In an ugly game and on an ugly day of violence, Benfica were worthy winners of the Taça da Liga over an FC Porto side that appears to have lost the plot.
Porto were the first to show, with Cristian Rodrigues forcing a relatively difficult save from Quim on seven minutes. But on nine minutes, Benfica were in front: Rúben Amorim shot from a full 30 metres, the ball was an easy one for Nuno but the Porto 'keeper spilled it and it crawled into the goal. Falcao was through on 23 minutes but dwelt on the ball too long, and a Belluschi drive drifted just wide of the post. It was Benfica striker Kardec who came the closest to scoring for Benfica in the rest of the half, his mammoth back-pass from the halfway line sailing just over Quim's goal. Then a minute from half time, the game was effectively decided when Carlos Martins sent a free kick into the top right-hand corner from 30 metres. The final minutes were marked by tussles on the pitch, notably involving Bruno Alves and Aimar.
The second half was even less attractive than the first. A minute into the half, Cristian Rodriguez swivelled and shot from the edge of the area but the ball dipped over the bar. Then on 50, Davíd Luíz cut in from the left and sent a shot just wide of the near post. But neither side was creating coherent football, and the game dragged to its inevitable conclusion, but not before Rúben Amorim created a chance for himself before hitting the post, with sub Cardozo following up to crash the ball into the empty net. It was virtually the last kick of the match.
So Benfica keep the Cup that they won last year. Captain Luisão accepted it from former international striker Pauleta.
Benfica: Quim, Maxi Pereira, Luisão, David Luiz, Fábio Coentrão, Airton, Rúben Amorim, Carlos Martins (Ramires 66), Aimar (Saviola 61), Di Maria, Kardec (Cardozo 76)
FC Porto: Nuno, Miguel Lopes (Fucile 46), Rolando, Bruno Alves, Álvaro Pereira, Rúben Micael (Valeri 46), Fernando, Raul Meireles; Belluschi (Orlando Sá 69), Falcao, Rodriguez.
During the day, reports were coming out that there were violent clashes between supporters in motorway service stations on the way down to the Algarve. The violence continued outside the round before the game, and inside the stadium, the game was stopped as seats rained down onto the pitch.
There will be almost 1,500 security personnel on duty at the Taça da Liga Final between Benfica and FC Porto in the Algarve on Sunday: 1,100 GNR (Guarda Nacional Republicana) officers, 50 (Polícia de Segurança Pública) officers and 300 stewards.
It is the third year of the Taça da Liga, each Final being played in the Estádio do Algarve. However, Liga president Hermínio Loureiro has complained of lack of support from the local tourism board, and says that this may be the last Final to be played there.
Benfica come from a potentially tiring midweek trip to Marseilles for the Europa Lague, while FC Porto have had a week to rest. Porto have key midfielder Fernando back after injury.
Benfica are the holders of the Cup (sponsored by Carlsberg); they beat Sporting on penalties last year after the game had finished 1-1.
To see the Taça da Liga Final between FC Porto and Benfica, to be played on 21 March at the Estádio do Algarve, will cost fans between 10 and 25 euros, the Liga announced on Friday. FC Porto begin to sell their allocation on Saturday, while Benfica's will go on sale on Monday.
The Final of the Taça da Liga, between Benfica and FC Porto, will be at the Estádio do Algarve on 21 March at 19.15, the Liga announced on Monday.
FC Porto will meet Benfica in the Final of the Taça da Liga after beating Académica 1-0 on Wednesday, a Mariano shot from outside the area ten minutes from time meaning that penalties were avoided.
FC Porto: Nuno, Miguel Lopes, Nuno André Coelho, Bruno Alves (Maicon 60), Alvaro Pereira, Tomás Costa, Guarín, Belluschi (Varela 46), Valeri (Rúben Micael 65), Mariano, Orlando Sá.
Académica: Ricardo, Pedrinho, Berger (Cris 84), Orlando, Emídio Rafael, Nuno Coelho, Tiero, Diogo Gomes, João Ribeiro, Vouhou, Sougou (Lito 69).
