on 51 minutes, and Luisão headed in a Di Maria free kick on 70. The nearest Marítimo came to pulling anything back was a move involving two former Benfica players: Paulo Jorge put Manú through, but the diminutive winger's shot was wide with only Quim to beat.
Benfica remain on the same points as Sporting Braga at the top, now six points ahead of FC Porto. This was Marítimo's fourth straight defeat in the league.
Marítimo: Peçanha, Paulo Jorge, Fernando, Robson, Alonso, Roberto Sousa, Olberdam, João Luiz (João Guilherme 45), Manú, Pitbull (Briguel 38), Baba (Kléber 79).
Benfica: Quim, Maxi Pereira, Luisão, David Luiz, César Peixoto, Javi Garcia, Ramires (Éder Luís 57), Aimar (Carlos Martins 57), Di Maria, Cardozo, Saviola (Nuno Gomes 70).
Earlier in the afternoon, high-flying Rio Ave were dealt a blow, going down 0-2 at home to União de Leiria. Cássio put them in front on 14 minutes, heading in a Ronny corner at the back post, and five minutes from time, Ronny found the net with a powerful trademark free kick.
Rio Ave Mora, José Gomes, Gaspar, Jeferson, Sílvio, Ricardo Chaves (Tarantini 28), Wires (Sidnei 72), Vítor Gomes, Bruno Gama, João Tomás e Evandro (Chidi 46).
União de Leiria Duricic, Paulo Vinicius, Diego Gaúcho, José António, Ronny, André Santos, Elias (Vítor Moreno 73), Pateiro, Silas (Pedro Cervantes 92), Cássio (Tiago Luís 87), Carlão.
Belenenses went down 1-3 at home to Leixões. The 27th minute was fatal for Belenenses: Diakité brought down Pouga in the box, saw a second yellow, and Hugo Morais converted the spot kick. Down to ten men, Belenenses had a chance to draw level just before the break when Trombetta fouled Mano in the box, but Diego stopped José Pedro's penalty.
On 62, Didi crossed for Pouga to finish off at the back post, making it 0-2, and Didi himself shot from the edge of the area on 72 to make it 0-3. Yontcha managed a consolation at the curtain, but the result leaves Belenenses at the bottom of the table.
Belenenses: Bruno Vale, Mano, Devic, Diakité, André Pires (Pelé 46), Gabriel Gomez, Celestino (Yontcha 69), José Pedro, Cândido Costa, Lima, André Almeida (Fredy 46).
Leixões: Diego, Cauê, Tucker, Trombetta (Nuno Silva 48), Gallo, Fernando Alexandre, Seabra (Paulo Tavares 60), Fábio Espinho, Didi, Pouga (Zé Manel 82), Hugo Morais.
Reigning Champions FC Porto were once again off colour on Saturday and dropped two points at home to ultra-defensive Paços de Ferreira (1-1). Porto were 'ahead' on 24 minutes with a goal from Falcao; it was disallowed for a non-existent offside. But Porto were struggling to find a spark, and it was Paços that went in front on 83 minutes, Maykon coolly finishing off a killer cross from Pizzi. The lead only lasted three minutes, however, Varela crossing from the left for Falcao to beat the otherwise excellent Cassio to the ball at the near post. A minute from time, Paços defender Ozeia saw a second yellow card for a supposed hand ball that was not.
The result means that Porto could drop to six points behind Braga and Benfica if both teams win their games this weekend.
FC Porto: Helton, Fucile (Guarin 75), Rolando, Bruno Alves, Álvaro Pereira, Tomás Costa (Ernesto Farias 60), Raul Meireles, Belluschi (Mariano Gonzalez 79), Varela, Cristian Rodriguez, Falcao.
Paços de Ferreira: Cássio, Baiano, Ricardo, Ozeia, Danielson, Filipe Anunciação, Leonel Olímpio, Pedrinha, Manuel José (Pizzi 66), Maykon (Jason 96), William (Fábio Pacheco 92).
