Three things we learned this week in the Primeira Liga

Sporting CP fall to eighth in Primeira Liga

A thrilling 4-2 victory over German side Schalke 04 in the Champions League midweek was followed up with a 1–1 draw with Pacos Ferreira at the Estadio Jose Avalade.

The visitors were tremendous in the first half and fully deserved their lead after Peruvian forward Paolo Hurtado scored on 32 minutes.

Indeed it looked as though Marco Silva’s side were suffering from the dreaded ‘European hangover’ and would slump to a second league defeat in as many weeks.

 

Marco Silva’s half time substitute Fredy Montero got a goal back for the Leoes with an audacious long-range strike just after the interval and might feel aggrieved that another strike was deemed to be offside.

Sporting CP will have every reason to be disappointed in only securing a point as for the last 15 minutes the faced ten men after Sergio Oliveira was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Pacos on the other hand must surely be delighted under the guardianship of Paulo Fonseca. The Castores are unbeaten in their last six games and find themselves in sixth place.

Sporting CP’s  next game will be at home to 11th placed Vitoria de Setubal after the international break and Portuguese cup on Saturday 29th November.

Porto barely cling to unbeaten record

Oliver Torres’ 94th minute strike spared Porto’s blushes as they grabbed a point away at Estoril to maintain their unbeaten streak on Sunday night.

Yacine Brahimi scintillating start to the season continued as he gave his Porto the lead after 20 minutes. The Algerian worked hard to keep in Adrian Lopez’s poor header on the left hand side. Brahimi used some wonderful skill to manoeuvre past two Estoril defenders before rifling in a low shot which beat the Estoril goalkeeper Pawel Kieszek at his near post.

Porto’s lead did not last long as Kuca got one back on 26 minutes. The Cape Verdean forward was not picked up by Porto’s defence after a corner was not properly cleared. Estoril left back Emidio Rafael pulled back to allow Kuca to finish from close range.

Both sides had their respective opportunities to carve out a lead but neither side could finish any of their chances.

The breakthrough did come however, albeit under controversial circumstances. Estoril’s on-loan Porto midfielder Tozé raced to a loose ball inside the box as did Porto goalkeeper Fabiano. Fabiano dived to reach the ball but missed as Toze had flicked it on ahead.

Seeing Fabiano’s dive as an opportunity the 21-year-old midfielder went to ground and was given a penalty, much to the annoyance of Porto. Tozé then stepped up and confidently slotted away his penalty into the top right corner with nine minutes of normal time remaining.

Desperate not to let Benfica’s lead go to four points, the Dragoes piled forward putting Estoril’s defence under an enormous amount of pressure. This pressure was rewarded it the dying seconds of the match as Oliver Torres’ quick thinking kept Porto’s title hunt alive.

A long high ball from the back was nodded into the box by the towering Jackson Martinez. Torres’ first attempt to control the ball was stopped by the Estoril defence but the 20-year-old Spaniard had no trouble on his second attempt and fired his shot past  the flailing Kieszek.

Porto had an excellent chance to win the game moments later as the ball came to Jackson Martinez on the edge of the box. The Colombian forward was unlucky to see his strike go just over the bar.

Next Porto host seventh placed Rio Ave on Sunday 30th November following the international break and Portuguese cup.

Benfica maintain lead despite unconvincing performance

Jorge Jesus has maintained that his side have the mentality of champions as they were able to ground out a 2–1 victory away at Nacional on Sunday afternoon. Benfica benefited from the lax performances of the teams around them to pull two points clear atop the Primeira Liga.

In his post-match press conference the Benfica coach lamented the state of the pitch and Nacional‘s often aggressive style though he rejected any question of referee bias towards his side. Despite Jesus’ statements most agreed that Nacional were very unlucky to have a goal ruled out for offside in the second half.

The Madeira side got off to the perfect start by scoring within the first 56 seconds of the game. João Aurélio escaped Benfica left back Andre Almeida before crossing into Edgar Abreu whose header went in off the post.

But Nacional’s good fortune did not last long as Benfica equalised through Eduardo Salvio after eight minutes before Jonas gave them the lead after 19 minutes.

 

For the first, Nicholas Gaitan set in a cross for Salvio to head past the calamitous Rui Silva. The second came as a result of Nacional’s inability to properly deal with a corner. The ball fell to the former Valencia man whose shot left the Nacional looking foolish.

Nacional continued to threaten and indeed will feel disheartened not to take something away from the game while Benfica fans may be concerned that their side has consistently been unable to kill off games.

Man of the moment Anderson Talisca sparking form for the Aguias has been rewarded with a call up to Brazil’s national squad for the friendly games against Turkey and Austria. Speaking to Brazilian football website Globoesporte, the 20-year-old said:

It feels like I’m dreaming. It is a great opportunity to show my work, beyond pride and the privilege to wear the Brazilian team. I hope to honour that call with hard work and dedication.

Talisca is the top scorer in the Primeira Liga this season with eight goals in ten games and this has resulted in praise from all across Europe. Most notably, that of Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho.

Benfica travel to Academica after the international break for the Portuguese cup on Sunday 30th November.

Author Details

Dean Murray

European football columnist and long suffering neutral.

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