Cup-holders Benfica are into the Final of the Taça da Liga after beating Sporting 4-1 at Alvalade on Tuesday. Sporting could not have got off to a worse start, with fiery full back João Pereira sent off after just seven minutes for a reckless challenge on Ramires. Carlos Martins took the free-kick and Davíd Luíz headed in. Ramires added another on the half hour, but as the olés began from the Benfica fans, Liedson pulled one back for Sporting with a speculative shot from 25 metres that found the bottom left-hand corner. Any hopes that Sporting had of turning it around were dashed by a Luisão header on 67 minutes and a fourth from Óscar Cardozo deep into added time.
Sporting: Rui Patrício, João Pereira, Daniel Carriço, Polga, Grimi, Adrien (Pedro Silva, 25), Pedro Mendes, João Moutinho, Izmailov, Sinama Pongolle (Yannick Djaló, 62) e Liedson.
Benfica: Júlio César, Ruben Amorim, Luisão, David Luiz, César Peixoto, Javi Garcia, Ramires, Carlos Martins (Pablo Aimar, 71), Di Maria, Éder Luís (Saviola, 69) e Kardec (Cardozo, 69).
FC Porto, Benfica, Sporting and Académica are through to the semi-finals of the Taça da Liga after the final group games on Sunday. Académica qualify as the best second-placed team of the three groups. The complete results of the phase:
FC Porto 1-0 Leixões
Académica 2-1 Estoril
Sporting 2-1 Sporting Braga
União de Leiria 1-1 Trofense
Benfica 1-0 Nacional
Vitória de Guimarães 1-2 Rio Ave
Académica 0-0 FC Porto
Estoril 1-1 Leixões
União de Leiria 1-2 Sporting
Trofense 1-0 Sporting Braga
Vitória de Guimarães 1-1 Benfica
Rio Ave 1-1 Nacional
Estoril 0-2 FC Porto
Leixões 0-1 Académica
Trofense 0-1 Sporting
Sporting Braga 4-1 União de Leiria
Rio Ave 1-2 Benfica
Nacional 1-0 Vitória de Guimarães
FC Porto won their first Group A game in the Taça da Liga, beating Leixões 1-0 at the Dragão. The only goal was a Varela header from close range following a free kick from the right in added time before the break. Leixões had the better of the play in the second half but were unable to take their chances against a severely depleted Porto side.
FC Porto: Nuno, Miguel Lopes, Maicon, Nuno André Coelho, Álvaro Pereira, Prediger (Guarin 71), Tomás Costa, Valeri (Sérgio Oliveira 78), Mariano, Varela (Rodriguez 63), Orlando Sá.
Leixões: Berger, Jean Sony, Trombetta, Tucker, Gallo (Tiago Cintra 75), Fernando Alexandre, Seabra, Hugo Morais, Leo (Zé Manel 59), Fábio Espinho (Faioli 79), Pouga
Benfica won their first group game of the third phase of the Taça da Liga on Sunday, a Saviola goal ten minutes from time enough to steal the points. Nacional proved a tough nut to crack and could have done damage if the referee had not disallowed a Rodrigo goal in the first half for a non-existent offside, and had given them a penalty when the same Rodrgo was brought down by Davíd Luíz in the second. But it was not to be, and 20 seconds after coming on as sub, Nuno Gomes made his first touch of the ball a pass to Saviola who planted the ball between the post and the otherwise excellent Bracali.
Benfica: Quim, Maxi Pereira, Luisão, David Luiz, César Peixoto (Weldon 45), Javi García, Urreta (Filipe Menezes 68), Carlos Martins (Nuno Gomes 78), Fábio Coentrão, Saviola, Cardozo.
Nacional: Bracali, Patacas, Felipe Lopes, Tomasevic, Nuno Pinto (Rodrigo 16), Cléber, Rúben Micael, Leandro Salino, João Aurélio, Pecnik, Amuneke (Anselmo 82).