Sporting were down to a Ruben Micael goal on 24 minutes at home to Nacional, the midfielder, touted to be moving to Sporting, guiding a perfect header past Rui Patricio from a cross by Edgar Costa. But the lead lasted just a minute, with Miguel Veloso cracking a drive inside the left-hand post from 20 metres. Liedson, out for a month after a knee operation, was sent on as sub by Carlos Carvalhal on 57 minutes, and two minutes later it was the Brazilian/Portuguese striker that gave Sporting the lead: Moutinho took a corner on the right, Izmailov headed it on to the back post and Liedson was there to blast it into the roof of the net. It was Liedson that extended the lead on 72 minutes, this time clipping in a Miguel Veloso cross at the near post. It seemed like Sporting would be coasting it from there on in, but Edgar Silva, on as sub, took adantage of a mix-up between Rui Patricio and Carriço to nudge the ball in on 84 minutes. Tomasevic and Edgar Silva had chances to equalise in the time left, but an equaliser would have been tough punishment for a Sporting side that appears to have re-found itself; this was the team's fifth stright win in the league/League Cup.
Sporting: Rui Patrício, João Pereira, Tonel, Daniel Carriço, Grimi, Adrien, Izmailov (Matías 77), Miguel Veloso (Vukcevic 75), João Moutinho, Saleiro, Hélder Postiga (Liedson 57).
Nacional: Bracalli, João Aurélio, Felipe Lopes, Cléber, Tomasevic, Nuno Pinto, Leandro Salino, Pecnik, Rúben Micael (Pacheco 80), Amuneke (Edgar Silva 64), Edgar Costa (Anselmo 78).
There were two goals early on at Vitória de Guimarães, where the local side drew 2-2 with visitors Vitória de Setúbal. Setúbal were in front on three minutes through Keita, finishing off a free-kick from the right taken by Ney. But Guimarães were level two minutes later, Marquinho diving to head in from close range following a cross from the right by Andrezinho. Collin got the better of Desmarets to head in an Hélder Barbosa cross on 62 minutes, but the same Desmarets crossed low from deep five minutes later and the ball struck Targino's leg and fooled Mário Felgueiras.
Vitória de Guimarães: Nilson, Andrezinho, Valdomiro, Sereno, Milhazes (Fábio Felício 46), Flávio Meireles, João Alves (Targino 67), Desmarets, Nuno Assis, Marquinho (Douglas 61), Roberto.
Vitória de Setúbal: Mário Felgueiras, Ney, Collin, Zarabi, André Pinto, Ruben Lima, Sandro (Neca 81), Kazmierczak (Zoro 89), Djikiné, Henrique (Hélder Barbosa 46), Keita.
Castro from outside the area on 51 minutes gave Olhanense only their second league win of the season (at home to Naval) and their first in almost four months to take them out of the relegation zone.
Olhanense: Ventura, João Gonçalves, Tengarrinha, Anselmo, Carlos Fernandes, Rui Baião, Castro, Rui Duarte, Paulo Sérgio (Greg 86), Rabiola (Zequinha 68), Ukra (Lionn 93).
Naval: Peiser, Carlitos, João Real, Diego Ângelo, Camora, Godemeche (Alex Hauw 67), Baradji, Michel Simplício, Bolívia, Marinho (Tandia 60), Kerrrouche (Ouatara 70).
Belenenses and Vitória de Setúbal slogged out a 0-0 draw at a rainy Restelo on Monday night to close the Primeira Volta (first half) of the championship. The nearest either side came to scoring was a shot from Belenenses' Celestino that hit the bar on 72 minutes, although Setúbal had more of the play and chances in the second half.
