Thursday, March 22, 2018

LIga Sagres wrap: Porto win title at bitter rivals

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 4 Apr 2011


A 2-1 win at bitter rivals and defending champions Benfica sealed the Liga Sagres title for Porto in Lisbon on Sunday.

After appearing destined to become champions for much of a dominant season, Porto required a win at the Estadio da Luz to mathematically confirm their 25th league title.

Flush with chances for both sides and with two red cards among a rash of poor tackles, the match lived up to its dramatic billing.

It took just nine minutes for Porto to take the lead. One of his side’s form players in the run home to the title, it was Fredy Guarin who broke the deadlock – with a little help from Benfica goalkeeper Roberto Jimenez.

The hosts’ captain Luisao pushed Guarin out wide as he plowed into the box, but the Colombian international still managed a late cutback, which was somehow fumbled by Jimenez into his own net.

Benfica were level eight minutes later when Porto defender Nicolas Otamendi was adjudged to have hindered Argentine countryman Franco Jara in the penalty area.

That Jara appeared to go down theatrically mattered little to former Barcelona striker Javier Saviola, who dispatched the spot kick past Helton in the Porto goal to square the ledger.

Already culpable for Porto’s opener, Jimenez’s night was to worsen on 26 minutes when he brought down Falcao for a clear penalty. Brazilian striker Hulk took responsibility and duly struck his 20th league goal of the season from the spot.

Benfica threw on towering Paraguay striker Oscar Cardozo at the break as they stepped up their search for an equaliser, and the chances flowed at both ends.

Colombian forward Falcao spurned two clear-cut opportunities to extend Porto’s lead, though his side was reduced to 10 men on 70 minutes when Otamendi received his second yellow card for leading with his forearm on Cardozo.

Cardozo headed straight at Helton on 76 minutes from close range after Sidnei nodded back across the face of goal, while he had the ball in the back of the net a minute later but was correctly ruled offside.

A host of poorly timed tackles led to a flurry of yellow cards, while Cardozo – who had stalked irritably around the pitch since his arrival in the game – was handed a straight red on 87 minutes for a petulant hack on Porto substitute Fernando Belluschi.

There was still time for Nicolas Gaitain to hit the post from Sidnei’s deflected effort, but Porto held on to clinch the title on the rivals’ own turf.

Hosts Benfica were in no mood to be gracious, with the lights turned off and the sprinklers momentarily turned on soon after the final whistle at the Estadio da Luz, leaving the Porto players and supporters celebrating in the dark – not that they appeared to care.

Elsewhere on Sunday, Vitoria Setubal’s efforts to avoid sinking into the relegation zone took a hit when they lost 2-0 at Rio Ave, with 15th-placed Naval de Maio drawing to within four points of safety after their upset 3-1 win at Olhanense.

Europa League aspirants Vitoria Guimaraes and Sporting Lisbon played out a 1-1 draw, after Joao Paulo hit a 90th-minute equaliser for Guimaraes.


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