In the other Group C game, Rio Ave travelled to Vitória de Guimarães and beat them 2-1. Vitória were in front on the half hour through Moreno, but Rio Ave turned the game around in a three-minute spell in the second half, Wesllem and João Tomás from the spot doing the honours.
Vitória de Guimarães: Serginho, Andrezinho, Gustavo, Sereno, Milhazes, Moreno, J. Alves (Custódio 57), Desmarets, Nuno Assis, Targino, Douglas (Roberto 64)
Rio Ave: Mora, Magno, Gaspar (Ricardo Chaves 12), Jefferson, Sílvio, André Vilas Boas, Wires (Tarantini 57), Adriano, Bruno Gama, Evandro (Wesllem 69), João Tomás
In Group B, Sporting beat Braga 2-1 in Lisbon, the winner coming from Miguel Veloso with an excellent drive on 64 minutes. Sporting had gone in front on 35 minutes, Saleiro taking a Grimi through ball in his stride before knocking it confidently past Kieszek. Alan curled a shot in from the edge of the box on 49 for the equaliser before Veloso's stunner settled things. Braga showed the better football, but it was Sporting who had the luck.
Sporting: Rui Patrício, Abel, Daniel Carriço, Tonel, Grimi, Izmailov (Yannick 92), João Moutinho, Adrien, Miguel Veloso (Matias Fernandez (89), Saleiro, Hélder Postiga (Pereirinha 73).
Sporting Braga: Kieszek, Filipe Oliveira (Paulão 78), Moisés, Leone, Evaldo, Vandinho, Madrid (Paulo César 46), Alan, Mossoró, Diogo Valente (Paulo César 46), Meyong.
In the other Group B game, União de Leiria left it until eight minutes from time to equalise with Liga de Honra side Trofense through Tiago Luís. Silas had put Trofense in front after just two minutes.
União de Leiria: Djuricic, Paulo Vinícius, Bruno Miguel (Kone 78), Diego Gaúcho, Ronny, André Santos (Pedro Cervantes 54), Marco Soares, Pateiro, Silas, Cássio, Carlão (Tiago Luís 46).
Trofense: Marco, Bruno Sousa, Pedro Ribeiro, Nuno Mendes, Ginho, Tiago, Romeu Ribeiro, Filipe Gonçalves, Willams (Jorge Luiz 87), Maciel (Chad 57), Silas (Hélder Sousa 75)
In Group A, Académica beat Estoril at home 2-1, Académica going into the break 2-0 up through Éder and Lito, with Antchouet pulling one back for the Liga de Honra side from the penalty spot on 69 minutes. Estoril's Lulinha was sent off five minutes from time.
Académica: Rui Nereu; Pedro Costa, Berger, Orlando e Hélder Cabral; Nuno Coelho, Cris e Diogo Gomes (Bru, 70 minutos); Lito, Éder (Licá, 81) e João Ribeiro (Emídio Rafael, 72).
Estoril: Filipe Leão; Marco Silva, Luiz Alberto, Jardel e Ismaily; Varela (Tiago Conceição, 81) e Manuel Curto; Lulinha, João Coimbra e Raphael (Bruno Matias, 62); Antchouet.
FC Porto play Leixões on Tuesday.
Vitória de Guimarães are through to the third phase of the Taça da Liga after beating Vitória de Setúbal 2-1 at a rain-sodden Bonfim on Sunday. Captain Flávio Meireles tapped in at the back post on 36 minutes, Targino made it two for Guimarães on 42 after running onto a Nuno Assis through ball and striking the ball under Mário Felgueiras' body, and Marc Zoro swivelled and hit a beautiful shot into the top left hand corner from the edge of the box on the stroke of half time. Setúbal huffed and puffed in the second half, and Luís Carlos missed a sitter, but the score remained.