Belenenses: Bruno Vale, Mano, Diakité, Beto, Tiago Gomes, Gabriel Gomez, Cândido Costa (Yontcha 60), Celestino, Barge (Dani 74), Lima, Fredy
Vitória de Setúbal: Mário Felgueiras, Collin, André Pinto, Zarabi, Ruben Lima, Sandro, Djikiné, Kazmierczak (Ney 74), Regula (Luís Carlos 70), Keita, Hélder Barbosa (Zoro 89)
The result pushes Leixões to the bottom of the table on ten points, with Belenenses just above them on 11, along with Olhanense. Setúbal have 12.
FC Porto kept in touch with Braga and Benfica at the top of the table with a scraped 3-2 win at home to União de Leiria on Sunday. Porto went in front on 15 minutes, Falcão screwing the ball in from an acute angle when Belluschi's weak shot was going wide. On the half hour, União equalised, a Ronny free-kick glanced past Hélton by centre back Diego Gaúcho . Porto regained the lead on 37 minutes, with Bruno Alves rising to head in a Raul Meireles header. But back came União six minutes into the second half when a Ronny shot from 25 metres was deflected past Helton by Cristian Rodríguez. Porto insisted on 63 minutes, Falcão forcing a loose ball home from a Belluschi corner, and the result looked likely to remain five minutes later when Djuricic was sent off for handling outside his area, although replays showed that the ball had hit his nose. His replacement, Hélder Godinho, kept Porto out a couple of times to keep his side in with a shout, and in added time, Fernando handled in the area and was sent off for a second yellow. But Ronny blasted the ball straight down the middle and it flew off Helton's body for a corner. The three points were safe for Porto.
FC Porto: Helton, Miguel Lopes (Farias 60), Rolando, Bruno Alves, Alvaro Pereira, Fernando, Belluschi (Tomás Costa 86), Raul Meireles, Varela, Falcao (Mariano 83), Rodríguez.
União de Leiria: Djuricic, Paulo Vinicius, Diego Gaúcho, Bruno Miguel, Patrick (Vítor Moreno 46), André Santos, Marco Soares, Ronny, Silas (Hélder Godinho 71), Tiago Luís, Carlão.
Earlier in the evening, Académica beat Naval relatively comfortably 2-0 to notch up their fourth win in a row. In front of just 2,136 spectators at the Coimbra Municipal Stadium, Lito took advantage of a defensive mistake on eight minutes to knock the ball in, and the result was made just before the break when Sougou got between two defenders to head home from close range.
Académica: Rui Nereu, Pedrinho, Amoreirinha, Markus Berger, Emídio Rafael, Nuno Coelho, Tiero, Cris (Paulo Sérgio 78), Lito (João Ribeiro 87), Sougou, Miguel Fidalgo (Licá 67).
Naval: Peiser, Carlitos, João Real, Diogo Ângelo, Baradji, Alex Hauw (Kerrouche 45), Godemche, Camora, Michel Simplício (Davide 82), Marinho (Ouattara 75), Bolívia.
Paços de Ferreira grabbed a point at Olhanense, who have not won in the league since September. William put the visitors in front on 25 minutes, striking home a low cross from Danielson, but sub Zequinha made it 1-1 a quarter of an hour from the end, saving a point for the lowly Algarve side.
Olhanense: Ventura, João Gonçalves, Sandro, Anselmo, Carlos Fernandes, Rui Baião, Castro, Rui Duarte (Greg 75), Paulo Sérgio (Zequinha 58), Rabiola, Ukra (Toy 83).
Paços de Ferreira: Cássio, Baiano, Ozeia, Danielson, Ricardo, Pedrinha, Filipe Anunciação, Leonel Olímpio (Fábio Pacheco 66), Manuel José (Kelly 92), William, Maykon (Carlitos 75).
Both Lisbon giants won on Saturday evening against resilient opposition, and both by the same scoreline: 1-0.
Benfica were at Rio Ave, a team riding surprisingly high in the table. They proved a tough nut to crack, and it was once again Argentinian forward Saviola who cracked it, sending a half-volley into the roof of the net from a corner two minutes into the second half.
Rio Ave: Mora, Zé Gomes, Gaspar, Jeferson, Fábio Faria, André Vilas Boas, Wires (Adriano, 55), Vítor Gomes (Tarantini, 78), Bruno Gama, João Tomás e Sidnei (Chidi, 59).
Benfica: Quim, Maxi Pereira, Luisão, Miguel Vítor, César Peixoto,
Javi Garcia, Ramires, Carlos Martins (Aimar, 66), Di Maria, Cardozo e Saviola (Fábio Coentrão, 83).
Sporting fielded one of their new signings from the outset at home to Leixões. João Pereira was a dynamic presence down the right hand side, and whether by coincidence or not, Sporting produced their best football of the season in the first half. They could not break through, however, because in the opposition's goal was a man by the name of Diego who stopped everything coming his way. Sporting's other new signing Pongolle came on in the second half, but his most striking contribution was a header that was going into his own goal before Rui Patricio tipped it over. Leixões' Bruno Gallo was harshly sent off on 69 minutes for a second yellow, and although his team continued to resist, it was perhaps only a question of time before Sporting's pressure would tell. And tell it did on 84 minutes, central defender Tonel heading in from a corner with Diego for once helpless.
Sporting: Rui Patrício, João Pereira, Tonel, Daniel Carriço, Grimi, Adrien (Matias Fernández 77), Izmailov, João Moutinho, Vukcevic (Pereirinha 93), Hélder Postiga (Sinama-Pongolle 59), Saleiro.
Leixões: Diego, Jean Sony, Tucker, Trombetta, Bruno Gallo, Fernando Alexandre, Seabra (Didi 86), Fábio Espinho, Léo (Zé Manuel 59), Hugo Morais, Pouga (Antunes 80).
In the afternoon, Vitória de Guimarães stole all three points at Marítimo, who suffered their third straight defeat. On a squelchy pitch after an intense downpour before the game, both teams struggled to play coherent football. It was left to central defender Sereno to head in a cross from deep by Andrézinho on 73 minutes to snatch the points for his side. Marítimo's captain Bruno was sent off on 77 minutes for words to the referee.
Marítimo: Peçanha, Paulo Jorge, Robson, Fernando, Alonso (João Guilherme 89), Roberto Sousa, Bruno, Taka (Luís Olim 66), Manú, Cláudio Pitbull (Kléber 61), Baba.
Vitória de Guimarães: Nilson, Andrezinho, Sereno, Gustavo (Milhazes 45), Custódio, Moreno, João Alves, Nuno Assis (Jorge Gonçalves 93), Marquinho (Douglas 63), Desmarets, Roberto.
Sporting Braga ensured top spot in the Liga in their last game of the primeira volta, beating Nacional 2-0 at home. They were in front on just two minutes, Hugo Viana flighting in a free kick from the left for unmarked captain Vandinho to head in. Braga dominated the game and had the best chances, but were kept out by the always excellent Bracali. The Madeiran side's first shot at goal was on 15 minutes, with Eduardo saving comfortably from Pecnik, and they had just two other attempts at goal in the whole of the first half.
The result was effectively settled ten minutes into the second half when Mossoró put the impressive Filipe Oliveira through down the right; the full-back's cross from the line was headed goalwards by Moises, the ball was blocked and André Leone was following up to score. Nacional's cause was not helped by midfielder Leandro Salino seeing a second yellow 15 minutes from time. And indeed, Braga could have extended their lead through Hugo Viana, who hit a post, and Matheus, who fluffed a gift of a cross by Diogo Valente.
Sporting Braga: Eduardo, Filipe Oliveira, Moisés, André Leone, Evaldo, Vandinho, Hugo Viana, Mossoró (Diogo Valente 86), Alan (Yazalde 83), Paulo César, Meyong (Matheus 74).
Nacional: Bracali, Patacas, Felipe Lopes, Tomasevic, João Aurélio, Cléber, Leandro Salino, Ruben Micael, Pecnik (Pedro Pacheco 83), Amuneke (Anselmo 68), Edgar (Rodrigo 68).