Vitória de Setúbal: Mário Felgueiras, Ivo Pinto, Zoro, Zarabi, Ruben Lima, Djikiné, Paulo Regula (Lourenço 67), Kazmierczak (Luís Carlos 46), Bruno Monteiro, Guilherme de Paula, Rui Fonte (Keita 46)
Vitória de Guimarães: Nilson, Andrézinho, Gustavo, Moreno, Sereno, Flávio Meireles, João Alves (Custódio 88), Marquinho (Alex 46), Nuno Assis, Targino, Roberto (Rui Miguel 84)
Daniel Olimpio scored the winner for Paços de Ferreira at Olhanense, but it was not enough: Paços needed to win by three to beat Estoril to first place. So it is Estoril that go through to the third phase from Group D.
In the next phase, which will include the top teams from the Liga (FC Porto, Sporting, Benfica, Nacional, Sporting Braga and Leixões), there will be three groups of four. Joining Vitória de Guimarães and Estoril will be Portimonense, Trofense, and Rio Ave. The final second phase game between União de Leiria and Naval will take place on 18 November. Naval need to win to go through. Any other result and União will be into the third phase.
Second (group) phase (third and final game)
Fátima v Marítimo, 2-1
Gil Vicente v Rio Ave, 0-0
Portimonense v Académica, 0-0
Olhanense v Paços de Ferreira, 0-1
Vitória de Setúbal v Vitória de Guimarães, 1-2
União de Leiria v Naval (-) (18 November)
Second (group) phase (second game)
Covilhã v Vitória de Setúbal, 2-0
Belenenses v Gil Vicente, 1-1
Beira-Mar v Portimonense, 0-0
Trofense v Fátima, 3-0
Santa Clara v União de Leiria, 1-2
Estoril v Olhanense, 2-0
Second (group) phase (first game)
Marítimo v Trofense, 1-1
Naval v Santa Clara, 1-1
Vitória de Guimarães v Covilhã, 2-0
Rio Ave v Belenenses, 1-0
Académica v Beira -Mar, 0-0
Paços de Ferreira v Estoril, 0-0
(The winners of the groups go through)
Portimonense 2 points
(All teams finished on the same points and the same goal difference of 0-0. The winners were found by calculating the average age of the players fielded in the second phase, the team with the lowest average going through. Académica are appealing the calculations of the Liga).
Vitória de Guimarães 6
Sporting Covilhã 3
Vitória de Setúbal 0
Paços de Ferreira 4
(Estoril go through on goal difference)
Rio Ave 4
Gil Vicente 2
União de Leiria 3
Santa Clara 1
Estoril, Gil Vicente, Fátima, Portimonense, Sporting de Covilhã, Beira Mar, Santa Clara and Trofense are all through to the second phase of the Taça da Liga after the weekend's second legs.
Estoril-Desportivo das Aves (1-1 in the first leg; 1-0 in the second)
Gil Vicente-Oliveirense (1-0, 0-0)
Varzim-Fátima (0-2, 1-0)
Feirense-Portimonense (1-1, 0-0, 5-6 on penalties)
Sporting de Covilhão-Carregado (1-0, 1-1)
Freamunde-Beira Mar (1-5, 3-0)
Santa Clara-Desportivo de Chaves (0-1, 3-2, 4-2 on penalties)
Trofense-Penafiel (0-2, 2-0, 3-2 on penalties)
Fangueiro got two goals and Artur a penalty to offset Freamunde's opening goal from Bock and give Beira-Mar a 3-1 lead in the First Round, first leg of the Taça da Liga on Sunday. Then on 83 minutes, youngster Ishamel Yartey, on loan from Benfica, came off the bench for his first professional game and proceeded to score two goals, giving Beira-Mar a 5-1 win.
Carregado-Sporting da Covilhã, 0-1
Desp. Chaves-Santa Clara, 1-0
Desportivo das Aves-Estoril, 1-1
Gil Vicente beat Oliveirense 1-0 away in the first leg of the first phase of the Taça da Liga on Saturday, the goal coming from Cesinha, a penalty.
In the other game, Portimonense and Feirense drew 1-1, Luciano putting Feirense in front on 16 minutes with Nelson Pedroso equalising in the second half.